If we're looking for someone to blame over the mess surrounding the demise of The Accident Group, look no further than the FSA, says John Jackson
In my youth we used to play a game called 'tag' in which we kids would chase around to see if we could touch each other. We would scream and hoot when 'tagged'. It was a great old game.
Another TAG - The Accident Group - has been chasing after ambulances, and after anyone walking down a street with a limp, or seen wearing plaster casts on their limbs. That has proved an even greater old game.
However, in this game, the screams are coming from TAG's 2,500 employees - who are unpaid for last month's ambulance-chasing - personal injury claimants and the lawyers, many of whom have grown fat on the proceeds.
And where has that bastion of consumer protection, the FSA, been while all this was going on? Fast asleep as usual, too busy seeing how difficult it can make the life of insurance brokers by tying them up in reams of red tape.
And what of the insurers? If you act like a scared rabbit, don't be surprised when the big bad wolf in the shape of the ambulance chaser comes to bite your head off.
Too many insurers have acquiesced in paying out on claims that were highly suspect because of the often high cost of taking court action. This encouraged TAG salesmen to go for even more business. Not surprisingly, premiums shot up for everyone.
Unfortunately, the entire industry is covered in cowpats when high profile companies go bust, not least the high street broker.
I have no sympathy for insurers - they just lacked the 'bottle' to get tough - nor many of the claimants, particularly those who were motivated by greed, and in some cases by blatant fraud.
I don't even blame TAG - it was, after all, a legitimate business. All it did was wave the prospect of big cheques in front of a greedy and ever-eager public.
What is clear is that the insurers were not prepared to take on these spurious claims and that the FSA is seemingly powerless - or reluctant - to do anything about it.
The FSA has been a monumental failure for the consumer in a number of high profile cases - the collapse of Independent being a classic example. So, it is over to the government -the last refuge of consumer protection.
Nothing less than a full-scale independent public inquiry, ordered by the government, is now needed. This stain on the reputation of the industry needs eradicating - now.