According to the ABI (Association of British Insurers) there are more than 1,500 whiplash claims made in the UK every day, adding £90 to average motor insurance policy premium.
However, the government is making a number of changes to the claims process for low value road traffic accidents. These changes are known as the ‘Whiplash Reforms’ and it’s hoped that this will reduce insurance premiums for policyholders, whilst claimants can still claim for personal injury compensation inline with their injuries. However, that could now be as little at £240!
Here’s an overview of the main changes:
New rules from 31 May 2021.
The new ‘Whiplash reform’ rules come into effect from 31 May 2021. The rules include using a new claim portal, new fixed tariff values for injuries lasting up to two years, a ban on settling claims without medical evidence and a legal definition of what constitutes as ‘whiplash injury’.
The new ‘Official Injury Claim Portal
The portal has been set up by the Motor Insurer’s Bureau (MIB) on behalf of the Ministry of Justice and is free to use. The aim is to help those wanting to make a claim, do so without having to go to court.
Those wanting to make a low value claim for personal injury following a road traffic accident will have access to the ‘Official Injury Claim Portal’.
Through the portal, you can claim for up to £5,000 for your personal injury, rising to a total of £10,000 for all related losses (such a damage to your vehicle and loss of earnings).
The service is available to anyone aged 18 or over, was inside the vehicle, the accident took place in England or Wales and the claimant believes it was a non-fault accident. However, the service doesn’t cover pedestrians, cyclists or motorcyclists – who should seek separate advice. Nor does it cover a ‘protected part’ i.e someone unable to conduct proceedings.
Assessing the value of your claim
There is guidance on the Official Injury Claim Portal on how to assess the value of your claim, and the tariff’s for different types of whiplash claims. See here for more details
There are five steps involved – firstly logging your claim via the portal where you will need to outline where and when the accident took place, injuries you received in the accident, other vehicles involved, who you feel was responsible.
After this is the investigation stage – your claim will be passed to the insurance company of the driver you feel was responsible for the accident. They will carry out their own investigations.
You’ll need to submit medical evidence having been examined by an accredited medical expert. They will provide a report of your injuries.
If your claim is accepted in full, or in part by the insurer of the driver, you may be offered compensation which you can choose to accept or not. You can negotiate via the portal.
Once both parties have agreed, you can close the claim.
Why you may wish to consider Legal Expenses Insurance
Without Legal Expenses Cover, you would either need to manage your claim yourself or get legal advice from a solicitor. But you could face having a proportion of your compensation retained by the solicitor to cover their costs. Due to the new tariffs which have been significantly reduced, this could see most of your compensation swallowed up in legal costs.
By having legal expenses insurance, you’ll be able to have professional assistance and advice at no additional cost.
You can often add legal expenses cover to your policy mid-term, providing there’s not already a claim in progress. It’s always worth checking with your insurer to check what cover you have and whether it still offers good value.