Transport CommitteeThe AXA Whiplash Report 2013


Roads and cars in the UK have never been safer, yet the number of compensation claims for personal injuries, notably whiplash, continues to rise pushing up the cost of insurance for motorists. A contributory factor has been the growth in claims management companies and an underlying culture that encourages people to seek compensation whenever they can.

It is not for insurance companies to decide whether it is right for individuals to receive compensation and at what level; that is a matter for government, regulators and policymakers alike. Someone who suffers real injury through the negligent act of another deserves to be put back into the position they were originally in through an appropriate mix of rehabilitation and compensation. But without more fundamental reform to our compensation system in the UK, compensation awards will continue unabated and will go on representing something akin to a minor lottery win for too many people, and our motor insurance premiums will remain the highest of all countries analysed in this report.

Before policymakers consider solutions that might improve the situation for the UK’s motorists, they would do well to review how other countries have tackled the situation. AXA’s unique position as a significant European motor insurer leaves us well placed to offer solutions of our own. That some countries have been able to find answers should send a positive signal that it is possible to find a way forward that balances the needs of the wrongdoer and the wronged.

I hope you enjoy reading this unique analysis of whiplash which includes some fascinating trends across a range of different countries.

Chris Voller, AXA Claims Director, February 2013


The roads of the UK, and much of the developed world, have never been safer. However, whilst accident rates are falling, the cost of motor insurance is rising. One of the major culprits is the increasing cost of claims for bodily injury, very often involving only minor whiplash injuries.

Whiplash is one of the most common causes of neck injury, occurring when the head suddenly and unexpectedly moves forwards, backwards or sideways, damaging the neck’s ligaments and tendons. That whiplash can cause a real injury we recognise, but the problem is that doctors find it difficult to effectively diagnose whiplash due to vague symptoms such as pain and stiffness, and diagnoses are often reliant on patient descriptions—which can be inaccurate and easily falsified. There has also been evidence emerging in recent months about a small number of GPs who do not even see their patients (rather diagnosis is based on a telephone conversation). And in one or two instances, GPs have been engaged in actively promoting fraudulent claims. On many fronts, the current system is clearly open to abuse.

The first major cross-border study into whiplash was conducted by the CEA (the Comité Europeen des Assurances, a pan-European trade body, now Insurance Europe) in 2004. This report constructed a comparative analysis across European countries of differences between levels of claims for bodily injury, and in particular the costs of these claims.

This study by the CEA is still cited today, and is long overdue for updating. However, the data collection requirements for such work are onerous, and difficult to collate across countries without direct contact and co-ordination with individual trade bodies, which collect data from their insurance company members. For this report we have used existing facts available from Insurance Europe and other sources such as industry trade associations and public organisations.

As well as aiming to collate all available data in relation to whiplash, this report also seeks to analyse the factors causing differentials in these places, especially in the legal and medical system. Although legal systems are notoriously difficult to compare, some conclusions can be drawn from policy decisions in individual countries. Drawing upon this analysis, we have defined a series of policy recommendations for the UK which we believe will help bring the cost of whiplash claims down, and with them motor insurance premiums.

Key Facts

Despite there being a significant reduction in traffic volume and road fatalities since 2000, there has been a 100% increase in the number of motor insurance injury claims over the same period. As a result, in 2011 UK motor insurers made an underwriting loss of £425 million;

One self-insuring company looked at in this study now has personal injury claims which account for 40% of all outstanding claims. This has increased by 13% in recent years. Another claimed to have average bodily injury claim costs of around £2,000, which is dwarfed by the potential £15,000–20,000 in legal costs that might be incurred in defending the claim;

Individual policies are getting more expensive. The cost of an annual comprehensive motor insurance policy rose by 102% between 1994 and 2011 impacted in no small part by the impact of whiplash claims, which now add approximately £90, or 20%, to each policy. This trend has been particularly damaging for young people, where 96% of young drivers now think they are being priced off of the road;

We can see in England and Wales how there has been a strong correlation between the number of claims management companies (CMC) and the number of bodily injury claims by region, a key driver in pushing up insurance premiums. The UK CMC industry grew significantly in 2010, with turnover increasing by 50% to £377 million;

A small element of the medical profession is also helping to drive up the level of personal injury claims. Again, this is particularly true in England and Wales where the diagnosis of whiplash is often reliant upon patient descriptions which can be inaccurate and easily falsified;

Whiplash now accounts for 75% of all personal injury claims in the UK which contrasts with just 3% in France where the diagnosis of whiplash requires objective proof based on more rigorous medical testing. No compensation can be awarded in France without an independent medical assessment by a professional who is an expert in dealing with bodily injuries;

Evidence gathered from the French insurance market shows how this outcome benefits consumers with a comparatively low cost of motor insurance compared to the UK, approximately 40% lower.

1. Context and Overview

This chapter seeks to provide a context and overview to the rise of whiplash as an important issue affecting the UK. It explores the state of the motor insurance market, the rise in bodily injury claims, claims management companies (CMCs) and the impact on the driver with the rising cost of motor insurance premiums.

1.1 UK Motor Insurance

The £13.4 billion UK motor insurance market is characterised by fierce competition and low growth. 1 Price is increasingly becoming the defining issue in buying motor insurance, driven by factors such as the emergence of price comparison websites, which have further cut into the margins of UK motor insurers. The latest annual statistics in 2011 paint a gloomy picture of the private and commercial motor insurance market: 2

2011 recorded underwriting loss for the UK motor insurance market of £425 million;

For every £1 premium received, insurance companies paid out £1.03 in claims and expenses;

There has been no recorded underwriting profit for the UK motor market since 1994.

Despite an increase in gross written premiums from motor insurance from £9.2 billion in 2000 to £13.3 billion in 2011, there has been a reduction in traffic volume in Great Britain, down 2% to £208.1 billion vehicle miles in 2010, £5.1 billion fewer than in 2009. This figure stayed relatively stable at £303.8 billion in 2011. 3 4 A higher overall premium level without a corresponding increase in traffic suggests that individual policies are getting more expensive, and indeed the cost of an annual comprehensive motor insurance policy rose 102% between 2004 and 2011. 5

Figure 1


Concurrently, the number of personal injury claims arising from road traffic accidents has risen sharply, whilst the number of casualties from these accidents has fallen every year, from approximately 40,000 in 2002 to 25,000 in 2011. 7 In addition to the rising number of claims, the payout of the average personal injury claim has risen to £3,565 in 2010, up from £2,556 in 2001.

