Whiplash portal 'being built in a rules vacuum'

geoff carter

The Litigants in Person whiplash portal build may be progressing well, but fraud and a lack of clarity from the government could jeopardise its effectiveness, according to Sabre CEO Geoff Carter.

The Lip Portal is slated to launch in April 2020, with testing set to begin this Autumn.

However while the IT build by the Motor Insurers’ Bureau is progressing, there are concerns that the rules may not fit the IT system, as these are yet to emerge.

In addition, some worry that the portal could spur fraudulent behaviour by claims management companies.

Speaking to Post in a H1 results call, Carter, pictured, said: “The MIB is doing a pretty good job from what we can see. We have been working with them fairly closely over the last few weeks. They are doing some very good IT builds, with a good approach to it.

“The challenge we still have is the rules haven’t emerged from the Ministry of Justice. So the IT system is still being built slightly in a vacuum without knowing what the final rules look like. That means there is a significant risk that the IT build might not support the rules that finally emerge. That is not going to be great.

“The bigger issue here is around the risk around CMC behaviours. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some pretty unpleasant creatures crawling out from underneath the rocks once the rules are known.

“We’ve got some very good lawyers who behave in a professional way. There is a risk of unregulated new types of CMCs coming to the fore, who might not be working on the customer’s best interests, where they are trying to find a way around the rules to maximise fee income for themselves. We need to be very careful and cautious of what might happen with some of those CMC behaviours.”

Pricing

Sabre expects to see rates in the motor market continuing to harden.

However if whiplash reforms are effective then this could offer some reprieve.

Carter said: “What could disrupt it is if the whiplash benefits do deliver. You can get to a number of about £35 per policy saving. For most insurers that might be a 7% to 8% reduction in claims costs per policy. If you are very bullish about whiplash reforms then you might decide that whiplash benefits might help you out and you don’t need to push rates through.

“Our view is that is quite a brave stance at the moment, with everything we see about whiplash changes. It’s going to take a while for these changes to become clear. If lawyer or CMC behaviour changes, it’s not the sort of reform that will go live and within a few days you will see what the impact is. You need to see a month’s data wash through.”

FCA review

The motor insurer does not indulge in dual pricing. With an ongoing Financial Conduct Authority review into pricing practices, Carter is optimistic that Sabre could be set to benefit.

He added: “The FCA last week sent out their principles they are going to apply to pricing, which look very sensible. The issue on dual pricing is there are a lot of strong stakeholders involved in this, including the Competition and Markets Authority. There have been some fairly strong statements from government. 

“I’m expecting some reasonably firm action on dual pricing. Clearly if that happens and it pushes up new business prices, then we are expecting to benefit from that, because we won’t need to do the same.”

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