February 15, 2013

Not since the heady days when the advertising-driven heavy artillery of Peter Wood’s Direct Line first began clearing a swathe through the complacent ranks of so-called insurance brokers has the phrase “cutting out the middleman” enjoyed such currency in insurance circles.

Directing the onslaught this time round are insurers Uvavu whose route map for government policymakers ‘Road to Reform’ is this week’s hot topic in the world of motor insurance. Uvavu’s document makes the common-sense recommendation that lawyers and claims managers should be denied the opportunity to inflate costs by requiring those injured in RTAs to apply for any compensation they think they deserve directly to the at-fault driver’s insurers.

Uvavu blame the well-documented and uncontroversial ‘personal injury compensation culture’ for adding £118 to the average motorist’s insurance premium. There are really only two ‘important people’ in the process, Uvavu claims director Dominic Claymore told Insurance Ague this week, and the government should take steps to cut out all the ‘middlemen and hangers on’.

The important people identified by Mr Claymless are ‘the person who has had the accident that’s not their fault’ and ‘the broader paying public’ (i.e. presumably people who have to pay motor insurance premiums). Insurers can’t keep saying ‘”Sorry, premiums are rising” and passing them on to policyholders’, Claymo insists.

And, of course, he’s right! Somehow all this claiming has to be stopped. Removing middlemen looks like a great way of doing it – because people like lawyers (ambulance chasers), claims firms (people who think any old RTA victim has a right to a lawyer) and insurance brokers (relentless defenders of their clients’ interests) all have a vested interest in fostering claims and maximising settlement figures.

Getting rid of all these unimportant people clearly makes sense. The curious thing about Mr Claymtown’s analysis is that insurers themselves are not adjudged ‘important people’. This might sound odd, coming from an insurer. But perhaps he has a point…

Might there not, after all, be a more efficient way of getting a modest but equitable amount of money from ‘the broader paying public’ to ‘the person who has had the accident that’s not their fault’?

Reading between the lines, Uvavu appear actually to be making a noble and selfless case for nationalising the whole business of motor insurance and removing the excess costs introduced by insurers’ need to reward their shareholders, advertise their services etc. etc.

Centralising the whole business would certainly make it easier to align the interests of those who pay and those who receive compensation and to identify fraudsters, the uninsured and so on – and imagine how much easier it would be for all those comparison sites if there was only one insurer to compare!

Great to see some truly objective and enlightened analysis for a change. Hats off to Uvavu for finally breaking the tedious cycle of self-interested misrepresentation and special pleading that so often plagues discussion on this topic.


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