The Government’s whiplash reforms, which come into force on 31 May 2021 for England and Wales, are designed to reduce the number of fraudulent and exaggerated whiplash claims for “adults”, whilst allowing insurers to pass on the savings by reducing premiums.
The reforms introduce fixed fee damages for whiplash claims and increases the financial limit of claims managed through the current ‘small claims track’ from £1,000 to £5,000. As a result, both the compensation and the solicitor costs awarded will be significantly lower for standard whiplash type cases.
These claims will be made via a ‘Claims Portal’ which will direct the claim to the relevant insurer and they will then have 30 days in which to respond. Failure to respond within the 30 days will be taken as acceptance of liability and your insurers will have to pay the agreed amount regardless of the circumstances of the incident.
All soft tissue claims dealt with via the Portal will fall within the agreed fixed fees and will be subject to the relevant supporting medical documentation being provided.
To enable your insurers to respond within the time limits they have to be aware of the incident and have full details to enable them to either defend the claim on your behalf or deal with the claim quickly and effectively taking advantage of the agreed fees.
This means that it’s more important than ever to report all incidents immediately (even if it is not your fault and you don’t think any injury has been sustained or damage caused). By reporting all incidents immediately and fully completing the relevant claim form within 5 working days of the incident occurring, you are ensuring your insurers are in a position to deal with the claim proactively and wherever possible defend your position.
However effective your risk management processes are, it’s inevitable that collisions will occur. The important thing is how you manage the incidents once they have occurred.
By notifying your insurers immediately you are enabling them to proactively manage the situation, whether that is defending the claim on your behalf or controlling the third party claim. If your insurers are given the opportunity to manage the third party claim they can then control not only repair costs but hire charges and loss of use costs as well. This will in turn help control your motor premiums.
Even if liability is not clear, by notifying your insurers immediately you are giving them the best opportunity to defend your position.
Claims via the Portal are directed to the relevant insurer using the MID, If you have not removed a vehicle from the MID a claim could be directed to your insurers to deal with, it is therefore imperative that you keep the MID up to date at all times.
BEST PRACTICE FOR EFFECTIVE CLAIMS MANAGEMENT
Here are some tips on improving the quality and speed of motor claims reporting following an incident:
Clarify the process for reporting between all interested parties i.e. drivers, accident management providers, transport managers, lease companies/ourselves as brokers, so everyone understands their role and responsibility.
Simplify – The more steps involved in the claims reporting process reduces the likelihood of compliance. ‘One Call’ solutions are the most effective.
Communicate a comprehensive claims management procedure to your drivers covering all types of incident with clear and practical steps that are suited to both your business and the structure of your organisation.
Promote an ‘open’ culture in relation to the reporting of incidents for all drivers. Making it a ‘sin’ for drivers to have an incident, will dissuade them from notifying claims and admitting liability when they’re at fault.
Educate drivers to understand the need to capture key data following an incident and provide it straightaway.
Equip drivers to provide key information with supporting evidence from the outset. The earlier evidence is provided the more opportunity there is to defend effectively or recover losses.
Affirm the ‘need for speed’ when reporting claims. The earlier an incident is reported, the more effectively the resulting costs can be managed.
Use the management information available to investigate whether drivers are adhering to guidelines and identify possible areas for improvement.