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Damages for whiplash injuries

Part of Civil Liability Bill [Lords] – in the House of Commons at 5:00 pm on 23rd October 2018.

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Photo of Mary Robinson Mary Robinson Conservative, Cheadle 5:00 pm, 23rd October 2018

I am talking about the compensation that would normally be paid by train operators.

It is important that we tackle whiplash fraud, but it is hard to explain to those who are injured that the same injuries sustained in different circumstances—for example, a comparable injury at work—should be compensated differently. Under the reform proposals, someone who had been involved in a road accident would be entitled to £3,910 for a whiplash injury lasting up to two years, but would be unable to recover the cost of paying a lawyer to assert their rights. Someone who suffered an identical injury at work would be entitled to £6,500, and would be able to recover costs. For many people, it goes to the heart of ensuring fairness that comparable injuries should attract comparable awards—if awards are indeed to be given—whether those injuries were sustained in a road traffic accident or incurred at a place of work.

If, as is hoped and predicted, these changes result in savings to the insurance industry, it is important for members of the public to see that the savings are passed on via reduced premiums. Concerns were raised about that in Committee, and I am encouraged that the Government accepted amendments that will hold insurers to account. As amended, the Bill places a statutory requirement on insurers to provide the Financial Conduct Authority with certain information to enable Treasury Ministers to report to Parliament on whether the insurers have upheld their public commitments by passing on savings. The Government have estimated that these measures would lead to a reduction in motor insurance premiums of approximately £40 per customer per year. I expect the industry to demonstrate that savings are being appropriately passed on, so that consumers can see fairness in the insurance system.