ILC ARTICLE

OIC a work still in progress


While there have been modest improvements, the Official Injury Claims portal (OIC) is still failing to deliver the level of service that was expected when it was launched last summer.

Data gathered between April and June of this year found that only 16,994 of about 70,000 submitted claims were settled in that period, with the balance still ‘stuck’ somewhere in the system.

These are disappointing figures for a portal that was launched by the Motor Insurance Bureau on behalf of the Ministry of Justice with the express purpose of smoothing the small claims process and accelerating outcomes.

Donna Scully, Director/Owner Carpenters Group, said, “Only 12% of claims have been settled in the first 15 months. That’s very, very low. So we know something is wrong.”

Unfit

She believes the OIC was actually unfit for purpose when it was launched and since then has been live testing in a live environment with live clients. This has led to frustration both for the industry and the claimant.

Donna said, “We’re trying to manage expectations and explain that it’s a new portal and it has teething problems, but customers aren’t happy; the old portal was efficient and things went through it quickly. The cost-of-living crisis doesn’t help either because there are no interim payments on the new portal, which is a big worry for people.

“So there is still a lot of work to be done, but the figures are improving and it is flowing a little better. We can see a light at the end of the tunnel.”

Donna was talking during a panel debate at ILC’s Exclusive Motor Claims Conference – headline sponsored by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and sponsored by EDAM Group and LexisNexis Risk Solutions – which took place a Landing Forty Two in London in October.

Joining her on stage for the debate, titled Where now for PI?, was Samantha Ramen, Partner Keoghs – a Davies business, and Caroline Johnson, Director of Third Party & Technical Claims, LV=.

Problems

Caroline said that from an insurer’s perspective the OIC posed two major problems. The first was that with so many claims trapped in the system it was impossible to gauge volume.

“Are these claims in the market and they just haven’t arrived yet?” she asked. “We just don’t know.”

The second problem she highlighted surrounded the availability of medical reports. She revealed that LV= has only received medical evidence for about a quarter of the claims it has received through the portal. Without this evidence she said it was proving incredibly difficult to put a valuation on claims and then move to settlement.

This has become even more pertinent since the reforms put a cap on compensation for whiplash injuries. Since then there has been a surge in the number of mixed injury and exceptional circumstances claims – possibly the result of policyholders seeking to make up a perceived shortfall in payouts.

Latest figures say that mixed injury claims now make up 66% of the total number, although whether that proportion is a true representation cannot be determined until more medical evidence is gathered to back up these claims.

Valuation

But even when the evidence does support claims of further injury, a lack of volume is making it difficult for insurers to put a value on the claim. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Justice is offering little guidance and has instead left it to the courts to make the final decision.

Samantha said, “The policy regarding whiplash is clear. It’s there in a tariff. But what about when you have whiplash and something else? There is not yet a precedent to follow so there is confusion over mixed injury claims.”

She said that cases are going through the courts now which will serve as ‘test’ cases for the wider industry – although that clarity is not expected to come until next year.

Future

Clearly the OIC remains a work in progress then, but positive steps are being taken and since ILC’s webinar on the subject last May even its harshest critics are sounding more hopeful.

Donna said there was a light at the end of the tunnel, and both Samantha and Caroline agreed.

Samantha said, “There is a backlog of claims at the moment, there is no doubt about that, but settlements are happening and we need to keep working together to make the process work for everyone. People are taking the pragmatic approach though, and that is really positive.”

Caroline added, “It’s in everybody’s interests to solve this. Nobody wants claims to just drift, both sides want them to be settled in an efficient way.”

Meanwhile, to drive further improvements Donna suggested an OIC users’ group might help unite stakeholders across the sector and provide more influence over the future direction of the OIC portal than companies speaking alone.

Donna said, “We need to make this work because our reputations are on the line.”

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