Insurer joins with law firm to cut out claims management companies

AXA and law firm Russell Jones & Walker (RJW) have launched a fast track compensation scheme which cuts out claims management companies.

Claimsense aims to slash compensation payment periods for personal injury from an average of two years to three months.

The move is expected to save insurers an annual £1bn in legal costs.

Designed in partnership with claims specialist company Elision, Claimsense will give claimants access to legal representation without cutting into the final compensation sum.

The scheme gives claimants direct access to a variety of rehabilitation tools ahead of claims settlement. The aim is to introduce structured fees for rehabilitation and medical assessments which are proportionate to the final award.

It will initially be piloted on low value road traffic accident claims via claimants supplied by AXA and RJW.

David Fisher, AXA liability claims manager, said: "This is about proportionality of costs. We have to find a better way of doing things."

Neil Kinsella, managing partner for RJW said: "This will streamline administration costs and introduce trans-parency to the system for AXA."

Claimsense is one a number of new initiatives from the insurance industry aimed at reducing legal costs.

Last month Royal & SunAlliance launched a scheme to bypass lawyers and get claimants into rehabilitation as soon as possible after an injury.

The ABI has also published its own proposals for reform of the compensation process.

Peter Ashdown-Barr, chief executive of claims resolution specialist InterResolve, said: "Claimsense is further evidence that the PI claims sector is waking up to the need for reform of a costly and unresponsive claims process."

But he warned that more "fundamental" reform was required.

"This sector must avoid being over burdened with numerous solutions developed to tackle different problems in the process. What is needed is real root and branch reform and not tweaking."

The Claimsense process:
1 Claim assessment Claimant is referred to legal representative who accepts the model and service levels for fixed-scale fee.

2 Initial medical assessment
Claimant allocated to Claimsense-approved medical assessor. A report is produced within three days recommending style of rehabilitation.

3 Claim approval
Insurer is notified of potential claim and asked to accept Claimsense model. Within 14 days of the claim being made, insurer admits full or shared liability. If the insurer rejects the claim, the claimant may appeal.

4 Rehabilitation
After approval, rehabilitation begins within seven working days. There are four rehabilitation types covering basic self-help to severe injuries.

5 Further medical assessment
For more complex claims where claimant requires further treatment. Insurers required to pay for laboratory testing and radiography.

6 Settlement
Within 10 working days of confirmed recovery, the insurer offers settlement. Should be accepted, where agreeable, within five working days and the insurer settles within 10 days of acceptance.