Crackdown on dishonest whiplash claims great for drivers

New anti-fraud measures to protect honest motorists start to bite

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Close-up Of Female Hands Holding Verdict In Courtroom

A motorist whose whiplash claim was thrown out of court due to being "fundamentally dishonest" has become the first person to fall foul of new rules forcing those who make false insurance claims to pay their court costs.

The man, from Wigan, was ordered to pay all the costs incurred by insurer Aviva in fighting his claim against one of its customers after being dubbed an "inconsistent and dishonest witness" by the judge.

And that's a victory for all drivers - as well as the insurance industry.

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The problem with whiplash claims

Car insurance claims for whiplash injuries cost the industry about £2 billion a year, adding an estimated £90 a year to all our premiums.

But insurers suspect that many of these claims are false, with many set up by criminal gangs that are even prepared to put people's lives at risk by crashing into other drivers on purpose.

In a recent court case, a criminal gang was convicted of setting up a deliberate crash between a car and a coach load of 30 people - all of whom made whiplash claims totalling close to £150,000, despite running from the coach to the pub to celebrate the success of their plan.

And they are far from the only "crash for cash" fraudsters on the roads. Last year, Aviva recorded a 51% rise "crash for cash" incidents of this kind, which cost the industry more than £10 million a year.

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How the new rules can help

Introduced in April 2013, the new laws on whiplash claims aim to protect honest motorists by making the roads safer for everyone, as well as helping to push motor insurance premiums down.

As well as making claimants found to be dishonest pay the related court costs, they involve introducing panels of independent medical practitioners to diagnose whiplash victims and ensure they have the injuries they say they do.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has also launched the Insurance Fraud Register (IFR), an industry-wide database of known insurance fraudsters designed to help insurers spot dodgy claims more easily.

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Next steps

The ABI claims that the introduction of measures to combat fraud are already having an impact on premiums, with the average cost of a comprehensive policy falling by 7% to £356 over the last 18 months or so.

James Dalton, the ABI's Head of Motor and Liability, said: "Insurers are passing on savings to customers following the introduction of much needed reforms to the civil justice system last year."

That's great news for motorists across the country. However, Aviva is calling for even genuine whiplash claims to be treated with rehabilitation rather than cash handouts.

"This will help the genuine injured party return to health while cutting the cost of motor insurance by at least £32 for everyone," the insurer said.

It's certainly an interesting alternative, and one that could prove more beneficial to people who need ongoing medical care as a result of whiplash injuries.

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