Collaboration between insurer and claimant representatives amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic remains ongoing, with the Association of British Insurers (ABI), Forum of Insurance Lawyers (FOIL), Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) and Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) renewing their agreements last month.
More than 40 law firms, medical reporting agencies and rehabilitation providers, as well as a number of major insurers, have signed up to the ACSO/ABI-sponsored statement of intent, designed to keep the wheels of justice turning during the Covid-19 pandemic, and ensure that injured people can get their claims settled promptly.
Commenting on the renewal of the statement of intent for a further three weeks on 15 May, Matthew Maxwell Scott, executive director of the ACSO, which represents businesses that support consumers making a claim, said his members remained fully committed to the statement of intent, and were keen to enlist support from the across the insurance sector.
He continued: “So far the vast majority of insurers we or our members have engaged with have confirmed they are supportive of the principles of the statement of intent which they are applying in their own ways, including the likes of Admiral, Allianz, Aviva, DLG, Hastings, NFU Mutual and RSA.”
Maxwell Scott explained that the statement included temporary measures to resolve disputed claims, to counter the pressure on the courts and tribunals service, which is running well below capacity. The Covid-19 pandemic is continuing to create a significant case backlog, which means injured people risk being unable to access treatment while their claim is in dispute.
The measures in the statement of intent include agreeing to remote medical examination and rehabilitation, extending the negotiation period, and using established escalation points and/or consider joint settlement meetings and/or use of independent barristers’ chambers to arbitrate a settlement.
Maxwell Scott added: “We have to prepare for a long haul, when it comes to settling injury claims, because a return to anything resembling business as usual seems a fairly distant prospect.”
“We share the same customers, so we urge all parties to make use of the temporary measures to get cases settled as quickly as possible, to ease the backlog and make sure consumers don’t have to carry the after effects of their injuries any longer than necessary.”
APIL and the ABI, meanwhile, have agreed to extend their Coronavirus (Covid-19) Personal Injury Protocol until at least 17 June.
Signatories to the protocol, which was originally agreed in March, agreed that all limitation dates in all personal injury cases are frozen and promised to respond constructively to defendant requests for extension of time to serve a defence.
They also promised to put in place an escalation process and dedicated ‘hotline’ covering failure to comply with the freeze on limitation dates and undertake to respond constructively to requests for extensions.
Finally, signatory organisations committed to monitoring the hotline regularly and referring cases to senior decision makers for swift responses.
APIL and FOIL have also extended their agreed best practices until 17 June. They stress the importance of efficient communications. Other measures include accepting service and evidence by email, and agreeing to use some form of video conferencing for medical examinations when appropriate.