Official Injury Claim quarterly data releases
The MoJ has just released its fourth quarterly data set relating to the operation of the OIC portal. What do the numbers tell us?
OIC Q4 data release: steady as she goes
The MoJ has just released its fourth quarterly data set relating to the operation of the OIC portal. The third data set related to a four month period (to allow alignment with the financial year) so we now actually have data relating to the first 13 months of operation, rather than 12.
Total annual OIC claim submissions
280,172 claims have been submitted to the process in total during the 13 months under review.
70,718 claims were submitted via the OIC portal in this latest (fourth) quarter. The third period saw 95,266 claims. Indeed, in the last two quarters (a seven month period) the average number of submissions has levelled out at circa 5,500 per week and monthly submissions have stayed within a range of 21,000 to 25,000 (one month aside) and are neither increasing nor decreasing as a trend. With such little variance over a relatively lengthy period, it could be that the now projected annual submission rate of 286,000 is unlikely to change in the longer term.
Stable input numbers suggests that more reliable trends can be drawn from the data.
Some things ‘barely ever’ change
The data has been extraordinarily stable on several key metrics being:
Around 91% of all OIC portal users have been represented throughout. There is a slight creep towards representation. 90.5% were represented in Q1 whereas 91.4% were represented in Q4. Are ‘Claimants in Person’ fizzling out already?
76% of those represented used law firms. 24% were represented by ABSs. CMC involvement continues to be minimal but again, slight creep, moving from 0.2% early on to 0.4% now but no significant movement or trend.
The first three quarters saw 59% of the total number of claims submitted in that quarter receive a liability decision. That number changed for the first time in Q4 to 54%. It is unclear why.
The pattern is clear that those who are unrepresented fare better, with over 94% receiving a full or partial admission in response to submissions across all quarters, compared to figures consistently in the low 80s for those with representation. Causation has been uniformly raised in circa 1.7% of claims presented by those pursuing claims themselves and over 3.5% of claims pursued by those represented.
This has consistently been sought by around 40% of the those who are unrepresented and 23% of those with representation and the Q4 figures do not change that.
The point many insurers and claims handlers are interested in is throughput. To prevent ‘backlog’, the number of settlements, withdrawals (by claimants), removals (by compensators) or cases litigated needs to be equal to the number of claims going into the system.
23,921 (8.5%) of all claims submitted have left the process for reasons other than settlement or because the case is likely to move towards litigation (i.e. ‘rejected liability’ or ‘court’). Reasons claims might leave the process in such ‘other’ ways include:
Deducting those claims that have left the process for reasons other than settlement from the total submission number gives 256,251 claims that went into the system and were capable of being compromised via the process.
That stagnation might well be easing though. Settlements relative to claims inputted are increasing significantly quarter on quarter. 5% relative to numbers inputted were settled in Q2, 17% in Q3 and now nearly 27% in Q4.
A second major consideration for insurers and claims handlers is injury type. Tariff-only injuries are often the quickest and cheapest to resolve, with little friction.
Worryingly, the number of SCNFs reporting ‘tariff only’ injuries is decreasing, albeit only slightly. The figure was 34.5% in Q1. That dropped to 31.5% and 32.4% in quarters 2 and 3 but that then dropped further to 30.1% in Q4. It will be interesting to hear what the MoJ and MedCo have to say about that. OIC Portal users – so adult vehicle occupants – must surely be sustaining the same injuries today that they have always sustained – so why the change in contended injury?
Despite the increased propensity to detail injuries other than whiplash, neck, back and shoulder injury reporting remains as common as ever with nearly 97% of all OIC claimants reporting having suffered a whiplash injury. That has been fairly static since day one.
The Q4 figures tell us ‘more of the same’, in the main.
The headline news is that claim numbers put into the system seem to have stabilized and the listing of injuries other than the neck, back and shoulder type is on the increase, as might have been expected once the whiplash tariff limited recoverable damages for injury sustained to those areas.
