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Guest blog: Working together on personal injury reform

(All guest blogs represent the views of the individual and do not necessarily represent the views of the ABI or its membership.)

As a claimant solicitor, and passionate defender of the right of genuine claimants to pursue compensation, I shall certainly be the only panellist from the claimant “side” invited to speak on civil justice reform at the ABI’s Annual Conference. However, as a Director of a firm that works in partnership with major insurers and brokers to represent their policyholders, I might suggest that I can see the perspective of both sides more than most.

To be clear, I remain deeply opposed to the Government’s reform programme as it is currently proposed. It is a disproportionate response to the problem of fraud, will unfairly penalise all injured accident victims, is arbitrary and flawed in its conception and will produce a less regulated, disrupted market. Premium paying customers could be left baffled by what to do following an accident and Litigants in Person will effectively be forced into a vulnerable situation where they can be preyed upon by predatory claims farmers. The consequences of the proposed reforms simply outweigh any potential benefits.

The funny thing is that, like many others on the claimant side, I would like to see much, if not all, that most insurers want. A smaller claims market, with fewer claims run as efficiently as possible for the benefit of consumers. Lower motor insurance premiums. Fraud and the negative behaviour encouraged by claims farming as near as possible eradicated. We largely do not disagree on the end goals, only how they are achieved.

So much could, and is, being achieved by other ways that are less draconian and will be substantially less fraught for accident victims. Strengthening ID checks and verifying legitimate claims, so that fraud can continue to be tackled by closer collaboration, sharing data and intelligence. For our part, that is why the Defendant/Insurer services side of Carpenters worked hard to satisfy all the criteria and checks to become an IFB affiliate member. Providing a unified front to challenge the cultural perception that fraud is a victimless crime. The continued roll-out of telematics. The development and integration of Claims Portal and MedCo as part of the new claims environment. Working to ensure that high quality medical reports are available in a timely and efficient manner. Putting pressure on the SRA to get tougher with the minority of errant solicitors. A ban on cold calls and further investigative and enforcement powers for the regulators to stamp on unwanted CMC behaviour. Reducing the number of cars being driven without insurance. Reducing the number of accidents, perhaps through a graduated licencing scheme for new drivers.

It is essential that the sector breaks down traditional barriers and works together. Some genuine and practical solutions could be agreed with the right commitment, and a good dose of patience and humour. Solutions to problems have been found before, and they could be again, if we allow them to be. The end of all conflicts begins with talking, which is why I am so delighted to speak at the ABI’s annual conference.

Find out more and book your ticket for the ABI Annual Conference now. 

Last updated 14/02/2018