Latest portal RTA and casualty data
The Portal Company have today released their MI for the month of December 2013, to complete the data for a year of turbulence as both the Jackson and portal changes have of course started to impact significantly on claimant lawyer business models and therefore on claims numbers. It’s a chance to see what trend lines can be seen from the figures both for last month as well as last year.
December saw 56,500 new CNFs submitted to the portal, a figure down by 10,500 from November’s level of 67,000. This is the second consecutive monthly fall. But it is important to remember that this data is from the unusual holiday month of December. While November saw 21 working days, in December, depending on the opening hours of claimant law firms, there were only 15 or 16 working days as most still close for the Christmas and New Year period – it will be worth seeing whether this closure pattern remains the norm going forward in 2014 in view of the extra pressures that these firms now have to deal with. The reduced number of working days clearly has an impact on the number of CNFs submitted, but its impact cannot be directly measured as while claimant lawyers clearly cannot lodge CNFs when they are not at work, they can still do so on another day when they are working.
December does of course come round every year so what has happened in past years? A reduction of 10,500 from November this year is in fact a smaller reduction than we have seen in the previous years over which the RTA portal has been open. So that’s another factor that adds to the difficulty of making predictions. The key months in the first half of 2014 should show at what level new RTA CNFs will end up, the question remaining - will the lower volumes seen by many up until now end up as the final position? Time will tell, and the untypical month of December does not really help in taking that area any further forward.
Statistics for 2013
It is though the chance to review where the numbers ended up as the year has drawn to a close. In 2011, the RTA portal’s first full year, there were 774,000 new CNFs. This figure rose in 2012 to 833,000. In 2013 it has fallen to 822,000. Where the casualty portal MI data is so recent, it is ultimately these RTA figures that will have to be relied on to show how claims numbers are moving in the industry. We think the message should be, let’s watch this space for more data from which trends can be confirmed during 2014.
Other data from the RTA portal
It is interesting to note another couple of trends. Last month, the average general damages (or PSLA) figure hit £2,400 in RTA cases for the first time. This is the 8th month in a row that that figure has increased. The extent of the increase on an annualised basis is 22.5% over that period. There are clearly specific factors at work here to explain this increase, perhaps including the new retainers that have been used since 1st April which generally limit success fees to 25% of PSLA and past losses, so that the more is recovered under those heads, the higher the value of the success fee.
Also worth noting is the increased level of cases in which a stage 3 court pack is prepared as the claim has not been taken to a settlement at stage 2. While the number of court packs in December at 1,545 showed a fall from 1,642 in November, again this is likely to be due to the short month in the office. Levels of claims proceeding to stage 3 are still at least 50% higher than the same number reaching that stage 12 months ago. One factor may be that the stage 3 fixed costs of £250 are seen as more attractive when set aside the reduced stage 1 and 2 costs totalling £500 for CNFs submitted on or after 30th April 2013, than they were previously when stage 1 and 2 costs of £1,200 were paid in these cases.
The December factor impacts here too as you would expect. While in real terms all three casualty portals show a reduced number of CNFs submitted In December, if we “seasonally adjust” for the shorter month in December then numbers continue to increase as gradually the portal becomes the usual way of submitting new claims. January’s figures which will be released next month should confirm the upwards trend in these types of claim. As to the specifics, EL new claims fell from 2,277 to 2,015, EL disease fell from 819 to 732, and PL fell from 3,886 to 3,425.
On retention rates, figures continue to be volatile based on small sample numbers. EL was as before the highest at 44% (last month 51%), EL disease the lowest as before at 23% (last month 36%), and PL 31% (last month 38%). The EL retention rate will we think always remain the highest, in part because of the easier way of identifying the EL insurers via an ELTO search. This graph shows retention rates in all 3 casualty panels combined.
Average general damages figures continue to rise, perhaps because of similar factors as with the RTA portal. In EL cases they are up to £2,127, and in PL up to £2,105. And the first EL disease claims settled last month, 3 of them in fact, with an average PSLA figure of £3,310, the highest average damages figure of any claims type including motor.
All of this needs to continue to be monitored throughout the year.
For further information please contact Simon Denyer, Strategic Legal Development Partner on +44 3333 202220
This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.