Throughput seems to be speeding up with settlements reaching over a quarter of claims inputted for the first time. The data does not detail figures for medical reports provided and negotiations commenced but that increase in settlements would suggest that claims are reaching that compromise stage in greater and greater number. Long may that trend continue.
All in all though, steady.
Official Injury Claim Q2 data release: A review of the six-month data
December saw the publication of performance data relating to the second quarter of the operation of the OIC portal.
Find the latest data release on OIC — Claims data for the period 1 September – 30 November 2021.
Read the data release from the first quarter OIC — Claims data for the period 31 May – 31 August 2021.
Our Insight into that Q1 data can be found below.
The headline figures are that 68,359 claims were submitted in Q2 (plus 11 by paper), on top of the 45,718 (plus 5) submitted in Q1, giving 114,077 (plus 16) in total.
Unlike the data for Q1, this release looks both at those claims that were submitted to the OIC portal in Q2 as well as all claims received into the OIC portal since its launch (“the rolling data”).
Relevant figures from those claims received into the system in Q2 are:
- 62,126, or 91%, of the 68,359 claimants in Q2 were represented. The figure was 90.5% in Q1
- Of those represented, 75.3% were represented by law firms (74% in Q1), 24.5% by ABSs (26% in Q1) and just 0.2% by CMCs (static from Q1).
- 95.6% of Q2 claimants provided details of their injuries at the submission stage. Of those:
- 96% included an element of whiplash (94% in Q1)
- 31.5% of Q2 claimants seek only an award for tariff injury, being whiplash with or without minor psych (33% in Q1)
- Uplift for exceptional circumstances, injury or both is sought by 26% of Q2 claimants (as per Q1)
- That breaks down as 40% of claims by unrepresented Q2 claimants and 23% of claims by represented Q2 claimants (as per Q1).
Relevant figures from all claims received across both quarters are:
- 114,077 (plus 16 on paper) claims have been received into the system in total
- 42,131 cases had a liability decision made on them in Q2. When added to the 24,812 liability decisions made in Q1, a total of 66,943 liability decisions have been made, meaning a liability decision has been made on nearly 59% of all claims
- 7,184 claims (6.3%) have left the process since launch for a reason other than settlement. Of those:
- 5,154 (71.7%) were removed by compensators (being 4.5% of total submissions)
- 2,030 (28.3%) left the process other than consequent to the compensator removing (being 1.8% of total submissions).
No breakdown of the 5,154 removed by compensators is given. Only 1,839 claims were ‘removed by compensators’ in Q1. That was 4% of all claims submitted in Q1 and amounted to 66.6% of all claims that left the process for reasons other than settlement in Q1.
The 3,315 removed in Q2 amounts to 4.85% of the total number of claims submitted in Q2 or 75% of claims that left the process for reasons other than settlement in Q2 (although some removals might have related to claims received in Q1).
Problems with the data
Some elements of the data release are confusing and unhelpful. We have sought clarification and await a response.
As with Q1, figures are given for the number of claims ‘withdrawn from the process.’ Although no definition of that term is given, we know two things:
- It not due to the claims having been ‘removed’ by the compensator, and
- It is not for reasons of ‘rejected liability’ and ‘court’ as removals for those reasons are set out separately.
‘Withdrawn’ is likely to refer to one of the reasons a claimant might choose to remove a claim from the OIC Portal.
This data release provides two pie charts which seems to amalgamate data for all claims that have left the process for reasons other than settlement but those charts are unhelpful because they do not:
- Make clear whether they are an analysis of all non-settlement claims that left the process in Q2 or whether they are a running total from both quarters
- Set out figures (only giving percentages)
- Distinguish between whether it was a claimant or a compensator that elected to remove a claim from the process where it could have been either (e.g. because the injury claim was considered likely to exceed £5,000).
They have limited value as an analysis tool, therefore, but they do give us some broad indications, being:
- More represented claimants than unrepresented claimants left the process due to complexity.
