The Department for Work and Pensions has watered down its employers' liability claims pilots to such an extent that the reduction in claims costs will be minimal, say industry sources.

The pilots are set to go live shortly, but an insurance insider, who has been closely involved with the development of the pilot specification, said: "Will we get anything out of this exercise? As far as I can see any financial benefits will be so minimal that it will be difficult to measure.

"It was to be expected, especially given the evident power of the claimant and TUC lobby at the meetings, that the 'final' concepts would move away from the earlier draft proposals and visions."

Insurers Norwich Union (NU) and AXA both expressed their support for the pilots.

But according to the sources, insurers are concerned about the involvement of solicitors in claims. The pilots initially envisaged involving solicitors only in the most complicated of cases.

But under the pilot specification claimants will be recommended to get legal advice at several points during the claims process, and will be advised to consult a personal injury solicitor from a list compiled by the Law Society and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.

The specifications also state insurers will pay claimants' legal fees in order for them to get a legal opinion on final settlement offers, if they have not previously sought legal advice.

In addition, when making an initial decision on liability, insurers will "round down contributory negligence in favour of the claimant".

AXA claims director David Williams said that while the pilots had changed from their originally proposed form "we do think there are potential benefits for all concerned".

NU director of technical claims Dominic Clayden said he was more concerned with getting the pilots up and running than delaying the process with discussion over details.