The cost of whiplash injury claims to the insurance industry is continuing to increase, with a 7% hike in 2012 compared to the year before, research from the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries has revealed today.
An analysis by the IFoA of third party injury and third party damage motor insurance claims data also found that 90% of these injury claims in England and Wales were for whiplash or whiplash-like injuries worth less than £20,000.
Overall, the cost to the insurance industry in 2012 of these small claims was £1.25bn. This represents more than 40% of the total third party injury claims to the insurance industry.
The total number of accidents leading to claims increased by 5%, the research found, with the average claim size for injuries in private cars now standing at £9,512, £8,694 for fleet commercial vehicles and £8,985 for non-fleet commercial vehicles.
Average claims for private cars and fleet vehicles increased over the year, by 2.9% and 2.4% respectively. However, the value of non-fleet claims actually fell by 2.1%.
David Brown from the IFoA, one of the authors of the report, said the data showed that there was actually a decrease in the number of accidents between 2011 and 2012. However, there was no corresponding decrease in injury claims, which he said illustrated that so-called 'claims farming', when claims management companies retrospectively file claims on behalf of clients, was on the increase.
He added: 'Ninety per cent of the third party injury claims made in 2012 were what we consider small claims for less than £20,000. Coupled with the average claim figure of £9,512, this suggests that the majority of claims continue to be for whiplash like injuries.'
Brown said the figures indicate the proportion of claims for insured accidents involving bodily injury is higher in the UK than in the US, which is generally considered the most litigious jurisdiction.
He added: 'Recently the transport select committee suggested that the UK was the whiplash capital of the world, and they may well have a point.'
Today's report follows last year's analysis from the IFoA, which found a 6% increase between 2010 and 2011. Both insurers and the government have set out proposals to restrict the growth of claims.