The ABI’s guidance on third-party assistance and the MoJ’s claims reforms are two linked-up challenges for insurers. The solution must be too

Motor insurers are currently facing two major personal injury challenges. They are inextricably linked, and insurers’ responses need to be similarly joined up to achieve the best outcomes for claimants and insurance purchasers alike.

The first challenge is providing a fair and professional service to unrepresented claimants with whom insurers have made direct contact following an injury incident. While uncertainty remains over regulation in this area, the reality is that those insurers that provide the highest possible quality of service to unrepresented claimants will have the least to fear from regulatory intervention.

An impending ABI code of conduct on third-party assistance is to be welcomed, both in terms of supporting consistency across the industry and enriching consumer confidence. Moves towards the improved use of technology to support damages assessments are also steps in the right direction to ensure that claimants can be assured of consistent responses to similar injury effects.

The second challenge facing insurers is meeting the requirements of the Ministry of Justice’s new process for road traffic accidents injury claims between £1,000-£10,000. The new process provides strict timelines for admission of liability, responses to settlement packs and payment of costs on process stage completion. Where cases do not meet the requirements, they will leave the process and potentially attract higher legal fees.

The new claims process will accentuate further the need for early and detailed first notification of loss (FNOL) by customers, a challenge that will be particularly keenly felt in commercial business. Customer and intermediary awareness will need to be heightened to ensure that the correlation between customer FNOL behaviour and financial outcomes is well understood.

It is crucial that claims departments are resourced and skilled to manage all aspects of the process within prescribed timelines, without compromising technical quality or the ability to effectively challenge cases that demand such action. The availability of support tools, such as case management applications and technology-supported desktop investigation, will be increasingly important.

The reality is that encouraging customers to deliver earlier and more complete FNOL will bring further opportunities for insurers to establish early direct contact and provide support services to injured parties. The combined effect of speedier and fuller accident reports reaching better-prepared insurers must allow for more injured people to receive early support and compensation direct from the responsible party’s insurer.

In anticipation of this, RSA has spent the past four years developing, piloting and building a claims operation capable of meeting these challenges. RSA Care was developed in conjunction with a law firm, and it remains something of an irony that the technology tools required are more likely to be found in a claimant law firm than an insurer’s claims department.

So, while effective management of both solicitor-led and unrepresented claimants is very important, changes in customer behaviour will equally serve to help insurers provide direct support to more injured people. If the interests of both customers and claimants are to be protected, motor insurers will need the operational capability to effectively manage both direct and represented claimants. Those who meet the challenge head-on will be the ones to succeed and avoid a heavy reputational and cost-control price. IT

David Frost is technical manager for motor and legal services at RSA.