Just a fifth of people who have suffered an accident are confident they know how to go about making a personal injury (PI) claim, research commissioned by National Accident Helpline (NAH) has found.
The YouGov poll also found that of 1,009 adults who have had an accident for which they could have potentially made a claim, 42% cited the existence of a ‘compensation culture’ as the reason they did not.
The research was at the core of a report, The Real Cost of Personal Injury, that is part of NAH’s lobbying against government plans to raise the small claims limit for PI from £1,000 to £5,000 and remove the right to compensation for pain and suffering in soft-tissue injuries.
Of those who made a claim, 26% were nervous about the process, 19% felt daunted and intimidated, while 10% worried about what others would think – just 22% felt confident about it.
As well as concern about the so-called compensation culture, the reasons given for not claiming were stress, nervousness about the process and a desire not to make trouble for anyone.
It found that 60% of people suffered financial implications as a result of their injury – with one in five losing out on earnings of £10,000 or more – while over a third had to take more than a month off work.
In fact, a fifth of those who did not claim reported loss of earnings.
The research also highlighted the emotional suffering and stress that victims suffer – half admitted they were anxious about how long they would take to recover, and one in five (20%) were worried they would not be able to pay their household bills.
Feelings of anger were common, with almost half (47%) feeling angry and frustrated with the person or company who caused their accident, and 54% left feeling their injury could have been avoided.
The report also tried to dispel the notion that people make claims for personal gain. Some 37% planned to use their compensation to replace lost earnings and 30% said it was to cover the cost of rehab and medication, while a fifth (21%) said they would pay off debts.
NAH managing director Simon Trott said: “We are also aware that the debate around compensation has become increasingly heated in recent years, and we have carried out our research to gain a better measure of the real cost of personal injury to an individual.
“Using our research, we will continue to work to ensure that people with legitimate cases are supported to get their lives back on track, and secure the justice they deserve. We want to make sure the voices of personal injury victims aren’t lost amongst the criticism of a perceived claims culture.”
Meanwhile, leading claimant firm Thompsons has continued its campaign against insurers by challenging them to explain why premiums have increased while their profits have continued to rise over the last year.
Annual premiums for drivers have risen to an average of £715 – 19% higher than the £600 average this time last year. The increase is the sharpest in five years, and premiums could soon surpass the record levels of 2011.
Insurance broker Willis Towers Watson suggested the rise was due to “the cost and complexity of repairs” on motors. Other reasons cited included the forthcoming increase in insurance premium tax and fraudulent claims.
Thompsons head of policy Tom Jones claimed that the likes of Direct Line and Admiral have failed to comment on the issue of fraud in their annual reports or explain the rise in premiums.
“Car insurance companies absolutely do not need increased revenue – they have seen huge profit and dividend increases in the last year. In 2015, Direct Line increased its UK motor insurance operating profit by 14%, and Admiral increased its UK motor insurance profit before tax by 11%.
“Car insurance share prices have been among the most stable during the uncertainty of Brexit – indicating that the market is still banking on these companies making huge profits…
“Is it being too cynical to view this as insurers jacking up prices now – when the lack of transparency means nobody really knows what they base their premium prices on – so that if the government increases the small claims limit they can miraculously reduce them back down? They will remain very profitable but put the saving down to the small claims limit change.”