New regulatory changes aimed at faster settlement of motor personal injury claims have taken effect.
The overhaul of claims procedure means most motorists should be able to receive compensation for personal injuries within nine months, as compared to two years under the previous system.
First announced by the Ministry of Justice in September, the guidelines set a deadline for each stage of the compensation process. For instance, insurance firms must decide on liability within 15 days of the claim being filed.
Faster and more efficient processing of claims would also be facilitated by standardised electronic forms.
Additionally, a fixed legal charge has been set for each stage of the process in order to reduce overall legal costs, which currently add an extra 10% to insurance premiums.
The changes apply to claims valued at between £1,000 and £10,000, which constitute nearly 80% of all claims.
The Association of British Insurers, which has been campaigning for a simpler, faster and more cost-effective system for some time, estimates around half a million people a year should benefit from the move.
Nick Starling, the ABI's director of general insurance and health, said: "These changes will not only mean quicker compensation for many, but will also reduce the level of legal costs that all motorists ultimately end up paying for through their motor premiums.
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