Tuesday 17 September 2019

Whiplash claims now averaging €20,000

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Stock picture
Charlie Weston

Charlie Weston

Revelations about the size of whiplash payouts have prompted demands from the Government to speed up reforms of the compensation system.

Figures from the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB) show that the average award for a whiplash claim is just short of €20,000.

This is around five times higher than the payouts for whiplash in Britain.

The PIAB study of the amounts it awarded in the first six months of this year found 70pc of all motor claims relate to whiplash.

The awards cover amounts paid out for the pain and suffering resulting from road traffic accidents, with a much smaller proportion of the total award made up of special damages, which covers medical costs and loss of earnings.

PIAB said women tend to get more generous amounts awarded to them than men.

Some 4,500 awards made in the first six months of 2018 were considered for the PIAB study.

It comes after the Government-appointed Personal Injuries Commission found that the average amount paid out in this country for whiplash is almost five times higher than for similar injuries in England and Wales.

The Alliance for Insurance Reform, which is made up of businesses and charities, said the revelations of the high levels of awards being paid out by PIAB meant there was greater urgency for reform of the compensation system.

The Government has set up a working group on reform in the sector, which is headed by Junior Finance Minister Michael D'Arcy.

Peter Boland, of the Alliance for Insurance Reform, said the PIAB report once again highlights that whiplash injury payments in Ireland are sky-high.

"What is equally startling is that in commentary subsequent to the launch of the PIAB report, the PIAB acknowledges that there is 'no definitive answer' as to why this enormous disparity exists."

Mr Boland said PIAB points out there is no data on what insurers are settling for privately. This meant we continue to be in the dark about what is happening with more than 70pc of claims settled that way, he said.

"We are now awash with reports and are well aware of the issues to be addressed to get serious insurance reform in place. So the focus must be on the Government and the pace at which key reform legislation passes through the Oireachtas."

Insurance Ireland, the industry representative body, said that the new PIAB data highlights the need for insurance reform.

Insurance Ireland Chief Executive Kevin Thompson said what is needed now is a timeline for the Judicial Council Bill which will see judges setting out new "recalibrated" award levels.

Irish Independent

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