Three experts share their perspective on how the Official Injury Claim portal is performing as the system passes its first birthday

We asked: ’One year on from the release of the Ministry of Justice’s Official Injury Claim portal, what has gone well so far and what problems remain?’

Matt Jarvis, chief commercial and insurance services officer, Slater and Gordon

It was clear when the Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal launched that it was going to be a challenging first year.

It hadn’t been tested properly and it was rushed into service. Firms couldn’t process claims for months and customers were impacted by major inefficiencies. Some firms are still struggling.

Matt Jarvis

Matt Jarvis

The Covid-19 pandemic – and the changes it has made to our commuting patterns – has resulted in fewer car accidents and fewer claims. As a result, there has been a consolidation of the claims market, with many businesses moving away from road traffic accident claims – claims management companies have now effectively left this market completely.

The government has failed when it comes to litigants in person (LiPs), who represent less than 10% of the total claims currently on the OIC portal. This is considerably lower than initial targets.

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) was not included in the OIC portal – this is a major omission.

Finally, there is the issue of the continuing build up of liability disputed claims pending litigation. I’d expect a significant number of claims being issued to courts soon, stretching the court service further.

Collaboration is key – we want to work with the insurance sector to improve processes and come up with solutions to improve the customer experience through the OIC portal. Otherwise, the past year will have been nothing more than an abject failure.

Donna Scully, director, Carpenters Group

At the ABI and Legal Futures’ respective conferences last month (May 2022), the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) provided an insight into current OIC portal performance. This showed that we will shortly have nearly a quarter of a million people whose claims have been delayed by the new process. Nearly 90% of claims lodged so far have not yet been settled.

Donna Scully 2020 Headshot

Donna Scully

Problems with the portal’s technology means that cases are taking longer to progress - hardly any have reached court.

It is reported that many law firms have been forced to abandon the application to application (A2A) approach and instead adopt a time-consuming manual process, simply to get claims moving. This was meant to be a streamlined process.

The claims backlog continues to increase and the situation is worse for customers who paid for legal expenses insurance in the expectation they could effectively claim, if required.

Consumers are also being financially disadvantaged by being forced into settling early, to avoid the delay inherent in the new process.

The MoJ claimed that the portal has been a success because 9% to 10% of claimants using it are LiPs. This figure includes individuals who are assisted in bringing their claim by the responsible insurer.

The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) should identify these claims, to demonstrate the true number of individuals running claims on their own, and the MoJ should recognise the huge impact of the portal’s current processes on consumers, so that the success of the OIC portal can be accurately assessed.

Ian Davies, partner, Kennedys

Slow would be the immediate word that springs to mind when thinking of the OIC portal.

So far, there has been a slow start to claims being entered on the system for many claimant firms – no doubt caused by system issues, a lack of familiarity with the OIC portal and all things Covid.

Claims that are on the system are subject to slow processing, with 40% of cases from June 2021 still awaiting medical reports to be disclosed to insurers.

Ian Davies Big debate

Ian Davies

There has been a slow building of litigation originating from the OIC portal too.

If the intention of the government was to reduce whiplash injury claims then seemingly the OIC portal is a success – even if we take into account the impact of Covid, injury claims frequency is down.

One year on is probably still a little early to measure positives and negatives, however. From the claimant side, we hear concerns around the system, but litigants in person can seemingly navigate the system well.

From the compensator side, the delayed submission – if that is what it is – is a cause for concern.

What is perhaps most surprising is that so few claims are now for whiplash only, with psychological claims on the increase and the thorny issue of ’tariff plus claims’ needing resolution.