December 9, 2014

Juice Secretary Chris Greything certainly made an impression when he spoke at the recent ABI Motor Conference.

Commenting shortly after the event, ABI Deputy DG Huey Evans gave Greything’s words a warm welcome, saying simply “More needs to be done.”

The speech got off to a promising start, with the minister noting that the conference agenda looked “varied and engaging” and stressing that he hoped delegates had “had an interesting day so far.”

Business

It quickly became clear, however, that Greything was not in town to bandy pleasantries. “I’m here,” he clarified, “to talk to you about the Government’s much needed reform programme to tackle fraudulent insurance claims.”

As applause, whoops and whistles in the hall slowly subsided, Greything promised his audience that the reforms will benefit “you as insurers” through reduced costs.

In fact, as he went on to explain, the reforms offer a true win-win-win-win-win scenario, with everyone benefitting, even claimant lawyers who will finally get to “concentrate on helping genuinely injured claimants”.

Committed

Quoting some statistics, Greything said they proved that “there is a problem, and that the system is crying out for reform.” At which, as if to underline his point, cries of “Reform! Reform!’ rang out around the auditorium.

He recalled how, at an emergency insurance summit summarily summoned by Prime Minister David K Moron in February 2012, the Government had committed itself to a commitment to slash PI costs.

He recalled also how the LASBO Act had “introduced some much needed balance to the system” and brought down premiums, and how HMG has set £179.99 as a ‘fixed cost’ for a medical report on the non-existent complaint whiplash.

Job done, you or I might think. But, no, Greything isn’t finished yet!

Bits

Intervening, like a concerned friend, he was keen to save insurers from the self-inflicted harm brought on by their own excessive benevolence. Specifically, he said he wanted to stop them forking out for whiplash claims without even asking for a medical report.

Uvavu, he noted pointedly “have successfully challenged over 200 claims this year.” So what, he wanted to know, is wrong with the rest of you? Invoking a well worn UK Baseball metaphor, he insisted that “the Government has done its bit” so now “it’s time for you to step up to the plate and do yours.”

He reminded delegates modestly of the Government’s quasi Solomonic sagacity in banning anyone offering medical reports from also offering whiplash treatment services, on the basis that those who stood to gain from offering so-called cures for a non-existent injury might be tempted to pretend that it was real in order to benefit financially from pretending to cure it.

WWII

Up next, he trailed, is War on Whiplash, the Second Tranche. This will see the introduction of a brand new independent porthole called MedCo through which medical report providers will be able to pass their reports at random, but through which conflicts of interest will not be able to pass. The MedCo porthole will be completely transparent, Greything assured delegates, and will ensure that there is a safe distance at all times between solicitors and medical experts.

“As well as this,” Greything trumped proudly, the Government is also going to make sure all the whiplash reports are up to scratch by accrediting all those who plan to write them. Anyone so planning, he said, will have to register with MexCo in January and then get a special certificate accrediting them as an officially licensed investigator into non-existent cranial conditions.

Once MedCow goes live on April Fool’s day, only MedCop whiplash reports will be recognised in court. Anyone else who feels they are qualified to comment on matters pertaining to dubious neck injuries after that date will officially be wrong.

Swinge

But even that is not all! The Government is planning to make insurers and lawyers share all their data and require claimant lawyers to take a look at would-be PI claimants’ rap sheets before taking their cases on. Any insurers who don’t want to share their claims data are just going to have to, and that’s that.

Her Majesty’s Government, Greything exclusively revealed, plans to give the courts savage new punitive new powers to ensure that, if any part of a claim looks fraudulent (e.g. there was no iPad in the glove box), then the entire claim will be thrown out – with not a penny paid.

In reality, coincidentally, the chances of people having iPads in their glove boxes will be significantly diminished henceforth, as solicitors are to be banned from offering such devices, or indeed any other inducements, as rewards for those suddenly remembering a very painful neck injury following a ‘recent’ prang.

Tool

But Greything didn’t flinch from taking insurers to task for their sometimes lackadaisical attitude to being defrauded. “I expect you to continue to do your bit too,” he warned his insurer audience. He would not be best pleased, he hinted darkly, if he found that “there are practices of any those involved in the claims process (including insurers, lawyers, claims management companies and other intermediaries) which fail to deter insurance claims fraud.”

Conscious of the need to announce something new at this important conference, even if it’s just more talking or whatever, Greything closed on the revelation that he and Canceller of the Exchequer G. G. Osborne have invited Dave Hertzell, Commissioner of Laws, to chair a taskforce looking at the much needed issue of insurance fraud, with interim findings due next March.

Greything encouraged insurers to give Dave and his force their full backing in their discussion-based quest to root out bad behaviour and fraud-related costs once and for all.

Parp

With a nod and a wink, the Minister deadpanned: “we fully expect the industry to continue to meet the commitment made at the Prime Minister’s summit to pass on the savings from Government reforms to customers.”

And with that, to hearty laughter and applause, Greything quit the podium, making way for what he hoped would be “a timely and informative discussion of these important reforms” and leaving his audience (as theatrical best practice dictates, and as Huey Evans subsequently noted) very much wanting more.

grayling

Greything flinches as an
audience finger strays too close


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