A freedom of information request submitted by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) revealed there were 488,281 whiplash claims in 2012/13, down 60,000 on the previous 12 months.
APIL president Matthew Stockwell said the figures show claims are at their lowest levels since 2008/09 and oppose the government’s claim that the UK is the “whiplash capital of the world”.
APIL is using the figures in the association’s submission of evidence to the transport committee’s inquiry into whiplash claims.
Stockwell said: “Whiplash injuries are real, they are painful, and independent research has found that around one in five sufferers have symptoms lasting more than a year. One of the key purposes of car insurance premiums is precisely to ensure proper cover for such injuries.”
According to Stockwell the inquiry presents APIL with an opportunity to challenge the view that whiplash is to blame for the problems facing motor insurers.
“The transport committee inquiry finally presents a real chance to challenge hackneyed and groundless propaganda about whiplash-related injuries which has been promulgated by the insurance industry for far too long,” Stockwell said.
He said that the real problem for the high cost of motor insurance was not fraudulent whiplash claims but insurer practices pushing up costs and premiums.
“What is more ominous is that a report published only last month shows that 29% of our premiums is used to pay for repair costs and replacement vehicles, which is an aspect of claims which the Office of Fair Trading has already branded ‘dysfunctional’,” Stockwell said. “This, combined with insurers’ staffing and overhead costs, accounts for more than half of the average premium, and this is where the real mischief lies.”
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