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Published 22 October 2020
The latest figures released by the Claims Portal Company demonstrate a continuing fall in new claim notifications.
Since the beginning of 2018 the number of Disease notifications has fallen quarter on quarter, the quarterly averages dropping from 695 in Q1 2018 to 341 in Q1 2020. The pattern in Q2 2020 and now in Q3 is the same and the current quarter’s level of 229 is the lowest we have seen. Some of this will undoubtedly relate to the interruption brought about by COVID-19, but it indicates a reduction in volume disease claims as NIHL volumes continue to fall.
Public Liability Claims show more fluctuation in terms of the number of cases and that pattern is visible over the last 3 years where Q3 has seen an increase on Q2, before a drop in Q4. In similar fashion to Disease we have seen the Q1 averages drop from 4,997 in Q1 2018 to 4,493 in Q1 2020. The PL year on year downward trend continued in 2019 with the Q4 volume being 4,209 new claims; this was the lowest quarterly return we have seen in three years until the 2020 Q2 figure of 2,618 claims which we can see is well below anything we have seen previously.
Employers Liability claims are similar to Disease as the trend in claims volumes is downward on a quarter by quarter basis. Within EL we have seen the quarterly averages drop from 4,044 in Q1 2018 to 3,436 in Q4 2019. The 2020 Q1 figure of 3,588 is the lowest Q1 average we have seen to date. As in the other types of case, Q2 2020 (1,944 claims) is comfortably the lowest return we have seen but we are seeing a small increase so far in Q3 (2,145 new claims which may indicate an increase in claims following the national lockdown earlier this year; whilst a significant proportion of the workforce was furloughed in the Spring and Summer of 2020, which should be expected to have seen a significant fall in the number of workplace accidents, the impact of COVID-19 on the Economy and the anticipated rise in redundancies is expected to see an increase in the number of Employers’ Liability claims over the next few months.
The chart below details the volumes of EL, PL and Disease cases received from the beginning of August 2018 to the end of August 2020. We have added some linear trend lines and it is clear that in respect of all the case types there has been a downward trend over the last two years. We can immediately see the drop in April and May 2020 on the back of the COVID-19 pandemic, with the early signs of a recovery since the lifting of the national lockdown.
The proportion of claims presented which drop out of the Portal at Stage 1 of the Portal Process may reflect the difficulties faced in investigating historic disease claims during the national lockdown, at a point in time when many employees of business were furloughed. In contrast, the proportion of accident claims remaining in the Portal Process may reflect the reduction in claims volumes and the robust response of the insurance industry to the ‘new normal’, together with the ability of businesses to investigate incidents and provide their insurers with information on them.
65% of EL Disease claims fell out of the portal at Stage 1 in August 2020, a level which is significantly greater than the rolling average of 48.6% of claims. The first visible impact of COVID-19 at this stage can be seen in May, following which there has been a secondary dip; in general, we would expect 51.4% of these claims to see breach of duty admitted and to remain in the MOJ Portal’s process.
The percentage of Public Liability claims leaving the Portal at Stage 1 in August 2020 was 47.8%, a level which is significantly below the rolling average of 55.5%. I contrast with EL Disease claims, there was not a significant increase in the proportion of claims leaving the Portal at Stage 1 in August 2020; based on the rolling average, we would expect liability to be admitted on approximately 44% claims at Stage 1.
For EL claims, the rolling average sees 46.6% of cases leave the Portal process at Stage 1, but in August 2020 this fell to 43.2%. This modest increase in admissions could reflect the reduced claims volumes and it will be interesting to see the data to the end of 2020, to see if the proportion of claims on which liability is admitted at Stage 1 has continued to rise.
Whilst claims volumes continue to fall, the number of monthly settlements in the portal remained steady until 2020. In 2019, the average number of EL (accident) cases settled each month was 662 but in 2020 the average fell to 500, July and August saw significantly reduced volumes of settlements, in particular in August when 254 claims settled; August 2019 saw 643 settlements. This trend is reflected across EL (disease) claims and PL claims, where settlement volumes continue to fall.
From 2017 the average damages settlement has increased year on year. In 2017 the average was £4,146, increasing in 2018 to £4,231 and in 2019 to £4,386. The average damages paid in 2020 is £4,568 and seven out of eight months of this year have seen the average damages paid exceed £4,400.
The general trend is for the number of new CNFs presented to continue to fall, particularly in Employers Liability Disease claims, where volumes of NIHL claims continue to fall.
Whilst the national lockdown will have had an impact on the number of accidents and the ability of Claimants’ solicitors to present claims, June and July 2020 saw claims volumes start to rise, and the effect of COVID-19’s impact on the economy remains to be seen.
For more information or advice, please contact one or our experts in our casualty injury team.
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