Making a whiplash claim - what you need to know C icon
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If you have whiplash, you can claim on your car insurance policy by contacting your insurer. You'll only be able to claim if you weren't at fault.

Sometimes there's a delay in symptoms appearing, so you might tell your insurer about this later.

You need to get medical evidence for the claim to be processed. Here, we explain whiplash claims and what you need to make one.

Man in check shirt holding his neck with possible whiplash after road accident

Here's what you need to make a whiplash claim:

  • The personal and insurance details of any other drivers involved in the an accident. Usually you exchange these details after the accident.
  • Photographs of the accident and the details of any witnesses.

After you've gathered your evidence, you need to:

  • Contact your insurer and tell them about the accident.
  • Visit a doctor if you have symptoms of whiplash and keep hold of any medical reports about your injuries.

If you have a genuine claim, you can start the claims process with your insurer. If you suffer whiplash in a multi-car accident, you contact your own insurer.

It doesn't matter if you were the driver or a passenger in a car, either - if you've suffered whiplash you can make a claim.

You have 3 years from the date of the accident to make a claim.

Whiplash is a neck injury caused by a sudden movement of the head which usually lasts for up to 3 months sometimes more.

Symptoms of whiplash can include:

  • Neck pain
  • Difficulty moving
  • Headaches
  • Shoulder pain

The reason it's a condition that's so easy to abuse by fraudsters is that it can be difficult to diagnose.

Much of the diagnosis relies on the honesty of the patient and it can take several hours after an incident for the symptoms to develop.

So, con artists can claim this is why they didn't report the injury at the time of the accident.

If you're in a car accident that was completely your fault, you can't make a whiplash claim.

If personal accident cover is included on your policy, you might have options. You should get in touch with your insurer to discuss these.

Under the rules introduced in 2021, the amount of whiplash compensation you can claim ranges from £240 to £4,215.

Payouts for whiplash that lasts up to 3 months are capped at £240. This figure then rises in stages to £4,215 for an injury that lasts up to 2 years.

There are small 'add-ons' if you've suffered minor psychological injuries as a result of the accident.

The courts have the power to increase a payout by up to 20%, in exceptional cases. The following guidelines for whiplash payouts are published by The Judicial College, part of the Ministry of Justice.

Length of injury Amount for whiplash injuries Amount for whiplash injuries plus mild psychological injury
Not more than 3 months
More than 3 months but not more than 6 months
More than 6 months but not more than 9 months
More than 9 months but not more than 12 months
More than 12 months but not more than 15 months
More than 15 months but not more than 18 months
More than 18 months but not more than 24 months

Yes - a whiplash claim can be refused. If you don't have the right medical certificate, or your insurer thinks the accident was staged, it has the right to refuse a payout. If your insurance claim is rejected, you could go to court.

Insurers now take a stricter approach to whiplash claims after the government tightened the whiplash rules in 2021. You need to produce evidence that you've genuinely suffered whiplash.

The government said the changes were aimed at reducing the “unacceptably high number of whiplash claims made each year”. There were more than half a million claims made in 2019/20 alone.

As with all claims though, your insurer should process and consider a whiplash claim.

The insurance company for the party responsible for the accident might offer an out-of-court settlement that you're free to accept or reject.

If your accident involves an uninsured driver, things can get a bit more complicated. But you may be able to seek compensation from the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB).

There are many legal firms in the UK that could offer to help you negotiate a claim or take your case to court.

Typically, they operate on a no-win, no-fee basis, which means you pay them their fees out of any settlement you get. But, it's important to take the time to research any firm before signing up. Always make sure you're aware of any fees involved and when they'll be taken.

You should also compare these costs with the cost of making a claim yourself and going to court. This usually costs a lot less but may involve more work from you.

There's no set time for a whiplash claim to be settled.

If it's a relatively straightforward claim, it should be resolved by your insurer, usually within a few months.

But, if it's a complicated claim, the process can take longer.

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