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Insurers want action to curb ‘The New Whiplash'

Industry News : 27 July 2015

In a report on what it called ‘The New Whiplash’ the ABI said less than one fifth of the 200,000 NIHL claims submitted since 2012 have been eligible for compensation.  Furthermore, it says the claims have soared as displaced personal injury solicitors attempt to find new work.

The ABI has called for the government to extend the fixed costs regime outside the current portal to include disease claims and to include NIHL in the Medco panel and implement further rules on cold calling.

James Dalton, ABI Director of Insurance said claims for hearing loss should be falling as health and safety measures improve ‘ The recent spike in claims can only be the result of claimant lawyers spotting the potential to earn sizeable fees from these cases after their sky high earnings from whiplash claims were reduced’

But specialists involved in the handling of these cases have disputed the fact that lawyers have jumped from chasing whiplash fees to NIHL fees.  Bridget Collier who sits on the board of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers said ‘ These claims only succeed when negligence is proven, they are not straightforward to win and it’s not an area that you can just dabble in’

Nick Parsons , President at The Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL) has echoed the ABI’s views and said that the call for reforms were ‘sensible, balanced recommendations’ to move the handling of NIHL claims to a more proportionate regime.  He said, ‘FOIL  supports the ABI initiative to ensure that, whilst genuine claims for NIHL are dealt with promptly, the current volume of unjustified and poor quality claims is tackled effectively, to reduce the huge cost and waste resource these claims absorb’

Aviva recently reported that for every £1 it was paying out in successful noise-induced hearing loss claims, it was paying £5 in legal fees.

Last week The Ministry of Justice asked the Civil Justice Council (CJC) to investigate the number and cost of claims for NIHL.  A ministry spokesman said ‘In response to ongoing concern about the number and cost of noise-induced hearing loss claims, we have asked the CJC to consider the issue and make recommendations.  In response James Dalton said ‘ The insurance industry looks forward to working with the CJC to develop a practical and deliverable framework that seeks to make legal fees more proportionate and to ensure genuine claimants receive fair compensation in a timely and efficient manner’

Jonathan Wheeler, President of APIL said ‘ We hope the CJC considers the amount of work involved for claimant lawyers to get these complex cases off the ground, and the importance of ensuring that the ability to perform that work on behalf of the claimants is not restricted’