New whiplash claims portal is now live: what does the industry think?

The new portal for low-value road traffic accident claims is now live as of 31st May 2021.

Working on behalf of the Ministry of Justice (MOJ), the portal (named Official Injury Claim) will allow those claiming compensation to claim without any legal or financial help. The free service went live on the 31st of May. Claims professionals such as solicitors and claims management companies will also be able to use the portal on behalf of their clients.

Insurers will be expected to benefit from the portal. Whiplash is one of the biggest culprits behind claims leakage for insurers; with even legitimate whiplash claims taking a lot of resource and money to process.

Compliance and best practice are key

Compliance and best practice will be the crux of the portal. Insurers can only benefit if claims are validated and the process is faster (and therefore cheaper). For this to happen, both law firms and insurers will need to collaborate more than ever. Jonathan White, legal and compliance director with National Accident Helpline, said to Lawgazette: “Expectation management is going to be a huge issue for everyone involved. The retention of remote medical examinations and the swift development of affordable ADR are essential. It’s clearly going to be a bumpy ride for injured people, insurers and lawyers during the first hundred days. It will be up to the technology-driven law firms and insurers to cooperate more than ever before, to make this work for injured people.

Currently, users can only claim through the portal if:

  • they are aged 18 or over
  • the accident happened in England or Wales
  • the accident happened on or after 31st May 2021
  • they were inside a vehicle
  • it is believed the accident was not their fault

It’s too early to tell how efficient the portal is for insurers at this early stage; given that the accidents in question must have occurred on or after 31st May.

Testing out the teething problems of the claims portal

However, it’s somewhat inevitable that teething problems may be an issue with the launch of such a portal. With both legal firms and insurers collaborating more frequently, there will be issues with both the governance side and the financial impact. “There will inevitably be litigation as the boundaries of the new process is tested,” Nigel Teasdale, past president of the Forum of Insurance Lawyers, and partner at DWF told Lawgazette.  “As we reach the implementation date, as defendant lawyers we are first and foremost advising insurers on the implications of the new rules, but also preparing to deal with the issues that the rules haven’t answered and will no doubt require litigation to resolve.”

Insurance and legal firms will undoubtedly need to ensure their IT infrastructure is well-equipped to work with the claims portal (and the whiplash changes altogether). The audience the portal is designed for ideally should not be the main avenue for testing.

Overall, the portal promises some significant benefits for insurers (and in turn the consumers) but only time will tell. Watch this space!