Second Motor Insurance Summit

The first summit took place on the 14th February and was hosted by David Cameron –see earlier post covering this.

On the 2nd May the Department of Transport hosted the second summit on motor insurance with whiplash injury claims and cheaper car insurance for young drivers being at the top of the agenda. Present were five ministers from four different Government departments, Which and U-Switch consumer groups and insurance companies who collectively represented 90% of drivers in the UK.

Head of Corporate Affairs, Graeme Trudgill, from the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, referred to the government’s intention to look at having an independent panel of GPs to improve on the diagnosis of whiplash.

He stated, “Although we haven’t seen any official announcements yet, the government is very likely to consult on that,”

Mr Trudgill added: “We also talked about the burden of proof and how it is very difficult for the insurance industry to fight a claim if a doctor has diagnosed someone with whiplash.

“They have to prove fraud, and that is very difficult to do. We would like to see a move from the balance of probability to beyond reasonable doubt.”

However, John Spencer, who is director of Spencers Solicitors, commenting before the summit was critical of the government’s proposals to create an independent panel of experts about whiplash.

Mr Spencer said: “One has to remember that it was insurers themselves who created the model of settling personal injury claims, where the claimant had no medical evidence or legal representation.

“The government should take much less heed of insurers and listen to the doctors and solicitors who, for many years, have been warning about the dire consequences of insurers settling claims without adequate assessment.”

Mr Trudgill said that the Government wanted increased dialogue with young drivers to formulate some kind of package that would reduce their insurance risk.

“I imagine there will be some sort of engagement with young drivers over the course of this year to find out what they think their issues are and to make sure they are aware of the high proportion of accidents young drivers are involved in, and the cost associated with this,” Mr Trudgill stated.

During the summit Mr Greening stated that car insurance premiums were “simply too high” and had to be reduced, but did concede that there was no “silver bullet” to dealing with claims for whiplash of a fraudulent nature or finding a way to reduce car insurance premiums for young drivers.

“There is no getting away from it: the cost of car insurance is bearing increasingly little relationship to the real world. I am convinced that, by working with drivers and the industry, we can bring some common sense back and get premiums down.”

Mr Trudgill said, “The government has said the issues are huge, but it will do its best. It was a constructive meeting and we just need to make sure that all the actions follow through now.”

We await further developments but, in the meantime, young drivers may wish to compare car insurance premiums by visiting car insurance comparison websites to try to get a better deal when their existing car insurance is coming up for renewal or they are considering car insurance for the first time.