Figure 2


- The Compensation Recovery Unit is a part of the Department for Work and Pensions which is informed when a claim for compensation is made

According to the Financial Services Authority (FSA), insurers lost over 1.03p for every £1 premium sold in 2011. 9 Figure 3 shows the impact of these trends on the motor insurance industry. The “net claims incurred” have outweighed the “net written premiums” since 1994, resulting in an underwriting loss. In response to this increase in the number of claims and cost of claims, insurers have been forced to increase insurance premiums for consumers. This is particularly damaging for young people, where 96% of young drivers now think they are being priced off of the road. 10

Alison Seabeck MP—”Clearly there is an impact on people’s cost of living because motor insurance is a significant chunk out of a lot of family’s budgets. Looking at this could benefit the majority of drivers”

Why do insurers accept these underwriting losses? Personal motor insurance is still the single largest class of insurance business, with UK insurers generating £18.6 billion of worldwide in 2011. 11 Therefore, for any insurer with a desire to be a major player on the insurance landscape, with a large pool of funds to invest, motor insurance remains a crucial market to operate in. The scale of competition to access this revenue pool is high, leading to increasingly tight margins. The consistent loss on motor insurance underwriting has increased the reliance on a reducing stream of investment income, as well as sales of ancillary products and the provision of referral fees in order for firms to maximise revenue.

Figure 3


Costs of increasing whiplash claims have additional impacts on UK plc. We undertook interviews with two UK businesses that are directly exposed to the recent trend in whiplash claims. Given the nature of the market place, many companies self-insure parts of the liability risks arising from road traffic accidents. Unlike motor insurance premiums which are relatively easy to track, the “hidden costs” faced by businesses and public authorities often go unnoticed but run into potentially hundreds of millions of pounds. Firms which operate large commercial fleets are clearly heavy road-users and are at the sharp end in efforts to cap the growing claims culture driven by whiplash. Below we include two examples of UK firms which have felt the impact on their costs.

Case Study: FirstGroup plc

With its roots in Aberdeen, FirstGroup has grown rapidly to become the world’s leading ground transport operator. As a major British success story, its 125,000 employees help to transport some 2.5 billion passengers a year, generating revenues of over £6 billion. 13 Within the UK, it is now the largest bus operator running more than one-in-five of all local bus services. The company has a fleet of some 8,000 buses, carrying 2.6 million passengers a day in more than 40 major towns and cities. 14 The company has based its growth on an absolute commitment to safety and a strong foundation of sound risk management. Detailed data analysis is carried out in order to assess where all the risks arise within the business—risks can be assessed for individual drivers, vehicles and each route operated. In addition, the company’s Injury Prevention scheme encourages a Safety First culture throughout the company. As a result of the company’s efforts to improve the safety of its operations through thought leadership, commitment to best practice and employee training, it now has one of the best safety records of any major bus operator in the UK. Yet the company has still experienced a dramatic increase in personal injury claims, which now account for 40% of all outstanding claims; up by 13% in recent years. Since the introduction of the MOJ portal (30 April 2010), the impact of personal injury claims continues to grow and claim costs are now 31% higher since the new reforms were initiated. During the last year alone, the company has experienced an 11% increase in personal injury claim notifications and a 25% increase in passenger injury claims. In contrast, vehicle damage claim notifications have reduced by 21% during the same period. The company is having fewer collisions or accidents each year but seeing more injury claims made. Given that the company is effectively self-insured for the majority of these claims, most of which are for alleged whiplash or soft tissue injuries, additional costs are being incurred which the company has to fund.

Case Study: Sheffield Insulations Group (SIG)

As a major UK fleet operator SIG has 2,200 vehicles across the UK supporting its £1.2 billion annual turnover of insulation, exterior and interior products distribution businesses. Ensuring all risks facing the business are properly assessed is critical. SIG has its own Accident Review Panel (ARP) which meets monthly to look at accident and incident data across all of its UK businesses. The ARP has access to data which enables it to assess risks on both individual drivers and vehicles. Risks are managed through appropriate training and where necessary, disciplinary action. Despite all of SIG’s best efforts and whilst the UK’s roads are themselves safer than ever, combined with the continued improvement in car safety design, the cost of personal injury (PI) claims continues to increase perpetuated by the current claims culture and fuelled by the advertising and prominence of claims management companies. SIG like many companies carries a significant level of self-insurance and the ever increasing cost of PI claims is a significant additional cost for commercial fleets, on top of fuel price increases. In the case of SIG nearly 50% of third party claims by cost now come from PI claims. The increasing number of such claims the company receives, many of which based on the circumstances of the incidents appear to be at the least spurious and in some cases fraudulent, significantly add to fleet running costs. Unfortunately the current claims settlement system is stacked up against defendants, with claims companies making the most of what they regard as being easy pickings. Anecdotal evidence and reports from employees have confirmed the ease with which sympathetic supporting medical evidence can be obtained. As a result of this both commercial fleet operators and insurers alike are in many cases forced to settle spurious or fraudulent claims given the basic economics: typically the damages will be worth no more than £2,000–3,000, which is dwarfed by the potential £15,000–20,000 in legal costs which might be incurred in defending the claim. SIG have also experienced issues with what are perceive to be “claimant-friendly” courts in some parts of England, where judges no longer expect claimants to even attend disposal hearings reviewing their cases, combined with there being no penalties for bad practice among claimant lawyers in not following due legal process.

Both of our case studies recognised that no one factor can be singled out in explaining the trends outlined above: for example, whiplash on its own is not the issue; nor can it be blamed on the medical profession. Rather, it is the wider environment in which all of the various legal, economic and social factors come together which is contributing to the fundamental problem of high legal costs and the impact of exaggerated or spurious claims. Whilst the introduction of the RTA portal has been a welcome initiative, the full potential impact has been limited due to the reduced burden of proof requirement (no proof of injury) at Stage 1 when the initial cost (£400) is payable. Weighting the staged payouts under the RTA portal towards the end of the process when the evidence has been gathered and the claim has been settled would be a helpful development. Fleet operators would also benefit if the Portal adopted a more tailored approach which reflect the unique challenges in gathering evidence and determining liability in those cases which involve multiple claimants. 

1.2 Defining and Diagnosing Whiplash

Sir Peter Bottomley MP “If there is a test where people don’t have to show something has happened that’s not a test. A test has to potentially disprove something. You have got to have a test which shows something is disprovable. If not it is not science.”

Whiplash is a non-medical term describing a range of injuries to the neck caused by or related to a sudden distortion of the neck associated with extension. 15 “Cervical acceleration/deceleration” (CAD) describes the mechanism of the injury and “Minor Cervical Trauma” (MCT) is the most common injury resulting from whiplash. 16 The Modified Quebec Task Force Classification system for diagnosis of whiplash is classified into four grades in increasing order of severity. In the UK, over 92–95% of all whiplash cases are attributed to grades 1 and 2 whiplash associated disorder (WAD), which includes neck pain and possibly decreased range of motion in the neck. Only 5–8% of WAD incidence is attributed to grades 3 and 4, which includes symptoms of neurologic damage and spinal cord injury. 17 The problem is that grades 1 and 2 are virtually impossible to diagnose because they cannot be visualised by MRI scans or X-rays and therefore no objective evidence can be produced.

