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Whiplash Claims

Volume 589: debated on Tuesday 16 December 2014

9. What recent steps he has taken to prevent fraudulent whiplash claims; and if he will make a statement. (906642)

The Government are taking forward a whiplash reform programme that will deter unnecessary, exaggerated or speculative claims. Reforms to control the costs of claims were implemented on 1 October, and on 2 December we announced further plans to have independence and quality safeguards in the system for obtaining expert evidence.

What evidence does the Minister have to demonstrate that his measures have been effective in cracking down on fraudulent whiplash claims, as it would seem that, as a nation, we are happy to allow both the profits of insurance companies and our reputation for having the weakest necks in the world to go unchallenged?

This Government have made and continue to make major changes to deter fraudsters and reduce the number and cost of whiplash claims. We have already seen an impact from these reforms and industry data show that they have contributed to a 14% reduction in premiums since February 2012.

Some years ago, I was shunted up my rear end—by a car on the M1, Mr Speaker—and I was then contacted by a number of companies that all said, “Surely you are suffering from whiplash. You should be making a claim.” Does the Minister agree that such actions are reprehensible?

I very much hope that there are no long-lasting effects from the experience my hon. Friend had. The Government take insurance fraud very seriously and have recently set up a taskforce to tackle this important issue and drive down premiums. The taskforce will consider insurance fraud across the board, and will aim to publish an interim report by March 2015 with a final report issued by the end of 2015.

I trust that the experience was even more unpleasant for the hon. Member for Lichfield (Michael Fabricant) than it was for the car.

Fraudulent whiplash claims are criminal activity, plain and simple, and everybody in the House would condemn them. Will the Minister also condemn those insurance companies that created third-party capture, massively contributing to the number of these claims in the first instance? While he is at it, does he have any evidence to suggest that medical practitioners are failing their obligations under civil procedure rules—CPR—35?

For too long, honest drivers have been bearing the cost and, with that, higher insurance premiums because of the whole issue of whiplash. Government reforms have been robust. We have set up a system whereby we hope to deter unnecessary or speculative claims and ensure that those who are genuinely injured can claim. We have clamped down hard on the insurance companies. We have been working with them, along with the medical profession and the lawyers, to try to make the system a lot better. Medical reports from now on will cost £180 and lawyers will carry out previous claims checks on potential claimants in order to combat fraudulent claims. That will, of course, impact on the insurance companies.