The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has released its new voluntary code of conduct for members dealing with RTA (Road Traffic Accident) victims. The code came into effect on 13 February 2014.
The full code can be found on the ABI website here. It is signed by 15 leading insurance firms and is designed to ensure that the interests of customers with a personal injury claim are protected.
Under the code, insurers will ensure policyholders are made aware of their options when choosing a lawyer. This can include any links the insurer may have with them; emphasise the customer's right to choose their own legal representative; apply no pressure such as cold-calling on customers to claim (either directly or via third parties); not share personal information with a third party if they have said they would not pursue a claim; ensure that any third parties recommended to handle a claim will not increase legal costs for the at-fault insurer.
The code was prompted by the government's decision to slash fixed claimant costs for low-value RTA claims from £1,200 to £500 last April. This increases the likelihood of claimants being left without legal representation. The code follows on from justice secretary Chris Grayling's pledge to end insurers' practice of 'making offers to settle claims without requiring medical reports'.
The code does not emphasise the injury victim's right to independent legal advice. Ashfords would encourage anyone with an injury claim to contact a solicitor before accepting an insurer's offer to settle their claim.