The data from the new OIC portal could be a ’real positive’ for the insurance industry, but it needs to be handled with care 

The Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal could be a hotbed for fraud, but claims numbers are down.

At the end of May this year, the OIC was launched, it was developed by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) on behalf of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to replace the former Litigants in Person (LiP) portal, it is a core component of the UK goverment’s Whiplash Reform Programme in a bid to reduce insurance premiums for motorists. 

Speaking during the third virtual Insurance Times Fraud Charter roundtable this year, Carpenters Group director, Donna Scully said: “I don’t think the OIC was ever going to be a fraud deterrent, if anything the concern in its run-up to its launch was ‘is the frictionless process even more frictionless than before’.”

In this way, she deemed it to be a potential “hotbed for fraud” as it’s easier. For Scully, her concern is that someone could be represented by a Claims Management Company (CMC) and it would go undetected.

Despite this, there are currently less claims being made and fraud figures are down, although she questioned whether this was due to the public not being able to use the new portal with ease or whether there were just less claims in general.

Scully believes that these claims may however be backed up, Carpenters Group is working with the MIB on some of these issues.

Very forensic

Aviva’s policy and claims fraud manager, David Royal agreed with claims seeing a ”significant reduction” in volume, although he flagged that he was seeing LSI (Low Speed Impact) dominant figures currently, but fewer medical claims. LSI claims is where one vehicle hits another at a very low speed, the minor impact prompts whiplash claims however. 

When asked whether Aviva were seeing the same level of fraud pre-OIC portal, Royal said that figures were much the same.

On the flipside, the OIC’s questions are “very forensic” for injuries, Scully said, and therefore another concern is that there is more to deduct for damages.

Royal added: “The value of what [claims] would be worth is actually lower than we expected it to be, but that may change.”

Gee Olford, claims crime prevention technical controller at LV= said that Google spoofing and LSI claims are the biggest issue it is seeing. This is where an insurer is impersonated by a CMC, and an injured person unknowingly contacts them believing they are the insurer. In fact, the CMC has paid to get their search term at the top of a Google search, and the injured person’s claim is being dealt with by a CMC. 

Data sharing

However, Scully emphasised that the OIC does hold “very good data,” she warned that this data needs to be handled with care, especially in the portal’s infancy.

“It’s a real positive for me, I don’t think we have ever had this sort of data. This industry lacks data, it’s disjointed” Scully said.

She hopes this data will be released at the end of September, but it’s a huge amount of work.

Rachel Powell, lead for whiplash reform programme at the MoJ said: “You are right, the system is glitching, it’s a huge amount of data. We are planning on publishing, but it is subject to ministerial clearance, I am sure that you are aware that there is a bit of moving and shaking in that area at the moment, but we are working on it. We are committed to transparency on this and sharing the data.”

But she said it is still early days, and there are figures that the MoJ cannot share yet as it cannot draw sufficient conclusions.

The FCA’s technical specialist, Barbara Kubis-Labiak said she has seen a handful of CMCs apply to add additional advice for personal injury claims. This is because they need additional permission to represent consumers on the OIC portal.

The FCA is focussing on the supervision of CMCs currently. Kubis-Labiak urged policyholders to check the FCA’s register and get in touch if they have dealt with any unauthorised CMCs which would be excluded from the list. 

The regulator has also been looking at CMCs holding client money, and it is reliant on intelligence from the insurance industry and consumers.