Over the last three years (2008–11), the number of people claiming whiplash has jumped by 32% to 570,000 a year, even though the number of accidents reported has fallen by 16% to less than 210,000. 18 There is no doubt that some of these claims are genuine, but it is apparent that many people visit their G.P. or Accident and Emergency Department for the sole purpose of attaining a medical record to file a compensation claim.

An excess of 500,000 recorded incidents of “whiplash” annually in the UK; with any other health condition, this magnitude of incidence would be flagged as a major public health issue. Controversy arises regarding MCT because around 70% of motor insurance personal injury claims are attributed to whiplash injuries, at a cost of £2 billion per year. 19 This is estimated to add £90 to the average UK motor insurance premium. 20

The Road Traffic Act of 1988 states that the first non-hospital physician that provides emergency treatment to a road accident victim is entitled to charge a fee of £21.30 and a mileage rate of £0.41 for anything over 2 miles directly to the patient. Sometimes treatment for whiplash is not sought immediately after the accident and the BMA’s advice for the GP’s surgery is to treat these cases as “emergency treatment” and therefore charge the fee under the Road Traffic Act. 21 Most physicians, however are either not aware of the fee or do not think it is fair to impose such a fee if it may deter genuine whiplash cases from being examined. The fee is meant to create a hurdle for fraudulent whiplash claims.

Dr. Stephen Davies, a spokesperson for the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP), verifies that both the NHS and the RCPG support this fee, although the vast majority of surgeries still diagnose whiplash associated disorder with no charge. 22

The Transport Select Committee’s report of January 2012 recommended that the bar be raised on the proof required before whiplash injury can be compensated. The committee concluded: “Where someone can demonstrate that they have suffered an injury, including whiplash, as a result of a road traffic accident for which they were not fully liable they should be able to claim and receive compensation. However, in relation to whiplash, we are not convinced that a diagnosis unsupported by any further evidence of injury or personal inconvenience arising from the injury should be sufficient for a claim to be settled”. 23

Premex, a provider of independent medical reports for personal injury claimants, and its competitors in the UK, presently provide 50% of all personal injury claims with medical reports through their panel of medical professionals. They provide specific training material to their medical panel on whiplash diagnosis, which is the first step to an independent objective medical diagnosis akin to the system in France. These organizations have set fees under the Medical Reporting Organisation Agreement of £200 for a medical report with no review and £250 with a review plus any other fees that are associated with obtaining medical notes. These types of agencies have decreased the time it takes to obtain medical reports and have increased the use of GP’s rather than specialists for reporting whiplash, however they have also become a strong income stream for PI lawyers through commission, referral fees or through direct ownership. They are also the first step towards standardised reporting and examination similar to what is currently used in assessing the entitlement for various disability benefits. Standard reporting is beneficial in identifying the appropriate compensation for damages in a fair manner but a balance must be found between the cost effectiveness of the medico legal report and the robustness of the examination.

The problem still remains, though, that the BMA needs to develop proper guidance to diagnose whiplash and Lord Hunt requested that either medical profession must take action or Parliament needs to better define the evidence needed for whiplash diagnosis. 24 The question of how doctors can provide concrete evidence to the courts confirming the presence of whiplash remains to be answered. At present, England and Wales does not have a robust and scientific way of judging the location and severity of the pain, with doctors relying on the judgment of the patient. Fixing this issue will involve some upfront costs for the NHS and insurers. However, as we have seen with efforts to promote welfare to work reforms, the government has been prepared to fund upfront costs in the knowledge that it will generate greater benefits in the long-term. The potential costs and benefits of such reforms are considered below when we look at the example of market practice in France which already has in place such a more comprehensive medical approach to assessing whiplash.

Alison Seabeck MP—”It is enormously difficult [to judge] without putting a huge additional burden on criminal investigation teams and on the Health Service who would have to do potentially more detailed testing rather than sitting in your GP’s surgery and doing some basic tests and the GP saying—Yes—I think you’ve got a whiplash problem”

In addition to diagnosis, the treatment of whiplash is a highly debated area that is supported by very little evidence for or against intensive care. A recent study published by the Lancet shows that intensive, specialised and longer treatment for mild to moderate whiplash provides no benefits for the victim’s recovery. The study looked at the results of 2,704 whiplash victims and assessed their Neck Disability Index (NDI) after receiving intensive care and standard care as well as a physiotherapy treatment compared to general advice and worksheets on exercise. The results of this study displayed that both receiving intensive care and lengthy physiotherapy did not offer a significant benefit to the whiplash victim. This indicates that an adjustment should be implemented by the NHS on the guidelines for the treatment that a person can receive for whiplash. If this data can be confirmed and reproduced, consequently decreasing the extent of whiplash treatment provides immense cost benefits immediately and in the long term. 25

1.3 Claims management companies

“The claims management companies can only ride on a system which works in their favour. If not they’ll evaporate.” Sir Peter Bottomley

Figure 4



% of private motor insurance claims involving bodily injury

North West England


North East England






London and South East England (excl. Kent and Essex)


Great Britain average




East Anglia


West and South-West England


Kent and Essex




North-East Scotland


Figure 4 shows the relationship between the number of claims management companies (CMCs) and the proportion of private motor insurance claims that involve bodily injury to third parties. As whiplash in the UK makes up a significant proportion of personal injury claims we can say that there is a relationship between whiplash prevalence and CMC’s geographic location.

A positive correlation exists between the number of CMCs in a region and the proportion of private motor insurance claims that involve injury to third parties. Generally, more CMCs mean more motor insurance claims involving bodily injury. Prices of motor insurance are also linked to location of claims management companies. The North West of England has the highest average annual comprehensive premiums, at £1,615, as well as a very high concentration of claims management companies.

“It doesn’t seem like a crime—just getting some money back that should not have been paid in the first place… [we have] good people doing bad things.” David Ward MP

CMCs are a growth industry, with national turnover increasing 50% to £377 million in 2010. The strongest growth in CMCs has been in North West England, North East England and West London, which are all areas with high levels of motor insurance claims involving bodily injury. 27

1.4 The Advancement of Anti-Whiplash Technology

Several recent studies have identified the seat and headrest design to be the most important factors in whiplash safety. 28 The Volvo WHIPS system is the most well known and one of the most effective anti-whiplash technologies on the market. The WHIPS seat has improved spinal support and has been designed to keep the headrest closer to the drivers head. It also is constructed with a novel hinge mount and springs that move the seat back in the event of a rear collision in order to absorb some of the impact from the collision. This system of improved seat and headrest design helps to limit the impact of whiplash. The implementation of the WHIPS system in 1999 resulted in 49% less injury claims in the Volvo vehicles.

