As a solicitor acting mostly for claimants I was interested to read Roger Thrift's article (Insurance Times November 2, 2000) to the effect that a new approach to rehabilitation would significantly reduce costs.

Mr Thrift appears critical of claimants' solicitors wishing to "do everything possible to ensure [claimants] receive the maximum settlement possible", but if the insurers will not co-operate as to rehabilitation, what else can they do?

I agree with Mr Thrift that insurers have "a great deal of work to do in order to improve their claims process...".

I believe the aims agreed in the boardroom have not filtered down to the claims handlers. The claims handlers therefore miss out on opportunities to get a satisfied claimant back to work and miss out on opportunities to reduce damages.

I can give a recent example on a slightly different point (mitigation of loss) where the rehabilitation required was no more than a change to a lighter job for 12 months. My client was a masseuse. She had suffered soft tissue injuries to her neck and back in a no-fault road traffic accident.

My client eventually returned to work part-time. Her partial loss of earnings was dealt with very sensibly by interim payments.

My client eventually realised the job was aggravating her condition, and her new employers were not content with part-time work suitably adapted for her convenience. My client looked into the alternatives and decided she would retrain to be a psychotherapist. This was going to mean a long loss of earnings claim so I put this to the insurers.

They delayed but eventually said they needed medical evidence to confirm it was reasonable to give up her job.

The medical evidence was forthcoming. The start of autumn term was getting close. My client had to decide whether to take this giant step knowing she could have no income for a year or more.

The insurers could have said it was a reasonable step to take and agreed to pay the loss of earnings. The insurers could have objected and argued the medical evidence was wrong, or that she should obtain some less physical job.

Either way, my client would have known what she faced before deciding. In the end the insurers' response was "just do what you have to do".

My client started her course and started proceedings. The insurers now argue a failure to mitigate loss.

So much for co-operation!
James Bell
Bell Park Kerridge

A successful system
Thank you for your article on uninsured drivers (Insurance Times November 9, page 4).

Two points arise:

  • will the authorised groups who can access vehicle insurance details include solicitors, who are acting on behalf of a plaintiff/pursuer?
  • will the database do anything to reduce the uninsured driver problem which is estimated at one in ten in the UK?

    The Motor Accident Solicitors Society has long advocated a Windscreen Insurance Disc (WID) whereby drivers must display their insurance details as well as their tax details.

    This system was successfully introduced in Eire around 1987 and apparently greatly reduced the uninsured driver problem. It could be easily policed by traffic wardens.

    The database by itself will do little to prevent the uninsured driver problem, which will in fact increase as premiums rise.
    Euan Campbell
    Buchanan Campbell
    Bothwell Street

    What's your preference?
    I have read the comments made about me in the letter column of last week's edition of Insurance Times (November 9).

    I would like to state that the Loss Recovery Group is an underwriting agency, providing brokers with insurance to cover the cost of claims consultancy. The Loss Recovery Insurance product and the service that it triggers have been designed as a brokers' claims management tool. Brokers have told us what they want and, more specifically, how they want the service delivered. In the majority of cases they stipulate that they require their clients to be represented by a chartered loss adjuster.

    While I could respond in detail to the letters, and thus perpetuate the debate on the merits of using independent chartered loss adjusters as opposed to loss assessors, I feel the ultimate decision rests with the broking community.

    To bring this debate to an end once and for all we would be more than willing to sponsor a national ballot of general insurance brokers by way of an insert in your magazine as to whom they would prefer to represent their clients.
    Malcolm Harvey
    Managing director
    Loss Recovery Group

    Mystery unsolved
    So now we know – or don't – as the case may be.

    I raised seven simple points about an article condemning 3,500 corporate brokers to death and no satisfactory answers will be forthcoming.

    I do hope the participants in the mystery survey referred to by Mr Cornell were advised of their legal rights under the Data Protection Act.

    My personal view – if the article cannot be supported with simple facts, why publish it?

    Quite right Mr Cornell, I don't understand, along with 3,500 corporate brokers on "death row", and there I rest my pen on the subject.
    A. Hall ACII
    Chartered insurance practitioner and insurance broker

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