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What are the conclusions from today's portal data?

15 December 2014

Evaluating the new portal data announced today by the Portal Company for the month of November shows the importance of taking account of the random way that the days of any month fall into either the working week or the weekend. If this is not done, then we risk missing the need to make an adjustment to November’s data including to the number of new claims submitted to the portals before we judge their significance.

New RTA claims

In November, the number of new claims fell from October’s level of around 80,000 to 72,000, a fall of 8,000 or 10%. After 3 months of increasing numbers of new claims to the RTA portal, the trend has been reversed. The fall is large in terms of actual numbers, but is it significant?

Cnfs Submitted By Quarter

This November’s new claims number is higher than in the corresponding month 1 year ago (which stood at 66,500) by a factor of 5,500, and is close to the level 3 years ago which stood at 71,000 pre the LASPO reforms. And of course £10-25k claims are now included in the portal process, which while we have no data from the Portal Company as to the number of them, must be a couple of thousand a month by now as they have been entering the RTA portal (like all of the portals) since July 2013.


Is there any duplication this time?

The previous 2 months of data for September and October had been specifically marked by the Portal Company as being affected by the number of resubmitted claims following a change in name of the claimant firm submitting them, usually in turn arising from a change in ownership or structure in that firm. This month the data is not marked as subject to that factor, so while we cannot say that it does not operate to some extent, as it can be difficult to detect, the view seems to have been reached by the Portal Company that for November’s data, its effect is unlikely to be statistically significant.

When we were examining October’s data, we estimated very broadly that the 80,000 number which represented new claims needed to be adjusted downwards to 76,000-78,000 to take account of this duplication factor.  So if we compare November’s new RTA claims number of 72,000 to the adjusted 76,000-78,000 the drop in numbers is reduced.


The short month of November

Returning to the point of the reduced number of working days in November, there were a total of only 20. Apart from months containing Bank Holidays, this is the smallest possible number that any month can have. A reduced number of working days is an effect of significance on the data as can be seen from other similarly affected months across the years that the portal data has been collected.

In September there were 22 working days and in October there were 23. Increasing November’s 72,000 based on 20 working days proportionately would increase it back towards 80,000. There were corresponding falls of new claims numbers into the 3 other portals in November which are likely to be due at least in part to the same point which would seem to confirm its validity in this month’s analysis.

Where do we stand?

So, in summary, we must continue to look at longer term trends rather than drawing early and potentially misleading conclusions from looking only at the headline figures. Pre-LASPO we saw an average number of monthly new claims into the RTA portal of 67,500 or so. Even though this month’s figure shows a drop after 3 successive monthly increases, it is still at a level which would support a conclusion that the post-LASPO landscape seems to involve at least a similar number of new claims being received than before.


Casualty portals – new claims numbers

All 3 of these portals also show a reduced number of new claims being submitted. The drop in the number of new claims into the EL accident and PL portals is in fact as large as it has ever been. The new of new PL claims fell from 7,777 to 6,426 or by 17%, while EL accident claims fell from 5,177 to 4,412 or by 15%. The point about a shorter working month in November is worth 9% of both falls in numbers, but cannot explain the balance of them.

Beyond that, the likely explanation is that approaching 18 months from the launch of those portals, we may now be settling down into what may be the start of a more predictable range for these types of claims. If we are, then the range for PL looks to be between 6,000 and 8,000 per month, and for EL accident between 4,000 and 5,250 per month. Time will tell if that is right.

EL PL Accidents Graph



The retention rates for RTA continue to show the hallmarks of a mature process with increasingly little variation shown this year. For PL and EL accident claims this month has seen a reduction in retention rates, more significantly in the case of PL. The PL retention rate has fallen below 20% for the first time and is now barely more than the EL disease retention rate where the problems of use of the present portal processes without adaptation have been commented upon. 


Again though, we should be slow to read too much significance into one month’s data where before the drops which are apparent this month, we seemed to be seeing some stabilisation around retention rates for these portals. That may return in December’s data. But this is not data that should be affected by the shorter working month.


Gross and net retention rates

And we need to bear in mind too that falling retention rates are not necessarily bad news. What is more important is surely that the right cases that should be kept within the portal are dealt with in that way so that costs savings can be achieved, but also that the right cases for dropping out are allowed to drop out and challenged as appropriate. Ultimately, claims costs will be based on looking to achieve the right retention rates for the type of claims in question, such as by setting justifiable retention rate targets after forensic analysis, and auditing claims against those targets.

Perhaps the concept of gross and net retention rates may assist. The Portal Company data will show the gross retention rates, but an insurer may wish to go further and discount from the number of claims leaving the process those in which it made a positive decision to drop the claim out. In that way it would then reach its net retention rate which will clearly be higher than its gross retention rate.

Stage 3s

In RTA claims, the number of court packs produced for stage 3 fell by 2% to 3,222. This drop though will we expect be due to the shorter month and we expect normal service to resume next month with a further increase. There are only a handful of casualty court packs in comparison. The number in PL fell to 28 while in EL accident it rose to 22. Too early to read anything into the casualty figures there with such low numbers.

PSLA figures

The rate of increase in RTA general damages continues to slow down. While over the last 12 months the increase stands at 8%, over the last 7 months it is only 1%, up to £2,587. We are now further away from the inflationary effect of Simmons v Castle and the introduction of the 12th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines.

The data for EL accident and PL is more volatile due to the immaturity of those processes and the fewer claims in those systems, of course. The graph shows the close relationship between the general damages figures for those 2 types of claim, and in general terms the slowly increasing trend in values. This is likely to be due in part to the system dealing with claims of increasing value within the later stages of the portal processes as time moves on.

Looking at the detail, this month the PL figure rose to £3,332 while the EL accident figure fell to £3,250.

PSLA Offers And Stage 3


EL disease portal

The number of new claims into this portal fell by 3% to 1,562, again due in part to the short month. With that adjustment, we may be seeing a relatively stable range at around 1,600 per month. The retention rate showed a slight improvement to 14%, within what may become the expected range for this type of claim of 10-20%. Time will tell on that.

Other reducing data on EL disease showed the number of cases going to stage 3 falling from 20 to 11, and the settlements from 106 to 85. The PSLA figure fell to £4,183, the lowest since December 2013, but still higher than any other type of portal claim as comparison with the graph above will show.

The EL disease portal continues to struggle to gain traction, and all data based analysis of it is subject to criticism based on relatively low claims numbers.

Previous portal data analysis

Headline figure pointing upwards on latest data from the Portal Company - 17 November 2014
Cutting through a confusing picture on the latest portal data - 17 October 2014
What does 2 months of Portal data show us about on-going claims trends? - 8 September 2014

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.