Saab’s active head restraint (SAHR) is another effective whiplash protection system. It involves a padded headrest that is linked to a pressure plate inside the back of the seat. During a rear collision, the passenger’s torso makes impact with the seatback, which presses on the pressure plate and sends the headrest up and forward in order to catch the passengers’ head before their head can whip back, causing whiplash. The Saab seat itself also is designed to absorb to impact of the crash by cradling the passenger’s body. 29

There are autonomous vehicle braking technologies emerging such as Volvo’s City Safety. A recent paper uses the Volvo City Safety to generate predictions for the effect of this system on whiplash cases. Their predictions display that 263,250 crashes could be prevented, 87,750 could be better mitigated and 151,848 injuries could be avoided. This equates to £2 billion in auto repair costs and whiplash compensation in the UK. 30

In 2008, the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) implemented a whiplash test as part of its new car assessment to reduce the incidence of whiplash associated disorder, to promote car manufacturers to produce best in practice seat designs and increase consumer awareness of whiplash safety. The Euro NCAP ranks new cars by the quality of their whiplash safety by a set of statistical and experimental safety data and publishes an annual report. 31

2. Lessons from Overseas

In this section we examine some of the experiences from other countries which have dealt with whiplash claims in a number of ways. We have chosen to review European countries including France, Sweden, Germany, Italy and Switzerland since they represent territories with a similar economic disposition to the UK. To provide a global dimension we also analysed the compensation system in Canada—a country with an established road infrastructure but without the complexity of multiple states, each with its own rule book, like the USA. It is notable that of all the examples we looked at it is the French model—in which the approach taken by the medical profession in dealing with the diagnosis of whiplash is markedly different to that in England and Wales—where we potentially see the greatest learning points. Sweden too, has applied the use of a strict de minimis time limit imposed on new claims and both countries have seen very different trends emerge.

2.1 Overview—Whiplash across Europe

To reinforce the points made in the previous chapter, we can see that the same story exists when looking across Europe. Although bodily injury claims are not linked to the number of fatalities on the road, they are a key cause of the rising cost of motor insurance. The data points on the chart below represent the European countries, with data taken from Insurance Europe’s 2010 motor insurance report. As we know from the 2004 CEA report into whiplash, a significant proportion of personal injury claims are whiplash related. Therefore, as there is a relationship between personal injury claims and insurance premiums, we can infer that whiplash claims have a direct correlation to insurance premiums.

Figure 5


Figure 5 shows a strong correlation between the average motor insurance premium and personal injury claims as a percentage of total claims. The relationship is clear, with the number of personal injury claims being to some extent responsible for driving the level of motor insurance premiums. This implies that if countries are able to bring their levels of personal injury claims down then reductions in premiums should follow.

Figure 6


However, there is no relationship between the level of fatalities on the road and the number of personal injury claims. This implies that the number of personal injury claims is in fact unrelated to the number of road accidents. Therefore to explain the reasons behind the high levels of personal injury claims we need to look at wider social and legal trends in individual countries to evaluate what drives the level of claims. The heat map below shows the average total motor insurance premium (adjusted for PPP*) across Europe. Switzerland and the United Kingdom have by far the highest costs of motor insurance, while Greek and Polish motorists have the cheapest motor insurance out of the countries selected.

Figure 7



Average Total Motor insurance premium (€ PPP*)















Czech Republic














United Kingdom


* PPP stands for Purchasing Power Parity, which is an economic theory and technique which compares the amount of money needed to buy the same goods or services in different countries

The influence of the whiplash victim’s cultural setting is examined by the CEA by looking at the German, French and Italian speaking parts of Switzerland. The German speaking regions exhibit much higher amounts of claims and costs compared to the French and Italian regions and the CEA suggests that this is related to the heavy amount of lobbying from whiplash victim associations and therefore public awareness of the availability of personal injury compensation. 33

2.2 France


In the CEA’s 2004 study, France had the lowest level of insurance claims linked to whiplash (0.5%) out of all ten countries surveyed. It also had one of the lowest levels of cost per claim at €3837. Whiplash claims are estimated to be only 3% of all bodily injury claims and the country is often used as a comparison point by other countries pointing out their own high costs. Due to whiplash being a minor issue in France minimal data has been published since the 2004 CEA report. As shown by figure 7, the French enjoy relatively low levels of car insurance, at just €410, and this is in part due to the low levels of bodily injury claims incurred on the industry.

Medical framework

In France, strict regulation and a strong medical element to personal injury claims seem to have played a role in keeping the cost of car insurance down in recent years.

Diagnosing bodily injury

To diagnose bodily injury in France there is a firm emphasis on objective proof. With regards to whiplash this means that injury is not recognised unless the medical professional is able to see evidence of injury, such as on an MRI scan or X-Ray.

Medical qualifications

There are strict rules in France around the qualifications needed to be able to diagnose bodily injury when an insurance claim is involved. Legislation specifies a certain level of training required in order to assess bodily injury, requiring a diploma in bodily injury assessment. No compensation can be awarded without this legal and independent assessment, and many argue that this is the key element to the containment of whiplash claims.

There is an extensive process for diagnosing whiplash, including the requirement for a neurological examination and one of several diplomas are needed to assess Bodily Injury from a medical perspective. The CAPEDOC (see below) is one of these although other University qualifications can be used to award diplomas in Legal Medical Assessment.

The assessment is performed by a doctor trained and who has graduated in legal medical assessment.

Two kinds of diplomas are relevant:

Diploma from University in Legal medical assessment—Réparation du Préjudice Corporel (RJDC).

Diploma named CAPEDOC delivered by the French Insurers association required by the insurance companies to assess Direct settlement claims which are compensated via an agreement between Motor Insurance Companies.

The medical assessment given by professionals with these qualification aims to:

Give a medical and independent opinion on the victim’s physical and psychological state related to the accident;

Estimate the current and future consequences of the accident; and

Allow the claims handler or the Court to estimate the extent of the damage and propose a fair compensation.

Medical-Legal Assessment

The medical assessment legal framework is based on two pillars; the type of damage such as disability or pain or suffering is defined by the law. This is in addition to a medical scale in which each damage is rated by the medical expert on a medical scale. Compensation of bodily injury claims is based on a legal medical scale and the assessment is performed by a doctor with knowledge of legal medical assessment. The type of calculation used to measure the scale of bodily injury in France is the “calcul au point” or the AIPP scale. The courts usually ask the experts to specify a percentage of incapacity, though only in an indicative way. Frequently, medical experts use unofficial scales, but usually rely on their professional experience. The most commonly used scale in the courts is the “bareme fonctionnel indicative des incapacites en droit commun” published in Le Concours medical in 1982. 34 The Code of Civil Procedure from the French Assemblee Nationale mandates that the forensic medical expert, individual or corporation is prohibited in engaging in an activity that is incompatible with the independence necessary to carry out its mission in the statutory provisions in Articles 2 and 3. This means that the medical professional who is evaluating the whiplash claims must be independent of any external organisations that may influence their medical assessment.

An example of the level of compensation based on age and disability is shown in the table below. 35 36 The principle behind this table is that the older the individual is, the less time they will have to live with this permanent or semi-permanent injury and therefore as age increases, the compensation decreases.

























