Road casualties

Accidents down, but personal injury claims soar, says AA Insurance

5 August 2009

AA Insurance has welcomed the reduction in injuries published by the Department for Transport for the year ending March 2009.

Overall, road casualties were down 8 per cent compared with the previous 12 months, with those killed or seriously injured down 9 per cent.

Yet despite these encouraging figures and the falling accident rate on Britain's roads, the number of personal injury claims received by insurers continues to soar.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, said: "The falling accident rate is good news, especially as this continues a long-term downward trend.

"But I'm not really surprised to see it.

"This year has seen fuel prices rise along with other demands on family budgets as well as rising levels of redundancy, all of which discourages car use: indeed, the Department for Transport notes that traffic volumes fell by 2 per cent over the year. But the number of personal injury claims is going up."

He points to figures published by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) which says there is an 'unnecessary' and 'steady' increase in personal injury claims, which topped £9.6bn last year, up from £8.8bn in 2006. 40 per cent of the value of these claims is absorbed by legal expenses. Last year alone, there were 1,200 whiplash injury claims per day, amounting to £1.9bn in personal injury payouts.

"This suggests that those involved in accidents are much more inclined to make personal injury claims, even for non-serious injuries such as minor whiplash cured by painkillers over a couple of days, which in the past, people would have just not bothered to claim for," says Douglas.

The impact of such claims is having a serious effect on car insurance premiums which, according to the AA British Insurance Premium Index, rose during the second quarter by 3.5 per cent, their fastest rate for nearly a decade.

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7 August 2009