By: 14 April 2016
Access to Justice group says Government has been hoodwinked by insurers over small claims

An Access to Justice group representing the personal injury legal sector has told the Government that it has been “hoodwinked” by the insurance industry into thinking that it needs to scrap compensation for minor whiplash injuries and raise the limit for personal injury claims to £5,000.

The group, which calls itself A2J, says that the plans will undermine the legal rights of millions of UK citizens. It argues that insurers have persuaded the Government, against all the evidence and past experience, that these reforms will bring down premiums.

“The government is being hoodwinked by the insurance industry,” said A2J chair Martin Coyne (pictured).

“Members of the public who have a genuine claim will be denied access to justice, even for quite serious injury cases, and premiums will continue to rise as insurers replace falling investment income with higher prices.

“It’s great news for insurance company executives and shareholders but terrible for those hurt through no fault of their own on our roads.”

He also said that A2J would be making sure that ministers understood “the full implications of their proposals” during the consultation period for the plans.

“We believe MPs will be concerned at the erosion of their constituents’ basic rights which can be traced back to Magna Carta.” said Coyne.

“While the government is quite happy to encourage rail users to claim compensation for delayed journeys, it wants to prevent victims of car crashes getting a settlement, even for serious and lasting injuries.”

A2J has previously said that it strongly supports action to clamp down on cold calling, tougher regulation of claims management companies and action on fraud. To stop fraud however, Coyne said that the insurance industry should be doing far more to get its own house in order, such as sharing data and prosecuting fraudsters, neither of which require new laws.

“These and many other ideas will reduce fraud without penalising innocent victims,” said Coyne.

“We know the insurance industry’s fraud statistics are partial and perverse, and the real reason behind these proposals is to protect their profits following a steep fall in investment returns.

“The idea that the insurance industry is on the side of the consumer in this respect is, frankly, laughable. All it is doing is persuading the government to reduce levels of cover offered to victims – while offering no guarantees that any resulting savings will be passed on to policyholders.”