A new Trade association has been formed to represent business that look after customers in the civil justice system, when they make a claim for insurance, injury, negligence and mis-selling.
The trade body, ACSO (the Association of Consumer Support Organisations), is backed by nearly 30 of the UK’s leading firms working in the claims sector, and according to ACSO executive director Matthew Maxwell-Scott its mission is to “de-toxify the so-called compensation culture.”
Mr Maxwell-Scott said: “For too long, the business and political establishment has talked up the compensation culture to persuade people not to claim when things go wrong, with the result that claiming has become a dirty word in public life. If people don’t claim, companies and the State save money.”
Mr Maxwell Scott said that research from YouGov, specially commissioned by ACSO, illustrates that claiming has become toxic. “80% of us think other people sometimes or often lie when they make a claim, and 32% have chosen not to make a claim when they had just cause.”
He said that of those 32%, 13% didn’t want to be part of the so-called compensation culture, and 6% didn’t think it was right to claim. 39% were worried at losing their no claims bonus and 51% didn’t think making a claim was worth the hassle.
Mr Maxwell Scott said: “These results tell us that claiming has become toxic even when there is a legitimate reason. Many of us have been encouraged to think claiming is somehow embarrassing, or unacceptable, and there is a general view that claimants lie or exaggerate when they make a claim.”
The irony is that insurers, who have introduced no-claims bonuses to discourage claims, and talk up the compensation culture, are among the least trusted of public services suppliers. YouGov found that only 1% of the public trust insurers most out of a raft of different service providers to act in their best interests, and, apart from estate agents, insurers were the least trusted sector listed.”
Mr Maxwell Scott said that ACSO will restore the balance. “We say it’s ok to claim. We pay insurance premiums to protect ourselves if things go wrong. The right to redress is not something to be ashamed of, but to be celebrated and nurtured. It is the mark of a civilised society, enshrined in our laws for hundreds of years.”
Mr Maxwell-Scott said: “Our member companies make sure customers get protection and help when they need access to justice. Without the help of our members, big business, with massive resources at their disposal, will win out against the claimant every time.”
“Until now, the claims industry has been disjointed and unable to present a single voice to legislators. ACSO aims to be the equivalent of the ABI – one organisation that can speak for the whole sector.”
“The technology revolution is changing everything in civil justice, including the law of the land. The claims industry will need to invest in technology to reduce cost and meet growing customer demands for rapid service.”
“We also expect a new wave of consolidation and the emergence of claims firms that offer bundled services. While niche and specialist operators will continue to fulfil an important role, a more aggregated sector requires a joined-up trade association that can speak on a wide number of different disciplines.”
Mr Maxwell-Scott explained that the recent whiplash reforms – which saw bitter debate between the insurers and law firms - were the catalyst for ACSO. “Customers were poorly served and the resulting legislation is bad news for genuinely injured people. Customer outcomes would have been improved if all sides had co-operated, and worked in the best interests of the customer.”
“We will continue to call out bad behaviour from the financial services sector, but we acknowledge that the current low levels of trust in financial services and in some parts of the claimant sector will only improve if we work together for the common good.”
1 Insurance companies compared to: banks, financial advisers, an electricity and/or gas supplier, solicitors, estate agents, local councils, internet service providers, and mobile phone companies.