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Getting to grips with post-Whiplash Reforms claims: The current state of play for UK insurance firms

SUMMARY
  • Over 12 months into the new Official Injury Claim regime new claims patterns are beginning to take shape from the data
  • Q1 2022 data shows a double-digit percentage drop in claims versus pre-reforms and pre-pandemic levels
  • But medical report backlogs demonstrate a clear need for more automation and proven Application-to-Application links

Since the Whiplash Reforms first came into force in May 2021, there has been much debate from both legal and insurance professionals on the effectiveness of the new Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal and lessons learned from early usage patterns.

Indeed, our previous Visualise deep-dive into the early impact of Official Injury Claim highlighted shifting claim volumes, potential integration challenges, and the urgent need for digital solutions.

Another key trend highlighted since the introduction of OIC is the volume of new claims significantly outweighing settled claims – with settled claims running at about 20 per cent of new claims notifications. This could lead to a significant backlog if not identified and tackled.

But we are now comfortably past the one-year anniversary of the new portal – and our annual Verisk Vision industry conference which brought together claims professionals and leaders from across the insurance industry, including a panel session featuring executives from the ABI, LV=, Carpenters, Allianz and MASS, has provided more detailed insights from these experts ‘at the coalface’ of the effects of the Whiplash Reforms.

So, as we move through 2022, has anything changed? Here is what we know about the impact of Whiplash Reforms and OIC portal to date:

Digging into the data – what we know so far

Verisk continues to be a leading source of insights and analysis for OIC portal trends, thanks to the integration between its Claims Outcome Advisor and the OIC portal. Many major UK insurers are using this solution to process claims, so Verisk has a sizeable proportion of claims coming through for analysis.

We can see that available data clearly demonstrates a 10 per cent drop in motor claims between Q1 2021 and Q1 ‘22, since the introduction of the OIC portal. Looking further back to Q1 ’20, there has been a 40 per cent drop since the pre-pandemic period.

It is arguably too early to see if people are being discouraged from submitting low-value personal injury claims by the reforms, or if there has been any substantial whiplash deterrence. Many of these downward trends in claim volumes could still be linked directly to pandemic disruption, as volumes are still lower than they were pre-pandemic.

The pandemic effect? Uptick? Backlog ahead?

The question asked by many in the industry is – are the Whiplash Reforms themselves, Covid-19 disruption, or other factors behind the reduced claims volume? Based on initial data analysis from Verisk, the signs point towards a mixture of causes.

Changing work and travel habits, less people traveling in early rush hour for example, will definitely have had an impact on the volume of claims submitted. While the new reduced rate of quarterly claims could remain going forward, it could start to consolidate at a slightly higher level, as evidence by the Q1 2022 uptick that saw a mere 3,000-case difference between May 2021 and March 2022 figures.

Another key trend highlighted since the introduction of OIC is the volume of new claims significantly outweighing settled claims – with settled claims running at about 20 per cent of new claims notifications. This could lead to a significant backlog if not identified and tackled.

Injury types and LIPs – here is what has changed

A key aspect of the new OIC portal was the ability for litigants in person (LIPs) to easily self-assess and submit their claims. Interestingly the bulk of claims are not as anticipated LIPs – they are represented by claims management companies.

On the self-assessment front, the question set provided on the OIC portal leave room for LIPs to overstate their injuries, which could be leading to the shifting patterns in types of injuries.

There is certainly room for clarification on the role of experts in this medical assessment process. Remote assessments did not cause any significant challenges when they were a necessity during lockdowns, but face-to-face assessment have a role to play in assessing injuries requiring physios, and more complex medical issues.

Covid has ultimately changed everything – customers simply won’t be happy with a return to solely in-person assessments and inflexible appointments, so this must be balanced with the fewer disputes that arise from in-person assessments.

Lack of A2A causes headaches for insurers

Claimant and pandemic trends aside, the technical aspect of the new OIC regime must also be explored. One of the main highlights and issues raised by many within the industry has been the Application-to-Application (A2A) connectivity side of the new OIC portal.

With no live industry testing at the start of development, there have been various technical issues that have hindered claims processing through the portal. The troubleshooting side of this has been highly prescriptive, with firms having to approach the Motor Insurance Bureau directly to get fixes.

Challenged A2A connectivity between insurer systems and the portal, combined with very much a learning curve for insurers, claimants and legal firms to adapt to the new process, has created something of a perfect storm for OIC portal claims.

As our Vision panel discussion in June highlighted, there are a growing number of claims just sitting in the portal that need to be dealt with, with 47.1% of claims awaiting medical upload alone. This backlog must be tackled for insurers to deliver for genuinely injured claimants.

Ditch the regulatory disruption with digitisation

It has become increasingly clear that piecemeal systems or processes to deal with claims submitted through the OIC portal are no longer a suitable substitute for true A2A connectivity and the follow-on benefits it brings.

Put simply, you can have the most advanced, cutting-edge claims handling and analytics capabilities in-house – but if they simply can’t ‘talk to’ the OIC portal in a seamless manner, they just become a major hindrance.

There is a clear need for industry-proven, end-to-end solutions that work and ensure full connectivity with the OIC portal ‘out of the box’ – a requirement that Verisk identified, developed and rolled out to customers in line with the portal launch. This drew on our extensive experience in the development of our Claims Outcome Advisor solution and the proven A2A links to the MoJ portal, which has now been extensively adopted by the UK insurance industry.

As OIC volumes settle, the need for effective claims platforms persist

No half-measures, no manual stopgaps – Verisk is bringing full A2A connectivity to tackle the OIC conundrum, continually refining development to bring greater performance and insights to the industry. Combine this with our AI-powered Medical Report Automation offering to ease the burden of medical report triaging, and Verisk is well-placed to guide insurers through any uncertain waters that lie ahead for claims involving the OIC portal.

Insurance firms would be well-placed to establish a solid, digital foundation that provides the agility and scalability to deal with fast-moving shifts in claims volumes and associated reports, or any future industry regulations that could affect day-to-day claims operations and processes.

Verisk provides a complete suite of Personal Injury claims solution to help UK insurers tackle ongoing pain points associated with Official Injury Claim – click here to see how we are bringing powerful technology and data analytics capabilities to bear on your portal woes. 


Simon Bradshaw

Simon Bradshaw is Head of Personal Injury Claims at Verisk. You can reach him at simon.bradshaw@verisk.com.


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