on your side

Beware insurers bearing gifts

15th September 2016

In recent years some insurers have striven to increase the efficiency with which they handle personal injury claims. Many now adopt a proactive approach and look to make first contact with an injured victim and potential claimant as part of a process called third party capture.

The phrase is apt — the objective is to persuade the injured person to deal directly with the insurer rather than consulting a solicitor to represent their best interests.

In order to capture a potential claimant, the insurer might offer to arrange a medical examination with a general or specialist doctor and organise treatment such as physiotherapy. If the injury was sustained as a result of a road accident, the insurer might also offer to repair vehicle damage and provide replacement transport in the meantime.

But let us be clear. Insurers will only make such offers if to do so benefits their own business. They consult large agencies to arrange medical reports and treatment and they contract vehicle repairers with whom they have favourable financial arrangements, all of which adds up to economies of scale for the insurance giants.

You as claimant, however, may be required to travel significant distances for medical appointments; the quality of repairs to your vehicle might suffer thanks to cost pressures; the replacement car provided on your insurer’s behalf may well be akin to a shopping trolley.

In law, the injured person is the claimant and the insurer the defendant. So, should your opponent be conducting your claim? Can you imagine a British army commander allowing his opposite number to construct his battle plan, or the Pompey manager allowing the Saints to decide his match formation? No, of course not — and for all the same reasons it is crucial that claimants control the conduct of their own claim.

A personal injury solicitor will advise objectively on the most appropriate medical expert, treatment provider, or vehicle repairer. A lawyer derives no financial benefit from the selection of a particular expert and has only the client’s best interests at heart. He or she will ensure that all experts in the matter are chosen purely in accordance with their suitability for a client’s individual case, and not because a specific selection may be financially expedient for his firm.

Of course, it is true that solicitors charge for their services, but what price the peace of mind that comes from knowing you truly have your own expert fighting your corner?

Paul Lewis. Partner & Head of Accident Management

General, George Ide, News, Personal Injury Blog
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