Landmark whiplash reforms set to transform compensation culture

Britain’s motor compensation culture is set to be transformed with the introduction of the long-awaited whiplash reforms, bringing with it a fairer system for motorists, said Dave Lovely, Aviva’s Claims Director, General Insurance*.

The whiplash reforms, part of the Civil Liability Act 2018, come into effect today (Monday, 31 May, 2021).

Aviva has led industry calls for reform, campaigning for a more robust system to reduce ‘crash for cash’, injury-related nuisance calls and the ‘have a go’ mentality behind opportunistic minor injury claims – all of which have contributed to pushing up the cost of motor insurance for years.

The new whiplash reforms include reducing compensation awards in line with an established table of damages, and removing some legal costs from low-value claims. As part of the reforms, a new Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal offers a free online service for claimants, allowing them to make claims for accidents on or after 31st May, 2021 (England and Wales) without a lawyer.

Aviva’s Dave Lovely said: “These reforms are critical in creating a fairer system that balances care and compensation for genuine injuries caused by motor accidents, while removing excess costs. Through the new OIC portal, which has been supported by the insurance industry, motorists can more easily manage their claims without legal help, including obtaining medical reports and receiving compensation payments.

“For the insurance industry, the new law allows us to focus on those people with genuine injuries and claims to ensure we help them when they need us most. This is a powerful example of the insurance industry working for the benefit of its customers, and Aviva stands by its promise to pass on 100% of the savings we see from the reforms to our customers.”

In addition to the new portal, the Small Claims Track for ‘in vehicle’ accidents has increased from £1,000 to £5,000, meaning that legal fees for claims worth less than £5,000 are not recoverable from the at-fault insurer. This effectively ends the ‘no win, no fee’ incentive behind many minor motor injury claims that encouraged some claimants to ‘have a go’. This will remove legal costs from many minor, straightforward claims, and should also reduce the number of nuisance calls and texts chasing injury claims.

Those who have suffered a minor whiplash injury in an accident that is not their fault can still claim compensation via the OIC portal. Compensation will be tied to fixed tariffs for injuries lasting up to two years in duration. The new whiplash tariff will be used to value minor whiplash and also associated minor psychological injuries.

Aviva has campaigned for personal injury reform for the last ten years, highlighting that the number of whiplash claims in the UK was out of step with the number of accidents on our roads: from 2000 – 2015, the number of injury claims increased by more than 90%, despite a 41% reduction in the number of road traffic accidents.