UK’s injury claims “culture” worst in Europe at £2.6bn, says Aviva

Aviva on Surrey Street, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams.

Aviva on Surrey Street, Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams. - Credit: Copyright Archant Norfolk Ltd

British 'compensation culture' is behind a near-record high for whiplash injury claims and is costing the country's motorists more than £2.5bn in insurance premiums, according to research by insurance giant Aviva.

Despite the number of accidents falling by 30pc over the last eight years, injury claims have not dropped but actually increased by 62pc - whilst elsewhere in the EU they have mostly dropped, said Aviva's report.

While past claims data has shown Norfolk to have one of the lowest rates of 'crash for cash' incidents according to an Aviva spokesman, preventative measures will be rolled out by the insurer across the country.

Maurich Tulloch, CEO of UK and Ireland General Insurance for Aviva, said customers were 'fed up' with fraudulent whiplash claims adding an extra £93 premium cost to the average motorist.

'We have to ask ourselves as a society, why are we in a worse position than any other EU country?' said Mr Tulloch. 'Simply put, whiplash remains an easy target for 'have a go' and claim compensation.'

False claims are incentivised by third-parties such as solicitors and claims management companies (CMCs), which profit from encouraging customers to make claims, said Aviva's report Road to Reform.

'We even have evidence of claims being made on their behalf without the motorist being aware,' said Mr Tulloch, adding that referral fees, solicitor involvement and no-win no-fee contracts have been proven to increase fraudulent claims.

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Aviva has called for the government to lift the threshold for lawyer involvement from £1000 to £5000, and has lent its support to the MedCo programme which investigates financial links between medical experts and insurance lawyers.

Claimants will also not receive cash but 'care' such as physiotherapy for minor injuries, to reduce the financial incentive.

'All these measures have been proven to work,' said Mr Tulloch. 'Introduced together they would remove £1.4bn of unnecessary cost from the motor insurance market.'

The motor insurance market has itself not profited at all from the increase in claims, stated the report, claiming a 20-year-long lack of profitability.

Nor do third-parties increase the amount of compensation a claimant receives, according to the research, as those with and without solicitors or CMCs were paid the same amount.

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