As long as there is insurance, there will always be claims. However, there is much bad press and negative sentiment about claims. Invariably they can often be protrayed as false, exagerated or fraudulent. Every claim is treated with suspicion and looked at to see if it can be declined. However, in over 40 years experience in dealing with property damage claims we could count on one hand the number of incidents that might fall into a fraudulent category, and we in Balcombes want nothing to do with such behaviours.
The fact is, the overwhelming majority of people are honest and straight-forward, and just want their loss and damage dealt with promptly and fairly under the terms of their policy. Loss assessors help to do that. We have a passion for seeing the unfortunate customer through the sometimes difficult process of dealing with a loss, and ensure they receive their maximum and rightful entitlement. Fires can result in severe damage, loss of jobs and even loss of life.
We hear some companies talking about catastophy losses, and even some adjusting firms have job titles like ‘major and complex loss adjuster’. However for most claimants their claim is a ‘major and complex’ loss. They have to learn the ropes and try and understand how the process works and what they are entitled to claim for, and what paperwork they need to produce to even submit their claim. We shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that dealing with highly educated and well versed claims adjusting staff is simple. To use a medical analogy, Insurance Brokers are like GP’s. Loss Assessors are like consultants.
Insurance companies exist to pay the claims of the few out of the premiums of the the many. Individuals, businesses and the economy need that to continue so that we can function as a civilised society.
We have long maintained that the biggest issue for the solvency of Insurers is the cost of personal injury claims. The Personal Injuries Assessment Board (now the Injuriesboard.ie) was set up to try and take on the legal costs of personal injury claims by offering a direct mechanism to claimants that did not require the involvement of Solicitors. Limited success was had initilly, but most claimants still want to be represented by a Solicitor. Why? Because they feel initimidated and vulnerable when up against ‘the system’.
There was a new Book of Quantum issued in 2016, and despite the fact that it was 12 years since the previous one was introduced there was no logic in some of the guidance contained therein. At a recent briefing by Michael Corrigan, Solicitor he points out that dispite the vast quantity of data available since the 2004 Book of Quantum was published, there is precious little guidance in relation to the correct value of soft tissue injuries which make up the majority of personal injury claims which are for whiplash type of neck and back injuries. In addition, the bands of values are so broad as to be effectively worthless. He gave an example of the guidance in relation to Crush injuries – Foot. A minor injury is said to be worth between €12,800 and €40,900. A moderate injury was worth between €14,500 and €73,900. The starting point for Severe and Permanent is €26,600 – which is significantly less than the upper limit for a Minor injury.
The Minister of State Eoghan Murphy TD is responsible for chairing a working group reviewing the cost of motor insurance and is said to be loooking at all the issues. On a recent television programme he was reported to have said that by reducing fraud out of motor claims he was confident that €50 could be saved off every motor premium. However, the cost of motor insurance for young drivers can be between €2,000 and €4,000 for those luck enough to get it. Hardly a game changer!
The cost of motor insurance has been escalating in the past two years. The instances of uninsured motorists on our roads is said to be increasing at an alarming rate. The cost of claims resulting from uninsured motorists is passsed on to all of us, as awards are paid by the Motor Insurance Bureau, which is funded by all insurers. The cost of awards for soft tissue injuries in Ireland is reported to be up to 5 times that in the UK and other European jurisdictions.
The minister could solve the crisis in the cost of motor insurance overnight by re-visiting the Book of Quantum immediately and slashing the cost of minor injuries.