I have been in this business for more than 30 years and I am frustrated by the constraints imposed upon us by the legal profession.
I am a personal injury negotiator for road accident claims . The job certainly isn't as enjoyable as it used to be. The buzz of negotiation and number crunching has been taken away by Lord Woolf and his reforms. Why didn't the heads of our industry protect our profession?
I speak to many other insurance personnel who also feel we have been let down. A number of solicitors have aired their own views to me on the Woolf reforms and weren't too complimentary. The legal profession has pushed through rules and regulations to suit them, without any response or objection from the heads of our industry. Did they just roll over and play dead? Surely our industry is also a power to be reckoned with and has teeth?
The tools we originally had to produce effective settlements have been confiscated by the opposition. We obviously have no choice but to continue to live with the situation imposed upon us. Being one of the thousands on the front line, so to speak, it's frustrating to see claimants successfully receiving damages awarded by the judiciary for suspected fraudulent or highly dubious claims. Many litigated claims are settled by judges, only too keen to award damages, especially when there is an insurance company financing the defendant.
As we are aware, this is not restricted to just road accident cases. To add insult to injury (no pun intended), the cost is increased furthermore by outrageous and unjustified solicitors' costs, that have been sanctioned by (who else) the legal profession. That's what I call looking after number one.
They should work on scale rates like their counterparts in Scotland and Northern Ireland .
Why is our industry so short sighted or frightened? We all know and appreciate that underwriters and claims managers have to look after their own backyards, expenses and shareholders, but the only way we are going to protect ourselves from fraud is to show the public, we will not accept fraudulent claims and will prosecute anyone who tries.
I'm fed up with our profits and my salary review being stolen by these claimants who successfully obtain money from us.
The ABI recently increased its estimate of the cost of fraud to the industry to £2.5bn, which is around 15%. However, according to certain loss adjusters, they put the figure at between 14% to 20%. The ABI anti-fraud department and those of certain insurers are not enough now. The industry has to pull together for once, to create an experienced claims team to fight cases and to take claimants to court.
I can hear the usual: "It's going to cost too much, blah, blah blah, who is going to fund this?" Who do you think? The insurance industry. We are fighting these people as one, remember? I suggest a fund is set up with each insurer responsible for a sum to be calculated and agreed every year to support the legal costs and running of this team.
But I hear you say, the team will have come from within the industry and loyal only to certain companies? There would obviously have to be impartiality and open mature minds to make this work.
We have to do something to protect our industry. Nobody else will. The legal profession looks after its own, as has been proved. How much of that £2.5bn is mine and yours? It's time we started clawing it back. It will increase every year unless we do something about it now.
Name and address withheld
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