This latest article is from Andy Thornley, Head of Public Affairs at Carpenters Group;
We’ve all been there in the supermarket, happily scanning our groceries at the self-service till when the machine interrupts; there is an unexpected item in the bagging area.
The self-service till was invented by a man called David R. Humble who was inspired whilst stood queuing in a supermarket in Florida, back in 1984.
When Mr. Humble had his epiphany, I’m not sure he would have realised quite how much human support would be needed from store staff; approving age-restricted items, verifying the bagging area or explaining that you actually have an almond croissant, not a plain one, and they cost 20p more.
At the end of this month, a brand new portal should be launched which will be used by litigants in person to progress personal injury claims under £5,000 through a dedicated website. Because legal costs cannot be recovered for claims under this value, the majority of claimants will not have access to legal advice.
This effective ‘self-service’ approach to claims will need to be very carefully managed; it is one thing to require the services of a checkout person to assist you, but when it comes to a legal process that affect damages for your injuries sustained in an accident, an automated message will not fill the void left by a lack of legal advice.
Many litigants in person will be customers of insurers, albeit making a claim against a third party, so ensuring they receive a good service is in everyone’s interests. One way that insurers can help them is through offering appropriate Legal Expense Insurance, which could provide support for their customer should they need it. We’ve discussed the impact of the reforms and opportunity for LEI in a previous article in Insurance Edge.
Now the rules of the portal have been published, there is still considerable ambiguity about how tariff and non-tariff injuries will be dealt with by the portal. There is an expectation that some claims management companies may seek to inflate non-tariff injuries, such as injury to limbs or psychological injury, as well as credit hire fees, to take them closer to the £5,000 threshold. Insurers will need to be wise to firms doing this and stand up to them rather than taking an economic decision to settle prematurely.
Covid-19 has brought a huge backlog in the legal system with court delays averaging 62 weeks. With a lack of provision for alternative dispute resolution, insurers would be wise to consider using other ADR services to reduce costs and enable them to settle challenged claims much quicker, reducing the period needed to reserve against claims. Our own service has found delays of 9-10 months can be reduced to just 14 days, saving both time and money.
As a provider of a range of services for insurers, including third-party administration of claims, we’ve been speaking to our insurer clients at length about the impact the implementation of the reforms will have on the provision of claims services. It is a conversation many other insurers will be having with their own claims teams.
A lot of political capital and goodwill has been invested in these reforms, the second such set in just nine years. Yet, there is still much work to do to create a simple flow that our customers can use in what can be a complicated process. It is important that it does work because, to return to our supermarket analogy, we most certainly do not want our customers stuck at the till waiting for help whilst claims management companies help themselves.