Whiplash claims 'on the increase'
Motor insurance claims for whiplash appear to be on the rise, with Britain becoming more litigious than the US, according to new figures.
There was a 5% increase in the proportion of accidents involving third-party injury (TPI) claims in England and Wales last year, statistics from financial body the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) showed .
"A total of 90% of the TPI claims made in 2012 were what we consider 'small claims' for less than £20,000," said David Brown, one of the authors of the IFoA report.
He went on: "Coupled with the average claim figure of £9,512, this suggests that the majority of claims continue to be for whiplash-like injuries."
The report also said that a number of claims made last year were for accidents in 2011 and 2010, suggesting that a high volume of back-dated claims have been filed. This is known as "claims farming".
Mr Brown said: "The data we have collected for the last four years clearly shows a decrease in the number of accidents and you would expect that to correspond with a decrease in the number of TPI claims.
"Instead we have seen an increase in injury claims. This could mean that people are driving less safely. However police data shows that the number of motor accidents involving casualties has decreased. The other conclusion that you can draw is that claims farming is on the increase."
Mr Brown went on: "Last year our report showed a clear correlation between claim 'hotspots' and the location of claims management companies.
"The proportion of claims for insured accidents involving bodily injury is higher in the UK than in the USA, which is generally considered the most litigious jurisdiction. Recently the (House of Commons) Transport Select Committee suggested that the UK was the whiplash capital of the world, and they may well have a point."
The IFoA figures were based on analysis of third-party motor claims, looking at data from around 95% of the UK motor insurance industry.