whiplash portal

Enquiries into take up of whiplash portal

Enquiries are being held into why more litigants in persons (LiPs) are not using the Official Injury Claim (OIC) whiplash portal.

Since going live in May 2021, reports reveal that 90% of claims are coming from people represented by a solicitor.

Absence of CMCs in process

The poor response has led the creators of the ‘whiplash portal’ to actively explore the poor take up of the service. Stakeholders also want to establish whether unrepresented claimants may be receiving additional advice ‘in the background’ and if this might be having an impact on settlement figures.

Minutes from last month’s OIC advisory group meeting, chaired by the Ministry of Justice and attended by solicitor, insurer and medical agency representatives, were published recently, and revealed that research has been commissioned into unrepresented claimants exiting the service.

The group remarked on the continued absence of claims management companies in the process – in the first quarter of the OIC operating, just 101 claims out of 41,000 were made through CMCs.

Levels of awareness questioned

One area being investigated is unrepresented claimants’ level of awareness of the service and their journey through the process.

The assumption was that individuals with potential whiplash claims would be directed to the portal by their insurer, but the numbers would suggest that many are not taking this advice – or alternatively that many are being put off running their own claim and seeking out solicitors instead. The Civil Liability Act prevents the recovery of legal costs for any claim valued less than £5,000, so any successful claimant using a solicitor would have those costs deducted from damages.

The minutes record that the advisory group’s discussion ‘included the importance of capturing how the claimant found their way to the service, to enable a better understanding of its visibility and whether/how this can be improved’.

Intention of the whiplash portal

Although designed with both unrepresented and represented claimants in mind, the clear intention of the portal was to encourage more people to handle their own claims and reduce costs.

The government says ‘substantial work’ was undertaken to ensure that the service was fair, accessible and efficient for all users, and has been ‘carefully designed with the claimant firmly at its heart.’ The service includes a dedicated phone support centre who do not wish to handle their case online.

What these figures mean for RTA cases

These figures may lead firms who have dealt predominantly with RTA claims in the past to consider whether to stay in the RTA market, or branch into additional areas of personal injury. However, the fact that many claimants are continuing to use law firms may mean the opposite.

Update: Glitch in whiplash portal impacting claims

The Motor Insurers’ Bureau, who oversees the OIC portal, says they have discovered a glitch in the system stopping lawyers from filing claims.

The error occurs when compensators (predominantly insurers) input items with zero value, although it is not believed to affect those accessing the portal directly but rather claimant representatives who use external systems connected to the portal’s software.

The OIC memo said: “We are currently testing a fix for this bug which we expect to go live on or before 14 February. As a practical solution, if compensators are able to inform their handlers to ensure zero values are entered as £0.00 until the fix is implemented, claims can continue through the process normally.”

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