The Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) is today calling upon the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) to urgently review the governance arrangements for the new Official Injury Claim (OIC) service which lies at the heart of the Government’s whiplash reforms.
From April 2021 anyone injured in a road traffic accident with a claim worth under £5,000, whether they have a legal representative or are self-representing, will have to pursue their claim through the new OIC service. The OIC service is independent of MoJ and will be operated by the Motor Insurance Bureau (MIB), an organisation fully funded by the UK insurance industry.
MASS remains very concerned that with only months to go until launch, the MoJ has still not put forward plans for the established practice (as with Claims Portal and MedCo) of having an independent board responsible for oversight and governance for the new Portal service. Designed, funded, developed and operated by the insurance sector, we remain concerned at the lack of any external oversight or governance of the new service. Control and access to all future data and information in the new claims process will be in the hands of the insurance industry and MoJ alone. We have consistently fought for fairness and a level playing field in the future claims process and this extends to recognised principles of corporate governance.
Commenting on governance of the new Portal, Paul Nicholls, Chair of MASS, said:
“It is simply not acceptable to create a new RTA claims system wholly and independently run by and at the behest of insurers. MIB is not a neutral player in this process but an integral part of the insurance industry. It continues to be disturbing that the insurance industry alone will be the gatekeepers to the management and use of all future claims data and information.
We welcome recent comments from MoJ inviting stakeholders to set out their views, but MASS and others have raised this issue regularly over the last two years. Yet with only months to go until launch, it has still to be addressed. It cannot be left to sort out post-implementation as a nice-to-have but needs to be addressed in advance.
If next year the new claims process falls far short of being fit-for-purpose, claimant representatives will be necessary to help OIC navigate the many difficult and complex issues ahead.
This shouldn’t be a difficult issue to resolve. Both Claims Portal and MedCo have worked effectively with an independent board for oversight since their inception and this is a model that could be replicated for the OIC service.”
Since being established, the current Claims Portal (since 2010) and MedCo (since 2015) have each had a balanced board of representatives from across the sector and an independent chairperson. MASS and other volunteer claimant representatives have served on the boards of both the current Claims Portal and MedCo. Having worked together successfully for many years, the board members have developed productive working relationships and mutual trust enabling them to develop solutions and resolve problems. The MoJ itself has four Non-Executive or Independent Members on its Departmental Board. Cross-sector representation is vital to ensure that the claims process remains fair and justice is retained for the accident victim and their representatives.
As with the current Claims Portal and MedCo, MASS and other claimant representatives stand ready to continue to assist MoJ and MIB in the further development and operation of the new claims process in the interests of all motor accident victims, represented and self-represented.