We need to know what's going on after the DWP review, says Michelle Hannen
Critics of the government's inaction after the recent employers' liability (EL) reviews can rest assured. Plenty of work is going on behind the scenes to improve the way the market functions for both insurers and policyholders.
Groups comprising representatives of government, insurers, lawyers and employers are working on a range of initiatives to address the major issues of promoting rehabilitation, improving health and safety, and cutting claims costs.
Among the work, a fixed fee scheme for EL is being formulated, pilots to promote non-adversarial claims resolutions are being developed, health and safety risk indexing systems are being extended and work into the viability of a separate fund for long-tail diseases continues.
In addition, work underway on rehabilitation includes the development of a "process map" to assist employers in putting rehabilitation systems in place. There is also research into the costs versus benefits of rehabilitation.
But despite the flurry of activity, criticism is still warranted - in this case for the DWP's failure to keep the whole market informed about what it is doing. With insurers still predicting average EL rate increases of 30% in 2004, it is brokers who have to explain to SME customers why, after two government reviews, rates are still increasing sharply.
Knowledge is power, and its dissemination can create increased understanding and co-operation. Lack of information is the breeding ground for cynicism, uncertainty and fear.