50 Shades of Wrong

To someone who didn’t know, water-boarding at Guantanamo Bay sounds quite ‘rad’ doesn’t it? If you didn’t know better, you would paint a picture of Volkswagen campers, surf-boards, Bermuda shorts, ‘tinnies’ and questionable smokes, people being hot and cool, and making getting up and getting down the same thing.

Men's grey tieThe same could be said for whiplash. Again, if you didn’t know, a good guess would be something to do with the favourite pastimes of Christian Grey, in fact it probably is! Literally, it is the long, flexible part of a whip, but is most commonly used nowadays to refer to neck injuries, most often when they are caused by a motor accident. They are a common and painful injury, and very often the true extent is not felt until well after the accident, possibly because of the adrenalin-fuelled anxiety of the moment. Compensation can be rightly claimed from insurance companies.

All too often though, the symptoms appear when a friendly whisper mentions how easy it is to fake and get some money from an insurance company. The perception, sometimes the truth, is that insurers will settle personal injury claims rather than go to the expense of defending in court.   For most people this is infuriating, and we find it hard to take when a low-speed collision results in our policy paying out thousands for a spurious claim by the ‘injured’ party. Imagine if you ran a business with a large fleet of vehicles. The cost of your insurance is based upon your claims experience, both frequency and amounts, so each time someone cheats for ‘easy’ cash from faceless insurance companies because ‘everyone does it’, or ‘what does a few thousand mean to them?’, it can actually hit his business directly in the pocket.

In fact, it is hitting you and I in the pocket to the tune of 20% of our motor premiums. 98% of doctors have admitted they have seen patients who appeared to be exaggerating an injury in order to claim compensation, and 85% had seen injuries completely made up, most commonly whiplash.

Thankfully, the problem is being fought on two fronts. Any fleet manager worth his salt is now investing in risk management tools such as cameras that record accidents, and some insurers have begun to take a stand and contest fraudulent claims all the way through court, resulting in criminal convictions for those involved, and delighting their policyholders.

I only hope all insurers follow suit, and that in years to come whiplash sparks more thought of Mr Grey than easy money! (That sounded like a decent ending when I wrote it?!)

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