Health insurer Axa has called for a more “forensic and robust” medical approach to the diagnosis and assessment of whiplash claims, which cost the UK an estimated £3.1 billion a year in musculoskeletal complaints, treatment and employee absence.
The insurer’s whiplash report in July pointed out that there are more than half a million whiplash claims a year in the UK, with claims having risen 32% between 2008 and 2011.
Earlier this year, the Ministry of Justice ran a consultation on ways to reduce whiplash claims. The report recommended that “medical reports should not be permitted to support prognoses that inflate damages”, adding that some prognoses “seem to fly in the face of received medical opinion”.
The cost of medical reports should also be fixed “and fall within the range of fees laid out in the Civil Procedure Rules”, it added.
The report also proposed the creation of independent medical panels to support better diagnosis of whiplash injuries.
Other recommendations included urging the Government to adopt a Swedish-style “minimum time threshold” on whiplash injuries and a requirement for diagnostic proof, the introduction of a medical threshold below which compensation is not recoverable.
The report also compared how such claims are tackled in Europe, especially in France and Sweden, where there are tougher thresholds and time limits on claims.
Chris Voller, claims director at Axa, said: “We would urge the Government to look at what has worked in France and Sweden – specifically in relation to the requirement for medical evidence and the implementation of a minimum time threshold – as it considers how best to manage whiplash claims moving forward.”