Release of 3 months of Claims Portal data shows new trends on RTA and casualty claims volumes
15 January 2016
Together with their apologies for the time it has taken, Claims Portal yesterday released their long awaited claims data over the last 3 months. It’s good to be back! New trends have become visible within those 3 months.
The headline assessment is that as far as volumes of new claims are concerned, we have moved from seeing a slowing rise in volumes, to a position of relative stability. In terms of our 12 month cumulative assessments, it is now clear new RTA claims have been at a static level over the last 6 months.
On the casualty side, again on a 12 month cumulative basis, both EL and PL trends are now showing decreasing trends in new volumes (PL a fall of 5.6% over 6 months and EL a fall of 1.3% over 4 months).
New RTA volumes
In October there were 75,500 new claims, in November there were 73,500 and in December there were 63,500. The fact that this includes 2 consecutive monthly falls is not unusual as we have seen the same in each of the past 3 years at the same time of year. We therefore need to look further at the numbers themselves.
Doing so, we can now see with the extra data that there was relative stability over the September to November period with new RTA claims per month falling within the 73,000-75,500 range in each of those 3 months. December was always going to be lower because of the shorter working month, as it has been in previous years. The fall from November volumes to December was 15.7% this year, while in the previous 2 years it had been 11.3% and 18.2%.
An annual RTA new claims volume appraisal
In the calendar year 2015, there were 878k new RTA claims, a rise of 5.1% over the 2014 level of 835k, which in turn was a 1.8% increase over the 821k we saw in 2013.
While an increase of 5.1% is significant, when we look in more detail we can see that almost all of this increase was attributable to the first half of the year.
Over the last 6 months of 2015, compared to the same period in 2014, there was a rather smaller rise of 1.6%. Most of this was attributable to the figure for 1 month, July, so if the last 5 months of 2015 are compared to the same months in 2014 the numbers are almost identical, so new RTA volumes can be seen as static over that period when we look back 12 months.
12 month cumulative RTA trends
This is where the new trend of stable RTA volumes becomes clearer.
When analysing the last data in October, we saw then no fewer than 17 consecutive months of growth on this measurement. That record was broken in October by the first monthly fall in 18 months and there was then a second fall in December.
The actual figures show that in July the 12 month figure stood at 878k new claims. The current figure based on December’s data is the same. Within those 6 months the level has ranged narrowly between 876k and 880k.
So after the pre-LASPO peak and the post-LASPO drop, we have reached a situation we have not encountered at any previous time over the period spanned by this graph – that of relatively consistency of volumes. It is worth observing that this new stability is at a level only marginally below the pre-LASPO peak.
It must be expected that as we move beyond the Autumn Statement and towards the MoJ’s consultation on the details of the planned whiplash reforms now due to be published in March, that there will soon be a reaction in terms of raised volumes as claimant operations increase efforts to gain new claims in the time before implantation of the planned reforms.
Other sources of new claims data
This next graph shows annual data up till the end of financial year 2014/15 and is therefore of mainly historical interest, but what is new is the previously unpublished data shown as red line, that is the number of claims classified in the records of the CRU as being for whiplash, neck or back according to the results of an FoI search. It may be recalled that APIL sought to make capital out of a separate FoI request which they submitted at around the same time, and which they claimed showed substantially reduced volumes for “whiplash”.
What is now clear is that the data released at the time by APIL was only in relation to claims identified by the CRU as “whiplash”, and the APIL data did not include other claims which the CRU separately recorded as relating to “neck” or “back”. We can now see that the full picture was not therefore available from the data which APIL referred to. The addition into the APIL “whiplash” data of the RTA claims recorded by CRU as relating to “neck” and “back” in fact increases the number of claims by up to 50%.
It is right to see that with the exception of the portal data, the figures recorded at the DWP as well as those recently used by Dominic Raab, minister at the MoJ, all show decreasing volumes over the last 2 years. The portal data of course showed a fall in 2013/14 followed by a rise in 2014/15.
The latest released portal data for the last 3 months now suggests that that the portal stats on this graph will over the 12 months of 2015/16 be moving back towards a static level, to fit with the new trend now being seen of new RTA claim levels flat-lining.
