Medical expenses reported by auto injury claimants are rising faster than the inflation rate, despite the severity of the injuries decreasing, according to “Auto Injury Insurance Claims: Countrywide Patterns in Treatment, Cost and Compensation, 2014 Edition,” from the Insurance Research Council.

Among personal injury protection claimants, claimed economic losses, including out-of-pocket expenses and those for medical care and lost wages, increased 8 percent on average from 2007 to 2012, reaching an annualized $14,207 per claimant in 2012.  Among bodily injury claimants, average claimed losses increased 4 percent, reaching $10,541 in 2012.

Measures such as the percentage of claimants who had no visible injuries at the accident scene, or who had fewer than 10 days in which they were unable to perform their usual daily activities, offered evidence of a continuing decline in the severity of injuries, the Insurance Research Council (IRC) said. The cost increases are attributable to more expensive treatment and diagnostic options, increases in billed charges for visits to medical providers, the use of pain clinics, attorney involvement, and claim abuse.

“Medical care costs continue to escalate, especially among first-party claimants,” said Elizabeth Sprinkel, IRC SVP. “Looking forward, the industry will need to continue its vigilance in contending with these expanding costs, particularly as it monitors the possible spillover effects from general healthcare reform.”

 

The study is based on more than 35,000 auto injury claims closed with payment under the five principal private passenger coverages, IRC said. Twelve insurers, representing 52 percent of the private passenger auto insurance market in the Unites States, participated in the study. 

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