Elliot Lane says claims hasn't made the insurers' first team

' A disappointed reader contacted me last week. No, it wasn't because Backchat didn't make them laugh, but because of Royal & SunAlliance's (R&SA) statement on its impending job cuts.

The reader in question was a claims director with many years experience and he had taken umbrage with the insurer for referring to certain job losses as "ancillary functions such as finance, claims and support".

He was upset because he, like many, believes insurance exists to provide cover to policyholders in the event of a claim and therefore the claims process and any such department in an insurance company should be a major part of the business rather than an ancillary function.

A fair comment.

Hackneyed it may sound but paying claims is what the industry does. Sticking with clichés, a football analogy would be that in an insurer's 4-4-2 team formation, getting the premium right and delivering an efficient claims service are the two upfront players. It just happens that some insurers seem to side with Sven's tactical eccentricities at times.

This is not a dig at R&SA which has gone through more pain than any England fan in recent years, but the overall worry that claims is still the poor cousin in most insurer, and broker, operations.

A new claims regulator will be announced next week who will report directly to Lord Falconer.

He will be the enforcer of the new claims regime at a time when the FSA is upping its own enforcement on principles and, rest assured, fines will come if contract certainty becomes uncertain.

Like GISC before it, the Claims Standards Council will be wound up by the end of the year and self-regulation is over.

Companies must make claims the Rooney of their strategy. IT