It can be particularly difficult to judge when it is appropriate to voice concerns about a new initiative. Sufficient time needs to be allowed to let a project bed-in and iron-out early glitches. With two sets of data from the OIC portal we now have clear patterns of behaviour that are striking. First, there is the significant reduction in claims being submitted. The second is that claims presented by represented claimants are progressing very slowly and settlement rates appear to be significantly lower than would be expected. The MoJ and MIB have already committed to investigating why the number of unrepresented claimants is so low. These and other emerging policy issues will be closely scrutinised over the coming months to ensure that rights have not been adversely impacted by the changes to the claims process.
In the meantime, there continue to be real problems with the operation of the new claims process. With over 90% of claims still being handled by professional users, it is essential that they have an efficient and seamless system integration to manage claims to keep costs at an affordable level following the removal of costs. We continue to hear that both lawyers and insurers are still experiencing major problems with the A2A interfacing. Though many are loath to admit it publicly, most are having to resort to manually submitting and managing claims. Further problems are being identified as claims progress through the portal. Most recently, at least one of our members has reported severe problems with the uploading of documents and receipt of defendants’ offers. The resulting delays are having a serious impact on access to justice.
Claimant lawyers and insurers have worked hard over the past decade to develop systems that work smoothly with claims that are processed through the Claims Portal, and simply want to be able to do the same in the OIC, but currently that is presenting significant difficulties. In-house IT developers are having to devote considerable resource to make their systems work, and some independent software houses with multiple customers have simply been unable to produce an A2A solution because of the frequency of system changes and bug fixes. Resolving these issues as a matter of urgency will require significant commitment and resources, but it needs to be done.
Sue Brown, author of ‘Fixing the system’ is Chair of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) and MASS representative on Claims Portal.
This article first appeared in Modern Insurance Magazine Issue 52 (March 2022)