Award Increases Cause Rise in U.K. Premiums

February 29, 2000

The distinct possibility that damage awards arising from automobile accident claims will substantially increase in the U.K. has prompted the Association of British Insurers (ABI) to warn of possible big increases in rates.

According to a report in the Belfast Telegraph, an ABI spokesman said that if the courts decided to greatly increase damage payments in personal injury cases, it could cost insurers an extra £1 billion ($1.6 billion) per year.

In a pattern familiar to U.S. insurers, several companies have stopped writing automobile coverage in Northern Ireland due to the high level of claims, and the amounts awarded, which are substantially higher than elsewhere in the U.K.

Rates have already risen 10 percent for individuals and 20 percent for commercial liability insurance in the province, and the ABI warned that the same thing could happen elsewhere in the U.K., if courts followed a recent report by the Law Commission which suggested that damages should be increased substantially in injury cases. Some insurers foresee rate increases of up to 30 percent, particularly in commercial liability.

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