Monday 11 December 2017

Fears for higher premiums after new official guide sets out higher payouts

Woman with whiplash. Stock image
Woman with whiplash. Stock image
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

New guidelines setting out the size of personal injuries awards sets out higher compensation pay-outs for the most common claims.

This has prompted fears of more pressure on insurance premiums for the State’s two million drivers.

Insurance premiums continue to shoot up, with insurers blaming high claims costs. In the last three years the average premium is up 70pc.

The new set of official guidelines shows that 35 categories of injuries getting higher awards than previously set out.

Pay-outs for whiplash injuries are set 9pc higher. Whiplash makes up eight out of 10 of all personal injuries claims.

Under the guidelines, the compensation for a “lower range” soft tissue neck injury, or whiplash, has gone up to €15,700, a rise of €1,300.

Claims for whiplash often tend to be exaggerated, as they are very difficult to disprove.

Awards for an ankle fracture are now at €54,700. This is almost €20,000 higher than the last set of guidelines, or a rise of 55pc.

The new award levels are outlined in what is known as the book of quantum, a general guide to the compensation that should be awarded for various types of injuries, depending on their severity.

The State body that assesses personal-injuries claims - the Injuries Board - must refer to it in all its evaluations for personal-injury claims.

But judges only have to “have regard” to the book of quantum, and are free to ignore it.

The Injuries Board, the State body that assesses personal injuries claims unless they are settled directly by insurers or released to be heard in court, has undertaken the updating of the book of quantum.

Its chief executive Conor O’Brien defended the rise in 35 categories of injuries, stressing that another 35 either dropped or were unchanged from the last book of quantum which was published 12 years ago.

“The revised book of quantum is not inflationary. It reflects current awards made by the Injuries Board, in the courts and settlements by insurers. It should not create any inflation in the settlement of claims.”

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