New compensation system to speed up motor accident claims

The Government has committed itself to introducing a faster compensation system for people involved in road traffic or workplace accidents.

The move followed an “insurance summit” held in February designed to address the issue of spiralling insurance premiums and claims that the UK is now the “whiplash capital” of Europe, with more than 1,500 claims a day and claims from whiplash adding £90 to the average annual premium, according to the Association of British Insurers (ABI).

The Government has said that it will extend the claims limit for settling personal injury motor claims, rising from £10,000 to £25,000, a change that is likely to result in faster compensation because around 97% of claims will now be able to be processed through a fast-track system introduced in April 2010.

Crucially, ministers have said they intend to introduce a similar scheme for workplace-related injury and public liability claims.

The Government has also tasked insurers with providing guidance to all clients at the point of purchasing insurance setting out clearly what small to medium-sized enterprises do and do not need to do in order to comply with health and safety law, and so get cover.

This is to ensure businesses are not asked to go beyond what is actually required by law, it said.

Insurers were also asked to commit to preventing more vexatious health and safety civil claims.

Nick Starling, director of general insurance at the ABI, said: “This is good news for thousands more claimants who will get their compensation much more quickly. In less than two years, evidence shows that this process is leading to the average pay-out time being more than halved and lower legal costs.”

David Cameron, UK prime minister, said: “I am determined to tackle this damaging compensation culture that has been pushing up premiums.”

“I want to stop trivial claims, free up businesses from the stranglehold of health and safety red tape and look at ways we can bring costs down,” he added.

In a separate development, researchers at Dalhousie University in Australia have concluded that those who drive within three hours of consuming cannabis are nearly twice as likely to cause a vehicle collision as those who are not under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

A paper published online reviewed nine studies with a total sample of 49,411 people to determine whether or not the consumption of cannabis increased the risk of a motor vehicle collision.

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