THE BLOG
02/11/2011 06:15 GMT | Updated 26/12/2011 05:12 GMT

The Focus on Military Lobbying Now Needs to Turn to Insurance Industry Lobbyists

The insurance industry gets away with unacceptable abuse. From banking (ie. payment protection insurance), to extended appliance warranties, some of which are not worth the paper they are written on, and so much of so-called life-insurance is pathetic and an insult that they try to sell it to one, as it is no better than you having saved the money yourself in a low-interest bank deposit account!

Private health insurance; there is something immoral when premiums increase with age and become prohibitive at the very time of life when private health care is most needed. Furthermore, for the insurers to say someone in their late seventies who needs several replacement joints, therefore has a chronic condition is cynical. Give them the replacements and they will not have a chronic problem; deny them the surgery, and they will have a chronic problem! The attitude to age in this country is appalling; largely driven by insurers who think that people are decrepit and irreparable beyond the age of forty and past it by retirement!

As for much of the exasperating health and safety farce that prevents schools and youth clubs providing sport and adventure for children, it is often the edict of insurers that they will not provide cover for it, that denies those growing up the life experiences that would help them grow and develop. Such is the destiny, too, of many community events.

The very high cost of car premiums is a factor that is driving more youngsters to risk driving without insurance: it then becomes a vicious circle of premiums rising higher to cover the costs of the uninsured! The insurers are creating the very problem they bemoan!

Now the insurance lobbyists have won the argument to persuade this and the previous government, to allow the insurance industry to be given carte blanche to run rings around the British public, under the guise of self-regulation, and to sideline no-win no-fee legal actions, which have proved essential to get justice, particularly when a case is against an insurance company which otherwise behave abominably to the detriment of the individual up against them.

The so-called compensation culture is a bit of a myth.

Well done to the Dowler family who spoke out to up-hold CFA (conditional fee arrangements), without which they would have been unable to fight their case to win compensation.

It is essential that we must continue - and even extend - cfa, legal aid etc; without which , anyone who has had to go through the process without a solicitor knows too well that claimants are bullied and worn down by insurance companies and put at a huge disadvantage.

Claims firms are an asset to helping people get treatment and compensation.

Where organised accidents take place, that is a criminal act and those involved should be prosecuted accordingly, but the innocent should not be persecuted and disadvantaged by the removal of the no-win no fee facility.

It should be remembered that it is the insurance industry themselves who have been selling the details of accidents to the accident claim companies that publicly they criticise.

Removing the payment of referral fees from solicitors to referrers, has not reduced the problem; for they were ahead of the government and claims companies merely now check the accident database and use victims 'phone numbers to hassle them direct; so the legislation, - not untypically of bad legislation and government interference -, has made the situation worse!

One of the biggest scandals of the insurance industry, is their attitude to personal injury and the degree of care that they should provide (or lack of it).

It is essential that treatment and rehabilitation is provided promptly, otherwise there is a knock on effect on life and income etc. The insurers here begrudgingly provide the minimum to get someone back to work; that minimises the claim against the insurer. However, they shamefully have no interest in returning someone to their recreational -and importantly health benefiting activities - such as sport.

For many people, participation in sport, even just at a recreational level, is important. Keen recreational sports participants in other countries receive much better provision; eg, in Austria sn injured member of the public would be sent for three or more weeks of intensive residential therapy, followed by longer term treatment for as long as it takes to get them back to the level they were at. Not doing so bodes future health problems and increased costs falling upon the NHS social security systems.

However in Britain this is not so; Allianz is an example of the typical poor practice here. They know in their home country what has to be provided, but here they choose to treat Britons as second rate and write them off with the minimum of treatment. They will find excuses using someone's age that there must have been hidden problems that have manifested and use them as not their responsibility.

Age and wear and tear are not an issue in other countries. Why here?

We are supposed to be in the EU and benefit from equality of treatment, yet it is not working for us.

Shame on Association of British Insurers that they have not got their members to adopt the best of practice from the EU or elsewhere, and so to stop treating the British like second class citizens.

This has a massive impact on British sport. When the keen recreational participants in sport do not receive rehabilitation and so cannot return to sport, so the pool of talent from which the elite teams draw is diminuished. This is, of course, particularly pertinent in this time of GB hosting the Olympics. Rectification of this should be made a key outcome of the Olympic year; to change this despicable state of affairs

The ridiculous thing is that it would be more cost effective (and public relations effective) for the industry to provide excellent medical treatment from the outset without quibble. The insurance industry bemoans the legal costs it currently incurs and blames that cost for a large part of the increase in insurance premiums the public has to pay. But if the insurance industry got its house in order, removed its bureaucracy, it could provide better care at reduced cost on the back of the reduced legal costs. The insurance industry is incredibly inefficient and wasteful currently. Furthermore, the more speedy and efficient and effective provision of medical treatment required would reduce the claim for damages by shortening the losses to the individual. What is more, I tend to believe that most people are not actually after damages at the outset; they want effective treatment, but it is the frustration and annoyance with the insurers systems and behaviour that drives them to seek damages too. The reality is that the injured party rarely gets recompensed for the consequential losses of the insurer's bad faith. If the insurance industry gets its house in order, it will be better for all involved.

Insurance premiums and profits are quite high enough but are swallowed by large corporate costs and shareholders,- not to cover insurance. There was a time when most retail insurance trade was provided by provident or benevolent societies, i.e. not for profit, and so to the benefit of members.

Member of Parliament Jack Straw, has been criticising the insurers for selling accident details to various organisations in a way which ups the cost of premiums. The MP has described the insurers as "parasites". He is fighting hard but must up the ante.

Whether assessing private medical insurance or injury claims, the criteria utilised for the impact of age and wear and tear, is out of date: The insurance industry thinks as if 60 is old and the person is about to die. Fifty years ago, someone reaching forty frequently did have chronic problems, and few actually reached retirement age even at all let alone in good health or with many years to live! Now joint replacements in the 70s is medically worthwhile and cost effective because it is expected the person will have many years still to live. It is ludicrous that insurers get away with not covering treatment for injury over 40 as say its result of wear and tear, - or demand and inflict invasive examination to try to prove otherwise.

The health and safety madness is also stifling industry and recreation and learning, by the demand for risk assessment and then the subsequent refusal to cover by insurers. This has also increased the burden of costs on the tax-payer by increasing the costs on local councils and businesses who have to assess the risks.

Insurance industry policy is directly damaging the environment, through their obsession that trees might fall or the roots cause damage to buildings - or someone might drive into it! Trees are not disposable inconveniences to be cut down and replaced; they are essential as constants for our ecology and wider environment. It is their being very established that is essential to Nature. All of the major insurance companies make environmental impact statements and stewardship claims, yet glibly demand the felling of trees; their environment statements should be challenged.

Furthermore, felling a tree suspected of causing root damage, causes worse damage as the roots die and the ground is left with voids, and heave results as the ground swells nearby due to the increase in water present that is no longer evaporated off by the tree. So frightened are insurers of a tree falling, that they demand its demise at the slightest sign of fungus on the surface, yet this may never damage the tree or at least only after a long time. Often the relationship between tree and fungus is a symbiotic one. In fact every tree is 'infected' by fungi and indeed in many cases relies on this symbiotic relationship to extract nutrients from the soil, and even for communication between trees. Either the insurers are failing to employ ecologists to advise them, or they are deliberately causing damage to the environment.

The insurance industry is costing the people of this country dear. It is time for a major shake-up.