This article first appeared in Modern Claims Magazine, Issue 15, September 2015
MedCo is not popular at the moment. It is causing difficulties for MROs, and the MoJ Call for Evidence that closes on 4th September was triggered by the side-effects of the way the MedCo Portal has been set to operate. Claimant lawyers are also experiencing difficulties with the system, most of which also relate to the way the Portal operates. For example law firms report their searches for an MRO returning either the same agency under seven different names, or seven agencies they have never heard of, requiring them to contact at least one of them in order to set up an account and agree terms before they can proceed to instruct. More worryingly, they report being offered experts 30 miles away from their client, a journey that could present a real obstacle to an elderly or disabled claimant.
We need to try not to lose sight of the fact that MedCo has not really even started to do what it was set up to do. The core objective was to improve the quality of medico-legal reporting in whiplash claims. As part of that, the MoJ considered it necessary to sever financial links between solicitors, MROs, and medical experts, but that was just one factor. This aspect has dominated the initial days of MedCo, but the other elements, in particular the accreditation process itself which will be in place in January 2016, and the processes around auditing individual experts, are being developed, and have the potential to make real improvements so that the report gives a true indication of the injury the claimant has suffered.
For the MoJ, MedCo and the Whiplash Reforms are primarily about reducing the cost of motor insurance. It appears from recent press reports that insurers say increasing numbers of RTA claims are affecting their profits, and that premiums will rise in coming months. MedCo will take time to effect change, and realistically until the accreditation and auditing elements are in place, it is unlikely to have any impact at all on claimants or claim numbers. MedCo will have an impact if it is given a chance to work, and, alongside other measure to drive fraudsters and opportunistic claimants out of the system, has the potential to deliver an improved system for both insurers and injured claimants.