AXA’s car insurance arm are of the opinion that whiplash claim numbers can be reduced by hundreds of thousands if cars were fitted with improved head restraints and seats.
Research undertaken by AXA with Thatcham, the motor research organisation, revealed that a mere 34% of UK cars have head restraints and seats that would reduce the possibility of motorists suffering from whiplash.
There are over 1,500 whiplash claims received each day that equates to 570,000 in a 12-month period that is posing a real problem for the car insurance industry. The reason being is because insurers are paying out about £2 billion each year to cover these claims resulting, of course, in policyholders’ premiums increasing to cover this cost.
In the report it states that by fitting improved head restraints and seats in cars that presently have inadequate ones could bring down the number of claims for whiplash by 370,500 each year resulting in a saving of £1.3 billion.
Rather surprisingly 4 out of 10 motorists have never adjusted head restraints with a staggering 26% claiming they didn’t know how to adjust them. Almost 25% claimed they had been instructed how to alter head restraints.
Robin Reames, who is the chief claims officer for AXA, commented: “The insurance industry pays out billions each year in whiplash claims and as an organisation we have been working hard to bring down these costs including a successful campaign last year to ban referral fees.
“However, consumer awareness of prevention is another key step in bringing down the cost. It seems the majority of people are unaware of how they can help themselves and even if they are aware they do little about it.”
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) believes that whiplash claims are adding in the region of £90 each year to a motor insurance policy costing £440.
The ABI wants a system put in place whereby claimants for whiplash would need to produce “objective medical evidence of injury” in order to get compensated for “alleged pain and suffering”.
The ABI also wants a ceiling put on the amount that can be claimed for whiplash injuries and wants an independent panel of doctors to assess claims.
Whiplash often occurs if a vehicle is hit at the back of it by another vehicle causing the spine’s soft tissue to strain and stretch. People with whiplash normally complain about stiffness at the back of the head and neck and also of having a headache.