Consumers turned off by poor image of claims management firms

High profile collapses in the no-win, no-fee legal expenses market are making consumers "wise up" to accident touts.

According to a survey by RAC Legal Services, the collapses of Claims Direct, The Accident Group and more recently Invaro, have influenced consumers' decisions on where to get decent legal advice. Just 5% believe accident touts are an appropriate source of legal advice following an accident, said the report.

Of those people who would use accident touts, 21% said it was because of cost and 10% said it was because "they did not know who else to turn to".

Though many consumers are still in the dark about where to find affordable and comprehensive legal assistance, the survey shows that 40% would rather visit a solicitor, 18% would contact their insurer for post-accident legal advice, while 17% would visit the Citizen's Advice Bureau.

With Sir David Clementi's review on how the legal profession is regulated currently underway, the RAC said its survey identified some key problems which show the profession needs a "drastic overhaul". Most consumers feel excluded from solicitors; 7% believe solicitors speak a language they don't understand and, even more damning was the finding that not one respondent said they felt lawyers were cost effective.

RAC legal affairs head Jonathan Gulliford said: "The legal industry exists to act in the consumers' interests, but people often feel excluded. Few people have trust or respect for accident touts that sell legal services door-to-door or chase for business in hospitals, but solicitors are not seen as approachable or cost effective."