May 30, 2013

God, don’t people like to have a moan these days. According to the latest figures from The Financial Ombudsman Service, the number of people making fuss about insurance (if you ignore PPI complaints – which, sadly, isn’t allowed any more – but that’s another story) rose by a shocking 20% in the year to March 2013 – with 55% of those complaints relating to claims.

What this means in practice is that a literally sickening 33,172 people went whingeing to the Oboesman (18,000 of them about claims) whining away about how “It’s not fair!”

No matter than most of them almost certainly don’t have a leg to stand on and are merely trying it on. Hard line entitlementists are sure to come after the insurance industry accusing it of failing to adopt the requisite posture (one that doubtless involves bending over backwards and thinking of England – or wherever – does anyone think of Wales while having intimately unwelcome things done to them? We digress. Plainly.

In an act of quite astonishing disloyalty, even Insurance Times this week told insurers that they need to ‘get better at claims’ by which presumably they mean that insurers need to pay more of them. Paying more claims is precisely what insurers do NOT need to do! Ideally they would pay none at all. With the stock markets resolutely disobliging, that is more or less the whole POINT!

Let’s face it: times are tough. Insurers have been paying out money year after year for as long as anyone can remember and frankly there isn’t that much of it around these days. With claimants getting more and more greedy, there comes a point at which – with the best will in the world – you simply have to say ‘enough is enough’ and make it a bit harder for claimants to claim.

Taking a tougher stance (e.g. looking for non-disclosures, trusting an adjuster’s ‘gut feeling’ that a claim looks a bit fishy or simply assuming fraudulence in the absence of definitive proof to the contrary) is merely a natural selection kind of way of sorting the claimants who are truly serious from the mere chancers. At the recent BIBA conference there was a deal a fuss kicked up about how brokers keep having to get involved in helping people get their claims paid in the face of growing insurer reluctance and quibblage. Three out of four brokers, we were told, had overturned an insurer’s decision to reject a claim in the past twelve months.

For heavens sake! Insurers are doing brokers a FAVOUR by giving them a chance to demonstrate the value of their services. If insurers simply rolled over and paid at every turn, how on earth would the punters ever recognise that brokers are more than just the personal shoppers of the insurance world?

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