Insurers are ‘comparing apples and pears,’ says executive director

Data does not support insurers’ claims that there has been an “epidemic” rise in mixed injury claims submitted to the Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal, according to a statement from the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (Acso). 

Next week, the Supreme Court will hear an insurer lodged appeal to two test cases – Rabot vs Hassam and Briggs v Laditan – on mixed injuries, which will influence guidance on appropriate compensation for those who have suffered whiplash and additional injuries during a road traffic accident. 

In January 2023, the Court of Appeal ruled that personal injury claimants can recover damages for both whiplash and non-whiplash injuries without one cancelling out the other.

However, the ABI – on behalf of the insurance industry – appealed the judgment, fearing this would open the door to the “double counting of injuries” and, in turn, increase the level of awarded compensation.

An argument made by the ABI and the Forum of Insurance Lawyers (Foil), representative organisations for the insurer-led appeal, has noted that the proportion of mixed injury claims submitted to the OIC portal has increased significantly since its launch in May 2021.

The portal allows litigants-in-person (LiPs) to process their own whiplash injury claims following a road traffic accident, but while whiplash soft tissue injuries are aligned to specific compensation values via a tariff table, mixed injury claims are not.

Data detail

The latest data from the OIC portal – detailing claims made during Q4 2023 and published – showed that 66.7% of claims involved mixed injuries, compared to 30% that were for whiplash only. 

During the same period, there were a total of 67,258 claims submitted, meaning that roughly 45,000 claims were mixed injury. 

In Q3 2021, which represents the first quarterly data after the OIC was launched, there were 45,718 claims in total, of which 61% were mixed tarrif – equating to a similar proportion as the most recent period.

Acso executive director Matthew Maxwell Scott said that insurers were “comparing apples with pears”. 

He explained: ”The reality, as the medical data illustrates, is more prosaic and is down to the impact of the tariff and to big decreases in the number of minor claims being made since 2021.

“Insurers have sought to recreate a panic around an epidemic of mixed injury, but objective medical reporting data does not support this assertion and I hope the Court will take account of this new data.”

Using data from three anonymised medical reporting organisations (MRO), Acso noted that the proportion of mixed injury claims was largely similar between 2019 and 2023 with only “low to moderate” increases in the number of injuries per claim, “consistent with what one would expect as a result of the introduction of the whiplash tariff”. 

A raw deal?

In August last yearm the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) told Insurance Times that there was “a clear justice gap” developing as the number of road traffic accident injury victims making claims had dropped since the introduction of the OIC portal. 

APIL explained that Department for Transport figures, claims data from the OIC and freedom of information requests to the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) showed that, in Q2 2023, motor injury claims were 45% below pre-pandemic levels despite traffic volumes – a key indicator for the level of road casualties – being 3% above pre-pandemic levels.

“There is no denying the collapse in the number of road injury victims seeking justice since the OIC was introduced in 2021,” said APIL president Jonathan Scarsbrook.

Maxwell Scott echoed this sentiment, explaining: ”Consumers have, so far, got a pretty raw deal from the whiplash reforms, with motor insurance premiums at historic highs and no sign so far of any of the savings motorists were promised.

“Stripping the rights from those who have non-whiplash injuries would be taking things even further and it is not what the legislation was intended to achieve.”