Are Mixed/Hybrid Claims Responsible for Clogging-up the OICP System?

Since the Official Injury Claim Portal (OICP) for the handling of low-value road traffic accident (RTA) claims launched, 1-year ago, 243,000 claims have been lodged.

Around 23,000 of these claims have settled and a similar number have exited the Portal.

Last week, an article in the Law Society Gazette revealed that 185,000 claims are still active in the Portal. Approximately 100,000 claims are awaiting the uploading of a mandatory medical report and a significant proportion require negotiation between the parties.[i] Just 380 claims have reached the phase of creating a court pack.[ii]

The Government is insistent that the system is working remarkably well for most users, especially litigants in person (accounting for 9% of claims), and considers the project to have been a ‘cautious success’. At the recent Association of British Insurers (ABI) Conference, however, the Deputy Director of Civil Justice and Law Policy for the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), David Parkin, conceded that there have been issues with performance: ‘a little bumpy for some’.

For firms dealing with larger volumes of claims, the thousands of unsettled claims beginning to clog up the OICP pose the greatest problem. Criticism aimed at the technology and design of the system has been levelled as the predominant cause of the backlog, though reassurances have been made that the Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) is working to fix the bugs and incidents affecting integration with the infrastructure.

The elephant in the room, regarding such high numbers of unsettled claims, is likely to be the issue of mixed/hybrid claims, where claimants report both tariff (whiplash) and non-tariff (non-whiplash, e.g. tinnitus) injuries. Only a fortnight ago (here), we reported that insurer, Ageas, had begun noticing a ‘distinct increase’ in tinnitus claims since spring of 2021, with some claimants following through and procuring ENT reports.

Discussions continue between claimant and defendant representatives over a potential Court of Appeal test case that will establish guidance on how mixed/hybrid claims, which correspond to 61-64% of all OICP claims, should be valued.

 

[i] John Hyde, ‘MoJ admits thousands of unresolved claims clogging up RTA portal’ (25 May 2022 Law Gazette) <https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/moj-admits-thousands-of-unresolved-claims-clogging-up-rta-portal/5112606.article> accessed 25 May 2020.

[ii] Nick Hilborne, ‘Whiplash reforms “a cautious success”, MoJ chief says’ (26 May 2022 Legal Futures) <https://www.legalfutures.co.uk/latest-news/whiplash-reforms-a-cautious-success-moj-chief-says> accessed 26 May 2022.