Motorists who are injured in car accidents will now have to handle their own personal injury claims through a new government portal, thanks to changes known as the ‘whiplash reforms’ introduced at the end of May.
After multiple delays, the reforms – which are part of the Civil Liability Act 2018 – came into force on 31st May 2021.
The reforms have been designed to reduce the number of fraudulent road traffic accident (RTA) whiplash claims, otherwise known as ‘crash for cash claims’.
It is hoped that these whiplash reforms may result in reduced insurance costs for motorists in the long term, as well as a reduced cost of whiplash claims for insurers. However, there is concern that the new claims process will make it much harder for legitimate claims to be made by drivers who have been injured in motor accidents.
What changes will come from the whiplash reforms?
The main changes for the personal injury claims process are:
- Claimants will have to manage their own claims through an online portal
- Claims can’t be settled without medical evidence
- Claims valued at £5,000 and under will go to the small claims court – previously the small claims track limit was £1,000
- Compensation tariffs are being capped
Why are these changes taking place?
The government have been trying for some time to reduce the financial burden on motorists, which comes about from the high costs of whiplash claims being passed on through increased insurance premiums.
The reforms will mean a ban on settling whiplash claims which do not have any medical evidence to support them, meaning less money being spent on fraudulent claims.
The process of making a personal injury claim is one of the most significant changes, thanks to the introduction of an online claims portal. The Official Injury Claim portal will allow an injured person to manage their compensation claim online without legal help.
Can I still get legal help if I make a personal injury claim?
Because of the cap on compensation tariffs, it’s predicted to become much harder to get a solicitor to support a personal injury case as they can’t earn much from the process.
However, if you have motor legal protection in place, you can use this to get legal support in applying for compensation due to a motor accident injury. Motor legal cover is a type of insurance designed to catch certain ‘uninsured losses’, i.e., those potential costs – including legal – of claims that aren’t covered under your regular or specialist vehicle insurance.
What will the whiplash reforms mean for me?
If you find yourself needing to make a claim for personal injury, you’ll have to manage the claim yourself unless you have motor legal protection. You’ll also need to be able to provide medical evidence in order to be paid any compensation.
‘There’s an expectation that car insurance costs will decrease now that payouts for fraudulent injury claims are less likely to happen under the new rules,’ explains Andy McDonald, Underwriting & Product Development Manager at Heritage Car Insurance. ‘However, it takes time for these cost savings to trickle through the insurance industry and we may not see savings straight away.’
‘My advice for anyone concerned about the new claims process is to consider whether motor legal cover may be a suitable choice for them,’ adds Andy. ‘It provides peace of mind that qualified, regulated solicitors would be available to support you if you did ever have to make a personal injury claim.’
Read more about the Civil Liability Act here.
Find out more about motor legal protection here.