Majority of consumers want Ireland's high whiplash awards to be slashed

An Irish Brokers Association survey finds people are not happy with the average €15,000 payouts...

The general public is overwhelming not in favour of Irish motor insurance payouts being so far ahead of the rest of Europe, according to a new survey from the Irish Brokers Association.

Some 66% of 1,000 adults polled were of the opinion that average payouts here are currently excessive. When you take out those who did not give an opinion, 86% of people were against the high awards.

The Irish Brokers Association survey asked participants for their stance on the following statement:

“The average amount paid out for whiplash in a motor insurance claim in Ireland is €15,000 – almost 3 times higher than that paid out in the UK and higher than most European countries”

  • 9% said it was ‘About right’                                           
  • 2% said ‘We should pay more than other countries’                    
  • 66% believe ‘We should not pay more than other countries’                    
  • 23% responded ‘Don’t know’    

Ciaran Phelan, CEO of the Irish Brokers Association, said of the findings:

“Inconsistent and excessive claims award levels in Ireland create an increased incentive for people to potentially act in a fraudulent manner.

"Nowhere is this more evident than in cases of whiplash related claims, which make up 80% of motor injury claims in Ireland.

"This compares to France where whiplash makes up just 3% of claims. Whiplash award levels in Ireland (€15,000 average) are vastly in excess of our EU counterparts (UK €5,000, Spain/France €3,000).

"People want the value of awards to come down because they believe that this would have a positive impact on reducing the cost of motor insurance – an issue that almost every motorist in the country is currently battling.

"During his tenure as junior minister for financial services, Eoghan Murphy did some good work on investigating the causes of motor insurance premium increases and we hope, in the wake of the latest cabinet reshuffle, that no impetus or momentum will be lost and that Pascal Donohoe, our minister for the newly-amalgamated finance, public expenditure and reform, will continue to work on the recommendations outlined in the report”.

Phelan is recommending the introduction of a 'care not cash' policy for whiplash claims.

He continued:

"We would advocate that serious consideration be given to the introduction of a ‘Care not Cash’ policy for whiplash claims.

"The objective of such a measure would not be to penalise claimants, rather to promote fairer treatment of claims across the board.

"Such a system would deter those who believe that a fraudulent whiplash claim is a quick route to easy money that doesn’t hurt anyone, and it would ultimately ensure that, while the insurer will bear the full cost of bringing a person unfortunate enough to suffer a whiplash injury back to their pre-accident state, and compensate them for loss of earnings, that awards of €15,000 (plus legal fees) will no longer be an automatic entitlement. 

"One of the main recommendations of the recent Government report on the cost of motor insurance was to establish a Personal Injuries Commission to investigate other jurisdictions.

"An important step would be to establish a panel of national medical specialists who could assess the seriousness of the injury to ensure fraudulent claims are minimised."