Head of Market Affairs
Whiplash reforms: How’s it going and what’s next?!
With all new technology comes teething problems and the OIC portal has been no different, with many organisations reportedly suffering connectivity issues which have now apparently largely been resolved. These connectivity issues saw some claimant law firms unable to commence claims on the new portal resulting in an unexpectedly slow start – even with it applying just to accidents occurring from 31 May. We are hearing anecdotal evidence of around 8-12% of claims being pursued by litigants in person. Time will tell if this is set to be the norm for the OIC portal, which let’s not forget was designed to be so simplistic and straightforward that lawyers became obsolete!
Some things we know, and some we don’t. We know that in the lead up to the launch of the reforms there had been a gear shift from claims of pure whiplash injuries to an increase of claims for minor injuries, not covered by the new tariff. What we don’t know is how those minor injuries will be valued by the Courts – will wrist-lash be worth more than whiplash? There also remains a lack of definition around what constitutes exceptional circumstances. We have yet to hear what the process for achieving clarity will look like and whether any kind of leapfrog process to the Court of Appeal will be possible. With the current Covid-19 related backlog and the necessity for a selection of cases to complete their journey through the new portal, it could be years before we know the true value of ‘whiplash’.
More positively a cross-sector working group has been set up to look at issues relating to minor injuries and to create a framework to take forward a range of test cases. This group is also looking to agree interim compensation arrangements to ensure individual claimants are not disadvantaged by involvement in any test cases.
As with the work of this cross-sector working group, collaboration remains the key word – the claimant and insurance industries may not have seen eye to eye on the need for the reforms but they have worked together successfully as the portal has been developed. They’ve also committed to continuing to do so to ensure insofar as they can that bad behaviours from outliers are fought hard and that the objective of these reforms is realised – a cost saving to motor insurance consumers while genuinely injured claimants still receive adequate and proportionate compensation.
My hope for the OIC portal? That we’re not still talking about it so intensely in another five and a half years’ time!
If you’d like to discuss any of the above in further detail, or indeed any other market affairs issue please don’t hesitate to get in touch.