The whiplash portal for litigants in person will cover claims for property damage, in addition to personal injury and uninsured losses, the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) has confirmed.
However, the credit hire industry has expressed concern at the lack of detail over how this will work.
The MIB’s latest update on its work to build the portal on behalf of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) focused on the elements that will go into creating a claim.
It said MoJ policy was that the system must “capture heads of claim related to property damage, personal injury and uninsured losses”.
However, there was no more detail on this, except that the system was being designed to provide users with “a guided journey that gathers information in easy stages”.
Kirsty McKno, the solicitor who chairs the Credit Hire Organisation, said: “While this is, finally, an acknowledgement that property damage should be included within the process, it has not been confirmed what is included within that definition, how it will be explained to the claimant, how it will actually work and whether the process will be truly independent.”
She said the MIB’s use of the term ‘capture’ raised the concern that the process would favour intervention by insurers.
“Insurers employ intervention teams to contact injured people and offer them mobility and other services which enable them to save money on the claims cost, for example by offering a smaller vehicle to the customers’ own.”
Ms McKno, who is group recoveries director at the Kindertons Group, added that the MIB also needed to be aware of the risk of claims management companies failing to include credit hire elements in the claim notification, either through error or lack of knowledge or experience.
“To do so means that the defendant can set these costs aside and the claimant won’t be able to claim for the cost of mobility while their own vehicle is being repaired. It is essential that rules are drafted to protect the claimant from such an eventuality.”
Criticism over the portal build is growing. Last month, the Motor Accident Solicitors Society criticised the MoJ for cutting corners “in order to meet the politically driven deadline of April 2020” – and suggested it still could not be met.
Last week, we reported that both claimant and defendant representatives – including Ms McKno – have expressed frustration with the progress of the reforms, again doubting that the portal would be ready in time.
Ms McKno criticised the lack of transparency in developing the portal and the failure by the MoJ and MIB “to ensure that claimant interests are fully accounted for”.
She said the CHO backed calls for the justice select committee to intervene and hold an inquiry “to get at the truth of what is really going on”.