Changes to whiplash claims

In October 2015 the then Chancellor, George Osbourne, announced an intention to “ban whiplash claims” due to perceived consumer harm from their impact on motor insurance premiums. The aim was to de-incentivise whiplash claims, deter fraud, and reduce motor insurance premiums.

These reforms came into force on 31 May 2021 and apply to low value RTA whiplash claims occurring on or after 31 May 2021.

What the changes are:

Qualifying claims will be pursued via a new online portal – the Official Injury Claims portal (OIC). Claimants will access and manage their claim through the OIC and insurers will have 30 days to make a liability decision.

There is no ‘ban’ on RTA whiplash claims but the reforms do ban offers on qualifying whiplash claims without medical evidence. The introduction of tariff damages (for injuries up to 24 months duration) will reduce compensation and the cost of these claims.

There will be two tariffs – one for whiplash only, and a second for whiplash plus “minor psychological injury” (yet to be defined):

  • A “whiplash injury” has been formally defined. Insurers assessed the applicable scope of the change to be approximately 80% of current RTA injury claims.
  • The Small Claims Track limit for RTA injury claims will increase from £1,000 to £5,000 (subject to certain exemptions), meaning legal costs are no longer payable on claims up to the value of £5,000, and therefore ought to be less attractive to fraudsters, claimant solicitors and claims management companies.
  • The Small Claims Track limit for EL/PL injury claims (currently £1,000) won’t change at this time, but the Government has indicated it will increase to £1,500 from April 2022.

What Insurers will need from you:

In essence the introduction of OIC doesn’t change the fundamental claims reporting requirements, so we encourage you to continue to:

  • Notify your insurer of accidents and claims quickly
  • Capture relevant information and evidence
  • Send relevant information and evidence quickly
  • Provide access to drivers involved and any witnesses

This will enable Insurers to continue managing claims effectively and efficiently, hitting the deadlines required by OIC.

​​​​​​In the event of a liability dispute, Insurers will need to create a more formal statement detailing the driver’s version of events within the 30 day liability period, and this will need to be signed by the driver.

It is the Insurers aim to use all the evidence that the customer/driver provides and with the client’s further engagement, prepare the formalised driver’s ‘version of events’.

To set out the most persuasive argument in defence of any claim, on the policyholder’s behalf, it’s likely that Insurers will need to contact the driver after the initial notification to gather further compelling evidence from them to support the case.

For more information on the Government Whiplash Reform Programme, visit https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/whiplash-reform-programme-information-and-faq

 

Article courtesy of Axa Insurance.

 

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