AIPP Scale Example Injuries:

AIPP (%)

Example of Injury


Loss/paralysis of toe or finger, loss of smell or voice


Loss of hearing in one ear, knee replacement


Loss of all toes or teeth, loss of teeth


Facial paralysis, loss of non-dominant thumb


Loss of dominant thumb, loss of vision in one eye


Loss of foot or leg (replaced by prosthetic)


Loss of non-dominant hand


Loss of dominant hand, loss of non-dominant arm


Loss of dominant arm, loss of leg, sight or hearing


Paraplegia, tetraplegia, cranial trauma

Legal process

If the claimant wishes to dispute the decision taken by the medical expert then they are able to go to court. Once taken to court, if the claim is unsuccessful, the cost of legal fees falls on the claimant. However, if the claimant is successful in front of a tribunal, then compensation for pain and suffering and reimbursement for legal fees will be awarded. There are no scales for compensation and no fixed amount but a guideline related to average cost per head of damages is used by courts to compensate personal injury claims.

2.3 Sweden


Between the 1990’s and early 2000’s, Sweden saw a rapid increase in the number of whiplash related injuries, resulting in increased cost to drivers. Whiplash injuries in Sweden were depicted as “very common” in the media. A “Whiplash Commission” was an initiative financed and undertaken in 2002 by the insurance industry with the former Prime Minister Ingvar Carlsson as chairman. Their work was finalised in 2006 in two reports, with some key implications outlined below. The Commission noted that in 2002, more than 30,000 people in road accidents reported neck problems to Swedish insurance companies, representing more than half of all injuries reported. At present, whiplash claims do still occur but have reduced significantly. Although there are no reliable statistics to show levels of whiplash claims at present, in 2011 the total number of personal injuries was 27,000. The view from Insurance Sweden is that the incidence of whiplash injury is now less than 50% of personal injury, compared to approximately 60–70% in the 1990’s.

De minimis threshold

In Sweden, a time limit system for the onset of symptoms is used, and cases where symptoms appear more than 72 hours after the incident are generally rejected by insurers. This is more a rule of thumb, as opposed to a strict rule, and is used as an approximation of “close proximity” to the accident in question.

This De Minimis threshold was reinforced by the Whiplash Commission’s medical group in that symptoms must be discovered within three—four days after the accident otherwise it is not a whiplash injury.

Other attempts to control whiplash

The main report written by the commission was on how to prevent fraudulent whiplash claims while the second study was a medical report on assessment, treatment and rehabilitation. These were rolled out across all emergency hospitals in Sweden and to other stakeholders. During 2007 Insurance Sweden also produced a leaflet with consumer information on “How to act when having a whiplash injury” that was sent to all pharmacies and medical day care centers. The trade association also produced a small information guide for doctors when assessing a whiplash injury. The Commission’s medical report was published in European Spine Journal in October 2008 (Volume 17 Supplement 3).

Insurance Sweden had also been sponsoring—through the Whiplash Commission—the work of The Bone and Joint Decade 2000—10 task force on neck pain and its associated disorders, which was published in “Spine” on 15 February 2008. 37 In 2009, there was a joint conference held by two medical groups in Stockholm on how to detect, treat and rehabilitate whiplash injuries. Doctors from the Nordic countries attended.

Insurance Sweden says it is now able to see the positive effect of their work;

Most motor manufacturers now make their cars with specific emphasis on protecting drivers and passengers from whiplash injuries.

There is a more common understanding in Sweden of whiplash injuries including how to detect, treat and rehabilitate them, yet it is not easy to spread the information to all doctors in the country. Whiplash patients are not something they see every day, compared with people with high blood pressure etc.

The courts have accepted how the injury works. (You cannot now claim that you have a neck pain from an accident eight years ago if you haven´t had any pain the first four days.)

There are fewer people seeking treatment at hospitals claiming that they have a whiplash injury. Earlier people involved in a car accident wanted to be x-rayed even if they didn´t have any symptoms.

2.4 Germany


German insurers have faced similar problems in that they are seeing a decline in gross written premiums in parallel with an increase in the cost of claims. Despite this, Germans are able to enjoy relatively low premiums compared to those in other European countries, especially the UK which has average premiums roughly double that of Germany. In part this has been brought about by fixed claimant legal costs which average €300 in Germany compared with £1,200 in the UK. Due to regulations imposed by the German government there is also a smaller incidence of whiplash claims reported.

Collision speed limit on claims

In Germany a system involving the consideration of biomechanical evidence was used pre-2003, where claims involving a collision speed of less than 10km/hr were generally not considered by courts. This was, however, repealed; the BGH (Bundesgerichtshof, Federal Court of Justice of Germany) required that a case-by-case analysis of claims should be adopted as of 2003. The claimant is still required to provide full proof of the incident, and these requirements can be quite high.

Further methods to control whiplash

In Germany, there are three levels of whiplash related injury, measured as first, second and third degree in increasing levels of severity. Second and third degree injuries are diagnosable using clear, objective criteria; problems arise when attempting to demonstrate the existence of first degree injuries. Where these cases are disputed the evidence of a physician is often reinforced with that of an “interdisciplinary expert opinion”. This takes into account the type and speed of impact, and the degree to which injuries could be the result of pre-existing conditions. Lower speed collisions require higher levels of proof that the injury is genuine.

Claimants in Germany will require two medical opinions to prove that they have suffered a whiplash injury and classification of injury severity is measured on the “abbreviated injury scale”.

Claiming for whiplash in Germany

German legal costs relating to personal injury claims are amongst the lowest in the world, averaging at 14.4% of the claim value. It is a country considered by the UK as a good example of legal costs kept under control by efficient regulation. The Jackson report38 commits a whole section to the German legal cost structure. The key points are outlined below: 39

The German rules of civil procedure contemplate cost shifting, albeit according to well-defined scales for recovery. The effect may be that a successful litigant is entitled to recover a smaller proportion of its actual fees than would be recoverable in England and Wales. 40

The German system permits the use of contingency fees only in limited circumstances, namely where a claimant does not have the means to retain lawyers for his case. Legal aid is available in certain civil cases. 41

In Germany, civil litigation is managed by the court so that it controls the proceedings and the evidence that is brought before it. One method by which the court does this is to appoint experts to assist the court on relevant factual issues, rather than leaving it to the parties to adduce their own expert evidence. 42

2.5 Canada


Motor insurance in Canada is regulated by province and legal systems and insurance premiums vary widely. Some states such as British Columbia have government-owned motor insurance corporations with a monopoly, aimed at keeping costs down. The average cost of motor insurance varies from a low of $CAD642 a year for the Quebecois to a high of $CAD1,282 for Ontarians. Comparative studies have shown that those states with a private but well regulated market for auto insurance, such as Alberta, generally have the most affordable premiums for motor insurance.

