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AXA results “raise questions” over reality of whiplash fraud ‘crisis’

Evans: impressive revenue growth

Evans: impressive revenue growth

Increasing profits at insurer AXA – one of the leading campaigners for continued whiplash reform – “does not square” with the industry’s warnings of a fraud pandemic, leading claimant firm Thompsons has argued.

AXA’s annual results, published yesterday, showed that underlying earnings in England and Wales were up 25% to £312m – the fifth successive year of double-digit growth – on income of £4.1bn (up 7%).

AXA UK and Ireland chief executive Paul Evans said: “I am delighted that we have been able to deliver impressive revenue growth without compromising profitability.”

UK direct motor revenues increased by 12% to £400m at a combined ratio of 91.4% – meaning that for every £100 in premiums received, AXA spent £91.40 on claims and expenses – which the insurer attributed to both rate increases, and an 8% increase to one million direct motor policies.

Tom Jones, head of policy at Thompsons, said: “Profits are up, and no mention is made of fraud or whiplash – it doesn’t make sense after all the talk of a ‘crisis’ and a ‘pandemic’… We need transparency about claims and fraud so that the consumers can judge for themselves whether or not they are getting a fair deal.”

In a report published in 2013, AXA said [1] that whiplash claimants should have to provide objective evidence of injury – such as an MRI scan or x-ray – and not be allowed to claim where symptoms do not manifest themselves after a few days.

It also called [2]for a code of conduct for insurer/law firm joint venture alternative business structures “to ensure appropriate behaviour” – particularly around referral of “exaggerated ‘whiplash’ claims to their own law firms”.

Mr Evans said that total motor revenues increased 11% to £900m in 2015 due in part to premium increases of over 30% in the Republic of Ireland to reflect the “material increases” seen in court awards for personal injury.

“We call on the Irish government to guide the courts with a schedule of capped, consistent, injury awards which secures affordable insurance for motorists in Ireland,” he said.