The number of unrepresented claims running through the portal also remain low
Data released today (11 April 2022) by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) has shown that the number of claims being made through the Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal remains low, despite a small increase from the previous reporting period.
The latest data drawn from the OIC portal covers the period between 1 December 2021 and 31 March 2022. This reporting period saw 95,266 claims submitted via the portal, creating a total of 209,442 claims logged since its launch on 31 May 2021.
Since its launch, the OIC portal has drawn widespread criticism from the insurance industry because of a perceived failure to reach its goals of allowing litigants in person (LiPs) to process their own whiplash injury claims online following road traffic accidents.
Supporting this perception, the latest published data shows that there have only been 19,031 unrepresented claims made through the portal since May 2021, compared to 190,411 represented claims. This means that 9% of claims have been unrepresented, with 91% represented.
The data also showed that the volume of claims settled via the portal has risen steeply since the previous data release in December 2021. Of the 17,607 claims settled since the launch of the OIC portal, 13,843 were settled in this most recent reporting period.
Of the settled claims from the period between December 2021 and March 2022, 3,419 (25%) regarded unrepresented claimants. This was a proportional decrease – unrepresented claimants formed 52% of those who had their claims settled in the previous reporting period (1 September and 30 November 2021).
Sue Brown, chair of Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS), said that the latest batch of data had made underlying trends “clear”.
She explained that despite near normal road traffic volumes returning following the peaks of the Covid-19 pandemic and “in the absence of a miraculous fall in the number of road traffic accidents occurring on our roads, the overall volumes of claims being made through the OIC [portal] remain very low”.
“There were around 650,000 claims registered per year before 2020, but in the first 10 months of operation, [the] OIC [portal] has only registered 209,442,” she noted.
“Such a dramatic fall cannot be attributed to the impact of Covid-19 and general economic factors, but must be associated directly with issues around the OIC and the new claims process.”
Brown also observed that while the intention of the portal was to reduce the amount of fraudulent claims, these latest figures indicated that many accident victims were “either unsure about how to make a claim, are reluctant to make a claim without representation or are unable to pursue a claim through the OIC”.
She added: “All of these conclusions carry concerns about the structure and fairness of the new claims process and need to be investigated thoroughly.
“Whilst the new system was designed to reduce the number of fraudulent claims, it was never the stated intention to reduce the number of accident victims able to make a claim for compensation by half.”
Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO), added: “An urgent rethink is required to prevent complete sclerosis in the civil justice system.
“The OIC [portal] was meant to make it easy for injured people to settle their claim, but this evidently is not happening. As a result, the justice system - already creaking from record court delays - risks falling over a cliff.”
Speaking during a virtual Fraud Charter roundtable, hosted by Insurance Times last month (March 2022), Ministry of Justice deputy director for civil justice and law policy David Parkin told delegates that the OIC portal was “working relatively well compared to a lot of IT systems”.
This was in response to alleged severe technical issues experienced by market participants, including an inability to progress claims online in a timely manner.
Included in the latest OIC data was an update on the system’s operation. This noted that “the web service used by direct claimants, compensators and professional advisors has performed as expected”.
Commenting on this, Maxwell Scott said: “The chapter in the government’s latest data report on system operation borders on the Panglossian.
“It claims the OIC [portal] is working ‘as expected’ when professional users report huge issues and unrepresented claimants are having to turn to the support centre in ever-increasing numbers.”