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On the face of it, the stats provided by the MOJ bore this objective out; less claims were being submitted via the portal, but I also raised a cynical eyebrow at the large number of claimants reporting delays of over six months to get claims resolved and speculated whether this could be due to insurers taking a much closer look at so-called ‘hybrid’ claims.
At the time, I concluded that the high proportion of claims being made via representation (91%) indicated that despite the new user-friendly process, there was still a great deal of value in motorists having a Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI) policy to provide the legal representation needed to guide them through the process.
The OIC has just released its claims data for Q3 of this year, and it appears that the trend continues. A total of 351,409 claims have been submitted since the portal launched in May 2021, around 180,000 less than Government predictions, claims numbers also remain fairly static at around 23,000 per month.
So, have we cracked the country’s whiplash epidemic? I fear not. Though the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) attributes these falling claims numbers to changing claims behaviours and the continuing effects of Covid-19, I suspect there may be other factors at play, including a reluctance for injured parties to go through the complicated process, particularly if they do not have the funds or an LEI policy to pay for representation to support them, and cases being turned down if they’re not economically viable for a solicitor. The shortfall in claim numbers suggests that there are claimants out there, who have been injured in non-fault accidents, being left with no access to justice, compensation, or medical treatment.
Turning to settlements, the good news is that the number of settlements has continued to increase since the data was last published. 54,469 claims have been settled since the launch of the service, including 19,921 claims in this reporting period compared to 16,994 in Q2. However, the bad news is that the average time from claim to settlement has increased from 175 days to 208 days – the OIC expects this time to continue to rise as more complex cases with longer prognoses go through the portal.
Once again, we’ve seen a continuation in the trend towards claimant representation. During this reporting period, 91% of the claims registered via the portal had professional representation, mainly via a law firm.
The support provided by legal representatives can be invaluable throughout the claims process. Though the OIC portal has been designed to be user-friendly and simple to use, policyholders still benefit from the advice and guidance of professionals to help them avoid errors in submission and incorrect processes being followed.
The Portal Support Centre is a fully staffed helpline which can provide claimants with help on using the system and progressing a claim, but it cannot offer legal advice. For any claimants without the benefit of an LEI policy, additional legal advice at this stage will be a costly endeavour.
Having seen these new stats, I can only conclude that there is still an enormous benefit in having an LEI policy. This type of cover allows policyholders to quickly engage the support of experts should they need to make a claim.
Though the continuing reduction in claims could be seen as a win in the war against whiplash, we can’t discount the possibility of injured motorists out there not receiving the justice they are owed due to a reluctance to begin a process that to many seems overwhelming and complicated.
Our Motor LEI solutions are specially tailored to meet the needs of our clients, and cover the costs of litigation, ensuring policyholders receive compensation and legal support following an accident.
Richard Finan, Director of Strategic Development
For further information on the above, or details of our products and services, please contact your Partnerships Manager or email [email protected].