The Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS) has once again warned the government not to increase the small claims limit after the Competition Commission’s report on the private motor insurance industry revealed bad practices were the cause for the increase of insurance premiums for consumers.
Released before Christmas, the report showed that it was in fact the insurance industry that were responsible for the rise in car insurance premiums, as a result of effectively overcharging each other and then passing on the rising costs of repairs to the consumer.
MASS argued that the finding of the report served to highlight the low level of understanding that accident victims have on their own legal rights and insisted that any rise in the small claims limit would in fact be disastrous. This is because any such raise of the small claims limit would leave accident victims in a position where they are forced to fend for themselves when making a claim, rather than have access to legal representation, which would all but certainly lead to the accident victim being left under compensated.
They also called for the Competition Commission to reconsider the potential remedy for at fault insurers to be given the first option to handle non-fault claims, which they dismissed as another wording for ‘Third Party Capture’. This is a form of cost reduction for the insurers that that they have campaigned against tirelessly, due to the fact it effectively gives the insurers the green light to buy off claims cheaply at the accident victims expense.
The not for profit personal injury representative body were also quick to display their disgust at the shocking revelation that insurers were driving down payments to repairers to such a low level that often cars that had been involved in an accident were receiving a low quality of repair. This effectively meant that people who had been involved in an accident were left driving a damaged car around under the belief that hit had been repaired.
The fact they were willing to put the drivers of these vehicles at risk of further injury simply highlights what the personal injury industry has said all along regarding the insurance industry’s motive for pursuing such extreme reform to the personal injury claims process. They are clearly willing to jeopardise the safety of the accident victim, whilst deflecting rising repair costs on to the consumer, in order to look after their own profits, a point that surely the government has to take note of when considering any further changes to the industry.
MASS concluded their response by insisting that they will work with the Competition Commission to ensure any remedy for rising costs also provides for the scenario where access to justice will be affected, when there is a question over blame, or indemnity being provided by an insurer.