Several recent articles have talked about the Woolf reforms, and how they are not bringing the case management benefits they should. My experience in two separate compensation cases, however, tends to show that insurers are often their own worst enemy when it comes to case managment.
In both cases, I disclosed medical reports, statements and calculations early on and did my best to put my cards on the table.
The insurers involved in the first case neither objected to nor raised questions with experts. They provided no feedback and played pass-the-parcel with the file. The insurers had not instructed their solicitor fully and neither turned up in court.
Counsel for the defence denied the entire claim and put us to strict proof of everything. The court was reduced to making a lowest common denominator order duplicating much of the expert evidence. We have another 12 months of litigation ahead of us and many thousand pounds of costs. The claimant's attitude to settlement is hardening.
In the second case, the insurers took an active and vigorous interest throughout. They interrogated my experts and client in advance, obtained their own medical report, arranged for their doctor to speak to mine, worked closely with their solicitor and gave full and meaningful instructions.
The matter was argued vigorously, but by the time of the case-management conference we were pretty much agreed as to the claim's potential value.
My client was happy to give a discount to avoid the risk of litigation. This meant the insurers realistically saved about £15,000 in damages and £10,000 in trial costs.
Case management starts from the letter of claim. Were more insurers to make an investment in the proper and active investigation of cases at an early stage, the industry would not only give a better public service, but pay smaller legal bills and compensation awards.
The dear hunter
I am not sure that our industry should really be promoting the “bounty-hunting” of uninsured motorists by the police, as recently suggested by Ed Wegorzwski (Insurance Times, April 5).
Wegorzwski says that insurers should generate revenue to pay these bounties. Does he not think that we generate enough revenue for the state through insurance premium tax (IPT)? Could the government not pay the rewards out of this fund? At least if this were the case, insurers and their honest customers might see some justification for paying IPT.
There is already an incentive for policemen to crack down on uninsured motorists. Most police officers will personally own and insure at least one car, and they will be aware that approximately £20 of the premium they pay for each vehicle goes towards funding the consequences of one or another form of uninsured driving.
Be patient, Mr Wegorzwski. Forget window insurance displays. There will be a motor insurance database soon. Have faith.
Roy Rodger FCII
Motor Insurance Consultancy and Training,
Robert Osborn (April 12) clearly recognises the nub of the problem when he questions the virtues of a regulatory body controlled by insurance companies. His views on the General Insurance Standards Council (GISC) reflect mine and, I believe, those of many members of the Institute of Insurance Brokers (IIB).
After all, how can the average broker continue to be dictated to by a body of insurance providers, especially when there is a clear indication that these providers would much prefer to deal directly with the public than with the brokers they wish to regulate?
We are already being told by insurers that we must join the GISC, when in fact the matter is not resolved.
Self-regulation is fine, it can be achieved exactly as the Treasury declaration in 1998 states, “independently of trade bodies”.
RHB Insurance Services
No, you do the maths
I must apologise to Peter Taylor (Insurance Times, April 12) if my last Tech Talk column gave him the impression that I expected a 10% response from the mrmr-ifs2001 site.
This was not the percentage of people I was anticipating would respond to my part of the site, but the percentage who would read it. (Of course, this figure is highly dependent on the way in which the site operates and consequently would be out of my control.)
My research and experience suggest that inclusion in an online directory or resource library produces a similar response – less than 1% – to a direct mail shot. This is perhaps why advertising costs on the internet have fallen so dramatically over the past 12 to 18 months.
In my column, I was advocating that people think before they jump onto the next e-opportunity to come their way. Mr Taylor received his “stand” on the mrmr-ifs2001 site for no charge and therefore was making a very different decision to someone who was expected to hand over cash.
I had to ask whether reaching a possible 2,000 people of unknown quality was a good use of my budget. In this instance the answer was a big “no”. Business people should think carefully about where they invest their marketing budgets and what the real cost will be.
Change is inevitable
I was surprised by Tony Hall's letter (April 19), in which he expressed his disgruntlement at the passing of the Insurance Brokers' Registration Council (IBRC) and its replacement by the General Insurance Standards Council (GISC).
I would suggest to him that having a set of initials on your letterhead, be it IBRC or GISC, is cosmetic. Ultimately, the standards you set for your company are those that will dictate its success. The demise of one organisation, the IBRC, encapsulated in a law enacted 24 years ago, and the emergence of the GISC is inevitable.
To find insurers willing to commit effort and resources to ensure standards exist across the board is a positive outcome in the, as yet, early days of the GISC. To find companies prepared to take action where those standards are either not in place, or the intermediary is not prepared to accede, gives strength and confidence for the future. If we do not get our house in order there will no doubt be intervention by the government.
We must remember that GISC standards are to protect the insuring public, both private and commercial. If Mr Hall thinks those standards are inferior to the IBRC's, I suggest he carefully studies the GISC rules.
Oh, and you should study the spelling of my surname, too. It ends with an ‘h'.
Richard Sheikh, FCII, FPC,
The “claims comments” you quoted in Backchat, April 12 (Up Pompeii and other carry-ons) seemed remarkably familiar. Surely they originated with Jasper Carrott in the mid-1970s?
Other classics were: “I drove into the wrong drive and collided with a tree I have not got”, and “The accident was caused by me waving to the person I hit last week”.
Fantastic humour, even if it is 25 years old.
The BACKCHAT Editor replies…
We did say that we thought the comments might be apocryphal. But, like you say, they are still funny after all these years, so we couldn't resist repeating them.