Friday 30 September 2016

Calls for clampdown on whiplash claims to stop surge in motor premiums

Published 26/02/2016 | 12:31

Kevin Thompson, CEO, Insurance Ireland
Kevin Thompson, CEO, Insurance Ireland

Insurance firms have called for a clampdown on whiplash injury claims in a bid to stop the surge in motor premiums.

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Premiums have been rising for two years, and there are fears the average motor premium could soon hit €1,000 as losses mount at the State’s insurers.

Head of the Irish Insurance Federation Kevin Thompson said claims for whiplash in motor accidents in this country now account for up to 80pc of motor claims.

This compares with just 3pc in some other countries.

Mr Thompson told ‘NewsTalk’ that awards for whiplash in Ireland average € 15,000 per case, compared with €5,000 in the UK and €3,000 in France and Spain.

He was reacting to comments from the world’s biggest insurer, AIG, which wants Ireland to consider banning whiplash claims to help counter soaring motor insurance charges and to avoid the average cost of premiums hitting € 1,000.

Instead of paying lump sums for whiplash injuries, AIG wants insurers to be required instead to cover legal and medical bills.

Car insurance premiums have risen more than 30pc in the past year, according to Central Statistics Office figures. There are fears they will keep rising this year.

And the head of insurance brokerage, CoverInAClick.ie, Jonathan Hehir, said the courts and the Injuries Board need to take a tougher line on personal injuries claims.

Fraudulent and exaggerated claims are estimated to add €50 to the average premium.

Mr Hehir said: “I think that probably everybody has heard of a case where someone who has made a claim that wasn’t genuine – someone that has had a very minor tip in the car on a Thursday, claims for whiplash, but plays five-a-side the following Friday night.”

He also criticised insurers, which he said were not doing enough to root out questionable claims, with the exception of Aviva.

Experts said that insurers were also losing money because of they lowered prices too much to win business, and failed to put sufficient reserves aside, as well as due to large numbers of exaggerated claims.

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