Latest portal data suggests trend of reducing RTA volumes may be coming to an end while PSLA hits record levels
The release of May's portal data allows an updated review of the latest claims trends and demonstrates the emergence of what are likely to be new trends which can be set against the back drop of the ongoing progress through parliament of Part 1 of the Civil Liability Bill.
There are a number of signs of stabilising numbers of new claims after more than 2 years of decline.
Over the month the number of new claims rose 9.4%, the 2nd consecutive month where this year's number exceeded that for the same month last year.
The longer term data also shows a 2nd consecutive monthly rise though smaller in extent than seen last month, this increase is now the 3rd over the last 6 months.
As we begin to look forward to where the new claims data may look on 31 March 2019 at the end of the usual accounting year, the early pointers are towards a small reduction of 1.4%, as opposed to a larger decrease of 12.0% seen last year.
There were reduced volumes of casualty claims in May, reaching the lowest level for that month of the year for significant periods of time.
Longer term, while both PL and EL showed reductions over the month, the overall position remains of new claims levels stabilising at current levels after 2-3 years of decline.
RTA quantum levels
PSLA data shows an increase of 9.1% in the month to reach £3,069, the 3rd consecutive record month and this time beating the previous highest by a significant margin. This is due to the impact of the 14th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines.
The question remains as to whether this month's figure exaggerates what is an ongoing increase in the PSLA for this type of claim. Future data will show the true position but an adjustment back towards £2,900 might be expected though even that would still confirm the inflationary effect of the latest edition of the guidelines.
New RTA claims in May
The last bar on the graph above shows a significant rise in the number of new RTA claims into the portal last month, the extent of the increase being 9.4% from 54,957 to 60,128. This is the highest number of new claims since January.
Last month we saw that April's level was higher than the same month in 2017, and the same pattern has continued this month. May 2018's level of new claims is marginally (0.3%) higher than the 59,952 seen in May 2017. The continuation of this new trend pointing towards stabilising RTA volumes suggests that it may become established.
Looking back to previous Mays over the last 3 years, while the current level is 0.3% higher than in May 2017, it is 8.3% lower than in May 2016 and 12.3% less than in May 2015.
The monthly average number of new claims for the calendar year 2017 stood at 59,521. This year's average to date has increased slightly this month to 59,106, which is 0.8% lower than last year.
The average intake over the first 5 months of 2017 stood at 61,210 suggesting that there is proportionately increased new claims activity in the early months of the year, so the current level of 59,106 is 3.4% less than that. While the last 2 months have shown increases in 2018 when one month is compared to the same month in 2017, the drop over the year to date is explained by the fact that the first 3 months of the year showed falls when the same comparison was made.
New RTA claims in May – time weighted
In May even excluding the 2 Bank Holidays there were 21 working days, compared to the 20 in April, so an increase in working time of 5.0%. The effect of this would reduce the month-on-month increase in new claims from 9.4% to 4.4%. That there is still an increase shown by the height of the last bars on the graph above but the difference is smaller in extent than on the first graph due to this factor.
There were 2,863 claims made per working day during the month of May, as opposed to 2,748 in April. This is the 15th consecutive month where levels have been less than 3,000 per working day, though the current level (as with January and February this year) is higher than in the second half of 2017.
New RTA claims over the longer term
If we use the data on a 12 month cumulative basis to assess longer term trends then we now have the phenomenon of a second monthly increase in a row, this time of a marginal 0.02% from 702,223 to 702,223, rather smaller than last month's increase of 0.5%.
This is now the 4th monthly increase over the last 33 months but now the 3rd increase over the last 6 months. This seems more evidence of stabilising RTA volumes after more than 2 years of reductions..
Over 2018 to date the average monthly decline remains at 0.3%, compared to the average monthly fall of 1.1% in 2017.
The annual rate of decline has slowed: between May 2016 and May 2017 it was 9.7% whereas over the last 12 months that had reduced to 8.8%.
Comparison with annual CRU and portal data
After only 2 months of the accounting year from 1 April it is clearly very early to be looking at where the month 12 figure may end up by 31 March 2019. But extrapolating from what we have so far would produce a total of 690,510 RTA claims.
The most direct comparison is with the 2017/18 portal data. That stood at 700,008, so the current projection would see a small reduction over the year of 1.4%, but nothing like last year's fall of 12.0%. Indeed this could be seen as another sign of stabilising volumes.
In terms of CRU claims numbers, the figure for 2017/18 was 650,019, the differential between that and the portal data being almost 50,000 and a wider gap than in recent previous years. Doing a comparison as between last year's CRU figure and an extrapolation of the portal data after 2 months of the current year would show this year's projected portal figure standing 6.2% higher than last year's CRU level.
New casualty claims in May
New PL claims
There were 4,803 new claims in May, a monthly increase over April of 2.3%, though a level less than the 5% additional working time available.
This is the lowest ever May level and it is 5.1% lower than May 2017, 6.7% less than May 2016 and 11.6% below what we saw in May 2015.
The monthly average for the calendar year to date stands at 4,893, which is 0.7% less than the average for the year of 2017, and is 1.9% below the average for the corresponding months of that year.
New EL claims
As to EL claims May saw 3,902 new claims, a reduction of 1.0% from the previous month.
Apart from May 2014 when the casualty portals were in their 1st year of operation this is the lowest figure for that month. We are at a level 4.3% below May 2017, 5.5% less than in May 2016 and lower than May 2015 by 8.2%.
