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Following this year’s whiplash reforms, the volume of personal injury claims has reduced significantly, but the uptake of the Motor Insurers’ Bureau’s (MIB) new claims portal by litigant in persons has been low.

More than 90% of claims submitted so far have been from solicitors representing claimants, rather than litigants in person. This shows that legal representation is still hugely important when managing a customer’s claim.

There have been several issues and delays in solicitors and insurers integrating their systems with the portal or attempting to communicate outside of the portal, so there is a fear that a bottleneck of claims is building, which could cause issues with settlement periods moving forward.

Solicitors have various strategies for dealing with small injury claims. We are finding the majority are managing the claims with the support of an enhanced Legal Expense Insurance Policy, but there are solicitors who have chosen to cherry-pick the more significant injuries, whilst directing claimants with lower value claims to the MIB’s website.

Insurers are already seeing new trends occurring, with an increase in non-whiplash symptoms being presented by representatives. These include more complex psychological symptoms as well as tinnitus. The injury symptoms being identified and submitted through the portal seem to be changing, with some insurers experiencing an increase in claimants saying they are suffering with psychological symptoms such as anxiety and flashbacks, as well as tinnitus and finger injuries. This in turn is causing further delays in valuing non-whiplash type symptoms that fall outside the new tariff, where there is now a fear that this new process will drive more cases to litigation and therefore completely defeat the objective of the portal in the first place.

Search engines have also experienced a drop in accident and whiplash ad campaigns, and early signs show that fraud levels are reducing.

The dust hasn’t entirely settled yet and it’s difficult to provide advice on anecdotal evidence and a small data set, however, there are four points which motor retail brokers should keep in mind:

  1. Legal Expenses Insurance now provides real value to ensure your customer receives the representation they expect. Ensure that your Legal Expense Insurance policy provides Small Claims cover, but more importantly that the solicitors instructed are comfortable with the level of indemnity offered.

  2. Choosing the right solicitor is more important now than before the reforms were launched. Only solicitors who have invested in automation and system integration can continue to provide the high levels of service for both small, fast, and multi-track personal injury claims. The new ‘Small Claims’ process is complicated and a solicitor who can effectively manage customer expectations will provide you the reassurance that your customer is being looked after

  3. Do continue to be wary of ambulance-chasing tactics. The unscrupulous claims management companies are still there and will attempt to focus on guiding your customer along an unethical path. Please mystery shop and check your internet search terms regularly to identify any spoofing that maybe occurring without your knowledge.

  4. The reforms have reduced both the customer’s appetite to claim and broker claims revenue.   The focus of non-fault claims management has firmly moved to the management of mobility and repair damage, with service level agreements being sharpened by brokers to ensure their customer receives the service expected.

To ensure you and your customer receive the best service and commercial benefits, review your current supplier arrangements to ensure they have real control and visibility over the mobility provision and repair management process. Do they manage their own fleet and repair network? If not, at least review the market.

At AX, we will continue to provide industry insight and guidance to help both retail and commercial brokers receive the best service and to develop future-proofed products and solutions for the UK motor sector.