ABI/ACSO deal aims to keep medicals and rehab going

Maxwell Scott: Keeping the wheels of justice turning

Insurers, law firms and suppliers have agreed a ‘statement of intent’ to keep non-MedCo medical examinations and rehabilitation going remotely during the Covid-19 crisis.

The statement, brokered by the Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) and the Association of British Insurers (ABI), also looks at ways to ensure MoJ portal cases do not reach the courts at a time when they are under huge pressure.

It provides that, so long as the agreed approach is followed, insurers will not challenge examinations or rehabilitation purely on the basis that they were conducted remotely.

MedCo confirmed last month that remote video medical consultations would be acceptable during the pandemic, subject to its guidance, but the statement extends this to medical reports which fall outside MedCo’s remit.

It recommends conducting medical examinations by remote video examination where the injuries are capable of being assessed by a GP and clinical psychologist or psychiatrist; other categories of examination will be considered on a case-by-case basis and “agreed wherever possible”.

Similarly, the pair have agreed that physiotherapy rehabilitation can be done by remote video (but not by telephone) for MedCo cases and soft-tissue injuries suffered by vulnerable road users – cyclists, motorcyclists, horse riders, pedestrians or any other road user other than a driver or a passenger in or on a motor vehicle other than a motor cycle.

This will be restricted to an initial 30-minute assessment plus a maximum of six 20-minute sessions of treatment.

Again, in respect of other cases, the parties may agree on a case-by-case basis.

The statement also allows injured people to undergo psychological therapies remotely, with the number of sessions and frequency the same as it would be for face-to-face treatment.

The rehabilitation elements of the statement were developed by Together for Rehabilitation, an industry group of rehabilitation providers.

The statement also urges insurers to make all payments due promptly, and by BACS where possible, and that the parties engage in alternative dispute resolution for cases going through the MoJ portal to avoid putting pressure on the courts.

Measures include extending the negotiation period, using established escalation points, consider joint settlement meetings and/or an independent barrister to arbitrate a settlement.

ACSO executive director Matthew Maxwell Scott said: “The onus is on insurers, claimant firms and the supply chain to help keep the wheels of justice turning at this difficult time so that injured people can get the medico-legal examinations and rehabilitation treatment they need.”

James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the ABI, said: “ABI members are committed to giving extra support and reassurance to customers and claimants during this difficult time.

“This is further evidence of the ability of ABI and ACSO members to work together on practical solutions through this unprecedented event.”

Among those to support the statement are LV=, Premier Medical, rehabilitation provider Ascenti, and Slater & Gordon.

The statement will be reviewed every three weeks.

This is the latest cross-industry personal injury agreement to encourage more collaborative working during the pandemic.

Hundreds of insurers and law firms have signed up to a protocol agreed by the ABI and claimant firm Thompsons aimed at cutting out opportunistic tactics by either claimants or defendants, while the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and Forum of Insurance Lawyers published an agreed set of “standard practices” to aid communication during the pandemic.

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