Yesterday’s budget marks just over two years since former Chancellor George Osborne announced, in his 2015 Autumn Statement, significant reforms to damages for whiplash claims and five-fold increase in the small claims limit for road traffic injury cases. Material released by the Treasury yesterday appears to indicate that Government expects to implement these reforms before April 2019.
The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill is well-advanced in the Lords – it gets a third reading today – and is due to get to the Commons early next year. It will move the regulation of the claims management sector from the Ministry of Justice to the Financial Conduct Authority; a measure likely to take effect well into 2018 or perhaps even later. It is also worth noting that the Government has committed to amending the Bill – when it gets to the Commons – in order to ban cold-calling for claims leads. While the overall approach is both necessary and sensible, getting there has taken far too long given that this regulatory tightening was first suggested in the March 2016 review of the claims management sector but won’t bite until at least three years after that. [Contrast that with the far quicker approach to tackling abuses in holiday sickness cases, where we expect fixed costs controls to kick in from April 2018.]
The compulsory limit for property damage cover in mainland UK motor insurance policies was increased from £1m to £1.2m on 31 December 2016.
It is not entirely clear why the separate rules needed to make this same change in Northern Ireland have taken a few weeks longer. In any event, the same £1.2m limit now applies from today and is introduced by rule 2 of The Motor Vehicles (Compulsory Insurance) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2017
Written by Alistair Kinley, director of policy and government affairs at BLM