Whiplash Claims Reform; Still a Rocky Road Ahead

ABI reaction to new Ogden rate

There are more delays to the launch of the new whiplash claims system, which the government hopes will streamline lower value personal injury claims. Here’s some industry reaction;

James Dalton, Director of General Insurance Policy, Association of British Insurers, said:

‘The insurance industry has designed and delivered an online Portal that will allow people to make whiplash claims simply and effectively without the need for legal representation. While it is disappointing that these vital reforms won’t now be introduced until August, the first priority has to be ensuring that the portal works well for consumers from day one.

’We welcome the clarification from Government concerning vulnerable road users, children and protected parties and urge the Ministry of Justice to rapidly address the outstanding issues, especially publishing the rules that will give effect to the new system, as soon as possible.”

ACSO response to ministerial statement on the short delay to the launch of the Litigant in Person (LiP) portal:

Commenting on the written statement made today [27 February 2020] by the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, Robert Buckland MP, Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO), said:

“It’s welcome that ministers have delayed the launch of the portal until 1 August, but this news is overdue. While the added time seems inadequate, it’s vital that the MoJ uses any breathing space effectively, especially as we still don’t have the official rules.

“Claimant and defendant sectors must work collectively to make sure we get this right after a series of false starts. Consumers need to have confidence that the new portal will do what ministers promised and work better for them than the existing system does.

“For example, in the troubling absence of a process of Alternative Dispute Resolution, when liability is disputed – as is often the case – injured people will either have to give up their claim altogether or go to court. The decision to scrap ADR directly contradicts earlier reassurances given by ministers and regardless of what they say, it will incentivise insurers to deny liability and therefore cut claims costs.

“Ministers still have plenty of explaining to do, as the new plans don’t sound anything like the sort of slick, modern claims process we were promised, and at this stage there’s a high risk of consumer detriment.

“It’s welcome that ministers have heeded our warnings that injured children and protected parties would have faced almost insurmountable barriers to justice under the previous proposals. The changes set out will help address this but in future the needs of the most vulnerable people should be addressed first, not as an afterthought.

“We also need to know how consumers are going to be informed about these changes. Public awareness of them so far is zero, despite around 60,000 people a month making a personal injury claim following a traffic collision. Meanwhile launching a brand-new, consumer-facing service during the summer holidays feels a bit like burying bad news.

“Progress hitherto has been hampered by the MoJ being reluctant to engage positively enough with those in the sector who have hands-on experience of claims processes. This is despite our being clear all along that we want the portal to work and for consumers to have the best-possible experience in settling their claim quickly and with the minimum of fuss.

“There is an opportunity now for the MoJ to work with defendant and claimant representatives so we can deliver on the shared aim of doing the right thing for consumers.

“It shouldn’t be too late to have a proper ADR service, ensuring represented and unrepresented claimants are treated equally. The MoJ has also to consider both rehabilitation and credit hire as part of the overall customer journey as a matter of urgency.”

driverless car crash blame

Responding to the decision by the MoJ to delay the launch of the LiP Portal, Marcus Taylor, Minster Law claims director, said:

“We welcome the MoJ’s decision to delay the portal, but we question whether pushing it back to August will give stakeholders enough time to ensure it really works for consumers. The danger is that, in the rush to hit an arbitrary deadline, ministers create unforeseen consequences that result in consumer detriment. It is therefore even more important that those of us who support customers when they make a claim, have the opportunity to actively support the build team in the next few months.”

“We are happy to share our experiences of managing claims online with MoJ officials, the MIB and others, as we have always said that cross-industry collaboration will solve the outstanding issues that have caused the portal launch to be delayed. We strongly believe that, working together, the industry can create and implement a consumer-friendly system that is fit for the 2020s.”

“Minsters’ decision not to proceed with an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) system to manage disputed liability claims will inevitably result in more consumers needing professional help, because they will be reluctant to go to court on their own, without help from a legal expert, and against legal professionals representing insurance companies. We wait with interest to see how ministers will resolve this issue, but as things stand we are not confident that a consumer-friendly portal will be ready for public use any time soon.

“The MoJ’s decision to delay the launch has largely come about because they have realised injury claims are complex, far more so than a PPI claim, for example. The MIB’s decision to deliver a ‘first iteration’ of the Portal or ‘minimum viable product’ (MVP), which is purposefully limited in scope and capability, to hit a deadline (i.e. excluding child claims and protected parties because they are more complex scenarios) is a contemporary and agile way of delivering technology projects.

“However, the pitfalls of this approach are very real and stark for those impacted, such as parties where liability is disputed, or children. As a result, the government has been forced into new policy initiatives to manage these complex cases outside the portal.

The MVP approach can leave customers with no fall-back position, in that if the MVP doesn’t work for more complex claims (which by the definition of “minimum” is quite likely to occur) the customer will be faced with a “computer says NO” outcome and a high risk that

they won’t be able to progress their claim. If the principle of direct access to justice is to be upheld, ‘minimum’ is not good enough.

“It is also essential that the government uses the next few months to ensure that the public are made fully aware of what these reforms mean to them. At present, citizens are wholly in the dark about the portal, yet there are around 650,000 road traffic accidents a year which result in an injury claims, and most of those claims will be subject to a completely different regime.”

 

About alastair walker (3103 Articles)
20 years experience as a journalist and magazine editor. I'm your contact for press releases, events, news and commercial opportunities at Insurance-Edge.Net

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