The body representing the insurance industry has called for compensation for whiplash claims to be withheld until there is ‘objective evidence’ of injury.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has urged the government to look at radical action to tackle growing numbers of whiplash claims. Speaking at today’s Lyons Davidson international whiplash conference in Bristol, James Dalton, the ABI’s head of motor and liability, argued for a cap on the level of damages for whiplash claims.

He also advocated a panel of independent doctors to assess neck injuries, rather than the claimant’s GP.

The ABI and its members will meet the government this spring for discussions on reform, with the prime minister known to be keen to change the current system.

Dalton said: ‘The fact that whiplash is virtually impossible to disprove means that for too many it has become the fraud of choice, often aided and abetted by ambulance-chasing lawyers and claims management firms. The crackdown on our whiplash epidemic has started with the government’s reform of civil litigation which will reduce the scope for "have a go" claims. But we also need to consider radical action if we are to get a grip on whiplash.’

The ABI says there are 57,000 claims for whiplash every year, costing insurers more than £2bn and adding an average £90 a year to motor premiums.

The forthcoming summit, to follow a Downing Street meeting between David Cameron and insurers in January, will again raise accusations that the government is biased towards the insurance industry. ABI director Nick Starling, speaking at a conference last week, denied that his group had too much political influence.

‘We know our job [as lobbyists] and we know how to get in there,’ he said. ‘This myth that we get unprecedented access to [justice minister] Jonathan Djanogly is exactly that: a myth.’