Insurers can rejoice that the government is finally taking fraudulent whiplash claims seriously. But the battle for what’s fair continues on other fronts
Ken Clarke is an unlikely hero, but for the insurance industry this week, he’s set to be just that. As we went to press, the justice secretary was preparing to sit down with insurer bosses and talk turkey: what can the government actually do to cut fraudulent whiplash claims, and so bring motor premiums under control? There was a danger that the summit with PM David Cameron earlier in the year would be so much hot air. With the justice department briefing that Clarke is willing to take action, and quickly, that danger looks to have been averted.
It’s a rare and welcome success for the industry’s lobbying efforts. A story that started out with Jack Straw attacking insurers for referral fees has successfully been spun right side up, with the national media and politicians accepting the industry’s rational and evidenced argument that the hikes in motor premiums are down to claims farming and fraud.
But there are many more battles ahead. In The Lobby, our new monthly special report on regulatory and public policy issues, we highlight the fight to come this year over floods, and the massive problems around the public perception of the industry. Now that insurers have got the ear of government, the time is right to tackle these challenges as well.
Brokers have a more difficult fight on their hands. The burden of regulation just keeps growing, with brokers facing ridiculous demands over their handling of client money; their setting aside funds for the orderly winding-up of their businesses just in case they happen to go bust; the never-ending story of FSCS fees. There is a full-time employee at the FSA who spends each and every day assessing the risk from a single consolidator - a pattern no doubt repeated across the market. Sadly, the woes of general insurance brokers don’t play well with the national press, nor catch the attention of parliament’s front bench. When it comes to getting a fair deal, brokers will have to play smarter.