Low percentages of claims originating from unrepresented claimants now ‘part of an established pattern’, says executive director

The Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal received 71,191 soft tissue personal injury motor claims between 1 July and 30 September 2022, according to new data released by the Ministry of Justice today (10 October 2022).

This is a slight increase on the number of claims made via the portal in the preceding period, when 70,718 claims were submitted between 1 April and 30 June 2022.

However, the previous reporting period’s figure was itself a decline from the 97,099 claims made between 1 January and 31 March 2022.

September 2022 saw the third lowest number of claims this year with 23,198 claims made – only January (23,128) and April (22,297) saw fewer claims submitted.

According to the latest data, the total number of claims submitted to the OIC portal since its launch on 31 May 2021 is now 351,409.

Since its introduction, the OIC portal has drawn criticism from some in the insurance sector for its perceived failures to allow litigants in person (LiPs) to process their own whiplash injury claims online following road traffic accidents.

The latest data show that only 6,378 unrepresented claims had been submitted in the most recent period, compared to 64,813 represented claims. This equates to 91% of portal claimants opting to use professional representation, while just 9% opted to make an unrepresented claim.

Exactly 19,921 claims were confirmed to have settled on the portal between July and September this year, an increase of 2,977 from the previous period’s figure of 16,994.

A total of 54,469 claims have now been settled via the OIC since it went live last year, with over a third (36.5%) of these coming in the most recent reporting period.

Of the 19,921 claims settled between July and September, 2,433 (12%) were unrepresented claimants while 17,488 (88%) were represented.

An established pattern

Commenting on the latest data, Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO), said: “Claims going through the OIC portal have stayed flat at just over 23,000 a month, while fewer than one in ten claims are unrepresented, which is also now part of an established pattern.

“Overall, more than 180,000 claims that should have been expected based on the government’s own projections before the OIC launched have not materialised – that equates to 33% fall in expected overall claims numbers.

“The Ministry of Justice argues that this is down to the effects of Covid and a reduction in the size of the vehicle parc, but this cannot possibly explain the whole picture.”

Maxwell Scott explained that ACSO believed firms who had previously sought out claimants to represent via marketing had now reduced their customers while others were turning down cases because of the whiplash reforms.

The effect of this was, he said, that “huge numbers of consumers injured in an accident that was not their fault have no access to justice”.

He added: “They receive no compensation for their injuries, or for pain, suffering and loss of amenity or medical treatment and rehabilitation for soft-tissue injuries sustained.

“The OIC data support our contention that the government has derailed access to justice for hundreds of thousands of citizens, chiefly benefiting insurers who now don’t need to pay out for these disappeared claims.”