Insurance Companies and The Injuries Board – Yet Another Review?
We hear a lot about insurance in the media these days. We also hear a lot about insurance companies, premium costs and the disclosure of information. This is in addition with the actual level of compensation payments victims of accidents actually receive.
The Injuries Board has been around for over a decade now. Thousands of injury cases have passed through its handling. Some of these settle others proceed to Court. Some of the main accident types assessed are accidents at work, road traffic accidents and accidents in public places.
Getting to the bottom of Insurance Costs
In recent months, there has been a renewed effort to get to the bottom of insurance costs. However, this is not a new issue. From its inception, the Injuries Board has been under review. This is despite having lobbied for its creation it is a constant object of criticism by the insurance companies.
We recently came across a series of recommendations made by one of the major insurance companies. We thought it would be interesting to see what they were proposing:
Liberty Insurers acknowledged that ‘an objective of the Injuries Board was to speed up the assessment of claims. This has been achieved and the initial improvement has been dramatic. However, an issue that still concerns insurers is the average time lag from application by the claimant to settlement/award in circumstances where the award is rejected.’
They went on to propose, ‘Consideration should be given to an amendment of the legislation to reduce the time that the Injuries Board has to assess the award and to reduce the time when the “clock has been stopped” to prevent unreasonable delays. (The current process can add up to 14 months to a claim). Delays add to the overall length of a case and these add to the damages and costs.’
They proposed that ‘pure psychological injury claims should be brought under the remit of the Injuries Board. This thereby effects costs savings to consumers.’
In what might be seen as a judicial function they proposed that in cases of road traffic accidents, the Injuries Board should have the capacity to consider liability and, in particular, to make appropriate reductions in awards to reflect the contributory negligence of the claimant due to non-wearing of a seat belt.’
Injuries Board assessment without all the information
In the area of the exchange of information regarding claims they suggested, (a suggestion many solicitors would dispute) ‘that there are concerns that a number of claimants to the Injuries Board do not provide the Injuries Board with the full information at the time of making the application. We would submit that the Board should be empowered to refuse applications as accepted (with the Statute of Limitations continuing to run) until such time as the applicant has furnished all reports prepared by all medical practitioners who has treated the claimant in respect of personal injuries that are subject to the relevant claim, together other documentary proof in relation to loss or damage in respect of which special damages are being sought in the relevant claim.’
They went on to suggest there be ‘an ongoing duty to disclose all relevant medical information should be imposed on the claimant.’ This is quite a remarkable suggestion bearing in mind that claimants do not recover the full costs of the reports funded in making their cases!
They also suggested not allowing ‘the Statute of Limitations to cease running where there was non-cooperation with the scheme.’ It was interesting to note that no definition as to what constituted non-co-operation was made. In addition, nor was there any penalty suggested for defendants or insurers who fail to co-operate with the Injuries Board.
Where do we stand now?
It’s interesting that we are now back in a period of review of insurance costs, in particular, car insurance costs. The recent concern as to the accuracy of the data provided in relation to claims history has raised concerns. It will be interesting to see if any of the proposals reviewed in this article make their way into any review of the way we compensate victims of road traffic accidents and other accident within the Personal Injuries Assessment Board process.