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UK whiplash claims expected to exceed 800,000 in 2012

UK whiplash claims expected to exceed 800,000 in 2012
Tristan Honeywill

Thatcham Research, the UK test-house that advises the insurance industry on safety, security and repair costs expects the UK to make more than 800,000 whiplash claims in 2012. Speaking at the opening a new Euro NCAP-accredited crash test lab, Thatcham said it is investing £2 million over three years in new facilities to test cars and technologies that will help reduce insurance premiums and injury claims.

“The opening of the new crash test lab links to the UK motor insurance industry’s strategy to reduce and contain personal injuries,” said Andrew Miller, Thatcham’s director of research. “One of the main levers of change is the consumer testing conducted by Euro NCAP. It’s a direct way of challenging car design: it empowers consumers to make an informed choice.”

Since the 1990s the UK’s insurers have wrestled with the increasing costs of whiplash claims, partly driven by increasingly stronger, stiffer vehicles – that’s generally good for safety –  and partly by a poor compensation framework. After getting involved with Euro NCAP on whiplash research in 2003, Thatcham has steadily increased its involvement with the organisation. “90% of accidents are caused by some type of human error,” said Miller. “New collision avoidance technologies, ‘autonomous emergency braking’ will deliver enormous benefits in reducing the accidents that cause whiplash injuries and claims. They over-ride the poor decisions and behaviour that cause terrible, tragic accidents.” 

“We want to make roads safer for the insurance industry, but also for our families and friends,” said Miller.

Changes to cars have been a key measure in delivering the biggest impact on reducing deaths and injuries. Organisation like Euro NCAP create a market for safety that otherwise might be ignored by carmakers.

“We want to make roads safer for the insurance industry, but also for our families and friends,” said Miller.

Thatcham is run for the UK’s insurance industry. The work of the test house helps to determine how high our insurance premiums are. It tests how easily cars get damaged and researches how much they cost to repair, it tests how well cars protect against whiplash. The new crash test lab means that it now also crash tests cars.

Why? Road deaths and injuries cost insurance companies a lot of money. With the number of bogus claims increasing, premiums rises alone are not the solution. To make their business sustainable, anything they can do to prevent accidents and make driving safer is becoming more important.

What Thatcham does for the insurance industry usually also results in benefits for consumers: cheaper repairs, fewer thefts, safer cars. It’s going to take time for the full benefits to filter through to everybody, but the first cars fitted with collision avoidance technologies are already enjoying lower premiums. Thanks to Thatcham’s assessments, theses models are typically classified three to five insurance groups lower. That generally means insurance premiums that are 10% lower.

The first Euro NCAP crash test conducted at Thatcham was the Volvo V40. The centre is also developing tests that will allow Euro NCAP to assess technologies that prevent accidents involving pedestrians and cyclists.

The conclusion? If the insurance companies are investing in collision avoidance, it’s no gimmick. Follow CarSafetyRules on Twitter or Facebook to stay informed about which new cars offer the technology

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