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Doubt cast on industrial deafness claim statistics

The insurance industry has declared war on industrial deafness claims so the recent news of sky high repudiation rates will be welcome for defendants. Interestingly, an analyst's claims that the insurance industry is repudiating only two-thirds of industrial deafness claims for alleged fraud has been supported by the industry's trade body, despite his suggestions that repudiations cannot be higher than 80%.

BNP Paribas analyst Andy Hughes called into question the industry's ability to keep pace with Aviva's claimed repudiation rate of 85% of industrial deafness claims

Aviva opted not to contribute to an article in Post Magazine. However, Association of British Insurers civil justice policy advisor Jonathan Pryke estimated an industry-wide repudiation rate of just 60% to 70% of hearing loss claims. 

Idea of driverless cars fails public confidence test 

The fact we may all be taking our hands off the wheels in a few years' time has insurers and claimants scratching their heads over the possible consequences. Now a new survey shows that almost one in two Britons would not want to be a passenger in a driverless car and 16% expressed 'horror' at the idea. 

The survey by Uswitch was carried out ahead of road trials for autonomous vehicles in Greenwich, Bristol, Milton Keynes and Coventry.

Despite the apparent aversion to the concept, over 90% of people interviewed felt 'in the dark' about the trials, while 35% expected driverless cars to raise insurance premiums, and only 8% thought the cost of cover would drop. 

Uswitch head of car insurance Rod Jones said: "With human error accounting for around 90% of road accidents, the potential safety benefits of driverless cars are significant and they should have a positive impact on car insurance premiums."

Claimants' mitigation of losses can reduce defendants' costs 

In another headline development, a top legal specialist has advised insurers to be aware of opportunities to challenge claimants on their obligation to mitigate losses. 

Michael Burns, legal director at Hill Dickinson, cited the recent case of Bacciottini and Cook v Gotelee & Goldsmithin which the court ruled the claimants' mitigation of loss had been so successful that they had suffered almost no loss - even though there had been an admission of negligence. 

The case arose after defendants failed to identify a planning condition attached to property acquired by the claimants that meant it was worth £100,000 less than the £550,000 they paid for it. Crucially, though, the claimants paid £250 to remove the planning condition before taking action against the solicitors.

The judge ruled the claimants' loss was limited to £250 because damages are designed to return the claimants to the position they should have been in, and an award of £100,000, which it had been claimed, would have overcompensated them.

Will insurer ABSs reverse decline in CMC numbers?

The drastic decline of claims management companies (CMCs) and a decrease in bodily injury claims could be countered by the activities of insurance companies with alternative business structures (ABSs), reports in January suggested. 

A study by the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries showed a 35% drop in CMC numbers. However, ABS licences are so popular with insurance firms that the researchers indicated there is a risk of reversing the 12% claims reduction the IFoA has seen since the introduction of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act

Mazars' actuarial and risk director Simon Yeung said: "All it would take is for one or two insurers to proactively start using an ABS like a CMC and that would spread, and virtually all of the big brands have one at the moment." 

Putting legislative spin on parliamentary Ping-Pong 

And finally, as the general election on May 7 approaches, a legal expert reviewed the bills he thinks are likely to be batted back and forth between the Commons and Lords in a game of parliamentary Ping-Pong. 

Andrew Parker, partner at DAC Beachcroft, expects four bills of direct interest to motor and liability insurers to be affected by 'Ping-Pong' amendments. These include the Criminal Justice and Courts Bill, Insurance Bill, Deregulation Bill and Social Action Responsibility and Heroism Bill.