’Overall, it has been an inauspicious start to life for the OIC,’ says executive director

The growing backlog of cases in the Official Injury Claims (OIC) service portal has been slammed as “totally unacceptable” and raised “considerable concern” among consumers.

That was according to firms reacting to a report published by the justice committee yesterday (20 September 2023), which said that the average time taken to settle cases was 251 days and was predicted to increase further.

The OIC was setup in May 2021 as part of the government’s whiplash reform programme to reduce the number and cost of whiplash claims in England and Wales.

Earlier this year (13 February 2023), the justice committee called for evidence into its impacts and asked for the sector’s thoughts on specific issues.

According to its report, some 568,214 claims had been submitted up to 30 June 2023, but only 146,626 had reached settlement to date.

And 72,141 claims had exited the portal for a reason other than settlement, of which 8,023 had gone to court.

This meant that approximately 349,000 cases remained in the portal pending a resolution—up from just under 212,000 at the same point in 2022.

“Overall, it has been an inauspicious start to life for the OIC and while great efforts have been made to make it fit for purpose, the backlogs the committee draws attention to are of considerable concern,” Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations, said.

“Many of these are the result of the challenges in valuing so-called mixed injury cases where there is a whiplash injury as well as other injuries.”

Mixed injury

While whiplash soft tissue injuries are aligned to specific compensation values via a tariff table, mixed injury claims comprising of whiplash and additional injuries are not.

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.

Earlier this year (7 June 2023), the Supreme Court granted the ABI leave to appeal the mixed injuries issue.

Maxwell-Scott said that while the proportion of such cases had not risen greatly since the OIC’s launch, “it is clear that the problems they are causing has”.

“Some of the problems highlighted reflect broader issues within civil justice, with court delays at historic highs and civil administration struggling to get on top of the situation,” he continued.

“It also shows that the introduction of new portals and other radical changes needs to be considered more carefully in future, with greater cross-industry involvement than was the case with the OIC.”

Andrew Wild, head of legal at First4InjuryClaims, added that the industry should work together to create a system that “better benefits injured motorists”.

“The current delays faced by claimants is totally unacceptable and the fact that concerns are finally being listened to can only be a positive step,” he said.

“There are several reasons why delays are so long. One being that there is no penalty for bad behaviour, such as denying liability in the face of clear evidence to the contrary or failing to respond in a reasonable timeframe during negotiations.

“Another perceived reason is represented claimants holding onto medical reports, however, as shown by the Supreme Court involvement, these claims are not straightforward and they often involve complex injuries or losses.”


Meanwhile, the justice committee’s report also highlighted that of the total number of claims submitted via the portal since its inception, some 56,064 (10%) were brought by unrepresented claimants, whilst 514,150 (90%) of claimants had legal representation.

This was despite the OIC portal having been designed for claimants to use without the need for legal representation.

Graham Gibson, chief claims officer at Allianz Commercial, said more needed to be done to raise public awareness of the portal.

He revealed that the insurer had concerns that there were a number of fake websites that appear when using a search engine to look for the portal.

“[This] could lead claimants to access misleading services and this might erode trust in the portal itself,” he added.

“We believe that more needs to be done to raise public awareness of the portal, so they are empowered to use the service should they need to.”