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STAND BY ME: ACCIDENT AND CLAIMS STATISTICS HIGHLIGHT CONTINUING NEED FOR LEGAL EXPENSES INSURANCE

Just over a year on from the implementation of the Official Injury Claims (OIC) portal in 2021, data suggests that the reforms have achieved the key objective of lowering the volume of whiplash claims made in the UK. Yet even with the new online customer-focused reporting platform, designed to allow injured parties to submit their own claims for personal injury, OIC statistics highlight that most claims are still made via representation, from law firms or claims management companies for example.  The numbers indicate that consumers still want to have the support of experts when pursuing a claim.
The purpose of the portal

The OIC portal was implemented in May 2021 to allow claimants to submit their own low value personal injury claims following an accident – in theory this would make it easier for motorists to pursue a claim for personal injury without needing legal representation and incurring additional legal costs.

However, whilst the portal itself may be an easy-to-use tool, the guidance available to support claimants is not quite as straightforward.  At 64 pages and over 22,000 words, the lengthy guide can be confusing and frustrating for injured motorists leaving room for error and incorrect claims processes being followed.

This complexity is borne out by the latest OIC claims submission figures which demonstrate that between April 2021 and June 2022, over 91% of claims were being made via representation – consumers can clearly see the benefit of enlisting expert legal support, even though this can be a costly endeavour for those who don’t have a Legal Expenses Insurance (LEI) policy.

Delays, court backlogs, and ‘weak wrists’

As reported by the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) in July, the OIC data also suggests that 36% of claimants are waiting more than six months to have their claim settled, this is particularly true of hybrid claims, those responding to a mixture of whiplash combined with another type of physical injury or injuries suffer from the longest delays.

A cynical view may be that these delays are caused by insurers taking a closer look at these ‘hybrid’ claims, as injuries secondary to whiplash become more common following implementation of the reforms (which coincidentally takes the claim out of the new fixed tariff and increases the potential compensation a claimant can receive…). Has the country developed ‘weak wrists’ overnight, insurers perhaps have the right to ask?

The complex and potentially protracted experience of pursuing a claim can be a stressful time, so it’s vital that claimants have the right legal support.

Legal Expenses Insurance shows the benefit of expert help

In my view, LEI cover is more important than ever, allowing policyholders to quickly engage the support of experts should they need to make a claim, whether through the portal or not.

Though the OIC is set up to facilitate a smooth, customer-focused claims journey for low-value injuries, it’s clear from the statistics that representation is still a vital component for many claimants, and it’s here that an LEI policy can really deliver that valuable support.

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, Arc Legal Group

For further information on the above, or details of our products and services, please contact your Partnerships Manager or email enquiries@arclegal.co.uk.

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