The Injuries Board has warned that businesses and consumers could face higher insurance premiums if what it calls an "emerging claims culture" is not addressed.

According to the board’s annual report, personal injury claims increased by almost 5% last year.

The Injuries Board was established in 2004 to assess and make awards in relation to motor, employer and public liability accidents, without the need for lengthy and expensive litigation.

Its latest report shows that compensation awards were up by 3.9% to €218 million last year, which amounts to an overall increase of 25% since 2007.

Motor claims alone have jumped by over 33% in the last five years.

The board said this "steady" and "consistent" upward trend comes at a time when Irish roads "have never been safer" and fewer people are at work.

It is concerned that the increases coincides with what it says is a "significant" jump in promotion and advertising by claims-handling companies.

The board said lessons can be learnt from the British market, where claims-handling services are heavily promoted and where whiplash claims have increased by 60% since 2006.