News and Events

OIC Portal: Unresolved Cases Rise

The Official Injury Claim (OIC) Portal opened in May 2021, as part of the package of reforms precipitated by the Civil Liability Act 2018 and the Whiplash Injury Regulations 2021.

The House of Commons Justice Committee ('the Committee') has published a report titled, 'Whiplash reform and the Official Injury Claim Service' which contains recommendations to the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB) based on initial findings about the efficacy of the OIC regime since its inception.

Its enquiry, especially with regard to mixed injuries, has been paused pending the outcome of the UK Supreme Court's decision on the appeal of Hassam & Anor v Rabot & Anor [2023] EWCA Civ 19. That appeal is scheduled to be heard in early 2024. To uphold the principle of comity, the Committee has refrained from commenting on the proceedings and/or on the method of valuing mixed injuries. Mixed injuries (that is, those involving whiplash injuries of up to 2 years' duration, which are combined with non-whiplash injuries) make up roughly two-thirds of claims in the OIC Portal.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the Report is the increase in the number of unresolved cases, which stands at 349,000. This is a rise from 212,000 a year ago - an increase in the backlog of nearly 65% in one year. Just over a quarter of cases submitted in the OIC Portal have reached a resolution.

The average number of days from the start of a claim to settlement was a record-high of 251 in the quarter from April to June 2023. In the previous 3 months, it was 238 days. The figure has consistently risen in every quarter since the OIC Portal opened, meaning Portal users face ever-increasing delays in resolving their cases. The Committee has recommended that, "the MoJ investigates further the reasons for the growing number of unresolved cases and the deterioration in the timeliness of reaching settlement, and publishes its findings by the end of the year."

The Committee raised further concerns regarding the lack of clarity as to whether the whiplash reforms had delivered any reduction in motorists' insurance premiums - prior to the entry into force of the legislation, it was estimated that there would be resultant savings of £35, on average, for motorists. A further topic of the Report concerns the use of the Portal by Litigants in Person. Initial estimates had suggested 30% of users would not have legal representation, yet this is currently the case for less than 10% of users. Even this figure has been disputed as unrealistically high, since many ostensible Litigants in Person in fact derive assistance from the would-be Defendant insurance company. Concerns were raised about the 64-page guide to would-be claimants in navigating the Portal as an unrepresented person. The Committee recommended that the MoJ and MIB, "conduct research to better understand [the low usage of the Portal by unrepresented parties], and whether steps to improve awareness of the OIC portal and user-confidence in the system would encourage more [usage]".

The Report concluded that the whiplash reforms would understandably take some time to 'bed in', but it remains to be seen whether the promised benefit of lower insurance premiums will come to fruition. It further remains to be seen how the ever-growing backlog in the number of cases within the Portal will be addressed.

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