New rehabilitation code published to help the way the insurance industry handles personal injury claims

Case management guide accompanies Code for first time

The IUA-ABI Rehabilitation Working Party has published a new, updated version of the Rehabilitation Code – the document that has helped transform the way the insurance industry handles personal injury claims.

The Code was originally published in 1999 to promote the use of rehabilitation when settling personal injury insurance claims. It provides a framework in which insurers and claimant lawyers can collaborate to consider the health needs of injured people. Although voluntary, it is attached to the Pre-Action Protocol that explains the conduct and steps expected of claimants, defendants, and their respective representatives before commencing legal proceedings for personal injury claims Research has consistently shown it to be well established and widely used by claims handlers, personal injury lawyers and providers of rehabilitation services. 

This is the third time the Code has been revised to bring it into line with the changing claims environment; most notably legal developments and new ways of working in the NHS. The biggest difference this time is that there is a separate section for lower-value claims, defined as claims with a value up to £25,000 or below, where the Code recognises the need for a more streamlined process. In the more serious cases it encourages rehabilitation case managers to work proactively with treating NHS clinicians.

The working party has also published, for the first time, a guide for rehabilitation case managers and people who commission them, which is separate from the Code but intended to complement it. The decision to produce the guide followed concern expressed by insurers and claimant lawyers about the outcome of some rehabilitation cases.

“The Rehabilitation Code has created a sea change in personal injury claims and enabled hundreds of thousands of people to receive treatment they would otherwise have been denied, but it needed updating,” said working party chair Mark Baylis. “This new version is a big improvement, whilst remaining true to the principles of the original Code that all parties should work together to help claimants recover as quickly and completely as possible from their injuries. The case managers’ guide fills a widely recognised gap, and has been warmly supported by those who have seen it.”

Amanda Stevens,  Chair of the Project Steering Group overseeing the Code review, said: “It is heartening that, in a decade that has seen wholesale change to the way in which injury claims are litigated,  rehabilitation has not only been retained as a centre-piece in the process, but has actually emerged with a stronger reputation and applicability. This latest Code will make rehabilitation delivery even more effective as it is better aligned with current working practices . I hope and believe it will facilitate yet more fantastic examples of what can be achieved when the parties work collaboratively to put the injured person at the centre of the process.”

Matthew Scott, Chair of ABI’s Personal Injury Committee said: “Rehabilitation can play a crucial part in helping people recover from injuries, and the Rehabilitation Code plays an important role of ensuring those patients get the right treatment as speedily as possible. Insurers, claimant lawyers and rehab providers have worked closely together during the update of the Code to ensure it remains as relevant and effective as possible. Those who are unfortunate enough to be hurt in an accident deserve quality care that puts their interests first, and insurers are committed to playing their part in providing that.”

“We welcome publication of the new rehabilitation code because helping people back on the road to recovery is just as important as securing their financial security,” said Neil Sugarman, vice president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL). “A truly collaborative approach between lawyers and insurers can help to get the right rehab in place quickly, speeding up the recovery of the injured person, offering a better quality of life and an earlier return to work. These are all factors in restoring a sense of normality, which is often the most important consideration for injured people.”

Publication follows extensive consultation lasting a year, during which time the working party received more than forty submissions and held a lively, well attended market briefing in May. Although it is for the parties involved in personal injury claims to decide when and how to use the Code, it is envisaged that it should become operational from December 1, 2015.