New casualty claims volumes
Both the EL and PL portals show that new claims volumes have fallen for each of the last 3 months in those 2 portals. The EL disease portal showed an increase in October, followed by 2 monthly falls since.
Calendar year comparisons are more difficult in the casualty portals as those portals were relatively new in 2014. Nevertheless, the EL portal shows a 13.5% increase in new claims volumes in 2015 compared to 2014, while over the same period the PL portal saw a 1.0% fall. Perhaps PL claims were quicker to enter the portals in 2014, and that had the same pattern been seen with EL claims, a similar picture would have emerged.
EL disease claims showed a 40.7% increase in 2015 over 2014. That type of claim is of course often pursued outside the portal so the value of that data is limited, but as with EL, EL disease claims would have been slower to enter the portal in 2014 so the comparison with 2015 may not be a fair one.
12 month cumulative casualty trends
The graph below shows the newly found trends over 12 months. Up until a few months ago, the new claims casualty trends were pointing only upwards as those portals became established. That remains the position with the EL disease portal.
But there are now new trends with the EL and PL portals, as we saw with RTA. In fact, the new trends are not towards static levels as they are with RTA, but falling levels of new EL and PL claims are now visible.
This trend over 12 months started in June with the PL portal at which point the annual level of claims stood at 77k. Since then that figure has fallen by 5.3% on this measurement to 73k.
In the EL claims context, the new trend began in September, at which point there were 55k new claims on an annual basis. There are now 54k, a fall of 1.3%.
While entirely novel, perhaps these trends in casualty should not be seen as surprising when the trend on motor claims is also away from what has recently been a picture of constantly increasing volumes. As with RTA claims, assuming the planned SCT increase will also apply to EL and PL claims, then there would be reason to expect the trend to start to be reversed as claimant operations look to take on increasing volumes prior to implementation of that reform.
We had previously seen a decreasing trend towards agreeing settlements in RTA claims. The rate of decrease was lower in 2015 than it was in 2014. Additionally, over the last couple of months the trend here also seems to be moving towards a static level. Perhaps the incentive on the part of claimant operations to achieve settlement is finding its way through to the figures as the drop in settlement levels may be coming to an end.
Our 12 month cumulative data shows marginal reductions in the settlement rates for RTA and for EL, now below 50% and 30% respectively. Stable levels are demonstrated for PL and EL disease, each within the 10-20% band. The RTA settlement rate may have been what Lord Justice Briggs had in mind when in his recently released interim report on the setting up of a new Online Court he referred to the “enviable settlement rate” of what he called “the new PI portal”.
Stage 3 usage
This continues to prove attractive to claimants and their representatives, perhaps for reasons of the potential additional costs recovery.
With RTA claims, there were 5,291 packs prepared in October, the highest ever level as can be seen from the bars on the graph above. The last 2 months were high too, each close to 4,900. A new higher usage level at around that number may be being established in the RTA portal.
The number of court packs in EL and Pl was also high, though of course at a much lower number than RTA because of lower volumes. The highest monthly number of court packs to date was seen in EL in December with 48 and in November for PL with 50.
EL disease continues to be an anomaly with use of what is widely regarded as an unsatisfactory process for that type of claim as it currently stands. Use of stage 3 continues to be rare, in fact there were fewer court packs in 2015 than there were in 2014.
Reference should be made to the data shown as lines on the previous graph. As to RTA, average settlements in November and December were within £1 of each other at a level just over £2,500. In October though there was a blip with the average level rising 5% to £2,690. Some rise of course is expected against the background of the JC Guidelines advising an increase of 20% for this type of claim. It is of course in this area that the government’s proposed withdrawal of the right to claim PSLA damages for “minor whiplash” claims would take effect.
In the case of EL and PL, the last 3 months saw new peaks of PSLA settlements being reached at £3,853 and £3,808 respectively as PSLA damages remain on an upward trend in that type of claim. EL disease PSLA settlements over the last 3 months were relatively stable at around £4k, on samples of around 100 settlements per month.
We expect the next portal data release in February.
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.