March 28, 2014

Catchphrase Britain is broken, and someone needs to “SORT IT!” The NHS: Broken! Education: Broken! The economy: Broken! Election promises: Broken! How much of the breakage was accidental and how much intentional is open to debate. attempts to reassemble all the broken bits have not being going well, and the whole place is starting to look like Sid Philips’ bedroom out of Toy Story 1.

Shockingly it emerged this week that, brace yourselves, even motor insurance has been broken. It was Johnny O’Roarke of L/V<, speaking in a break between rounds of golf at the I F’ing Love Claims motor conference in Sunny Portugal who reported the damage, but who broke it? No-one’s owning up.

So broken, in fact, is the private motor industry that Johnny reckons it might even do some good to have the Competitors Companion (CC) sticking its dreaded probe up the sector to have a good root around. The CC’s intervention is “long overdue,” he argues, and could help clear years of accumulated bad practice out of the system.

Of course, he concedes, the probe “is unwelcome,” but it is also “essential, and it gives the industry an opportunity to rescue its reputation.” Rather than resisting the CC’s vigorous probing, insurance firms should in fact, he suggests, be bending over backwards to accommodate it.

Unable to resist the current craze amongst insurance firms for reckless self-incrimination, he also threw in the devastating offhand observation that it seems a little ironic that (in the paraphrased words of Insurance Times, who were there on the spot among the luxuriant lawns of fair Lusitania, while Bankstone News and friends contented themselves with the odd kickabout with an empty Tizer can round the back of the Badgers) ”it is a crime for consumers to exaggerate the value of a claim” but “it is common practice for many insurers to inflate their motor repair costs and recover this from the at-fault insurer.”

He was also a tad pessimistic about the prospects for ‘sorting’ the motor market anytime soon. “We’re a nation of dodgy old chancers and opportunists,” he said. No, wait, “We are a nation of entrepreneurs,” he said, “and if the legislation changes, people who are affected by it will change their business models so they get around it. You only have to look at what’s happening with Alternative Business Structures with insurers owning law firms to see that this is not going to go away easily,” he said.

Nice as it would be to think that consumers might some day get a good deal out of broken Britain and its broken private motor sector, the CC and the rest may ultimately be barking up a dead tree, Johnny suspects: “They’re trying to eat an elephant,” he explained, which, given that the average elephant yields between three and four thousand portions of turgidly unappetising flesh (though the feet are quite tasty, apparently), could take a good few weeks, even if all staff were required to partake, and some of them, presumably, are vegetarians or might suddenly decide that they are .

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