The Official Injury Claim (OIC) service, the online portal launched earlier this year to manage road traffic accident claims under £5,000, processed more than 45,000 claims during its first three months of operation.
The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) released this first tranche of data via the OIC website as it considers publishing the figures through its own communications channels dedicated to updating stakeholders on the progress of implementing whiplash reforms.
According to the data, the portal processed 45,718 claims between 31 May and 31 August, including 4,331 from unrepresented claimants.
Some 24,812 liability decisions were made in that time, with 436 claims reaching the settlement stage.
Responding to the release of the data, Ian Kershaw, head of motor claims at Allianz, said: “Volumes haven’t yet reached a level that would allow us to say whether the OIC portal has met its objectives. The first figures released by the MoJ highlight the initial benefits of the portal, but also show some trends that raise questions.”
“The proportion of unrepresented claimants is much lower than hoped and also due to the small number of medical reports received on the claims notified to date, it is difficult to reach any early conclusions.”
Kershaw adds: “What we have seen, however, is a significant number where the uplift for ‘exceptional circumstances’ is being claimed—this happens more often than expected, which could be due to the lack of a precise definition for this criteria.”
Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of claimant-focused trade group the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO), criticised the portal’s apparent low settlement rate: “The data shows that of nearly 46,000 claims registered on the portal so far, just 436 had settled as at September 2021. That means fewer than one per cent of injured people have made it to the end of the process, which strongly implies that widespread reports from defendant and claimant representatives of severe teething problems with the portal must be true.”
He continued: “The MoJ said the portal was designed to make it easy for injured people to use, but only one in ten consumers attempted to do so without the support of a lawyer or other professional representative. This shows that the portal process is far too complicated for most members of the public to use with confidence, and without risking detriment from adverse defendant behaviour.”
“On liability, just over half the submitted claims (54%) have agreed liability decisions, with 11% of claims having liability denied. In order to help unblock the backlog of injured people waiting for their day in court, we would like to see the number of liability denied cases reduce significantly.”
“Currently there are nearly 21,000 claims awaiting a liability decision. Our concern is that insurers are incentivised to deny liability because in doing so, the case exits the portal and injured people have nowhere to turn to except the civil courts, which are suffering year-long delays getting cases heard.”