Proposals under consultation include a central IT hub for allocating independent medical experts and a data sharing initiative for claimant lawyers and insurers
The insurance industry is meeting with government this week to discuss proposed reforms to help cut the cost of spurious whiplash claims
The industry has been invited to comment on a number of proposals, including:
- A central IT hub for allocating independent medical experts;
- A peer reviewed medical expert accreditation scheme; and
- Data sharing between claimant law firms and the insurance industry.
The first proposal of the reforms is to introduce a central IT hub called MedCo, which will be used by parties commissioning a medical report by providing a list of appropriate experts and medical reporting organisations (MROs) from which they can obtain a report.
MedCo will also ensure that there is no financial link between those commissioning the report and the medical expert or MRO.
The ABI has agreed to fund the initial costs of setting up the hub, with accreditation fees being used for ongoing costs once the scheme is launched.
The new MedCo system will also incorporate the accreditation of medical experts, which will not be limited to GPs and other doctors but also include other practitioners such as physiotherapists.
The accreditation system will also include a peer review process, with those falling below the required level being subject to sanctions.
The third proposal will require claimant lawyers to check the claims history of all potential clients before the claim is registered with the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) RTA portal.
Claimant law firms must record the number of whiplash claims made within the last five years, and the government says this will then allow the claimant lawyer to assess how best to take the claim forward.
The proposed reforms build on an earlier set of measures that come into force from the start of October, including:
- Fixed costs for medical reports;
- Limiting medial evidence to a single report in most cases;
- Prohibiting the reporting expert from also being the treating physician;
- Discouraging pre-medical offers; and
- Allowing defendants to give their account of the accident to the medical expert where appropriate.
The new reforms, once passed, are expected to come into force early in 2015. Those wishing to contribute to the latest consultation have until 26 September to respond and should email email@example.com or write to:
4.37, Ministry of Justice
102 Petty France