The new road traffic accident (RTA) information exchange, which is designed to handle hundreds of thousands of low-value RTA claims, has been dogged by problems since its belated introduction last week, the Gazette has learned.
Many solicitors have still not received access codes for the new RTA claims portal, which is intended to act as a secure electronic data exchange for claims and was introduced as part of Ministry of Justice reforms to speed up claims and reduce their cost.
Meanwhile, delayed computer testing has meant that some solicitors cannot take a claim from start to finish using the portal.Nicholas O’Neill, a partner at national firm The Specter Partnership, described the development of the portal as ‘like the blind leading the blind’ and said he has written to the MoJ to complain. O’Neill said his firm has not received login details despite requesting them four months ago. ‘The portal people have been fobbing us off forever, saying it’s all in hand,’ he said. ‘Our entire organisation has to be on the money for our clients, yet we can’t even log in to the system.’
Solicitors can access the portal via their web browser, or via their existing case management software if it has been upgraded. In each case, user IDs and passwords are required.
Solicitors who opted to plug their existing case management software into the portal – typically those who handle a high volume of claims – had not received user IDs as the Gazette went to press. Fraser Fundell, chief executive at Insurance Database Services Limited (IDSL), which manages the portal, blamed a ‘slight glitch’ and said that user IDs will be sent out shortly.
Solicitors who opted to use the portal via their web browser – typically those handling a small volume of low-value RTA claims – said that while they have received a user ID, they cannot log in to the system. Fundell said that solicitors who have user IDs should be able to access the portal if they follow the instructions on their registration email or call the support line.
At present, solicitors who access the portal via their case management software can only complete ‘stage one’ of the claims process, where they submit a claim to an insurer. However, they cannot use the portal to progress the claim to ‘stage two’, where, if the insurer accepts liability, the solicitor and insurer agree on the level of damages.
Fundell said that while stage one testing is complete, stage two testing by claimant solicitors has not yet been completed, but should be signed off by Monday.
A statement on the portal information website, rtapiclaimsprocess.org.uk, reads: ‘Due to a large volume of late portal registrations, processing is taking longer than normal. Consequently it may be several working days after registration before user-id and passwords are received.’
Meanwhile, a survey of 56 companies from the insurance industry by national firm Berrymans Lace Mawer in early April revealed that 63% were ‘unsure’ about whether the new portal would be an effective means of processing claims. Some 28% were confident that it would, while 9% thought it would not.
The new process is for RTA personal injury claims between £1,000 and £10,000. It was scheduled to go live on 6 April, but its introduction was pushed back to 30 April.
The MoJ said the running of the system was a matter for the industry as the portal is an industry-led IT solution.