Saturday, 3 August 2013

Never walk alone

The Association of British Insurers ("ABI") is all in a fluster about the Law Society's ("LS") "Don't get mugged by an insurer" campaign, designed to raise awareness of the dangers of dealing direct with insurers to settle injury claims.

ABI Director-General Otto Thoreson has complained that the LS initiative is "little more than public name-calling". Ironic that, given the ABI's record, including such recent references to "ambulance-chasing lawyers" as that of Thoreson's eminent colleague Nick Starling only three months ago - see Better deal for claimants etc

So, they don't like it when the boot's on the other foot. Perhaps it's fitting, in the context of a debate focussed largely on motor insurance, that Mr Otto Thoreson is an anagram of 'tormentors hoot'

But all this fuss distracts from the message, which is hugely important, that accident victims who use a lawyer recover two or three times more money on average than those who handle it themselves.

This isn't particularly surprising. Sure, many of us enjoy a spot of DIY here and there but we can't all be experts. Some folk think they can negotiate the best deal going - and they'll probably live in bliss afterwards. Most recognise that they know nothing about the law or its processes.

Inevitably then it's an uneven contest, injured Joe Public v professional claims handler. If both sides play their best game who's going to win? Who's going to get thrashed?

This is the point at which you have to shut your eyes ever so tightly and believe...

Insurers have explained time and again that it's fine - nobody will get stung - because they will deal fairly with claimants and ensure they get what they are entitled to as a matter of law.

Never mind the (allegedly) rising costs of dealing with claims, overheads, the demands of shareholders in a lean market. The expert claims negotiators will shut those things out of their minds even when faced with the opportunity to pay only a third or less than a case is actually worth because the DIY claimant doesn't know what he or she is doing.

Still have your eyes shut tightly? Can you smell something typically rural?

OK, well open them now. The reality is that insurers will make a buck wherever they possibly can. See for example How it works - car insurance, Above the law, Business as usual.

Last week, Which? reported on the latest sneaky add-ons - Which? warns on car insurance extra fees.

These people will indeed mug you if you're in strange territory and don't know what you're doing but because they have more neck than a bag of giraffes they insist to our gullible government that they will deal fairly with unrepresented accident victims.

I have never had a case yet where I haven't recovered more money than an accident victim has been previously offered in the course of dealing direct with insurers or using one of the panel firms who pay (sorry, I mean used to pay, of course) referral fees to buy the work. Usually, it's a lot more - proving the point of the LS campaign.

The dangers of trusting and dealing with these entirely self-interested people are starkly illustrated in such cases as that featured in Foxes & chickens. "Such a nice man, he was". Mugging an injured teenage girl of over £30,000, he was. Despicable.

Ordinary folk believe the lies and there's nobody able to watch and listen to what goes on in every situation. See Livin' Aviva loca.

Running a DIY injury claim is like taking a night stroll through the rough end of a strange town. If you don't get robbed, it will be a small miracle. Don't go there without a guardian.

Never walk alone.

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