The number of motor injury claims reported to the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU) fell to their lowest first-quarter level ever this year, new figures have shown.
Meanwhile, the proportion of injured people pursuing their case through the Official Injury Claim (OIC) portal without legal representation has, for the first time, topped one in 10.
The CRU, which started reporting its statistics on a quarterly basis in 2018, recorded 93,989 motor claims for the first quarter of 2023, down from 97,099 for the same period last year, and 40% fewer than the 155,860 recorded pre-Covid in 2020.
Winter driving conditions typically mean that the first three months of the year see a spike in the number of motor injury claims.
The total number of motor claims in 2022, at 370,645, was little more than half the 2019 total of 653,983, with the number in the fourth quarter of 2022, 84,257, the lowest of any quarter to date.
However, OIC data shows a slight increase in the number of claims lodged in the first quarter of this year, up 3% to 76,590.
It is also the first quarter where more than 10% of claimants represented themselves (10.5%), although it is too early to draw any conclusions from this.
The average time from claim to settlement in the portal role to a record 238 days, up from 227 in the previous quarter.
The OIC said: “This is to be expected as we are now seeing cases settle with more complex injuries and longer prognoses. It is likely to continue to rise.”
The CRU data showed that employers’ liability claims increased slightly this year, from 10,933 in the first quarter of 2022 to 11,315, while public liability claims rose by over 14% to 14,535.
The number of clinical negligence claims for the first quarter dropped 6% to 3,809, a low point for this time of year. However, the figure has fluctuated in recent years, falling in 2020 and then surging above pre-pandemic levels in 2021 before falling back again.
Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations, which obtained the figures from the CRU following a Freedom of Information Act request, said traffic levels in the UK had recovered since 2020, but the number of motor claims continued to fall, in line with the “broader contraction” in the market.
“Of course, this is good news if it reflects fewer road traffic accidents, but we don’t believe this to be the case. Rather, citizens involved in accidents are not making claims, because it is too onerous, or because the redress available for RTA injuries is pitifully small, or there is less marketing from claimant firms.”
Mr Maxwell Scott said that, according to the Association of British Insurers, motor premiums rose by 8% in the last quarter of 2022 and the average price of a new policy was at a record high.
“The net impact is that victims have to live with their injuries rather than obtain justice. I leave others to question whether this state of affairs is the hallmark of a civilised society.
“Government will no doubt paint this as successful implementation of policy, while insurers will be banking the windfall from a continued reduction in injury claims costs.”