Compensation cap

Figure 14


Legal Framework

In Canada, there are prescribed compensation caps for whiplash associated personal injury claims, however these vary between provinces. In Nova Scotia the general damages cap for minor injuries (including “whiplash-associated disorders” is currently set at $CAD7,665 (approx. €5,500) and is linked to inflation. The state of Alberta also has a similar general damages cap, but at the lower value of $CAD 4,559 (€3,270), also inflation adjusted. This latter price cap was disputed in 2008, however it was ruled as “constitutional” in 2009. As a side effect of this, Alberta’s Automobile Insurance Rate Board (AIRB) required insurers to reduce their premiums by 5%.

Many states have a “no-fault” rule in place in order to try and limit personal injury claims, and it can be argued that this is one of the factors keeping premiums low in Quebec in particular. While in Ontario the cost of motor insurance increased significantly up to the 2010 reforms, yet in other states costs have been under control or have even fallen (as in Nova Scotia).

The Fraser Institute, a think tank, believes that Ontario’s legal framework is a direct contributor to its high insurance costs. They claim that “regulatory severity” has failed to prevent insurance fraud, and has instead encouraged it and led to runaway costs.

Bringing whiplash under control: the Ontario case study

Ontario has a tightly regulated but extremely generous motor insurance sector, where the regulator controls premium levels but has approved consistently high increases in premiums. This has been driven by what Ontario’s Auditor General believes are “unnecessarily high payouts” and a lack of measures in place to combat fraud. 44

Insurance Canada believes that the Minor Injury Guideline, introduced in Ontario in 2010, has had an important impact on levels of claims. It limits the payment for injuries such as sprains, strains and whiplash to $CAD3,500, 45 in an attempt to combat runaway payouts to Ontarians which were averaging $CAD56,000. 46

Has it worked?

More than 18 months since its introduction, there is not enough data to truly say that the reforms are working, according to RBC Insurance chief for property & casualty Anne-Marie Vanier. 47 In 2012, she told the third annual Canadian Insurance Financial Forum in Toronto: “The best complete data we have for analysis is up to June 2011.” “But there are some signs that the reforms are at least partially doing the job intended”. The cost of assessments is now 10 to 18% less than pre-reform. Accident benefits claims are developing better than expected. Frequency on those is down 10 to 20% and a lot of “suspect” medical clinics have closed. But there are still a large number of claims in mediation. On third party liability and bodily injury claims, frequency has increased 15 to 40% depending on the insurer.

2.6 Spain


Spain has problems with a growing “claims culture”, though the UK and other countries may be able to learn from the aggressive fraud prevention policies pursued by both insurance companies and the government.

In Spain, an injury under the personal claims system is known as a “sequels”. The most recent estimates suggest that 60% of all “sequels” in Spain are whiplash related. This high prevalence is compounded by worries over the level of fraudulent claims.

The claims procedure in Spain is similar to that of the UK, in that lawyers are involved throughout the process. Once a case makes it to court and liability has been established, a doctor’s certificate is required to verify the claim. The actual level of damages is controlled by the “Baremo” personal injury system (which uses actuarially derived tables to calculate the payout a claimant would receive). The severity of an injury is measured on a range of one to 100; an injury level of 100 would typically be associated with cases such as total quadriplegia, whereas whiplash related injuries are typically limited to three. This results in a typical payout of around €3,000, with lawyers fees taken as a percentage of this, usually around 10% (or approximately €300) as a conditional fee (no win—no fee) arrangement.

Measures to control whiplash

In Spain, the main challenges for the future of whiplash claims concern fraud, and more specifically the prevalence of organised fraud. There is a growing “claims culture” of lawyers pursuing a large volume of cases, and there is an increasing worry over the potential involvement of health professionals in producing/enabling fraudulent and exaggerated claims.

The Baremo legal system for the assessment of personal damage caused by road accidents was introduced by Law 30 in 1995. The assessment system is a legal and rating system that seeks to value all types of damages, both pecuniary and non-pecuniary. The Spanish government intends to promote a reform of Baremo to adapt it to new social realities and to mitigate its main defects. At present, the full scope of this project is not known, but a comprehensive review is also being carried out internally by UNESPA, the insurance business association.

Fraud prevention policies are very common in private insurance companies and in the government. The focus is on awards for the detection of fraud, and there are commissions that work on fraud prevention, such as the one at UNESPA, and a significant increase in police checks. There is also close collaboration between the security services, Zaragoza Centre and UNESPA, to stamp out illicit trade in vehicles and to improve the recovery of stolen cars.

2.7 Italy


Italy has the highest density of cars in Europe and the second highest motor insurance claim frequency. Motor insurers have experienced heavy losses on the increasing costs of motor insurance claims, with a combined claims ratio of 109% in 2009. In 2012 Italy introduced legislation in an attempt to reduce the levels of unjustified bodily injury claims.

One in five claims in Italy is a personal injury claim. The provinces of the south have a higher experience than the national average, for instance: 44% of claims in Crotone are for personal injury; Brindisi, 41%; Taranto, 40%; Foggia, 37%. Very mild injuries account for 13.3% of claims and more than 70% of non-severe injuries. Italian insurers indemnify these claims with about 1.7bn Euros a year, or more than 11% of total motor liability compensation.

Direct indemnification

The introduction of CARD (Convenzione tra Assicuratori per Risarcimento Diretto) “Direct Indemnification” system aims to decrease claims costs by reducing conflict between the injured party and insurers through reduction of legal involvement. 48 In addition, databases have been created by authorities to record injury data (eg Social Security records all injuries to workers; the Italian regulator created databases with all insurance industry claims data) to counter or limit potential fraud.

Other whiplash reducing initiatives

Insurers have also tried to reduce the number of whiplash injuries by:

Challenging medical results when there is not a clear medical opinion to prove symptoms;

Investing in expert analysis of acceleration-deceleration forces according to vehicle deformation;

Accepting only original medical documentation; ans

Investigating any precedent to avoid having to pay the same damage twice (or more).

The cost of these actions is sometimes higher than the damage itself but there is a consensus that it is worth proceeding in order to deter fraudulent behaviour.

In Italy, personal injury claims are made using the “Book of Quantum” principles, where an injury is assigned a specific level of severity by a court, and damages are assigned based on this level. The level of severity for personal injury is based on a scale from 1 to 100% of permanent disability, with whiplash claims typically receiving 2 to 3% on this scale. This remains a point of contention for Italian insurers, who argue (through ANIA, the Italian trade organisation) that whiplash does not generally cause a permanent disability, and therefore should not be classified as such. Lawyers are also involved throughout the process, and fees vary from 10 to 20% of the payout. Typical payouts are in the region of €3,000, and therefore fees range from €300 to €600. The “claims culture” itself is however markedly different to the UK, in that when individuals make a claim they usually go to the broker from which they purchased the policy (an estimated 90% of policies are sold through brokers). This broker proceeds to nominate a lawyer to handle the case. While the broker is not meant to receive a fee for this, this is not believed to reflect reality.

In recent years, Italian policymakers have been studying levels of compensation for personal injury. Conclusions were to fix medical criteria and the compensation value degree for permanent and temporary disability.

