That’s an odd question to ask, isn’t it?
I personally wouldn’t make a false claim but the fact is that a lot of people would and I wanted to talk about that a little bit today as there have been some changes recently that affect the maximum payouts for a whiplash claim in an attempt to reduce the temptation to put a false claim in after a car accident.
I had a car accident on the way home from work a little over three years ago – a lorry was taking over me on the dual carriageway and pulled into my lane too early which left my little car in a bit of a mess! I wasn’t at fault and the driver couldn’t apologise enough but I think I was in shock as, after swapping details and doing all the necessary stuff, I got back in my car and drove home. Had I waited for the police, they would have taken me to the hospital and the car to the junkyard in the sky I suspect but I just got back in and drove home with bits hanging off the car all over the place.
The car was a write-off and I wasn’t in that good a state either but honestly, that was mostly just shock and although I was a little bit sore for the rest of the day and the day after, I was OK the following day and happily driving a courtesy car that was way nicer than mine by that point too.
Within about a week, my insurance company had contacted me several times to try and put me in touch with their solicitor so I could make a claim for my whiplash. They urged me to go to the doctors to register my pain and get a diagnosis and they really seemed to struggle with the fact that I didn’t want to make a claim. I explained that I’d felt better after the first few days but they told me to go to the doctors anyway ‘just in case’.
I actually think I could have faked whiplash if I’d been that way inclined – a quick Google search and I can name all the symptoms you could expect along with a guide on how to not over-do it to make your doctor suspicious.
That knowledge coupled with the pressure from my insurance company could have easily persuaded me to make a fake claim and even though I wouldn’t, I do now understand why people are tempted. It’s almost easy, but not honest, money!
The problem is that it’s so easy that the amount of people believed to be making fake claims is having a direct impact on the cost of everyone’s car insurance. In fact, the average cost of car insurance is at an all-time high according to comparethemarket.com, with the average policy set to reach £800 this year. This is a 14% increase on 2016 and a whopping £200 more than it cost in 2015.
To combat this, the government announced some changes to the way that whiplash claims were handles and to the way that the payouts are calculated. They’re due to come into effect next year and will introduce a fixed amount payable for injuries lasting less than 2 years, reducing the amount of compensation you will be entitled to should you suffer a whiplash injury through a road traffic accident. The proposed tariffs see a minimum claim of £225 for an injury lasting 0-3 months and compensation capped at £3725 for an injury lasting 2 years.
The changes will also reduce the amount the insurer has to pay in costs for the claim by increasing the Small Claims Track Limit from £1000 to £5000 for road traffic accidents. That means all cases under £5000 will be considered small claims for road traffic accidents. More motorists, in general, may be expected to go through the small claims court rather than using a solicitor for car accident claims.
Another notable change is that claims will only be accepted following an independent medical assessment.
The whiplash reforms are a measure to put people off making minor claims or exaggerated and fraudulent whiplash claims, saving the insurance industry a projected £1bn a year and drivers an expected £40 per year on their car insurance.
I’m in two minds about this because yes, I want to save money on my car insurance and yes, I want to see less fraudulent claims but actually, from what I’ve heard, whiplash is painful and it would seem that these changes are making things that bit more difficult for someone with a genuine claim.
It feels almost as if everyone is being punished for the few who have been a bit naughty so whilst I’m not encouraging you to make a claim, I would say that if you do have a genuine claim then it might be worth considering starting off your claim before the regulations change as the capping that’s coming into place could impact the amount you’re paid.
And if you have made a fake claim, you should go sit in the corner and think about what you’ve done!
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This is a collaborative post.