The Whiplash Reform Programme changes how insurers handle these types of claims. The aim of the reform is to reduce the costs to insurers and curb opportunistic and fraudulent claims. The reform will also allow unrepresented claimants to claim for injury through the Road Traffic Accident (RTA) Small Claims Portal – Official Injury Claim Service (OICS).
Changes to personal injury claims
There is a fixed tariff that covers whiplash and minor psychological injury up to a maximum recovery period of two years. There is no minimum period.
The maximum award for personal injury under the previous small claims limit was £1,000. This has increased to £5,000 with an overall maximum limit of £10,000 to include non-injury elements of a claim (excluding credit hire/repairs and insurer outlay).
For now, the reform only applies in England and Wales.
The accident investigation process
Insurers will only have 30 working days to investigate a claim and decide whether to accept the claim entirely or partially or to reject it. If their investigation extends beyond the 30 days, then the claim will be deemed 'admitted'. In other words, the insurer will admit liability.
If the insurer accepts the claim in full, then the driver must complete and submit an accident report form to the insurer in the usual way. If there is anything more, the driver must complete a Statement of Truth, which includes full information of the incident and a description of the driver. The form must be signed by the driver only.
If the driver leaves the client's employment or is an agency driver, then it is the client’s responsibility to ensure that the Statement of Truth is completed and signed. Without a signed form, a court will not allow insurer evidence to challenge the claim.
At the outset of the claim, an insurer can upload a summary of the claim without a signed Statement of Truth. However, the insurer will have to justify why it has not been signed and returned. An electronic signature will be accepted, and all liability decisions will be binding.
This new process does exclude any incident involving a motorcyclist, pedestrian, or cyclist.
What you need to do to assist your insurer
- Ensure that you enter all your hire vehicles on MID.
- If the hire period is less than 14 days, there is no requirement. In this instance, a claim would be made against the hirer's insurance and then redirected to your insurer. However, this may result in a delay to the 30-day rule. So, keep detailed records of all vehicles under 14 days' hire.
- Early notification of an accident will help your insurer launch their investigations ahead of any potential claim via the new portal.
- Take photos of all the vehicles at the scene, recording damage as well as any undamaged areas following the accident.
- If possible, take note of the number and position of any adults or children in the front and rear of the vehicle involved and whether they wore seatbelts.
- Take down the details of any independent witnesses at the scene.
- Check for any CCTV cameras at the scene that may have captured the incident.
- Retain any dashcam footage and provide a copy to your Clear executive and to your insurer.
- Consider any signs of suspicious behaviour and report it to your Clear executive and to your insurer.
- Ensure that you complete the Statement of Truth in a timely fashion.
- Retain the telemetric data and ensure that this is not overwritten.
- The driver will need to be aware that they may be required to attend court to defend the claim if the litigation proceeds.
- The insurers only have 14 days to react to any court summons. This summons will be in the name of the driver, so any correspondence received must be forwarded to the insurer as soon as possible.
How Clear can help
Clear's claims team is here to help you with any claims queries in addition to your usual account executive. You can download our new motor accident report form, which includes the template Statement of Truth.
In the event of a claim, Clear will have regular review meetings with insurers to ensure that they adhere to the strict time limits on the investigation.
Please note that if any of your drivers need to make a claim following a non-fault claim on the portal, this would be a private matter for them and shouldn't involve you.
The Official Injury Claim service has produced a video that illustrates the identity verification process for claimants making a claim.