- Represented claimants are more likely to meet a response of an allegation of fraud or fundamental dishonesty than their unrepresented counterparts.
- Unrepresented claimants are nearly four times as likely to abandon a claim than represented claimants.
- Unrepresented claimants are twice as likely to reach an agreement outside the process relative to a represented claimant.
We have sought clarification on those problems and await a response.
Several conclusions can be drawn from the Q2 data, when read on top of the Q1 data, being:
|OIC Usage||Usage is increasing. Just on 10,000 claimants used the OIC in its first full month whereas nearly 25,000 used it in month six (November)|
|Claim Numbers||When added to the number or MoJ RTA Portal users in November (9,900), the data indicates that claim numbers for both portals (circa 35,000 for November) are well down on their pre-COVID average (of circa 55,000)|
|Claim Frequency||The data gives no indication about frequency but if vehicle use were at 100% of pre-COVID levels, claim frequency would be at circa 64% of ‘norm’. Indicators suggest that driving has decreased from its September high (of nearly 100%) but not by much. Based on pre-COVID frequency trends, claim numbers should be far in excess of the 35,000 under discussion, perhaps in the high 40,000s. It is unclear why frequency is down (possibilities ranging from claim processing problems or behaviours to reluctance/disinterest in claiming)|
|Representation||There is no shift away from using solicitors at the present time. Solicitors remain the dominant means of representation with CMCs continuing to pursue just a very small fraction of claims|
|Injuries||Whiplash continues to be the primary injury pursued, with broadly one-third of claimants pursuing tariff damages only (with or without exceptional circumstances uplift)|
|Trends||Solicitors seem to pursue the less straightforward cases which are most likely to have liability issues, be complex or involve fraud|
|Behaviours||Unrepresented claimants are more likely to pursue claims for exceptional circumstances uplift|
|Speed||The percentage of claims being settled is increasing very slowly. Only 6 claims had gone to court for quantum assessment and only 33 others had left the process due to the claimant not accepting the liability denial (and wishing to proceed to court for liability determination)|
Overall, few new conclusions can be drawn from the increased data set and new data fields made available. It is clear that claim numbers are down and time will tell whether that will remain so and, indeed, whether it relates to the reforms. One thing seems clear and that is that the OIC Portal is not the unrepresented claimant process it was envisaged it might be. Solicitors pursuing whiplash claims by and large remains the norm.
Please get in touch with any comments on the available data or ideas for how the data provided or its presentation might be improved.
Official Injury Claim Q1 data release: What do the numbers tell us at this early stage?
The Official Injury Claim service (“OIC”) has released its much-anticipated data from the first three months of the service.
The OIC report on the first three months of the service
The headline claim submission figures are:
- The service received 45,723 claims
- 90.5% of claimants were represented
- Of those, 74% were represented by law firms, nearly 26% were represented by ABSs and CMCs pursued just 101 claims in total, being just over 0.2%.
Unsurprisingly, few of the claims submitted — less than 1% — had settled, and only 54% had in fact reached a point of a liability decision having been made, a figure totally in line with all liability decisions being made on the 30th day, as permitted.
The big questions are what does the data tell us about claims frequency, particularly when read against other publicly available data, and what can we say about behaviours within the OIC process?
Data from various sources has uncontroversially shown much less vehicle use since late March 2020, being the start of the first COVID lockdown. Department for Transport (“DfT”) ‘all motor vehicle use’ figures, for instance, show that vehicle use was running at 35/36% of normal levels in the week immediately following the lockdown and at just 42–43% in the last week of April 2020.
But that was then; this is now. An Office for National Statistics (“ONS”) data analysis ‘release’ on 9 September 2021, which reviewed up-to-date figures from the same DfT source, details that vehicle use was at ‘100%’ of pre-COVID levels on Monday 6 September 2021. Indeed, the data shows that in the three weeks from Monday 6 September, vehicle use percentages were at or higher than the pre-COVID average on 12 out of 21 days, just falling short on the others.
What about all the people working from home?
