Post Claims Club chair's monthly missive: whiplash, flooding and nappy changing

Closed grandstand ticket booths

Apologies for my tardiness with regards the lack of a November blog, but I was otherwise engaged with the birth of my first child.

While little Ellis Wilde-Swift kept me away from the insurance coalface with nappy changing, a lot has happened in the industry.

I was particularly interested in the polar positions the government seems to have taken over two major industry issues: flooding and whiplash.

On the former, the Association of British Insurers finally broke ranks after publicly claiming its discussions with the government had been progressing well.

This ran counter to the rumours that ABI representatives were having trouble engaging with the right people and having meetings cancelled.

In mid-November, Nick Starling, director of general insurance at the ABI, revealed that negotiations had reached an "impasse" as the government indicated it will not provide a temporary overdraft facility for a proposed not-for-profit special insurance fund for high-risk households.

Prime Minister David Cameron appeared to confirm the rumours when he told ministers: "I want us to get a resolution so that insurance companies provide what they are meant to provide, which is insurance for people living in their homes who want proper protection."

The response followed a question from Mel Stride, MP for Central Devon, who had asked Cameron in typical industry-baiting style: "Will [the PM] join me in pressing the Association of British Insurers to stop grandstanding in its negotiations with the government, to get down to the table and thrash out a deal so that my constituents can get the insurance they need?"

So, could the warm and cuddly glow that the industry and government has shared since the first insurance summit at number 10 on Valentine's Day be on the rocks? Not quite yet it would appear.

When it came to the whiplash consultation, the claimant community remains convinced that the ABI and government are working in cohort to the detriment of honest policyholders, fears that have not been allayed following the publication of the Ministry of Justice's proposals this week.

This criticism was encapsulated by recent Post Claims Club attendee John Spencer, a director at Spencers Solicitors, who ranted: "This is cheap political point scoring, playing to the insurers' tune about a so-called compensation culture and is nothing to do with responsible government."

I remember asking one of chief executives who attended the first motor summit why he had not taken the opportunity to discuss the matter when chatting to Cameron and his cronies, and they mentioned it did not seem appropriate.

Appropriate or otherwise, I believe in the maxim that you need to grab an opportunity when it arises. And it is not every day that the industry gets the ear of Cameron (who was notable by his absence at the second summit).

Speaking of the whiplash debate, Post will be spotlighting the issue in February during the Motor Claims conference.

Dominic Clayden, director of claims at Aviva and Deborah Evans, chief executive at the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, are already confirmed for the panel.

So as 2012 closes for business, you all as Claims Club members will no doubt reflect on the plusses and negatives of a year that, given the upheaval planned in 2013, could be the quiet before the storm.

On a more personal note, we often ask industry types for their end of year best offs and I thought it only fair I reciprocate. So here you go:

Film of the Year: The Raid
TV programme of the Year: Homelands
Album of the Year: Fin by Jon Talabot
Book of the Year: Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Gadget of the Year: iPhone 5
Sporting event of the Year: London Olympics and Paralympics
Villain of the Year: Alex McLeish
Website of the Year:
Insurance Event of the Year: The launch of the Post iPad app

Remember, the Claims Club will be back in February with the first meeting poised to look in depth at the issue of nurturing talent with underwriter turned claims guru turned underwriter David Williams of Axa leading the charge.

We will also be graced with an appearance from John Mead, technical claims director at NHSLA, who will offer his own insights into how his organisation is preparing itself for the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act. 

For more information and to sign up please go to the Claims Club website.

Before I sign off I would like to just flag up some reading for the holiday period from Post's sister title Insurance Hound. I know that you will be busting a gut to escape the mince pies and turkey leftovers come 27 December, so put your feet up and have a look at these:

Picking up the pieces: A London Assembly report on how businesses were helped to recover from the August 2011 riots


The Whiplash Report 2012

Thailand - one year on

So until the next meeting, have a fantastic Christmas and great new year.

Jonathan Swift, chairman, Claims Club

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