Rachel di Clemente, legal services director at Minster Law, has told delegates at the Motor Insurance World Conference that injured motorists have had a bad deal at the hands of the whole claims industry, and that is partly responsible for its poor reputation among the public.
Rachel said: “We need a new set of protocols to manage the opportunity provided by technology, which encourages sharing and collaboration. The historic adversarial system in civil justice has been upended by cost pressures and technology, yet claimant and defendant sides are still engaged in trench warfare, leading to customer detriment.”
She pointed to the increased use of technology in the courts, which prioritise efficiency over drawn out disputes. “Why don’t we follow suit? Let us not wait for reform from policymakers who are not close to the issues and tend to legislate for politically expedient reasons. We need to pilot new ways of working, collaborate on product design and come up with our own solutions that remove the need for government action. After all, let’s remind ourselves that we’re all acting for the same customer base.”
She explained: “We should all be focusing on getting the right customer outcomes, not on our own income opportunities. In this regard I’m proud of the fact that Minster Law is one of the least litigious PI firms in the sector.”
“We employ active and positive engagement with defendants, through early dialogue with insurers to build case transparency and helping insurers set their reserve as soon as possible and then work together to assess the needs of customers and get their treatment in place.”
“The injured person’s needs are straightforward: early access to rehab, to mitigate loss, early management of expectations, fair compensation as quickly as possible, and to avoid going to court. But time and again we fail them, because we’re fighting among ourselves thanks to reforms that have created a warzone between the party representatives.”
Rachel pointed out that the latest reforms to personal injury – enshrined in the Civil Liability Act, which were designed to cut the incidence of whiplash, will make hundreds of thousands of non-fault motorists worse off when they come into effect in 2020. “Solicitors share the blame, because we historically see each other as opponents, and we did not try hard enough and come up with solutions that would deliver better customer outcomes. Now we risk making genuinely injured people suffer.”
Rachel also challenged the claims industry to face up to the consequences of twenty years or more of conflict which has made claims a toxic social issue.
“It cannot be right that, according to recent research from ACSO that 32% of people entitled to claim choose not to do so, 51% of them because the process is too hard, and 13% because they don’t want to be part of the ‘compensation culture.’ These are the same group of motorists that are also sold Legal Expenses Insurance to enable them to pursue a claim.”
“We have to share collective responsibility for this sorry state of affairs, which is the first step towards working together to put it right.”
The next phase of civil justice reforms will give the sector an opportunity to ‘change the conversation.
Rachel said: “We can brush away the stigma that keeps genuinely injured motorists from coming forward, and demonstrate to regulators and customers that we do, as an industry, we all have their best interests at heart.”