Column: Roger's Soapbox

Whiplashed by Claims

By: | March 1, 2016 • 3 min read

Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

Insurance fraud: disorganized crime that eventually costs all of us serious money.

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A few unlost dollars added to an insurance claim here; a gang of Russian hackers shooting for the real money there. Why earn when you can steal, one might feel.

It has become traditional in the UK to claim for whiplash injuries following a motor accident. Any sort of motor accident, even a minor one. Sometimes, not even following a motor accident. Ever more inventive claims are a hallmark of the British whiplash scene.

You were in bed, asleep, when a cyclist dinged your wing mirror? The rude awakening caused your neck injury. Your car was stationary when hit from behind at 2 mph? Turning round to see what happened threw your back out.

Thus it is that Britannia rules the waves of whiplash claims inundating insurance company offices.

A few unlost dollars added to an insurance claim here; a gang of Russian hackers shooting for the real money there. Why earn when you can steal, one might feel.

LV= is a British insurer, although what LV equals is unclear. It reports that the UK is the whiplash capital of the world. Such prestige.

One of every 38 insureds claims for whiplash damages annually. Such claims constitute almost eight in 10 of all British insurance claims, cost more than $3 billion a year, and raise the average annual premium by $130.

This is not to pooh-pooh all cervical acceleration-deceleration claims. (That’s the medical term for whiplash.) Awful things happen to people in motor accidents; many of the claims for whiplash and other spinal injuries are, of course, entirely valid.

Many are not. More than half of all British drivers involved in a collision receive a call or text from lawyers or repair shops, suggesting that they claim on their insurance. This despite a series of measures introduced in 2013 to correct “the compensation culture.” The changes included a ban on “referral fees” paid by claims firms for potential clients, and a cap on what doctors may charge for preparing whiplash injury reports.

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The list of parties guilty of perverting the course of claims justice, therefore, includes doctors and attorneys. What exactly does the term “professional” mean these days?

If I’ve sparked your interest in whiplash claims, have a care when searching Google for information on the subject, or you may put more than your back out. A Miss Whiplash leads the Corrective Party, a formally-registered British political grouping that protects the interests of prostitutes. She claims that “the tax man is a pimp and the government is a pimp as well.”

Both live on the earnings of others, so she may have a point.

Miss Whiplash herself was involved in a car accident in 2009 and suffered horribly. She did not claim for her namesake, but instead embraced Christianity. Would that more insurance claimants did the same — after all, remember the Ninth Commandment: Thou shalt not bear false witness.

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The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]