Civil Liability Bill Could Reduce Truck Insurance Premiums

Good news for motor fleet premiums

Government research indicates that since 2005 motor personal injury claims have risen by around 40% despite road accidents having fallen by nearly 30% during the same period.* The surge in personal injury claims is largely down to so-called ‘whiplash’ claims. It’s this surge that the new Civil Liability Bill is designed to address.

Section 1(1) of the Civil Liability Bill defines a ‘whiplash injury’ as “an injury, or set of injuries, of soft tissue in the neck, back or shoulder that is of a description specified in regulations made by the Lord Chancellor”.

Key features of the whiplash reforms detailed in the Civil Liability Bill include:

  • The introduction of a tariff scheme that sets a fixed-amount payment scale for whiplash injuries lasting no more than two years
  • A ban on insurance companies being able to settle claims directly with those suffering whiplash injuries without first obtaining medical evidence

About the author

Chris North FCII, commercial vehicles insurance articles author Chris North FCII is a respected industry leader with over 40 years' experience, who has worked in the insurance industry in a variety of roles, accumulating a wealth of knowledge. He is currently Technical Manager for Towergate's motor division, providing expertise on all matters relating to motor fleet insurance, in particular haulage and self-drive hire fleets.

Rise in truck insurance personal injury small claims limits

Though not a specific part of the Bill because primary legislation is not required, a further significant change is a rise in the small claims limits for personal injury cases. The limit for road traffic accidents will rise from £1,000 to £5,000. The limit for other (non-motoring) personal injury claims will increase from £1,000 to £2,000.

Truck insurance and the Ogden rate

The other key component to the Civil Liability Bill relates to the opposite end of the injury spectrum, catastrophic injuries. In such instances, the calculation of damages needs to reflect the whole-of-life impact. Insurers and lawyers will be very familiar with the ‘Ogden rate’ which is used to reflect the impact of investment returns when calculating a settlement.

Much has been written recently about a change to the 'Ogden rate' and the huge impact of that change on those having to settle very large compensation claims. To help allay insurers’ fears, the Civil Liability Bill introduces a new process for the setting of the Ogden rate by the Lord Chancellor. Once the Bill is passed, an expert panel will advise on the discount rate at least every three years and in doing so will assume that compensation payments are invested in ‘low-risk’ rather than almost ‘no-risk’ securities.

Impact on truck insurance premiums

The Bill received final approval on the 21st November 2018 and now awaits Royal Assent after which it will become an Act of Parliament. The Civil Liability Bill and the rise in the small claims limit are expected to be implemented at the same time in April 2019. Whiplash claimants falling within the new tariff scheme will have to submit their claims using a new on-line portal that is currently under development. It is expected that once it’s up and running, 80% of all injury claims will processed through the new portal.

There is much talk about the possibility of private motorists enjoying a fall in motor insurance premiums once the Bill has been enacted. The measures taken through the Civil Liability Bill should bring benefits for motor fleet customers too, though for them much depends on their own claims experience.

Truck insurance from Towergate

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* According to the UK Government's Department for Work and Pensions and Department for Transport: http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8335/CBP-8335.pdf