Insurers want clampdown on expensive whiplash claims
Insurance firms have called for a clampdown on whiplash injury claims, in a bid to stop the surge in motor premium costs.
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 radio 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 this country to consider banning whiplash claims to help counter soaring motor insurance costs and to avoid average premiums hitting €1,000. Instead of paying lump sums for whiplash injuries, AIG wants insurers to be required to cover legal and medical bills.
Motor 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.
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 everybody has heard of a case where someone 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 they lowered prices too much to win business, and failed to put sufficient reserves aside. Exaggerated claims were also a factor, they said.