Latest portal data shows increased June volumes though longer term trends as to new claims volumes remain unchanged
Their most recent MI was released by Claims Portal towards the end of last week. It was the overdue data for the month of June, as we seem to have entered a period where portal data is issued at more unpredictable intervals than was previously the case. We have to look back to mid-June when we were able to carry out our last portal analysis when the data for April and May was released simultaneously.
There are a number of consistent factors across all portals on this analysis from June. Both in the RTA portal and in the casualty portals there were increased claims volumes in June when compared to previous months. However, longer term trends remain in place, that is relative stability in the case of the RTA portal, and decreasing volumes in the casualty portals.
We also look at the recently published result of the APIL FoI request in relation to whiplash claims, and see that it is difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions from it as it is inconsistent with other apparently more reliable data.
New RTA claims in June
In June there were 70,574 new RTA claims. This is an increase of 7.3% over the corresponding figure seen in May.
The level is below but within 1.3% of the annual monthly average seen over 2015/16 of 71,491. So, there is some monthly increase this time, but the extent of the increase is limited.
New RTA claims 12 months cumulative
This additional form of measurement shows longer term trends, of course. The figure including June’s data was 854,276, as compared to 854,136 at the end of May. This represents a very small increase in the number of RTA claims over 12 months, in fact that increase is 0.016%, far too small to be visible on the following graph:
On this 12 month index, we had previously seen falls over 8 of the last 9 months. While therefore in that context the tiny increase seen this month is worthy of recognition, we expect the overall decreasing trend to return next month. This prediction seems secure where the new claims figure for July can hardly be expected to approach the unusually high corresponding figure seen 12 months earlier in July 2015.
In broad terms, the broader RTA new claim cumulative trend is therefore continuing to point marginally downwards. The current figure of 854,276 is to a limited extent lower than the most recent peak of 880,491 seen in August 2015 by a factor of 3.0%.
RTA data from other sources
APIL have recently publicised some data from an FoI request of the DWP in relation to CRU data, in the same way as they did last year. They highlight the fall of 11% from 376,513 to 335,365 in the number of claims recorded by the CRU as being for “whiplash” according to the description of injury being reported by compensators to be the injury which was the subject of the claim.
APIL claim this data is reliable as it is from the government’s own agency, and because it is based on reports by compensators, usually insurers.
The problem this year with this data is the same as when it was released by APIL last year, that it excludes other RTA claims which are likely to include whiplash-type injuries but which are recorded as for instance being injuries to the neck or back, or indeed other claims which allege additional injuries such as psychological effects which cause compensators to describe them in ways other than claims for whiplash.
In the graph below we have therefore added back in an additional element representing potential under-recording, based on the experience from previous years, in relation to the APIL sourced data.
The higher 2 lines are in relation to RTA claims generally: the lower 2 lines are specifically in relation to whiplash or at least whiplash-type injury.
The FoI data can be seen to sit uneasily with that from other sources. Over the 12 months of 2015/16 the annual CRU data showed a rise of 1.4% in RTA claims, which is all RTA claims involving any type of injury. The portal data showed a smaller increase over the same period of 0.16%.
We have included on the graph as “MoJ whiplash data” that used by the now former MoJ minister Dominic Raab when responding last year to a parliamentary question as to the number of new whiplash claims and who seemed to have used in his answer the CRU data for the total number of RTA claims and then made a deduction to reflect those likely to be for other injuries. It therefore also shows an increase of 1.4% as we have assumed a figure for 15/16 consistent with the MoJ approach to handling of data on this issue.
The adjusted FoI data on the other hand shows a fall of 6.1%, though in reality it is the data most likely to be subject to the need for further correction, pending publication of a full list of other injury categories under which claims of this type may have been categorised, and the number of claims recorded against each.
It is not perhaps in truth the “whiplash claims in freefall” phenomenon described by the Law Society’s Gazette when reporting on the APIL story, especially when the other data is pointing in a different direction.
New casualty claims in June
As with RTA there were monthly increases in new claims volumes across all types of casualty claims in June.
In PL in June there were 5,710 new claims, a rise of 10.2% over May, and the first monthly increase after 3 consecutive falls. The level is still though over 100 below the 2015/16 average of 5,857 per month.
As to EL claims, there were 4,247 new claims started in June, an increase of 2.6% over May, and the first increase after 2 consecutive drops. Again, the level of new EL claims is though over 100 below the 2015/16 average of 4,375.
In EL disease, June saw 1,017 new claims, a rise of 17.6%, the first increase after 7 consecutive monthly falls. The level of new EL disease claims is still though well below the 2015/16 average of 1,665 per month. Many if not most disease claims will of course continue to be presented outside the portal.
New casualty claims 12 months cumulative
The previously seen trends continue downwards in all 3 portals despite last month’s increases in new claims. In other words, even though we saw monthly increases in June, the actual levels of new claims that month were still lower than June 2015 which is the month that has now dropped off the 12 month analysis.
In PL, we have now seen 12 consecutive monthly falls, and the current level on this form of measurement is 10.2% below where it stood a year ago. PL is the casualty portal showing these traits in the most extreme form.
As to EL, we have seen falls on this measurement in 8 out of the last 12 months, so the level is now 4.9% below where it stood a year ago.
In the case of EL disease, there have over the last 12 months been 6 consecutive increases, followed by 6 consecutive falls, which have been greater in extent than the rises, so to produce the position where the current cumulative level stands at 23.9% below where it was a year ago.
12 month cumulative trends are shown. In June, retention rates improved in PL and in EL disease, the 2 least well performing categories.
RTA stage 3 usage and PSLA levels
The graph below shows RTA data separate from casualty data. The number of court packs prepared for stage 3 reached 6,180, by far the highest so far, and 700 higher than any previous month.
The level of PSLA reached £2,664, again and with the exception of October 2015, this is the highest ever. The level is now 3.3% above the November 2015 to February 2016 average, due no doubt to the Judicial College Guidelines increases.
Casualty stage 3 usage and PSLA levels
The same data for casualty claims shows the same trends as in RTA. The number of court packs has risen to the highest ever in PL at 68 and in EL at 57, while in EL disease it remains at a modest level of 6.
PSLA levels are also rising due no doubt to the same factor seen in RTA, that is the recent JSC increases, up to the highest ever level of £4,026 in EL and to £3,946 in PL, now both higher than EL disease which is at £3,912. The similar levels of quantum offers now seen across the 3 types of casualty claims is apparent from the current position of the lines on the graph above.
The way in which RTA claims which conclude in the portal process are recorded as doing so are set out in the next graph. Over the period since this portal opened, fewer now conclude by exiting at stage 1, while the proportion of those “otherwise exiting” and those moving to stage 3 have increased.
When comparing PL and EL in the casualty portals, the lower proportion of stage 1 exits in the case of EL reflect the greater knowledge of the defendant and the insurer typical of that type of claim, but also more EL claims settle at stage 2 than do PL claims.
In the case of EL disease, the continued unsuitability of the portal for this type of claim can be seen from the high proportion of claims exiting at stage 1 or “otherwise exiting”, while the limited quantity of settlements at stage 2 and indeed the number proceeding on quantum to stage 3 are also readily apparent.
We continue to await news from the new team at the MoJ as to how George Osborne’s announced reform of the law and process in this area from last year’s Autumn Statement will be taken forward, though the parliamentary summer recess has now started. It is now known that it is Lord Keen of Elie who has joined the team of ministers at the MoJ and who will lead for the government in this area of civil justice from his seat in the House of Lords, and he is no doubt in the process of the formulation of views as to the appropriate way forwards. We can expect to learn more in the autumn.
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.