Insurers, law firms and key suppliers have agreed a statement of intent designed to allow personal injury claims to progress in spite of the coronavirus crisis.
The statement has been brokered by the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) – largely made up of claimant firms – and the Association of British Insurers, with temporary measures to help people making a claim.
The agreement allows for personal injury medical examinations to be carried out by video, while in some cases claims for rehabilitation (both physiotherapy and psychotherapy) can be done remotely.
MedCo, the body responsible for overseeing whiplash reporting, has already allowed remote video consultations subject to certain criteria, but the new agreement extends that to other types of personal injury cases.
Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the ACSO, said this agreement should be a vital step in ensuring injured people can access treatment during the lockdown.
‘The onus is on insurers, claimant firms and the supply chain to help keep the wheels of justice turning at this difficult time so that injured people can get the medico-legal examinations and rehabilitation treatment they need,’ he added.
James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the ABI, said insurers are committed to giving extra support and reassurance to customers and claimants during this time, adding: ‘This is further evidence of the ability of ABI and ACSO members to work together on practical solutions through this unprecedented event.’
ABI members and various claimant firms have already signed up to an ongoing protocol adding flexibility to the way claims are handled at this time. A similar agreement has been made between the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and Forum of Insurance Lawyers.
Under the latest statement, parties agree to communicate by telephone and/or email, with email being the preferred method. All payments due will be made promptly and by BACS wherever possible.
Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms are actively encouraged during this period, particularly for cases which have reached stage three of the MoJ portal process. At stage one, claims would automatically fall out of the portal if there is no response from the defendant party within the time limit. The new agreement allows defendants an extra five working days to admit liability and show they were delayed by the effects of the lockdown, in which case claimants would reasonably consider fixed costs as if the claim had remained in the portal.
The measures will be reviewed at least every three weeks until the end of the crisis.
*The Law Society is keeping the coronavirus situation under review and monitoring the advice it receives from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and Public Health England.