The never-ending claim that loss assessors are irrelevant is the biggest whopper ever told in insurance circles. Why is the myth perpetuated, especially by Malcolm Harvey in his recent article in Insurance Times (May 17).

Could it be due to the continuing success of the professional loss assessors who have been practising for many years, capably representing claimants with satisfactory claims' settlements?

His philosophy that only qualified loss adjusters should be allowed to operate in the general insurance market is something I strongly challenge.

I quote from Collins Concise Dictionary that the definition of the word “qualified” is having the abilities, qualities, attributes and so on necessary to perform a particular job or task.

This is precisely what the reputable firms of long-standing professional loss assessors can offer to potential clients who have sustained losses involving claims. The big question is: what can a loss adjuster offer?

Loss adjusters have obtained their degrees by having five years training with chartered loss adjusters, acting solely on behalf of insurers and passing the institute's examination.

However, this training does not give them the needed skill of the most important part of a loss assessor's function, namely the detailed preparation of the claim.

Without this knowledge it would be difficult to say the least, and probably impossible, to negotiate the satisfactory settlement of a claim.

Having had about 60 years' experience as a professional loss assessor with my company, and over that period of time having employed in the region of about 20 or so loss adjusters,

I can state categorically, even with all their knowledge of policy interpretation when it came to the vital part – the detailed preparation of the claims – it took between two and five years to retrain an adjuster to become a competent assessor. As far as business interruption claims are concerned, the training took even longer.

If one wants to create a level playing field, as Harvey suggested, I would state there already is one and in fact has been for a very long time, even possibly before he thought of becoming an assessor – the experienced loss assessor representing the insured and the experienced loss adjuster representing the insurers.

The correct comparison is “barrister against barrister” and not “barrister against solicitor”.

In conclusion, I would state that the ongoing saga of the never-ending claim that loss assessors are irrelevant is not only a myth but a complete and utter fabrication of the truth and should be terminated once and for all.
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Henry Harris
President, Harris Claims

Sharing the scrap
Regarding your recent article entitled “Salvager fights to keep scrap cars off the road” (Insurance Times, May 31):

I must point out that while Universal Salvage (US) is a leading supporter of the campaign to stop seriously damaged cars from being returned to the roads, they are only one of many reputable campanies that are fighting this particular battle. Your article gave the impression that it is a campaign being run by US, which is not the case.

The campaign is being conducted by the British Vehicle Salvage Federation (BVSF) on behalf of all its members (75 companies holding 80% of the salvage business), which include the US. Since its establishment in 1998, the BVSF has used every opportunity to raise this issue with the authorities, such as the Driver and Vehicle Licencing Agency (DVLA) and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR), which includes having made direct written representations to the Minister for Roads, Lord Whitty.

We are talking here about those total loss cars that are judged by insurers to be salvage category B under the market-wide supported code of practice, i.e. break for spare parts and the shell/frame must be crushed. The government argues that there is a high incidence of incorrect categorisation and the DVLA says it cannot refuse to re-licence a car on application, bearing in mind human rights and factors such as economical repairs being made by owners with loving care.

It is the view of the members of the BVSF, however, that is a car is adjudged to be so seriously damaged to fall into category B, that it effectively should be treated as category A – be scrapped.

This is stated in the code to which the DETR and DVLA subscribe. By not following this approach, all that the authorities are doing is to leave a loophole for the “ringing” of care to continue and to put lives at risk from cars that should never be repaired and be driven again.

A category B salvage car should be clearly classified as an end of life vehicle in all cases in the future, any re-usable parts salvaged in the interests of recycling, a Certificate of Destruction issued and the care destroyed. The DVLA has the records for all such cases and any applications made to them for re-licensing should be refused with the police being advised to investigate. This would solve all problems and would certainly have the full support of the police.

The BVSF will continue to fight this campaign and I believe, with the help of the new EC-ELV Directive requirements next year, it will succeed. But clearly insurers, or should

I say their engineers, must get their damage categorisations right first time in the future.
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Alan Greenouff
Chairman, BVSF

Ansvar reborn?
Referring to Gary Thomas's letter (Insurance Times, May 31): The point I was making is that if Zenith wants to become a reborn Ansvar, then that's fine.

Let the proposal form ask the question if you drink alcohol, and refuse cover for all of those that answer yes. That way, the client as well as the broker knows where they stand in the first place.

Don't forget – it's not Gary Thomas and John O'Shea from Zenith who have the client in their face when the claim is refused. Furthermore, it could leave clients thousands of pounds out of pocket, if the car has already been repaired using the helpline given to them by brokers, and there is a potential legal issue as to who picks up the bill.

As for John Hansen – who changed his batteries?

I am certainly not of the older generation, as those who know me can testify. If Zenith felt the climate was right to introduce such a clause, why did it change its mind?

I am also not suggesting that if someone “assumes they are safe to drive, it is ok”. I was pointing out that the law in this county as yet does not have zero tolerance alcohol levels, and we are all aware that alcohol affects people in different ways, including impaired driving.

The reason why this would make this policy unsaleable is that, unlike the direct writer whom you fail to name, as a broker

I deal with the vast majority of motor insurers (apart from Ansvar) and not one has this clause written into their policy.

You're on another planet if you think Zenith would like to be selected against because of this clause. The price is not the only reason for selling a policy, cover does come into it – believe me, I know.
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Richard Mikula
Topaz Insurance