As the 'claim culture' continues to thrive, people are getting fed up knowing that spurious claims by others are adding to their premiums. The booming trade in whiplash claims after car accidents has prompted some GP surgeries to start charging people who come in asking to have their injuries checked out for an insurance claim. You may ask why have they started charging – and will they succeed?
The moves from GPs is completely within the law. The Road Traffic Act 1988 states that doctors can charge £21.30 to diagnose and treat whiplash. Therefore, the GPs who have instigated charging these fees are quite within their rights and claim that this is in response to an 'increase in activity'.
Claims for whiplash have rocketed in recent years. There are now 1,500 claims on car insurance policies for the injury every day – which is up a third in the last three years despite a fall in the number of road accidents. Whiplash injury claims cost insurers over £2 billion last year, which adds around £90 to the cost of a typical car insurance policy.
Although the government has pledged to clamp down on the claims industry, there has been anger from some sectors as to how long this has taken. The general opinion is that a tight timescale should be applied to reform the civil litigations which currently appears to encourage people to make a claim regardless of how serious their injury may be – or even if they have not sustained an injury. Pressure is also being applied to clamp down on cold-call claims management and personal injury firms who have contributed to the 'claim society'.
Law abiding citizens are fed up – with 66% of people questioned stating they believe it is time the government did something to bring a stop to the claim culture, and 27% are cross that false whiplash claims are increasing insurance costs.
The question whether this particular move by GPs will achieve anything is so far unanswered. Many of the doctors who charge a fee say that they do so in the hope it will deter people from making a false claim. However, with potential rewards for a claim often exceeding £2,000, it depends to be seen whether this fee is going to act as a disincentive as it still offers a good return on investment - as a parody, it is now the GPs who are cashing in on the claim culture!
On a serious note, if you do suffer an accident and are injured, you need to know you have good insurance in place. Westhill Insurance Services will provide you with good, pragmatic advice. As an independent insurance company, we will shop around to find you the best possible deal to suit your budget – so that if you are unfortunately injured in an accident, you know that your claim will be dealt with sympathetically and properly, by a team of professional insurance experts who always put their clients first.
Call Westhill Insurance Services and make sure you have the whip hand!
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