Is it really whiplash?

Living in a claim culture makes it difficult for insurance companies to really understand which motoring claims are genuine, and which are being fabricated.

Whiplash currently accounts for 76% of all motor accident claims, and is a condition that is extremely hard to prove or disprove.  Even doctors struggle to determine if a patient is suffering with whiplash as the damage is in the soft tissue which can’t be seen.

According to the Association of British Insurers (ABI), the UK have double the amount of whiplash claims than other European countries.  A spokesperson from the ABI argues, “It’s unlikely we’ve got some of the weakest necks in Europe”.

With whiplash claims contributing to our soaring insurance premiums, and insurers believing that many of the claims are indeed fraudulent, insurance companies have decided to fight back with the introduction of a ‘Whiplash Lie Detector’.

Unlike traditional lie detector tests this one doesn’t look at heart rates, and blood pressure.  It measures accident details such as the speed and weight of the vehicles involved, the damage to the cars and other important information.  Based on the data provided, the system, known as the Whiplash Injury Toolkit (WITkit), gives a probability of whiplash occurring.

Thatcham, who have developed the WITkit have said that so far the early indications from the test are positive.  They also hope that the claims process will be speeded up as a result.

But some are sceptical, such as Richard Cuerden from the Transport Research Laboratory, who claims that because it is not physically possible to see whiplash damage, there will be a large grey area.  He explains, “It’ll be able to say that, for these five per cent, pay out straight away. And for those five per cent, don’t. But for the 90 per cent in the middle, we just don’t know”.

Time will tell whether the WITkit will make a significant impact on the number of whiplash claims we see or not.  The ABI remain hopeful, in fact they believe if all fraudulent claims could be removed, our insurance premiums would fall by £50 a year.

This article was brought to you by Think Insurance, specialists in motor trade insurance.

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