On 26 March 2012, a new law entered into force which sets out new guidelines for accurate medical diagnosis. The insurance sector lobbied for the law because of the ease at which the court was able to award whiplash injuries without objective medical evidence certifying the disability. Although it is too soon to measure the impact of these efforts, future industry data should show its effect.

2.8 Switzerland


In Switzerland, the average cost of bodily injury motor insurance claims has been reported as significantly higher than in other countries. The 2004 CEA report into whiplash claimed the average cost at €35,000. The Insurance Europe 2010 report into motor insurance puts the average cost of a personal injury claim in Switzerland at €42,000. These levels of claims have been particularly high in Switzerland due to the legal system allowing claimants to claim for long periods off of work.

2010 Court ruling49

A 2010 court case involving whiplash has had a profound impact on the Swiss motor insurance industry, and may well lead to lower levels of motor insurance premiums and personal injury payouts in the future.

The case concerned a woman who suffered two car accidents, one in 1997 and in 2000. She applied for payments under her disability insurance, but these were refused by her insurance company for lack of evidence that her injuries caused her inability to work. The lower court however ordered the insurance company to pay. The company then appealed to the Swiss Federal court (the Bundesgericht) which had previously ruled in 2004 that patients with pain disorders without a physically detectable cause were not covered by disability insurance.

In the case at hand (a ruling from August 2010) the Court extended this practice to injuries related to whiplash. The Court held that whiplash injuries cannot be classified as a disability, as the symptoms manifested could have multiple causes and are not recognised as a diagnosis by any authoritative medical classification system.

3. UK Policy Landscape

3.1 Policy actions—what have UK policymakers been doing to address concerns around whiplash?

“The wind has changed. The Transport Select Committee has got the bit between the teeth—they are determined not just to write a report and then leave it.” David Ward MP

In examining the background to our civil compensation system that underpins claims for whiplash and other personal injury claims, it is necessary to review the associated legal costs that form an integral part. The principle of proportionality of legal costs has long been a feature of European law. 50 In the UK, the principle became a key issue during the Woolf Inquiry into Access to Justice between 1994 and 1996. One of Woolf’s key eight principles for the civil justice system was that “procedures and cost should be proportionate to the nature of the issue involved.” 51 However, the costs system as it currently operates assesses the charge for work on the basis of the market rates charged by professionals rather than attempting the no doubt difficult task of placing an objective value on the work. Lord Justice Jackson commented in his 2010 report that since Lord Justice Woolf reported, a decade earlier, nothing seems to have changed. 52 The impact of conditional fee arrangements (“no win, no fee”) has had a major impact on the cost of litigation which in turn is helping to push up the costs on insurers. In giving evidence to the Jackson Review in 2009, data from one insurer suggested that costs related to personal injury cases amounted to an average of 77% of damages. 53

The issue of whiplash arose onto the Parliamentary agenda in the latter half of 2011, particularly in relation to the wider issue of the rising costs of insurance premiums. At governmental level, the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders (LASPO) Act of 2012 legislates for a ban on referral fees (effective from April 2013) and reform of “no win, no fee” arrangements by removing recoverability of success fees and ATE premiums, all of which the government believes to be key drivers of the large volume of whiplash claims in the UK. The UK government has also committed to extending the current Road Traffic Accident (RTA) Personal Injury scheme by April 2013. The expansion will be vertically, to include claims up to £25,000 (previously £10,000) and horizontally, to incorporate Employers Liability (EL) and Public Liability (PL) claims. 54 The present RTA fixed cost will also be reduced from £1,200 to £500. Banning referral fees and removing recoverability of success fees and After the Event Premiums form an important element in creating a more proportionate cost system for civil litigation and one where the claimant will have a personal interest in the level of legal costs incurred in his name.

A recently published consultation on “Reducing the Number and Cost of Whiplash Claims” considers two vital factors for reducing large volume whiplash claims. The first is the introduction of independent medical panels to provide better medical evaluations for whiplash claims. The second establishes whether the small claims threshold for road accident claims that are attributed to road traffic accidents should be increased from £1,000 to £5,000. These proposals mimic the successful system of personal injury whiplash claim compensation seen in France where strict regulation and price control keep claims to a minimum. In Scotland, a consultation published in December 2012 set out to reform the damages of psychiatric injury by reducing the liability that may be incurred for these cases as well as decreasing the limit on the time period where an individual can take civil action for personal injury. These proposed changes seek to modernise and simplify the law and future claims that are incurred for personal injury, establishing standardised procedures for previously vague areas of the law.

Although increasing the small claims track will benefit the speed at which claims can be processed, there is concern as to whether a similar instance will manifest itself in other areas such as PTSD and shoulder bruising. It is therefore important to increase the threshold across carefully all RTA rather than whiplash alone. The claimant lobby, on the other hand, asserts that increasing the small claims track will hinder the access to justice of personal injury claimants who need to represent themselves. It is a likely case that an increase in the small claims track will cause there to be more unrepresented claimants, they will be more likely to receive enhanced compensation because there are no legal costs for them to pay.

David Ward MP, interviewed for this report, says that the timeline for implementation of reform proposals should be “now now, now, yesterday, the day before” Not surprisingly, UK Parliamentarians have been highly vocal in informing this debate. The Motor Insurance Regulation Bill was introduced by Jack Straw MP to reform the regulation and operation of the market in motor insurance, with specific regard to banning referral fees, establishing new standards related to the evidence required in whiplash claims, reforming the Pre-Action Protocol for personal injury claims in road traffic accidents, and setting requirements in respect of risk pricing for personal injury claims. 55 The section of the Bill pertaining to whiplash contained the following provisions:

The onus shall be on the claimant to satisfy the court that there is independent, objective evidence that the claimant has suffered harm, and for them to justify the extent of that harm; 56

No damages shall be recoverable if the only evidence is the subjective description of symptoms by, or on behalf of, the claimant; 57

There shall be a rebuttable presumption that no harm or injury to the claimant has been suffered where:

The collision giving rise to the accident took place at a relative speed of 15mph or less; or

There are no musculoskeletal signs of any injury, including fracture and dislocation. 58

In March 2011, the House of Commons Transport Select Committee reported that around 70% of motor insurance personal injury claims arise from whiplash injuries. 59 Among the reasons highlighted for the rise were the earlier introduction of conditional fee arrangements (“no win, no fee”) and the practices of claims management firms in generating personal injury claims, for instance through “aggressive” marketing techniques. 60

“There is clearly fraud going on in a number of different places. It is becoming an issue for general conversation. It is moving up everybody’s agenda—with friends, constituents—do you know anyone who has claimed?” Alison Seabeck MP

