The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has set up an Official Injury Claim advisory group (OICAG) amid suggestions that insurers are contacting represented claimants to encourage them to bring their claim without legal help.
The group has been set up to support the implementation of the whiplash reforms, which came into force on 31 May. It will meet quarterly, starting on 30 September.
“The overall purpose of the OICAG is to consider stakeholder feedback and operational data related to the impact and function of the service,” the MoJ said.
“It will consider and advise on operational performance and suggest possible improvements to enhance the service provided.”
Chaired by a senior policy official from the MoJ, the group’s members will include representatives from the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS), Forum of Insurance Lawyers, Association of British Insurers, HM Courts & Tribunals Service, MedCo and Civil Procedure Rule Committee.
There will also be two people representing litigants in person/consumers.
Separately, MASS said it has received a few reports from members about certain insurer behaviours, including taking the personal contact details of represented claimants from their submission to the OIC and then contacting them directly to encourage them to pursue the claim themselves. The insurers have then been rejecting the claims in the portal.
MASS said this raised data protection issues.
The group reported that other insurers were making requests for more information under CPR 18, as well as asking for copies of all medical and occupational records every time a claim was submitted “and raising a number of superfluous queries”.
MASS chair Paul Nicholls said: “We hope that this isn’t a coordinated attempt by some insurers to prevent claimants by different routes from having legal representation, either by talking them out of pursuing the claim or by seeking to generate so much work for the law firm that they give up.”
He said MASS was seeking further information about how widespread the behaviours were and whether they were targeted at particular law firms or being used by certain insurers.
Data from the early stages of the OIC will not be released until after three months have passed and Mr Nicholls added early reports suggested that the volume of claims was “significantly lower” than might be expected given the current traffic volumes.