Justice Secretary Chris Grayling has announced a review of the law and practices around insurance claims in a bid to devise reforms that can cut fraud in the sector.
In a speech to the Association of British Insurers' Motor Conference on Tuesday, Grayling said the government had already taken action to reduce fraud in motor insurance claims, including the launch of a new website to allocate medical advice independently for whiplash claims.
However, he told the conference there was a need to go further to tackle a number of issues that contribute both to bogus whiplash claims and fraud more widely in the sector.
'First, the perception among some consumers that insurance is "fair game" and that making a fraudulent claim is a legitimate way to make some money.
'Second, are there any practices of those involved in the claims process - including insurers, lawyers, claims management companies and other intermediaries - which fail to deter insurance claims fraud? And third, are there aspects of the current legal framework which could be strengthened to prevent claims fraud.'
A review, to be held jointly with the Treasury, will be led by David Hertzell and will look into each of these issues, he said.
Hertzell, the Law Commission's current commissioner for commercial and common law, will invite insurance industry representatives, as well as those from the legal profession, to contribute to this taskforce, He will report interim findings next March.
'I look forward to the support of the industry in helping David and the taskforce achieve its aims,' Grayling said.
'These outcomes and savings will benefit the insurance sector and we fully expect the industry to continue to meet the commitment made at the prime minister's summit [on tackling fraudulent claims in February 2012] to pass on the savings from government reforms to customers.'
In his speech to the ABI, Grayling highlighted reforms already in place, including the creation of the MedCo website that allocates doctors to provide an initial medical report in whiplash claims. Grayling said this would introduce greater independence in the market by breaking links between experts and solicitors.
The imposition of a fixed £180 charge for initial whiplash examinations had also made it easier for insurance firms to ensure that all payouts follow tests, he added, introducing 'much-needed balance to the system'.
'The government accepts that many personal injury claims are genuine, but it is also clear that there are far too many speculative, exaggerated or even outright fraudulent claims being made.
'It is not right that people who cheat the system should get away with it and force up the price of motor insurance for honest, hardworking motorists.'
Responding to the announcement, the AA's head of counter fraud Stephen Gaywood welcomed the creation of the Hertzell taskforce.
He pointed out that after more than two years' of falling premiums recorded by the AA's British Insurance Premium Index, attributed to reforms already introduced, the cost of car insurance was beginning to rise again.
'Claims management is out of control,' he said. 'There are around 1,300 whiplash injury claims made every day and they continue to rise, despite the falling number of collisions on Britain's roads. Tough action is needed to stop this epidemic.
'For example, settlement of claims should largely focus on the provision of medical treatment such as chiropractic or physiotherapy - not cash. That alone would eliminate a high proportion of claimants where they are simply looking for a cash award, but would not discourage genuine victims.'