The Transport Select Committee’s additional report in January 2012 recommended that the bar be raised on the proof required for whiplash. 61 They felt that greater use of technology could help to provide a partial solution and that countries which revealed the lower incidences of whiplash also tend to undergo radiographic examinations of patients such as x-rays, NMR, EMG, MRI and CT scans. In the UK there is only a requirement for a simple clinical examination. The Committee suggested that if the number of whiplash claims does not fall significantly as a result, they believe there would be a “strong case” to consider enacting primary legislation to require objective evidence of a whiplash injury, or of the injury having a significant effect on the claimant’s life, before compensation was paid. 62

The Committee further recommended that the government should take action to investigate the role played by legal and regulatory rules in generating the continuing increase in personal injury claims relating to motor accidents, and assisting the police and the insurance industry in tackling fraud more effectively. 63 While the report welcomed provisions to increase access to justice, it stated that this should not provide people with an opportunity to make fraudulent claims for non-existent or pre-existing aches and pains. The Committee’s report also recommended that the Department for Transport sponsor a research project on international experience in restraining the number of personal injury claims relating to motor insurance, with the aim of publishing a discussion paper on this issue during 2012 outlining possible options for change.64

“We are part of a dysfunctional system that is spiralling out of control. I could have an accident and a garage which without my knowledge or permission could pass on my details without me knowing” David Ward MP

At a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Insurance and Financial Services in February 2012, it was revealed there is evidence that in one or two instances GPs are diagnosing whiplash over the phone, without undertaking any face-to-face clinical examination. There was also evidence of fraudulent medical assessments, sometimes with the complicity of medical practitioners.65 For this reason it is vital to separate the medical doctors from the claims management companies.

During 2012 the Prime Minster has committed the government to take action to tackle the compensation culture, reduce legal costs and cut health and safety red tape.66 The Government and industry also committed to work together to identify effective ways to reduce the number and cost of whiplash claims. Options include improved medical evidence, technological breakthroughs, the threshold for claims and the speed of accidents. 67

Furthermore, at a high-level summit hosted by the Prime Minister David Cameron at 10 Downing Street, he committed the Government to work with the insurance industry to identify effective ways to reduce the number and cost of whiplash claims. These actions illustrate that the government recognises that the very high number of whiplash claims in the United Kingdom is a significant concern, and one which needs to be addressed.

4. Summary

The key challenge for policymakers is to be able to create a system in which injured persons are rehabilitated and compensated and put back into the position they were in while at the same time providing little incentive for fraudulent claims to be submitted. Other countries have been more effective at balancing this than the UK. France has had a very low prevalence of whiplash claims; in 2004, just 3% of total bodily injury claims were whiplash related, and the proportion has stayed low ever since. Evidence from our comparative analysis shows that countries which have stricter diagnosis procedures, for example requiring claimants to have an assessment undertaken by a medical professional with specific training in diagnosing neck injuries, are likely to have a lower frequency of expensive whiplash claims.

Objective proof, in addition to extensive training for medical professionals, enables an accurate diagnosis to be made and for fraudulent claims to be rejected without fuss. Other countries have been following suit. Italy, Sweden and Switzerland have also been (or are currently) challenging medical claims they believe to be unjustified. We can see this in the case of Sweden in the work of the Whiplash Commission, which the Trade Association, Insurance Sweden, now claims is having a material impact on claims. In addition to the medical requirements, Sweden’s de minimis threshold has also helped to keep the number of unjustified claims to a minimum, after concluding that injuries warranting compensation should be notified within three—four days of the incident. We can therefore see by looking at other jurisdictions that there are a number of tools that governments can use to reduce the prevalence of unjustified claims, bring costs to insurers under control and ultimately provide fair and affordable motor insurance premiums for customers.



AXA is a long term business focusing on wealth management, insurance and healthcare. AXA Group employs 214,000 employees and distributors worldwide and has major operations in Europe, North America and the Asia/Pacific area. Ninety-five million clients worldwide have placed their trust in AXA to insure their property (cars, homes, belongings); provide health and personal protection for their families or employees; and to manage their personal or corporate assets.

Cicero Consulting

Cicero is an international consultancy specialising in corporate communications, digital strategy, government affairs and thought leadership generation for policy, business and consumer audiences. Cicero was established in 2001, and now operates from offices in London, Brussels, Washington and Singapore. As a market leader in policy research, Cicero authored this report, as well as collating and analysing the data used within it.


Sir Peter Bottomley MP is a British Conservative Member of Parliament for Worthing West. He became the minister for roads and traffic in 1986. He is currently the co-Chairman of PACTS the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety.

David Ward MP is a British Liberal Democrat Member of Parliament for Bradford East. Since coming to Parliament in 2010 he has taken an active interest in insurance due to the high cost of motor insurance in his constituency. He has a survey and a petition on motor insurance on his website.

Alison Seabeck MP is an English Labour Party politician for Plymouth Moor View. She is a member of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Insurance and Financial Services.


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3 ibid

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6 Ibid

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9 (2012) Research. [online] Available at: 

10 The House of Commons Transport Committee Cost of Motor Insurance: follow up report. Available at:

11 Unknown. (2012) [online] Available at:

12 (2012) ABI data. [online]

13 "Global Crossing Wins Contract to Supply UK WAN to FirstGroup.(Company overview)", PR Newswire, Oct 18 2010 Issue

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18 Kollewe, J. (2012) UK insurers urge action to tackle “whiplash epidemic” | Business | [online] Available at: 

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32 (2010) Insurance Europe - Statistical publications. [online] Available at: 


34 Cannarsa, M, Compensation for Personal Injury in France, p15, 2002,




38 Jackson, R (2009) Review of Civil Litigation Costs. [Online] Available at:

39 ibid

40 Jackson, R (2009) Review of Civil Litigation Costs. [Online] Available at:

41 Jackson, R (2009) Review of Civil Litigation Costs. [Online] Available at:

42 Jackson, R (2009) Review of Civil Litigation Costs. [Online] Available at:

43 The Personal Cost and Affordability of Auto Insurance in Canada, Fraser Institute, 2011

44 Ontario Auditor General Annual Report 2011.

45 (2011) Minor Injury Guideline. [Online]. Available at:

46 (2011). Ontario Auditor General Annual Report 2011.

47 Thompson’s Daily Insurance News Service, 25 May 2012, Some signs that Ontario auto reforms are at least partially working

48 (2008) presSavelli_GIRO2008_Sorrento_Sep2008 [online] Available at:

49 Tages Anzeiger (2010) Versicherungen berussen die neue IV-Prazis,14.09.2010

50 Article 5 of The Treaty on European Union

51 Jackson, R (2009) Review of Civil Litigation Costs. p. 30 [Online] Available at:

52 Ibid, p. 34

53 Ibid, p. 18


55 The House of Commons Transport Committee Cost of Motor Insurance: follow up report. Available at:




59 The House of Commons Transport Committee Cost of Motor Insurance: follow up report. Available at:


61 (2012) Cost of motor insurance - UK Parliament. [online] Available at: 

62 (2012) Cost of motor insurance - UK Parliament. [online] Available at: 



65 Mail on Sunday, 10 June 2012, p. 12-13



Prepared 29th July 2013