"Covid has done the government's job for it before the launch of the whiplash reforms at the end of May", says Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO).
Following an FOI request from ACSO, the accident claims statistics for January to March 2021 have been released by the government's Compensation Recovery Unity (CRU).
Commenting on the release of the latest data, Maxwell Scott said: "Motor accident claims have fallen year-on-year again, from just under 157,000 (January to March 2020) to just over 107,000 during the first quarter of this year, a fall of 31 per cent.
"The fall this year continues a long-term downward trend in motor claims. This started well before the pandemic, which has accelerated the decline.
"It will be interesting to see whether the launch of the new online small claims portal at the end of May will lead to a further fall in registered claims, as was the government's expectation.
"Meanwhile motor insurance premiums have fallen by 14 per cent in the last 12 months, the biggest annual fall since 2014. This is good news but is undoubtedly due to the impact of the pandemic on claims frequency. The promised £35 of savings per premium as expected as a result of the whiplash reforms needs to come on top of this if consumer confidence in the insurance industry is not to take another knock."
Maxwell Scott added: "In reality, Covid has finished the government's job for it. Motor claims dropped by nearly 25 per cent between 2019 and 2020 and we see no reason why overall claims will not continue to decline as driving continues to change and evolve in future."
Q1 2021 claims for employers' liability (EL) and public liability (PL) also fell on a like-for-like basis since Q4 2020, although there has been a significant increase in clinical negligence claims, up from just over 3,800 (October to December 2020) to just over 5,900 (January to March 2021), a rise of 55 per cent in three months.
Mr Maxwell Scott said: "This is a significant jump, reversing a long-term declining trend which has also seen a falling off of legal costs. It could reflect overstretch in the NHS following the extraordinary efforts to manage the impact of Covid-19 over the last 12 months".
DWP Compensation Recovery Unit data for the period January 2018 to March 2021
|Volume of Personal Injury Claims Recorded by the Compensation Recovery Unit (CRU)|
|Liability Type||Clinical Negligence||Employer||Motor||Other||Public||Not Known||Total|
|01 Jan 18- 30 Jun 18||8,978||42,151||326,699||5,036||47,950||1,209||432,023|
|01 Jul 18- 30 Sep 18||4,483||22,375||159,417||1,804||21,290||616||209,985|
|01 Oct 18 - 31 Dec 18||3,944||23,517||181,261||1,848||23,247||737||234,554|
|01 Jan 19- 31 Mar 19||4,207||22,001||156,791||1,868||21,288||597||206,752|
|01 Apr 19- 30 Jun 19||3,494||25,342||146,844||1,610||16,244||328||193,862|
|01 Jul 19- 30 Sep 19||3,908||23,491||169,217||1,995||20,101||430||219,142|
|01 Oct 19 - 31 Dec 19||4,324||16,162||181,131||1,927||19,622||504||223,670|
|1 Jan 20 - 31 Mar 20||4,119||14,032||155,860||1,554||16,620||393||192,578|
|1 Apr 20 - 30 Jun 20||2,217||10,531||94,973||1,076||11,778||351||120,926|
|1 Jul 20 - 30 Sep 20||2,503||10,774||104,782||1,124||12,358||298||131,839|
|1 Oct 20 - 31 Dec 20||3,827||12,734||139,758||1,413||14,606||398||172,736|
|1 Jan 21 - 31 March 21||5,938||11,648||107,463||964||12,544||301||138,858|
|Total 2021 YTD||5,938||11,648||107,463||964||12,544||301||138,858|