Mark Steel: You're sure that's not whiplash?

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The Independent Online

Go on then, anyone who claims that the free market offers the most practical method of running society, explain this. Insurance companies say that car insurance is £90 a year higher than it should be, as a result of suspect claims for minor injuries or whiplash.

Well, about a year ago a drunk drove into my car at night while I was in bed asleep so I made a claim on the insurance. Then, a few months ago, I had a call from a company called something like "Accident Solutions". "I'm calling about your accident," I was told. "And I'm pleased to inform you that you're due compensation for the injuries you sustained."

"But I didn't sustain any injuries," I said. "There are often injuries you don't realise at the time," the caller insisted. "You may have had twinges you didn't realise were due to the accident."

"That's unlikely," I said. "I wasn't in the car." "But there may still be injuries suffered."

"What? Even if I wasn't in the car?" I asked. "You'd be surprised," he said. "I'd be very surprised," I said. "If the impact was so great it caused some cosmic twist in the atmosphere that gave me a stiff neck." "So you're saying you HAVE suffered an injury?" he asked.

I put the phone down, but two days later someone from "Post-Calamity Compensatory Adjustments" phoned and was adamant that I'd been severely injured until I yelled: "Are you suggesting the negative energy from the crash realigned my spiritual aura causing my spine to feel at one with the rear panel of my car and in sympathy become all crumpled?" "So you HAVE suffered an injury?" he asked.

As of yesterday, I was up to 40 of these calls. "Hello, I'm from Collision Aftermath Supreme and Mighty Justice," they say. I've tried every tactic to get them to stop. Once I said: "Look. I know it isn't your fault and please don't take this personally, but can you record my response as "**** off and don't ******* ever ******* call again you ******* ******** *********."

And, to his credit, he said: "OK, Mr Steel, I'll ring back in half an hour."