The chairman of the steering group overseeing the launch of the road traffic accident (RTA) claims portal has played down concerns from claimant lawyers that insurers are using a loophole to delay paying claims.

Claimant solicitors have alleged that insurers are deliberately selecting an option to say that they are investigating claims under the terms of the uninsured drivers agreement, in order to buy time before paying claims. Under the portal system, if insurers say they are investigating a claim following receipt of a claim notification form, they are given 30 days to respond to the claim, rather than the standard 15 days.

Claimant solicitors said insurers were apparently choosing to investigate in far higher numbers than before the portal was introduced, and claimed they are abusing the system in order to delay paying claims.

But Tim Wallis, independent chairman of the RTA portal project steering group, denied that this is the case.

He said insurers on the project steering group said the problem arose because their claims handling staff were unfamiliar with the new system, but they have now been educated accordingly. ‘I understand that the claimant side is now happy with the insurers, and I am not aware of any complaints being made since the issue was raised,’ Wallis said.

Introduced as part of Ministry of Justice reforms to speed up RTA claims between £1,000 and £10,000 and reduce their cost, the portal is intended to act as a secure electronic data exchange for claims.

The RTA portal has been dogged by technical problems following its launch on 30 April. The steering group said this week that more than 1,800 law firms and nearly all insurer brands are connected to the portal, and around 113,000 claims notification forms have been created since the launch.

Wallis said: ‘We recognise that the teething problems were really quite acute for some people, and we are really very sorry about this. But as time goes by, we will put in the resource to try and resolve any other problems.’