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Archive for August 9th, 2010

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Some years ago I saw something like this in a Banksy book.  I can’t find the book now, so I thought I’d make my own variant….

I phoned 20+ people this morning…in vain.  I have, clearly, got too much time on my hands.

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GUEST POST

The RTA claims process- counting the cost, two months in

By Stephen Higham, solicitor

I have previously blogged unfavourably about the new claims process for road traffic accidents. Just over 2 months in, how is it going?

According to a report from 5 July 2010, 52,800 new claims have now been uploaded to the internet based ‘portal’ in just over 2 months. There are 1,760 claimant representatives registered, and over 230 insurers/ compensators on the system. So, by now, most solicitors and insurers are using the system.

As one such ‘claimant representative’, a personal injury solicitor with a significant road traffic accident claims department, I have had to deal with significant obstacles to prepare my firm for the changes. As guidance was thin on the ground, I attended an all day training course, and then spent weeks learning and interpreting the new rules, computer processes etc. in order to train my staff. This process is still ongoing.

My firm, like many others, uses a complicated computer system to manage claims as efficiently as possible. The system is supposed to be able to ‘talk’ to the government backed internet portal to avoid duplication of work. However, due to delays with the government’s IT suppliers, we have yet to receive our log-in codes to enable us to use the new system we have already paid for, resulting in wasted time and resources.

Not unsurprisingly, as the majority of claims are at the earliest stage, the bulk of the work has fallen on claimants’ solicitors (like me); not those who were campaigning for the change (the insurers).

Our clients, the innocent accident victims, are also complaining about the extra paperwork and the implication that they are dishonestly claiming compensation. They have to sign and return the initial Claims Notification Form, stating that ‘I am the Claimant – I believe that the facts stated in this claim form are true’, before we can upload it to the portal. This is intended to protect against fraud, but did anyone involved in the drafting really believe that signing a box on a form would do that?

The insurers got their way in respect of costs too. By persuading the government that the new system would be easier and cheaper, they convinced them to cut the costs paid to the claimant’s solicitors to reduced fixed fees, the first of which are now starting to come through. We are now being paid significantly less for doing more. We have already started to make cutbacks in non-essential areas which do not affect clients, but it remains to be seen what long term impact this scheme will have.

The coalition government has more important things on its mind right now but I would hope that, in the fullness of time, this inadequate and expensive scheme will go the way of the equally pointless Home Information Packs, which were suspended as one of the government’s first acts in early May 2010.  This is a waste of time, money and paper, none of which impact on insurers and their shareholders, all of which affect innocent accident victims and their solicitors.

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