Nick Balcombe raises some interesting points in his recent article 'Speeding up claims' (The Future of Claims, 22 July Insurance Times) but I was particularly struck by his comments concerning the growing demand for independent claims consultants.

Like Nick, I am convinced that such consultants can add significant value in the management of business interruption claims. Unlike him, I see the benefits relating to using a specialist consultant as well as, or in place of, a leading company.

As a dual qualified chartered accountant and chartered loss adjuster I launched my own consulting service in 2003 as I felt that the existing insurance industry structures were failing to meet the needs of clients with smaller sized, albeit complex, claims.

The leading national independent claims companies have their place but there is a role also for the smaller consultant. I understand Nick's reservations about potentially under-qualified, inexperienced, individual consultants, but the choice is not as black and white as he describes.

A 'one man band' is not necessarily unprofessional. Size only becomes an issue where there is reluctance to admit limitations or to seek advice as appropriate. Although Parkinson Consulting is a small company, I have many years experience in managing large, complex business interruption claims and strong professional contacts within the insurance industry. I have professional indemnity cover, meet FSA requirements and believe that small consultants have a particular contribution to make.

Quite apart from the higher costs affecting the larger independent claims firms, even the best companies can struggle to provide all the expertise necessary for fair and prompt settlements of the more complicated business interruption claims.

The involvement of an appropriate specialist in the management of a serious claim can help both to minimise the trauma to the insured and to expedite the settlement of the claim and a return to normal business operations - to everyone's benefit.

Heather Parkinson
Parkinson Consulting