Cut out lawyers to save £1.5bn, says insurer

By James Barnes

15 February 2013 at 12:18 BST

Motorists would save an average of £60 per year if lawyers were by-passed in the small-claims process, a leading UK insurer yesterday claimed, sparking cries of outrage from the legal profession.

Don't let the lawyers get involved?

Following a report into the personal injury sector, Aviva said that claimants should cut legal representatives out of the equation and go directly to the ‘at-fault’ insurer.

Excessive costs
The Law Society – which represents solicitors in England and Wales – dismissed the claims immediately.
In the report, which will be sent to the Ministry of Justice, Aviva says that excessive costs in the claims process are the catalyst to an 80 per cent rise in premiums since October 2008. The research said that if insurers handled claims directly an estimated £1.5bn could be cut from the cost of premiums.
Aviva claims director Domonic Clayden said: ‘We are campaigning for a more efficient system that removes the “interested parties” and requires people to deal directly with the insurer of the at-fault party.’
Fair deal
The Law Society Gazette reports that Lucy Scott-Moncrieff, president of the Law Society, said in response to the report: ‘Who do you trust to give you a fair deal? A lawyer working for you, or an insurer working for the person or company in the wrong whose main interest is minimising what they pay you? Would you seriously trust the other side's insurer to give you a fair deal?
‘You need someone independent to make sure that you get what the law entitles you to have. It appears that Aviva wants to strip us all of our rights so they can make more profits.’
Whiplash claims
Craig Budsworth - chair of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society - agreed that fraudulent whiplash claims are contributing to high insurance premiums, but added that claimants must still have access to independent legal advice.
‘We must not have a system where claimants have to deal directly with insurers whose priority will be to keep their own costs down,’ he said. ‘This would restrict access to the independent legal advice essential to insuring that genuine accident victims receive the compensation they deserve.’

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