I enjoyed the article `Clash Culture' written by Bev Fitzgerald (February, Times Two). It is a pity, therefore, that his opening statement "Claimants are becoming more unreasonable ..." has restricted the piece to laying the blame all at the door of the poor individual, who pays his premium and has a right to expect the service that has been promised.

I agree that the general public of today is better educated. They know how to complain, when to complain and to whom. Though why this should be considered a problem by the industry is beyond me. The problems that are being experienced during the claims process do not just have their origins in a single place, as this article would have us believe, but many.

From the insured's point of view the whole business of claiming has been made much more stressful. Call centres have been introduced; telephones are answered by machines that run through a confusing list of options before getting to the one that you actually require. You are then put through to, hopefully, a person. But that person can appear uninterested and is too often ill-informed.

While pursuing a claim of my own recently I was given incorrect information on three separate occasions. All of this rigmarole places an additional burden on the nervous system of the claimant, who has recently undergone a traumatic event.

From the claims handlers' side they have to cope with computer hardware and software problems, inadequate staffing, poor training, lack of managerial support, lack of job security and the imposition of difficult-to-achieve work targets. An atmosphere hardly guaranteed to produce the best results.

Another point is the assertion that someone losing his or her temper early on in a claim gives a strong indication of possible fraud or exaggeration. Speaking as an ex-loss adjuster and claims handler, I would state categorically that assumptions made early on can taint the objectivity of a person handling an already difficult situation. These assumptions then cause problems further down the line.

I know that fraud and exaggeration of claims does occur and that this does need to be tackled. However, if staff and insureds are both less stressed during the claims process, inconsistencies are more likely to be spotted.

I suggest, therefore, that before investing in new fraud software insurers look to other areas in which their money would be more wisely spent.

Cathryn Taylor

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