Independent medical panels will review whiplash insurance claims to ensure only genuine cases receive payouts, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced
The change, to take effect next year, was announced as part of a package of government measures to reduce the costs of running a car.
Fraudulent whiplash claims, in which people lie about or exaggerate the medical consequences of car accidents, have helped drive up the cost of motor insurance premiums. According to insurers, false claims cost them more than £2bn in payouts and lead to an average premium increase of £90 for drivers. Each whiplash compensation payout costs an average of £2,400 insurers say, with an additional £2,000 in legal costs.
Grayling said it was not right that people who cheat the insurance system get away with it while forcing up the price for everyone else.
'So we are now going after whiplash fraudsters and will keep on driving premiums down,' he said.
The government said it would work quickly with experts to set up independent medical panels. This will include a scheme for accrediting medical experts who can assess whiplash injuries, as well as measures to enhance the reporting process and carry out spot checks.
The panels were proposed in a consultation, which ran earlier this year, on measures to tackle the number and cost of whiplash claims.
Plans to improve data sharing by insurers will also help the police, including the specialist Insurance Fraud Enforcement Department, to track down criminal fraudsters, the Ministry of Justice said.
Responding to Grayling's announcements, James Dalton, head of motor and liability at the Association of British Insurers, said: 'We have long called for more robust medical assessment of whiplash claimants. Setting up independent panels of accredited experts will help the UK shake off its reputation as the whiplash capital of Europe.
'Additional measures, such as increasing the Small Track Claims threshold from £1,000 to £5,000 as we have argued for is also crucial: it would provide not only a simple, speedy, more cost-effective way of settling genuine whiplash claims, but ensure that lower motor premiums can be sustained.'