OIC Portal damned by its own data

Ten months on from the launch of the OIC Portal, the teething problems identified after three months have been exacerbated and the fear now is that the portal is simply not fit for purpose.

That was the sobering conclusion of the most recent I Love Claims webinar, titled, ‘Claims, portals, and reforms – where next?’

Taking part in the frank and honest discussion were Donna Scully, Director, Carpenters Group; Matthew Maxwell-Scott, Executive Director, The ACSO; Samantha Ramen, Director of Market Affairs, Keoghs; Natalie Spurrier, Technical Claims Director, The AA; and Chris Ashworth, AVP, Enterprise Holdings.

And while the level of dissatisfaction with the portal and the problems encountered varied, the overriding consensus was that it is simply not delivering the results that were promised by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

Severe doubts

The portal was introduced last summer to simplify the motor claims process, encouraging more litigants in person to handle their own cases without the need for lawyers. However, figures prove that this is not happening, while there are also severe doubts about the speed claims are progressing through the system, and its ease of use.

Latest figures have revealed that less than 10% of claims in the system are from litigants in person, while a staggering 93% have yet to be settled. Donna said these returns were unacceptable and urgent action needed to be taken.

She said, “I don’t want to be totally negative, but we have to be realistic. We can’t pretend this is alright. This was the biggest change I’ve seen in 28 years of motor claims, it has had a huge impact on everybody involved, and it wasn’t ready. We’re now live-testing it with live customers, and that’s unfair. We can’t bury our heads in the sand and say everything is working – the words are great, but the stats are awful.”

Wall of silence’

Natalie agreed, describing the portal as clunky and saying any queries were met with a ‘wall of silence’, while Samantha said it was widely acknowledged that there are concerns with the system and wondered: “What is our route out of this? That’s a concern we share along with many others.”

Matthew said, “This took many years to come about, but still felt rushed. Motor claims numbers are still very low, so you have to ask what will happen to the IOC when the flurry comes if it’s falling over as it is. It’s absurd. It should have worked at launch and I think outsourcing it to the MiB has made it worse.”

Hybrid injuries

Another issue raised by the panel was the lack of clarity around hybrid injuries. In the past, minor injuries tended to be absorbed into whiplash claims. However, now whiplash settlements have been separated, it has, argued Natalie, created confusion among insurers about how to value everything else.

She said, “Only a very small proportion of our claims are whiplash only. About 65% are mixed injury claims. Whiplash used to be the main injury and everything else would be included as part of that, but now insurers are handling sprained wrists or seatbelt injuries and we don’t know how to value that.”

Matthew said there was no obvious solution, suggesting that it might well be down to the courts to place a value on such injuries. He said if that’s the case then the uncertainty was likely to continue for years to come.

Part Two

Meanwhile, the webinar also touched on the announcement in March that Part Two of the government’s whiplash reforms were being scrapped, a decision widely welcomed by the panel.

Natalie said, “It would have been foolhardy to implement part two. I think as insurers we’ve got enough on our plates already. Allow us to deal with part one first then when the data has been updated we can tackle part two.”

Part Two was expected to deal with rehabilitation and credit hire, but the government has now said these are issues the industry can address itself. While broadly supportive of this stance, Matthew cautioned against interpreting the MoJ’s decision not to intervene as a sign that the status quo can continue. He urged the industry to press ahead with the journey of reform it has already started.

Good step

Chris said, “The MoJ has told the credit hire industry to fix itself which is always a good step before regulation being forced upon it. It makes sense that the market is given the opportunity. How would it do that? It has suggested a code of practice, similar to the GTA which was first inked in 1999, is evolved to remove some of the issues.

“They’re looking at things like a code of practice being mandated – of course it should be mandated – how ridiculous to have an industry agreement where certain insurers and credit hire companies can pick and choose whether they participate – that drives incredibly bad behaviour in itself.

“We’re very much looking forward to working with the MoJ and insurers to evolve a market agreement and for the industry to regulate itself.”

To watch the full webinar, click here.


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