The most recent ONS ‘Work from Home’ figures, released on 22 October 2021, show that 1 in 7 — or nearly 15% of adults in Great Britain — were exclusively working from home in the period 6–17 October 2021. The last equivalent pre-COVID survey, undertaken between January and December 2019, showed that figure to be 5.1%. The same ONS figures confirm that in the same period just 54% of working adults in Great Britain went to a place of work without doing any work from home.
So how can traffic volume figures have been ‘back to normal’ for 12 of 21 days in September 2021?
Drilling down reveals that car use is ‘down’ marginally, to 96% of pre-COVID levels, but light and heavy goods vehicle use is ‘up’ to such an extent as to ‘plug the gap’.
The answer as to why road usage has returned to near pre-COVID norms, when working patterns have not, seems to be a combination of the increased number of vans and lorries on the road (perhaps as people do more and more online shopping) and people’s use of public transport having not returned to pre COVID levels. DfT Domestic Transport daily use figures show that train and bus use remain significantly down, not having passed 70% on any day since the pandemic began. That would tend to suggest that if home workers are venturing out, they are taking the car, not the train, perhaps having not renewed annual train passes. If the extra 9% of people working at home relative to pre-COVID figures are going out, they’re taking the car instead of getting the train.
It has always been difficult to accurately know accident frequency. Some are reported to the Police but most aren’t. Some lead to an injury claim but lots don’t. But if we think about accidents as those that lead to an injury claim (being those often of greatest concern to insurers), the DWP and Claims Portal are the best data sources.
Data from the DWP reveals that in the year to 31 March 2020 — being the full year prior to the first lockdown (barring the last few days of March) — 653,052 motor claims were registered, or an average of 54,421 per month. That broadly accords with the figures released by Claims Portal company, which details an average number of CNF submissions per month of 56,442 over the four months prior to March 2020 (i.e. November 2019 to February 2020). Neither figure can be considered completely accurate due to issues of seasonal submission fluctuation, time lag etc, but they allow a reasonably accurate monthly claim rate figure of circa 55,000 per month to be set as a control base.
CNF submissions to Claims Portal fell away hugely after lockdown, dropping to a low of just short of 23,000 in May 2021, around 42% of the pre-lockdown figures — which wholly accords with the ‘all Motor vehicle use’ figures detailed above, which shows an almost identical vehicle use drop in late April 2020.
The OIC data
45,723 claims were submitted via the OIC portal in the first three months. In the same three months — June to August 2021 inclusive — 52,349 CNFs were submitted in the RTA MoJ Portal. Total claim submission numbers through the two portals were therefore 98,072. That is an average of 32,691 per month, 59.44% of the pre-COVID CNF submission average.
So, what is happening? Are there fewer accidents, fewer claims being made or is it something else?
It is difficult to say, and the reasons are surely complex, multiple and of unknown influence. It is a reasonable assumption that accident frequency is likely to be the same, or thereabouts, if vehicle use has returned to ‘normal’. Factors are therefore either accident victim or claim pursuer related, such as:
Accident victim factors:
- people not feeling like they can go and see a solicitor, or
- people knowing that a whiplash injury is not worth what it once was so electing not to claim.
Claim pursuer factors:
- lawyers not looking to attract claims due to costs not being recoverable
- lawyers not processing claims through the new process due to inexperience of the process, technical difficulties, or other ‘new’ reasons, such as waiting for the process to settle down etc.
What we know anecdotally is that this three months’ worth of data is not a ‘true’ three months, taken mid-stream. Very few insurers saw any claims in the first week or two. Some claimant solicitors will also likely admit to being slow to adapt their processes so that their switch to OIC was not seamless.
One thing seems likely, being that the 60% of pre-COVID claims now being submitted, relative to the now near 100% of pre-COVID vehicle use, is not a figure likely to stick.
