As frustrations grow over delays to the LiP portal, Insurance Times analyses progress so far

The Litigants in Person (LiP) portal is meant to be close to completion, but as the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) and Ministry of Justice (MoJ) have only just started being vocal on its progress, a lot of questions remain.

At the Insurance Times Fraud Charter meeting in May, insurers, brokers and lawyers alike were clearly frustrated with the lack of communication from the MIB and MoJ around the portal, meaning they were unable to prepare properly for when it goes live in April 2020.

Mark Chiappino, counter fraud claims and policy validation manager at Direct Line Group said it takes “a lot of time” to on-board a small portal from a supplier, so it would need enough time to prepare, something that has not been provided.

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MedCo’s Susan Brown

And Mark Allen, ABI manager of fraud and financial crime lamented the “complete and utter absence of communication coming from the MoJ”.

“They (insurers) cannot do anything at the moment,” he said. “And timing is very tight.”

But now, Dominic Clayden, chief executive of the MIB has said the MoJ has given him the freedom to be more open with the portals progress.

When is testing?

Testing has been confirmed for October, but Susan Brown, MedCo director, who also sits on the parliamentry steering group for the portal, said there was “no chance” the final tech specifications will be ready for then.

And Brown suspects the testing won’t involve insurers.

“I don’t think the MIB is in the frame of mind to run a pilot with a real insurer and a large law firm,” she said.

And Clayden confirmed this, saying that when the portal is tested from October, that it will involve focus groups rather than insurers and lawyers.

Why? Because, he said, the portal is unable to be built while being tested. He said that the engineers would have to shut down the system which allows it to be worked on.

This appears to go against the apparently “agile” build that was promised.

Never designed to help the fight with fraud

Clayden finally confirmed who was building the portal, with Pega taking the responsibility.

And he said that the build is being done in three-week sprint phases, rather than a constant flow.

And for July, the portal was due to have consultations on fraud measures, obtaining medical reports and additional info.

The portal, at the moment, has no fraud measures in place, which Clayden said “was never the objective”.

He told Insurance Times: “The portal isn’t designed to stop fraud. It is a claims platform, it will not have the power to deny a claim, that will still be down to the insurer.”

But one worry that has consistently sprung up was how the portal’s provision of a “frictionless claims process” brings with it the danger of opening the floodgates to opportunistic fraud such as exaggerated claims.

One complication at a time

Another issue that has been raised is the fact the portal is not going to be connected to any other portal, such as the existing one for all road traffic accident (RTA) injuries, or the courts system.

And Clayden explained that the build of the portal is “complicated enough” and wanted to wait to see how the portal works before adding “another complication to it.”

But, to paraphrase MASS chair Paul Nicholls in his letter to David Gauke MP, it is unfortunate that the MIB and MoJ is cutting corners to meet the deadline of April 2020 rather than extending the deadline and creating a “fully integrated, functioning system.”

The build will be ongoing until its deadline.