We all sit in that uncomfortable middle ground - the waiting
room between the autumn statement and the consultation - desiring clarity but
getting little of comfort. So what to do in the interim? Well, intensive
lobbying for one thing. So far APIL has put its concerns directly to Lord
Faulkes, MPs, peers, the shadow minister, and has spoken to in excess of 70
members who are contacting their local MPs directly. Seeds are sown now so that
parliamentarians enter the debate fully informed and are not on a learning
curve. And debate there will be - unlike many reforms, where away from the
noise of the house a swipe of a pen makes a rule change with sweeping impact - the removal of the right to general damages requires primary legislation, and
by its very nature debate in both houses. So, good briefing is key. Our
briefing pack is fully formed and on our website here if you would like to see the arguments.
The gap also creates thinking time for strategic planning - how best to put across our arguments to get the utmost influence. Back in 2012
we made pro-active suggestions as to how to defeat fraud without simultaneously
defeating genuine claims. The APIL Whiplash Report made numerous suggestions –
so many of which have now been implemented. So what was on that list? The
exchange of information between claims portal and the Insurance Fraud Bureaux; all
claims subject to a written statement of truth; a ban on cash incentives;
medical experts offered that are credible to both sides; development of
guidance to medics on how to assess whiplash claims; photo ID of the claimant
for the medical expert; claimant solicitor to organise medical records if
relevant. All of these are achieved or in progress.
But what’s left on that list? Still unaddressed is the banning of pre-med offers in portal
claims – a simple step to ensure that everyone that receives compensation is
seen by a doctor who can verify that they have actually been injured. The banning of spam or cold calling / texting appears
to be falling on deaf ears. The ban on
the sale of claimant’s details by insurers is in place, but individual
employees still cross the line and flout the law.
Certainly, the banning of pre-med offers still makes sense.
Let’s take away the environment of easy money completely. The ABI has
guidelines designed to discourage pre-med offers – some insurers follow them,
some don’t – that’s the trouble with guidelines. Let’s make a medical mandatory
before an offer is made. It’s a nebulous lump of claims that aren’t tested for
fraud. It’s got to stop.
The Government attempts to ban cold calling and spam texting
seem to flounder, and yet the practice is widely hated by the man on the street.
Can we not stop this and restore some respect to the claims industry?
If we are serious about targeting fraud, let’s get on the
case of the fraudster, and off the back of the genuine claimant.