An overhaul of the Whiplash Reform Programme set to take place in August this year has now been pushed back to April 2021, the government has confirmed.

In what was billed by the car insurance industry and government as a bid to tackle the high number and resultant cost of whiplash claims,  which in turn pushed up motor insurance premiums for drivers.

It has just be confirmed that in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic the government has postponed the Whiplash Reform Programme until next year. This is the third time implementation of the reforms – originally scheduled for April 2019 – has been postponed.

But the personal injury claim changes have now been moved back to April 2021, secretary of state for justice, Robert Buckland MP confirmed.

A written statement read: “The government remains firmly committed to implementing these measures which are intended to control the number and cost of whiplash claims.

“However, it is apparent that the current Covid-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the medical, legal and insurance sectors. While the whiplash reform measures remain important, the government is committed to acting to ease the disruption and pressures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak where it can.

“As a result, the government has considered representations from key stakeholder groups and agrees that now is not the time to press ahead with significant transformational change to the personal injury sector.

“We have therefore decided to delay the implementation of the whiplash reform programme to April 2021. This will enable key sectors of this country’s business to focus their energies on delivering their response to Covid-19, and will allow the government to focus on delivering key services in the justice area during this difficult time.”

Whiplash Reform Programme – what’s changing?

The law surrounding road traffic accidents and claims as a result of personal injury will change as part of The Civil Liability Act 2018.

The intended outcome is to reduce the amount of fraudulent, exaggerated and inflated low value whiplash claims that the MIB suggest are being used to claim for compensation that is not deserving.

This includes increasing the small claims court limit for road traffic compensation from £1,000 to £5,000. If an injury is worth less than £5,000, claimants can still go to court but they will need to pay for their own legal costs or represent themselves.

Whilst the insurance industry has long sought such changes, many argue that the increase in premiums is a by product of the insurers shifting the costs of operations back onto the consumers and that the reform might actually damage access to genuine legal redress and deserved compensation.

The £1bn suggested figure for savings to the industry by the proposed reforms are only an estimate.

Whilst removing the ability for a whiplash claim to be settled without a medical report to support the injury there will also be a fixed amount on how much claimants can receive for pain, suffering and loss of amenity for whiplash injuries sustained in a road traffic accident.

For injuries that last less than two years, the fixed amount you can receive will range from £235 – £3,910, lower than the typical £5,000 damages level currently set.

Under the new act, this means claimants will have to submit their own proceedings as well as manage their own medical evidence, including paying for medical assessments and treatment before receiving compensation.

Whilst this part of the Whiplash Reform Programme may well reduce fraudulent claims it will also impact genuine claimants who may not now get a fair and equitable access to legal representation.

Delayed premium savings for drivers

Dan Hutson, head of motor insurance at, said: “While another delay to the implementation of the whiplash reforms may make sense in the context of the coronavirus pandemic, an unintended consequence could be that insurers are forced to keep premiums higher for many and even unaffordable for some. The cost of cover has become problematic for so many and the financial difficulties presented by the pandemic make this even more of a challenge.

“Previous government estimates indicated that the whiplash reforms would take £35 off premiums. The delay will push this saving out until April 2021 at a time when people can afford it least.

“For those struggling to keep up with the cost of their insurance, there are a number of measures that could be taken, such as changing your policy from a commuter to social use or declaring your car off road if appropriate. It is also important to ensure you are on the most competitive policy possible. If you are coming up to renewal, it is worth shopping around to see if you can find a better deal – drivers stand to save £121 on average by switching.”

Ensure injured people are able to gain access to justice

Gordon Dalyell, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, said: “Delay is welcome, but another arbitrary date for these reforms to be implemented is meaningless unless critical issues are addressed.

“The new claims portal lacks vital safeguards to ensure injured people are able to gain access to justice. Without alternative dispute resolution the portal will leave unrepresented injured people in a very vulnerable position if liability or the value of the claim is disputed.

“Injured people will be expected instead to switch to the small claims track, which is simply not designed for these types of disputes. But before this could even be considered a viable solution, issues like the need for explicit permission from the court to allow expert evidence must be resolved.”

Whiplash Reform Programme
Close up hand holding smartphone and take photo at The scene of a car crash and accident, car accident for car insurance claim.