Less than 1 in 10 claims are pursued by claimants in person. Dependent upon your viewpoint, that is either higher than one might have expected or much less. One of the Government’s stated objectives in relation to the OIC was to allow for all qualifying claimants to pursue their own low-value injury claim without the need for legal representation. But there was no public awareness campaign relating to the OIC. Unless you were in the industry, you were unlikely to know about it. Moreover, the claims pursuing infrastructure built up over decades was as much at play on 31 May 2021 as it was the day before. That strong system for capturing and supporting claimants is still there.
The true extent to which unrepresented claimants will ultimately use the portal remains to be seen. Once the market settles down and those entering or leaving have made their moves and word gets about as to the existence of the OIC Portal, we will get to a more settled picture.
For now, whilst that split shouldn’t really make a difference or have an impact it appears, albeit at this very early stage, that it does, as discussed below.
The data reveals that the type of responses given varies depending upon whether a claimant is represented or not, with those who are unrepresented seemingly finding life easier. Of the 2447 unrepresented claimants who received a liability response in the period in question, only 5.46% received either a full denial or a denial of causation. That compares to 13.41% of represented claimants. Indeed, 94.24% of all responses to unrepresented claimants were admissions, compared to 84.4% if the claimant was represented.
What is not known is whether insurers’ responses to claims are influenced by the presence of representation, or whether the responses are merely reflective of the nature of the claims presented by represented and unrepresented claimants. However, early comment that insurers are ‘incentivized’ to deny liability — forcing claimants into litigation and that unrepresented claimants are ‘at risk of defendant behaviour’ — is not borne out.
What is being claimed?
Of the 95.91% (43,848) of claimants who set out what their injuries were on the SCNF, 94.29% (43,108) suffered a whiplash injury. Only 1.62% reported in the SCNF that they did not suffer whiplash at all.
22.8% (10,436) set out that they suffered whiplash only and 10.3% (4,718) set out that they suffered whiplash plus minor psychological injury only, meaning that 33.1% (15,154) of all submissions will attract an award based solely on the tariff.
Unhelpfully, the data does not allow us to know how many of the 33.1% (15,154) of claimants who are only claiming tariff injuries might also be looking for uplift for exceptional circumstances, injury, or both. So, defendants cannot truly know how many of that ‘third’ of all claims which are tariff only might become complicated by the uplift issue.
The other 62.8% (28,694) are what are known as ‘tariff-plus’ claims, where claimants are looking for damages that may or may not include a tariff element but require some element of JC Guidance assessment for non-tariff injury. How quickly they can be resolved — as the industry awaits the outcome of fast-tracked appeals to determine damages level for such claims — remains to be seen.
Whether contending only that tariff injuries were suffered or something else, 25.5% of all claimants set out that either or both of their injuries and/or circumstances were ‘exceptional’ so that they should be awarded an uplift. Those who were represented were much less likely to claim for exceptional circumstances uplift (just 24%) relative to those pursuing claims in person (40%).
It seems fair to say that claims numbers are yet to recover and we will need to watch this space on that. It is a stated Government aim that claims numbers will reduce post these reforms so we may never see the pre-COVID monthly average again.
Liability responses suggest a pragmatic approach by insurers, perhaps with lawyers — who might be prepared to take more challenging liability scenarios forward than the lay claimant — meeting a little more resistance.
Whiplash has not disappeared, far from it, being detailed in over 98% of claims on which an indication of injury was set out in the SCNF. Two-thirds of claims are more than just tariff, so not as straightforward as the authors of the reforms might have hoped, and they will prove the most troublesome in the short term.
Clarification is needed on what ‘exceptional circumstances’ means. The propensity for uplift to be sought more by unrepresented claimants suggests either that the lay claimant does not understand when a court might award such an uplift or perhaps that lawyers serve a role of dampening claimant ambitions. There is no ‘appeal litigation’ on that point (unlike the ‘tariff plus’ question) and so low-level decisions on what is and isn’t exceptional should be here soon.
It is very early in the process to draw too many hard conclusions, but this first release of data gives an interesting early snapshot.
The Whiplash Reforms
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