Justice Committee to study whiplash claims and reform
10 February 2023
The Justice Committee is today beginning an inquiry into how whiplash injuries resulting from traffic accidents are processed following reforms in the legal framework introduced by the government. Whiplash happens when your head is suddenly jolted backwards and forwards in a whip-like movement – typically in a car accident.
Whiplash reform was introduced in 2021 following a realisation that insurance claims for the injury were running at over £2bn per year – adding an average of £90 to everyone’s car insurance policies.
The Whiplash Reform Programme was aimed at roughly halving the overall cost of these types of insurance claims, and then passing on savings in premiums of between £40 and £50 a year per motorist.
As part of the reform programme, the Ministry of Justice asked the insurance industry to set up an online claiming system, or portal, known as the Official Injury Claim Service, which would deal with whiplash and claims for bruising or minor fractures.
The reforms also required claimants to provide medical evidence of their injuries and introduced a financial limit on claims.
The inquiry will investigate the effects of the reform programme, including any savings, and how the Claim Service portal operates. Full details about the inquiry can be found here.
The Chair of the Justice Committee, Sir Bob Neill, said:
“Whiplash injury claims have been costing motorists a disproportionately large amount of money and taking up a lot of precious court time.
That’s not to minimise the pain and suffering such injuries can cause. But if we can find a way of saving money and court time we should do so.
So we’ll be looking carefully into the way claims are being processed and how much they cost motorists and the wider tax-paying public. We want justice to prevail, but we want it to be efficient as well”.
Terms of reference for the inquiry
The Committee invites evidence on:
- What effect have the measures introduced within the whiplash reform programme had on the number of minor personal injury claims to date?
- To what extent have these measures met the Government’s objective of reducing the cost of whiplash claims to the economy; and to what extent are any savings being passed on to motorists through lower insurance premiums?
- What have been the effects of raising the small claims track limit from £1,000 to £5,000; the ban on settling whiplash claims without medical evidence; and the fixed tariff of compensation for whiplash injuries that last up to two years?
- Why most claimants continue to use legal representation when using the online portal (90% since its launch)?
- Whether the Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal is accessible and easy-to-use for claimants and/or their legal representatives;
- Whether claims brought using the OIC are being settled in a timely manner, if timeliness could be improved upon; and if so, how?
- Whether the OIC ensures access to justice for everyone who may seek to make a claim?
- How widely known is the OIC and how are potential claimants made aware of its existence?
- How effective is the OIC portal in settling claims for mixed injury claims, which cannot be settled using the fixed tariff awards?
- Any other issues in relation to the implementation of the whiplash reform programme and operation of the OIC to date.
The deadline for making submissions is 5pm on Friday 17 March. Submit written evidence here.