Covid-19 has released the ’virtual claims management’ genie from the bottle and there will be no going back, a leading claimant firm has argued.
Minster Law said injured people have had a positive response to remote medical assessments conducted under the MedCo system during the lockdown.
Separately, a leading defendant firm, Kennedys, has agreed that MedCo video assessments “should be here to stay”, but said there needed to be “an appreciation towards increased fraud risks”.
MedCo lifted its ban on video medical examinations as a result of lockdown, and a survey of 136 clients by Wakefield-based Minster Law found that around 80% were satisfied with the appointment – this included a group who had previous experience of face-to-face assessments.
Minster Law claims director Marcus Taylor said: “If customers are telling us that they like using technology for remote medical assessments, our industry has a responsibility to respond, and look to digitise this and other parts of the claims journey. Nothing should be off the table.”
He said other aspects of the claims journey also lent themselves to more digitally led solutions such as claims registration, rehabilitation, medical appointment booking, claims evaluation, ADR and settlement.
He said: “Not only is this proving much more convenient for customers, but it is also reducing the number of missed appointments and saves the customer time and money as they no longer need to arrange travel to a GP.”
Mr Taylor said he understood the concerns about fraud, but up to now it has been hard to measure how serious a risk it was.
“Given the increased volume of data and insight we now have around remote assessments, we would welcome and support an evidence-based review to accurately determine whether increased fraud is in fact a genuine risk or not.”
Writing on the Kennedys website, head of investigations services Chris Stubbs and senior associate Sandip Sidhu said there was nothing to be lost from holding medicals online for low-value whiplash claims where the claimant has already recovered at the time of the examination.
This has been routine in travel sickness cases and “hasn’t undermined our ability to detect and defeat fraudulent” claims.
They continued: “One could suggest that video recordings of any ‘examination’ have far more evidential value than just a written report. The recorded examination would provide a first-hand account from the claimant. The medical expert could provide their opinion and prognosis either as part of the video recording or within an accompanying written report.
“Streamlining the process, with less ambiguity around the assessment of injuries. This would be especially useful in cases where surveillance evidence calls into question the severity of injuries or where there is a dispute between the claimant and the expert as to what was reported.
“Video recordings don’t change the evidence, just the method of obtaining it.”
The pair questioned whether lockdown had created an unintended test for “a MedCo video assessment revolution”, with an even simpler compensation journey for litigants in person relevant given next year’s whiplash reforms.
They concluded: “On balance MedCo video assessments should be here to stay, but there needs to be an appreciation towards increased fraud risks, and where video examinations are undertaken a defendant should be able to obtain their own evidence or request a physical examination without justification.”