Dominic Clayden says insurers must work together to get the public onside and build confidence with solicitors

The claims arena is on the edge of inevitable change, according to Dominic Clayden. He said the industry needed to participate in forming legislation to ensure its voice is heard when the new compensation rules emerge.

"The best way for change to be implemented is in a way which is fair and which is going to avoid some of the pitfalls we've had in the past, everybody should be engaging in the debate," he said.

Engaging in the Compensation Bill will deliver a message of unity to consumers who have a lack of trust in the industry, he said.

"It has to be recognised that we are not desperately well perceived... in terms of public perception," Clayden said.

"We need to recognise that we need to take the public with us, and that's not by spin, it's not by gloss, it's actually by delivery and it's by deed."

If insurers failed to act collectively, he warned "there will be changes imposed upon us and we will all have to accept what those changes are."

The industry should be working together to take account of all stakeholder views with particular attention paid to the views of defendants, Clayden said.

Solicitors who send out standard claims letters to defendants should be stopped, he said.

"It scares people, it is unpleasant. It's particularly difficult when they're actually in receipt of a spurious claim, a claim in which they had not been at fault but they have to refer it us as an insurance company and we have to investigate it," he said.

The market needs to find an efficient way of dealing with liability business, to avoid spurious claims and turn the tide on the 'have a go' culture, he added.

The courts could impose stronger penalties on those who abuse the system and the markets should be avoiding heavy legislative intervention.

To that end, he said: "Solicitors need to have more confidence in insurance companies. If insurance companies are behaving reasonably and properly there is no need for solicitors to get involved in every step. What we have is incredible duplication of work, which is hugely expensive, adds delay and certainly adds costs."

Greater employment of technology would also create seamless low cost systems, he added.

"It's about reducing the number of steps in the system. It's about learning how do we create a system where, of there are breakdowns, we learn from them and we take matters forward."

Dominic Clayden is director of technical claims at Norwich Union

Dominic Clayde

Key point

  • Everyone should engage in the legislative debate
  • The public can be brought on board only if the industry delivered
  • The market needs to find a way to turn the tide of the 'have-a-go culture'
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