Failed whiplash reforms have created a ‘clear justice gap’
By Law News
Government reforms to whiplash injury claims have failed to deliver on all fronts, APIL has told the justice select committee.
“There is a clear justice gap emerging as a result of the whiplash reform programme. Injured people are now less likely to receive appropriate compensation. Reported road casualties are up, claims are down, and the cost of car insurance has still gone up,” said Jonathan Scarsbrook, APIL’s president.
APIL has provided written evidence to the House of Commons justice committee’s inquiry into the effectiveness of the whiplash reform programme and the Official Injury Claim (OIC) service.
“It is no surprise that these reforms have been a failure,” said Mr Scarsbrook. “Slashing compensation in an arbitrary way and attempting to make injured people represent themselves against well-resourced insurers through the new portal was unfair and misdirected from the start.
“Fairness and compassion for injured people was abandoned in the name of saving £35 on an insurance premium. But actually, since the changes were implemented in 2021, consumers are paying 41 per cent more for their motor insurance*,” he went on.
“The OIC portal was designed for injured people to use without legal representation but in reality, most injured people have the help of a lawyer. This lack of foresight meant that not enough work took place before the portal was launched to ensure it would integrate well with law firms’ own management systems. Without this integration, information about a claim must be entered into two systems. This has increased workload, which is neither efficient nor cost effective.
“If the work is not cost effective, firms will be unable to continue working in this area, which will leave injured people without legal support and we know from the OIC’s own figures that they still need legal support,” Mr Scarsbrook explained.
“Unrepresented claimants are having their own problems using the portal. APIL’s analysis of the OIC’s data has found that for every ten unrepresented claimants in the system, more than six calls are being made to the support centre. And that’s only if they are aware the system exists, such is its low profile. An accessible and efficient system has not been delivered,” he said.
“But the bottom line is that policyholders’ legal rights have been severely curtailed, and they are not even getting anything in return.”