It would be easy not to, given the mud-slinging that's been going on recently; but since much of that mud has emanated from a single source since September, we decided to get the story from the horse's mouth. Read on for our reports from I love Claims and The Claims Event where the Rt Hon Jack Straw MP took centre stage.
The motor insurance industry's first open debate with the Rt. Hon Jack Straw MP, hosted by I Love Claims on Wednesday 28th September, saw panel members including Donna Scully (Chairman of MASS), Ian Hughes (CEO Consumer Intelligence), David Sandhu (CEO AI Claims Solutions plc), Stephen Walker (Head of Operations at Provident Insurance) and Nick Starling (Director of General Insurance ABI) facing an audience of 130 professionals.
The Claims Event on 12th October took on a similar format and delegates were informed how Mr Straw intends to push for referral fees to be made a criminal offence, and that the trade in customer data should be similarly outlawed. He revealed that the government will sit and rule on a bill before Christmas which he said he was "extremely confident" would be carried.
However, with consensus beginning to grow a ban on referral fees would not have the desired effect and reduce motor insurance premiums on its own, whiplash has emerged as Mr Straw's biggest grievance. He stated an ambition to make it impossible to claim for injuries occurring under 15mph unless legitimate tangible evidence is supplied.
Dr Simon Margolis, chief executive of Premex Group challenged accusations made by Mr Straw in the House of Commons, about the quality of medical evidence in personal injury, explaining that the former Justice Secretary had failed to acknowledge how the modern delivery of expert medical evidence is carried out: "I believe our panel of experts would appreciate the opportunity to challenge Mr Straw on this assertion and I invite him to do so at our next Expert Seminar at the Royal College of Physicians on 30th November. Premex Group undertakes work for both sides of the industry with reports prepared by the same cohort of medical experts irrespective of the source of the instruction - claimant or defendant.
"The 'hired gun' to which I believe Mr Straw refers has been largely eradicated by the Woolf reforms and medical reporting agencies such as ourselves have introduced an unbiased, professional approach to the delivery of medical evidence in the personal injury process," continued Dr Margolis.
"Developing authoritative guidance on the diagnosis of an injury is not a straightforward task. There is no blood test or imaging modality currently in existence that can prove or disprove an injury was sustained or whether symptoms are being experienced. That is why a combination of the taking of a history and the laying on of hands during clinical examination by a medical expert remains the appropriate approach. Much can be learned from the general demeanour of the claimant and the way the history is delivered."