Whiplash is a common claim faced by auto insurers

Whiplash for Auto Insurers: Cause for Concern?

Nov 6, 2018

If you’re in auto insurance, you’ve dealt with whiplash. This condition involves claimants complaining of neck sprain following auto accidents and is one of the most common claims that insurers face — particularly in rear-end collisions. The rapid acceleration and deceleration of the head and neck is said to cause pain.

People talk about it all the time. If they haven’t suffered it themselves, they’d probably expect to should they be in a vehicle accident.

And that may be the most interesting part. While many do recall neck pain right after accidents, long term, chronic whiplash, is a different story.

Insurance Culture May Make all the Difference

Norwegian researchers ran a study in Lithuania, which lacks the same insurance culture as their home country — and many other countries, such as Canada. They found no evidence of long-term neck problems in those who experienced auto accidents, compared to the control group.

When a condition seems to be much more present in circumstances where people have something to gain from it existing — such as insurance benefits — that should give insurers pause and reason to get a more detailed answer.

How Do Auto Insurers Navigate This Question?

A chronic whiplash claim should always get your attention — because you do have options. You don’t have to simply accept it at face value. Even when the claimant has provided medical documentation from their GP.

A claim immediately following the accident is one thing, but when the claim is verging into long-term disability territory, a responsible, thorough response is necessary. Making the wrong decision can snowball into lengthy appeals processes and even legal proceedings. If you are going to address this question, you must do all you can to build your case.

Independent Medical Advice in Chronic Whiplash Cases

Insurers have various methods to ascertain the veracity of a claim, such as comparing reported symptoms to reliable statistics on the closing speed differential (so-called Delta-V) and surveillance to determine if the injury really appears to be on-going.

One frequently used tool is seeking independent medical advice from an unbiased expert.

Independent Medical Examinations give you an extra layer of assurance and clarity before you need to make that decision to award benefits or deny the claim. By having the claimant undergo such an examination, you get the benefit of the expertise of a specialist without the wait times of the public healthcare system. Unusual causes of prolongation of symptoms may need to be assessed, such as ruptured vertebral discs and hidden spinal fractures.

This outside opinion will allow you to make a more informed, defensible decision.

If you’re looking for such a service, start with Western Medical Assessments. We’ve handled more than 63,000 Independent Medical Assessments, and our Medical Director, Dr. Roger Hodkinson, is always available for a quick chat at 780.433.1191.

Want some more? We’ve got a great starter pack of information for Motor Vehicle Accident Insurers right here.

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