23 Jun 21

Fleet checklist to cut cost of whiplash insurance claims

Fleets in the UK need to put processes in place to reap the benefits of new Government rules designed to tackle the high cost of settling whiplash claims, according to a major insurer and law firm. NFU Mutual Corporate Insurance and DAC Beachcroft have produced a checklist for fleet managers to navigate the reforms, which should lead to lower accident claims and insurance costs from this month.

Paul Harris, Head of Large Corporate Claims at NFU Mutual, said: “Corporate fleets could stand to gain from the whiplash reforms provided they adapt to fulfil the new requirements. However to see these benefits, businesses may need to review their procedures to ensure they can react to the new timescales. It is vitally important to share as much information as quickly as possible with your insurer to put your business in the best position with incoming claims.”

There were more than 550,000 whiplash claims in the UK in 2019-20, and the Government believes many were exaggerated and disproportionate. The nation’s annual cost of road traffic accident claims has risen by 40% since 2006, despite a steady reduction in the number of crashes.

Medical evidence required

Following the reforms, medical evidence of whiplash injuries will be mandatory to make a claim. In addition, a new fixed tariff of compensation for whiplash injuries sets out how much any adult can claim for an injury, depending on how long it impacted them, rising from £240 for up to three months to £4,215 for injuries lasting two years. The tariff also provides claimants with a guide as to how much their injury will be worth when they make their claim.

“With a new tariff fixing compensation awards at lower rates than previously seen, businesses can look forward to more consistent and less costly outcomes," said Harris.

Speaking on behalf of the Government, Robert Buckland MP said: “For too long the system for making whiplash claims has been open to abuse by individuals looking for an easy payday – with ordinary motorists paying the price. Our changes, which come into force today, will put an end to this greedy opportunism and ultimately see savings put back into the pockets of the country’s drivers.”

£1.2 billion savings per year

The Government claims its reforms will lead to savings worth £1.2 billion per year, which insurers have promised to pass on to motorists. The savings should cut £35 from the cost of annual insurance premiums.

In addition, the reforms will see the Motor Insurers’ Board operate a new official injury claim online portal, where motorists who were not at fault for an accident can make a claim of up to £5,000 for personal injuries (such as whiplash, muscle damage, cuts, bruises and minor fractures) suffered in a road traffic collision, as well as a further claim of up to £5,000 for lost earnings and damage to a car and property. Non-fault accident victims will be able to make these claims without using the services of a lawyer. In fact, claimants will be unable to recover legal costs for claims worth less than £5,000.

Fleet checklist

NFU Mutual Corporate Insurance and lDAC Beachcroft have produced this checklist for fleet managers:

As soon as possible after an accident, fleet managers should send the following to their insurer:

  • The driver’s detailed account of events. NFU Mutual Claims Inspectors will work with clients to prepare the witness statement
  • Details of the third party in the accident, including a mobile phone number
  • Details of any witnesses to the accident
  • CCTV footage, or details of where your insurer can source it from
  • Dash cam footage
  • Tachograph data
  • Photographs of the incident and surroundings taken soon after the accident
  • Tracker data for geo-positioning, if fitted
  • Sketch of incident, including pre-accident positions. If the event took place on a roundabout, you should show the intended route
  • Details of any emergency services that attended the scene, including any reference numbers or contact details that they provided.
  • If a vehicle defect or fire is believed to have been involved in the accident, you should also aim to provide:
  • Vehicle service records
  • Invoices for recent works
  • Drivers’ last 2 week’s (prior to the accident) daily inspection records for the vehicle

Image: Shutterstock

Authored by: Jonathan Manning