Personal experience will help to establish rehab, says McIntyre

Rehabilitation will only be embraced by the insurance industry once senior executives have a "personal experience" of the results it can achieve.

Royal & SunAlliance UK chief executive Bridget McIntyre said more insurers would understand and implement rehabilitation pilots if they actually saw it in action.

McIntyre became a convert after suffering whiplash injuries herself after two car crashes within weeks of each other.

"Though I would not advocate that senior executives actually harm themselves, I think many would have a different opinion of the results and its effectiveness. It has to start being an industry-wide initiative," she said.

R&SA is piloting a rehabilitation programme for road accidents and workplace accidents.

It is understood that the insurer has been working with Plexus Law on an outsourcing pilot which enables the claim process to include a team of specialist claims handlers being overseen by a lawyer.

With both legal and claims experts working together, once the claimant makes the first call to the insurer, the claim can be assessed immediately and channeled through the most effective route or paid quickly.

After Aviva's failed attempt at a hostile takeover of Prudential, R&SA is back (if it ever left) in the headlines as a possible acquisition or merger target.

McIntyre avoided the direct question, but said that consolidation would offer R&SA opportunities.

"I don't want to say that we will double in size within the year...but scale is important. I see the likes of the managing general agents, such as Towergate, continuing to reach a certain size.

"The web, though, is a very interesting part of our business, and it's not just interesting in personal lines but in commercial lines as well.

"The web will increase service issues. It can take transaction costs out and increase service, we see that happening in our marketplace."

Rather than try to emulate her old company, Norwich Union, McIntyre said Fortis was the company she admired, particularly in the personal lines sector.

She said: "You have to be really good at the underwriting and claims side of the business, and be efficient as a business.

"So for me it is a question of how do you get scale necessarily without always being big.

"If you look at Fortis, it has an efficient business, it is not massive, but it makes sure it has complete control of the process between selling and manufacturing, and that's important."