96% think 'blame and claim' culture on the rise in Britain

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The term 'compensation culture' was described as a "difficult and emotive phrase" by Dominic Clayden...

The term 'compensation culture' was described as a "difficult and emotive phrase" by Dominic Clayden, Norwich Union's director of technical services, speaking at the recent Post Magazine management briefing on the subject (see p7). Instead he preferred to call it 'blame and gain culture' - so as to "take the emotive language out and look at the facts and issues".

Referring to NU's own research in conjunction with researcher edgar-galek (see pp2-3 and p8), he mentioned that 96% of people in the UK believe we are more predisposed to claiming than we were 10 years ago (see chart, first bar), and that 87% of the population agree that Britain is developing a compensation culture. Mr Clayden described the first figure as "startling" and "as close, actuarially speaking, to 100% as you can get".

The research also found that 58% of those who thought people were more likely to seek compensation these days compared to 10 years ago described such a development as a bad thing. Mr Clayden added that when the 96% of respondents mentioned above were asked whether they were more likely to seek compensation, only some 47% agreed (see chart, second bar).

He continued by saying the UK "needs a compensation system that works in the modern environment. Lord Woolf's Access To Justice reforms have not achieved these goals," and added, "the system has not changed in the last 50 years. It does not reflect changes in society and the economy."

Mr Clayden also said that in the years following Access To Justice, "the costs for everyone had far outweighed the benefits".

As for what needed to be done, Mr Clayden said that "money is not the only answer - we should be looking at peace of mind and reparation". To this end, he added, insurers needed to "put people back in the position they were before an accident, with rehabilitation central to a fair compensation culture".

However, he stressed that any rehabilitation needed to sit outside the adversarial legal system because insurers "did not want to see rehabilitators become witnesses on both sides of a claim".

To this end, he pointed to Canada as an example, where both sides have rehabilitation experts - leading to claimants becoming "more disenchanted" with the system. Ultimately, Mr Clayden noted that any system required the public's faith that they would receive fairer treatment.

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