Insurance industry 'smokescreen' will impact on injured motorists
ABI data shows less than 1 per cent of motor claims are proven to be fraudulent
Distorted figures on fraudulent motor insurance claims have been 'swallowed whole' by the government, the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has claimed.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) states that whiplash injuries cost the industry £2bn a year, or an average of £90 for each motor insurance policy.
The UK has been called the 'whiplash capital' of Europe. While France sees just 3 per cent of motor injury claims for whiplash, in the UK the figure is said to be up to 80 per cent.
However, an analysis of 2014 figures from the ABI shows that only 0.25 per cent of motor claims are proven to be fraudulent.
APIL explained that the figures included policy-holders over-egging their own claims, or making false declarations when applying for insurance.
The campaign group says that only a fraction of those fraudulent claims will involve whiplash injuries. Exact figure are unknown, however, because there are no industry figures available.
Despite this, the government is expected to press ahead with plans to remove the right to compensation for some whiplash claims in order to fight fraud and reduce car insurance premiums.
A consultation from the Ministry of Justice is expected following proposals announced in Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement to raise the small claims limit for personal injury claims and scrap general damages for 'minor' whiplash injuries.
In his speech last year, the chancellor said his reforms would remove over £1bn from the cost of providing motor insurance with the insurance industry passing on savings to motorists.
Commenting on the findings, the president of APIL, Jonathan Wheeler, said: 'We have discovered motor insurance fraud is actually a fraction of the level so often touted by the insurance industry.'
While admitting that fraud can never be justified or condoned, Wheeler said that the government had fallen for an insurance industry 'smokescreen' that will adversely affect injured motorists.
'The fact that there is far less of it than we have all been led to believe, and that it is still being used to justify government proposals to abolish the right to compensation for some whiplash injuries, is an absolute scandal,' he said.
'The government is obviously aiming at the wrong target,' added Wheeler. 'It is perfectly clear to anyone who looks at the real picture that the government's proposal is both draconian and has no basis in evidence.'
Wheeler alleged that the government's plans were an attempt to legislate away from the long-held fundamental right to compensation for genuine injury.
'The government has also announced that commuters will soon be able to claim compensation if their trains are more than 15 minutes late,' he continued.