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News Round up from the insurance trade press

This kind of open communication from a business looking to stop the rumour mill from going out of control is becoming increasingly common and should be applauded if the intentions are good

CREDIT HIRE STORIES-A-PLENTY

The positive PR bus is in full swing amongst credit hire firms, as Drive Assist reports in Insurance Times how it has wisely called in forensic accountants to rifle through its books. This follows last week’s revelation that one or two files may have seen the number of hire days inflated. DA is instructing KPMG and it’s CEO Steve Binch said: “Our investigation is showing that the number of cases where insurers have suffered a financial loss is about 1% of the 125,000 hires we have carried out in the period.”

Post Magazine has found the entire credit hire sector gathering forces with its story about a potential merger of the two existing trade bodies. The Accident Management Association and National Association of Credit Hire Operators are ‘poised’ to merge, according to this little yarn, with talks at an advanced stage. Between them, they claim to represent 80% of the CHO sector. Frustratingly, there’s no quotes to elaborate on the story so we don’t really know why it’s happening, but ganging up would be my best bet.

As if that wasn’t enough about credit hire, there’s another one to boot. Post can be forgiven because this one’s an interesting tale about former wrestler called T-bone who is now a professional rugby player trying to claim a £11 000 credit hire bill for 34 days, despite the fact he was in Italy for six days of the hire period. The judgement handed down at Glasgow Sheriff Court last week in the case of Kevin Tkachuk v Direct Line, eventually saw the court reduce the £11 000 sought for the hire by Accident Exchange to £3500.

(SOME) DEBT-BURDENED COMPANIES REVEAL ALL

Both IT and Post have coverage relating to the trials of insurance businesses who may have bitten off a little more than they could chew during those cheap money days. IT focuses on broker Jelf with a story about it having ‘thrashed’ out a deal to refinance its debt with a new £24m facility and a repayment timetable drawn up for the next five years. There’s not much more detail though, as Jelf is due to report its results on 23 Feb. The stock is currently trading at half the value it achieved in May 2008, when the price reached a high of around 80p.

In contrast to AIM-listed Jelf Group, loss adjuster Merlin Claims really does open the books with a full page interview, explaining about the ‘perils of boom-time private equity backed deals’. This kind of open communication from a business looking to stop the rumour mill from going out of control is becoming increasingly common and should be applauded if the intentions are good; maintaining a business as a going concern, honouring contracts, retaining staff. Without reciting stock exchange regulations, it appears this level of candour may only ever be possible for privately held businesses.

TRADE UNIONS GET BEHIND ELIB

The TUC has backed Department for Work and Pensions proposals for an Employers’ Liability Insurance Bureau as well as an EL Tracing Office. Opting against declaring that it is insurers who have dragged their heels, TUC health and safety officer Hugh Robertson said: “If employers are injuring people through negligence they should have to pay.”

About Ralph Savage (139 Articles)
Insurance and legal journalist Ralph Savage has written extensively for the financial and professional services sectors, most notably as News Editor of Post Magazine. He ghost writes regularly on behalf of FTSE 250 CEOs, leading counsel and senior professionals including solicitors, insurers, accountants and brokers.

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