There are some who believe an article will only be published if it contains sex, violence, or a confrontational angle. The headline to the recent article "Credit Hirers Fight Back" by Jon Ralph of 3 Arrows seemed to satisfy one of those criterion suggesting, as it did, a forthcoming battle. Is that really the way forward? Is it actually what the ABI Credit Hire Initiative is all about?
Those of us involved in motor claims are keenly awaiting the "Dimond" decision to be handed down by the Law Lords. Although, many recognise that the credit hire market has moved on and are already revising contract wordings and selling procedures. I believe there are actually some credit organisations and third party advisers which are trying desperately to satisfy the needs of the innocent third party motorist. Those organisations recognise that the ABI initiative is focused on how tomorrow's claim is dealt with properly.
If we are still looking for the challenging headline, I firmly believe there are credit organisations writing business today which are out to rip-off insurers. They realise that as some insurers are still providing a poor service to the third party they can make easy money behind the facade of delivering a customer benefit.
Some will say "serves the insurer right" but this misses the point that even when the service is there some credit organisations still try to entice the third party. Even more worrying is that some clients are directed to credit organisations for no reason other than the referral fee. The possibility of insurers helping doesn't feature in their "advice".
Which way now?
If the third party genuinely needs the services of a credit organisation and the costs are reasonable the insurer will have little to challenge. Cost is naturally a critical factor and some credit organisations expect insurers to pay their inflated charges because of ridiculously high payments to introducers who add no value. If that is the only way a credit organisation can attract business, then in my view it doesn't deserve to survive.
So where do credit organisations go from here? Is their only option to do battle with the ABI initiative? I think not and am encouraged by some very positive comments from those which use the ABI facility and by those credit hire companies which welcome the fact that standards have been set. Critical - but constructive - comments have highlighted the need for some refinements to both the pricing tariffs and the service procedures. These will be introduced and details of the scheme will be communicated to insurance intermediaries and vehicle repairers to explain how they can access the facilities available.
We anticipate the addition of more subscribers to the initiative following applications from a number of vehicle providers which recognise the value of agreed standards and procedures. The initiative is not about restrictive practices. The credit hire companies which have approached the ABI recognise that an ability to stand out by the delivery of service adds to their credibility in the market.
It is encouraging that the British Association for Accident Car Hire (BAFACH) will be working on a self-regulatory framework and perhaps some thought should be given to joint discussions. By respecting each other as professionals we may help BAFACH in its quest to "tackle those who fail to uphold standards". Rather than predicting the downfall of the ABI initiative, perhaps it would be more constructive to see it as the platform on which BAFACH may achieve recognition.
Surely, that is the way forward for credit organisations. The ABI initiative was introduced to help the innocent third party motorist and the sooner those claiming to do likewise respond in a similarly positive manner, the better it will be for everybody.