Don’t get mugged by an insurer…use a solicitor!

 Aug 7, 2013

The provocative new Law Society campaign under the above title has caused quite a stir. The insurance industry has complained to the Advertising Standards Agency saying that the campaign is 'defamatory and misleading' whilst in the meantime insurers own legal representatives are said to be 'saddened' by the initiative.

The Law Society' attempt to bluntly spell out to injured parties that insurers who deal directly with injured parties who claim against their policyholders, without the involvement of independent legal representation, frequently fail to recover the compensation they are entitled to is to be applauded.

The Law Society makes the point that those who use a solicitor, tend to fare significantly better. In the past insurers have tried to use their own statistics to argue that they pay more compensation when dealing directly with unrepresented claimants but they have been notoriously reluctant to disclose their data or methodology.

Insurers see no problem in trying to avoid the claimant having either medical or legal advice and have recently been censured for selling claims against their own policyholders.  The number of deserving claims that insurers reject altogether is another factor. Certainly in our experience approximately a quarter of all claims that we succeed with follow complete denials of liability by the insurer.  Furthermore many of the claims in which we succeed involved winning technical arguments in relation to allegations of 'contributory negligence' which further affects the amount of the payment.

This is not to say that employers liability insurance claims handlers are not necessarily well intentioned (although this should not always be assumed in view of the counter compensation culture) but those most in need of legal representation are often the last to realise it.  Insurance companies are duty bound to protect their own policyholders and shareholders' interests, they owe a duty of confidentiality to the employer and have no legal duty or incentive to protect the injured party's interests.

In employers liability injury claims the injured worker is a lay person usually under significant financial pressure and worried about antagonising their employer to start with.  Where the claimant acts in person his economic disadvantage is compounded by his lack of legal knowledge when dealing with an insurance company professional who negotiates compensation payments down on a daily basis.  To suggest the clear conflict of interest does not create a systemic bias against the claimant is ludicrous.

Try to imagine a scenario where the insurance industry in a drive to reduce costs laid off all of its professional claims department's staff, loss adjusters and legal advisors and delegated the task of determining claims to the claimant's professional representative. 

If that was to happen the Insurers Industry's (CEO) 'survivors group' would have to seek refuge at No 10 again faster than you can say 'victimhood.'

Author: John Carr has over 18 years experience in employer's liability injury claims and has helped thousands of people claim compensation for accidents at work, occupational disability or industrial disease. You can find him on Google+

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