Insurance companies profit from claimants’ losses

Posted by Neille Ryan

Partner & Head of Personal Injury

Motor and Employers Liability insurance is compulsory in this country.  That provides a guaranteed market for the insurance industry - it is the law in this country that every motor vehicle user and employer has to have insurance and, of course, that means they have to pay for it.

At the moment there are inadequate controls on insurers – there is no insurer specific watchdog and the so called 'rules' which apply to injury claims are open to insurer abuse with inadequate sanctions for non compliance.

To make things worse for Claimants, thanks to insurers concerted media belly aching about the so called compensation culture, fraudulent claims and 'fat cat solicitors', Government have now imposed a claims regime on innocent injured victims which pretty much requires them to contribute to their own legal fees, with the real fat cats – the insurers – paying drastically lower costs than previously.

The cumulative effect has enabled insurers to make vast profits.  AXA UK announced a 32% increase in profits for the last year. Direct Line's profits increased by 33% while barely reducing premiums at all.  Direct Line motor premiums came down 3% - no doubt you are all rushing to celebrate that.

Presumably shareholders and insurers’ friends in Government are delighted with what they have achieved but after last year’s media frenzy propagating the myth of the compensation culture, they have all been strangely silent about how these changes seem to have vastly improved the position of insurers while leaving Claimants significantly worse off.

If this were not enough for insurers, they have now managed with the help of their friends in the media and Government to secure another income stream – they are allowed to have financial interests in businesses representing injury Claimants so that, in effect, you could find that the very insurer against whom your claim is being brought, also has an interest in the firm you have instructed to bring your claim.  I admit I feel very uncomfortable with that scenario.

Be careful what you wish for and be careful who you believe – go for a reputable solicitor who you know is qualified, expert and experienced in personal injury claims – if in doubt ask Claimant orientated organisations such as the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers or the Motor Accident Solicitors Society for a recommendation.

Most of all, ensure that whoever is representing you is nothing whatsoever to do with the very insurer you are claiming against!

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