The Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) has given the clearest signal yet that the whiplash reforms will go ahead next April as it announced plans to undertake a third phase of consumer testing of the new portal.
The ‘Official Injury Claim’ service is “85% ready”, the MIB said, and will be complete once the long-awaited new pre-action protocol and change to the Civil Procedure Rules are confirmed.
In the absence of the protocol and rules, and the ongoing difficulties caused by the pandemic, speculation has grown that the start of the reforms may be delayed once again.
The testing will take place in the New Year, focusing “on those who might struggle to use the service covering both the online and offline process”.
Alongside the first two phases of testing, the MIB also engaged an independent accessibility consultant to review the end-to-end service to ensure it complies with the internationally recognised recommendations for improving website accessibility – the Website Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.1.
Anna Fleming, chief operating officer at the MIB, said: “Over the summer, MIB has worked with the Ministry of Justice to ensure the build delivers against policy. The service is now 85% ready. Once the rules and protocol are confirmed we can complete the build and it makes sense to test it again with consumers.
“Our goal has always been to deliver a service that is simple, secure and supportive, and as with any government service, it is critical that it is as accessible and inclusive as possible. This next phase of testing, focusing on those who might struggle to make a claim independently, will help ensure we achieve this.”
The testing will focus on those who might struggle to use the service, and will cover both the online and offline process. The MIB said it was currently commissioning independent research consultants with recognised expertise in this area and would publish the results.
In total, the build has involved over 20,000 hours of development time and 30 ‘sprints’ – short periods dedicated to a particular feature.
Since the launch in July of third-party administrators registration, 336 organisations have registered.
The MIB said it was working with the Ministry of Justice on details of the pre-launch and launch timetable.
Yesterday we reported that the Motor Accident Solicitors Society was calling on the Lord Chief Justice  to bring his weight to bear on lifting the compensation tariff that forms part of the reforms.
The chief executive of the MIB and the lead official at the Ministry of Justice will be speaking about the reforms at next Monday’s session of our virtual PI Futures conference  taking place through the week