Those debating the Compensation Bill need to know more about insurance, says Katy Dowell
'At the beginning of my career I wrote for a local newspaper in rural Devon.
Old dears would come to my office to complain about soaring insurance premiums which stopped them from holding the annual garden fête.
How dare insurers, I would respond.
Since then I have learned a lot about the so-called compensation culture.
I know that claims management companies are different to insurance companies. I know insurers don't put up premiums prices on a whim. I know that the industry is desperately trying to stem the compensation culture. And I also know that there was some progress in their work.
So when I went to an Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil) debate in the Houses of Parliament about the Compensation Bill last week I expected those MPs attending to know a little about the subject's wider context.
I was left bitterly disappointed when several MPs followed the national media line which says that insurers are evil corporations eager to exploit and manipulate to make money.
The MPs told stories about ludicrous claims which resulted in massive pay-outs. They defended the rights of teenagers to take risks and complained that insurers were taking away those rights.
The fear of being sued, they said, had resulted in a risk-averse culture.
Sitting alongside me was the ABI's head of liability, motor and risk pricing, Justin Jacobs.
Jacobs twisted in his chair as MPs drove in the knife. He wanted so much to respond, but time was up and the debate was over.
It struck me as I sat and listened that the MPs who will finally decide the significance of the Compensation Bill know very little about the wider issues.
How will they be able to debate about something they know very little about? Will they be able to add anything constructive to the Bill?
With their hectic schedules will there be enough time to look further into the issues and take on board the views of the insurance industry?
Lord Falconer's Compensation Bill has come in for much criticism for its failings.
Apil believes it could mean further satellite litigation and increased costs for the insurers.
The ABI says the Bill "doesn't address the fundamental issues".
If MPs don't redress those failings it could result in some very tough times for the insurance industry.
Where does that leave access to justice? And where does it leave the old dears in Devon? IT