Compared to 2017 where we saw a monthly average of 3,860 the current monthly average of 3,992 for 2018 is higher by 3.4%, but if we look at an average for the same 5 months of the year we are currently lower than last year's figure of 4,002 by 0.2%.
New EL disease claims
In the case of this type of claim, there were 501 new claims in May, a reduction of 6.0% from the level of 533 seen in April.
We saw in April how apart from the month of December 2017 the position was that the lowest number of this type of claim had been submitted since the first two months that the casualty portals had opened. The same can be said this month as we are at a lower level than last month.
There have been substantial falls in the intake of this type of claim over the years. The current level is 37.4% less than in May 2017, 41.8% under the level in May 2016 and 72.9% less than in May 2015.
We start 2018 with a monthly average for new claims of 623. This is 17.6% below the average monthly total for the whole of 2017 of 756, and 25.4% less than the average for the first 5 months of that year which then stood at 835.
New casualty claims over the longer period
Over the 12 months to the end of May the total of new PL claims stood at 58,455, a fall of 0.4% from the level of 58,711 seen at the end of April.
Over the last 8 months we have now seen 4 monthly increases and 4 monthly decreases. This new picture has emerged though longer term there have still been reductions in 30 of the last 35 months.
Over 2018 to date the average monthly position is a fall of 0.2%, still smaller than 2017's average decline of 0.7%.
The historical rate of decrease has reduced from 11.6% between May 2016 to May 2017, to 4.9% over the last 12 months.
The comparative figure over the last 12 months for EL claims stands at 46,132, another decrease of 0.4% from 46,309 where the level stood at the end of the previous month.
Over the last 8 months there have been 3 monthly increases and 5 monthly falls. But the longer term picture is of 22 reductions over the last 30 months.
The position over 2018 to date is now of average monthly falls of 0.05%, compared to 0.6% over the course of 2017.
Again the historical rate of decline has slowed from 7.3% between May 2016 and May 2017 to 5.1% over the last 12 months.
EL disease claims
In the case of EL disease claims there have been 8,119 new claims over the last 12 months, a 3.6% reduction from 8,418 where the level stood at the end of April. This is the 29th consecutive monthly fall.
The average monthly fall during 2018 so far now stands at 2.2%, an increased rate of decline from the 2017 monthly average of 1.4%.
Looking back in time the rate of decline has slowed down here too, from 43.6% between May 2016 and May 2017 to 18.7% from May 2017 to the end of last month.
There was a mixed picture again last month: we saw increases with RTA and EL disease but reductions for EL and PL.
Longer term trends over the last 12 months are positive for RTA currently at 53%, EL at 28% and PL at 21%. EL disease remains volatile on a small sample but negative, currently at 6%.
RTA claims – stage 3 usage and PSLA levels
In the month of May, 6,217 court packs were prepared, an increase of 4.1% over the number seen in April which is broadly equivalent to the extra working time available.
We continue to be observing a trend of relatively stable levels of use of stage 3 over the last 18 months and there continues at present to be no sign of the previous increasing levels of claimant representatives taking matters forward to that stage.
This month we see a significant increase of no less than 9.1% from £2,812 to £3,069 across 14,705 matters.
When an increase of that extent is seen the question has to be whether or not an accurate picture is being revealed. We have seen increases of similar extent before; sometimes the increase is a one off and levels return to former numbers in subsequent months, on others the increase is confirmed and a new higher plateau for future levels has been reached. Next month's data when available will assist in confirming the position either way.
The current level is also the highest seen to date for the 3rd consecutive month albeit the extent of the rise is much greater than the increases seen in the earlier rises.
This month's figure is 10.3% above November 2017 which can be taken as the base point for the 14th edition of the Judicial College Guidelines. The extent of those increases was 4.8% which would suggest that data for future months will show a reduction to around £2,900 and that the extent of the increase in PSLA has been exaggerated in this month's data.
Casualty claims – stage 3 usage and PSLA levels
Stage 3 usage in casualty claims shows no sign of taking off since the increase seen in the middle of 2016.
PL rose 32.7% to 73 but this was from a level which was the lowest for a year.
EL fell 16.9% to 64 which itself was the lowest monthly level since July 2017.
EL disease saw 1 pack being prepared, which was 1 more than the previous month.
In none of the casualty portals is there any identifiable sign of an impact from the 14th edition of the JCG but of courses sample size is much smaller than for RTA claims.
PL fell 3.7% to £4,184 but the reduction was from the highest monthly level to date.
EL fell 2.4% to £4,075 and EL disease rose 5.8% to £3,819.
Comparative use of stages 2 and 3
Having risen a year ago to reach the 30% level, the use of stage 3 for RTA claims has stabilised at that level. There are no signs at present of it increasing further.
Showing the data for RTA claims in an alternative way in the graph above shows in the top segments the trend towards a greater use of stage 3, and indeed an ongoing reduction in the new of claims exiting at the initial stage: stage 1.
While over the last 2 years there was a limited mirror effect with PL and EL claims with a rise from around 5% to 10% or more, there appear to be no further ongoing changes with regard to any potential further increases.
For more information please contact Simon Denyer, Strategic Legal Development Consultant DD 0161 604 1551 Simon.firstname.lastname@example.org
This information is intended as a general discussion surrounding the topics covered and is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. DWF is not responsible for any activity undertaken based on this information.