Why Accidents NEED Managing: the Facts Behind the Scandal.
A Response to Recent Media Attacks
Accident management companies are greedy unscrupulous companies profiting from peopleís misfortune and sending insurance premiums rocketing. Isnít that what the media has told you? Recent reports such as The Cash for Crash Conspiracy article in the Daily Mail# and the BBC Panorama programme The Great Car Insurance Swindle# send out clear messages about accident management companies and personal injury solicitors and the lengths they will go to. The insurance companies and even the Police donít emerge unscathed either. But is it really that simple?
There are a lot of cowboys out there, you canít deny that, but is it a fair statement to say that ALL accident management companies are bad news? We would argue not. "Well you would say that, you are an accident management company!" Thatís true, we are. RTR, however, is the respectable face of accident management and we think itís important that people know that there is a side to accident management that is not only in a different league to the kinds of company the media pillories but is in fact providing a valuable and legitimate service: a service for which there is a genuine need.
The kind of companies featured in these media campaigns give all of us a bad name. Their only objective is to work the system and make a quick buck. A lack of regulation, and even participation by insurance companies and the Police, has allowed this industry to boom. Aside from the clearly criminal actions of those causing accidents to profit from the process (a different issue entirely), the activities of these companies is entirely legal. However, it has reached such a stage that the government has recognised the need to take action and properly regulate the industry. At RTR we say Ďat last!í
An accident management company that actually welcomes regulation? Yes, you read that correctly. At RTR we want to see more regulation and more clarity on the law. We want to see companies having to become accountable for their actions. We want to see them abiding by the rules, not only in terms of the letter of the law but in adopting a code of best practice. We want this because this is how we operate anyway; we know that we would stand up to any scrutiny of this kind. We also know that there are many that would not and the fewer cowboys there are tarnishing the names of those of us that take our responsibilities seriously, the better.
Why Do Accidents Need Managing?
You may think you know what the role of an accident management company is but have you considered the value of the service to the victims of accidents? We would like to clarify the service that accident management companies provide and why accidents need managing. Most of us would assume that when you have an accident itís down to the insurance company to sort everything out isnít it? If you have an accident and it is your fault then yes, you need to involve your insurance provider. The industry weíre talking about here is concerned with Ďnon-faultí accidents; accidents that occur where the driver is not at fault.
Even though the driver was not at fault there could be a number of issues that need dealing with, starting from there at the scene. Their car may be damaged and need to be recovered, they may be injured, possibly even unable to work for a period, they might need a replacement car and they will need your car to be repaired. They have 3 options. They can involve your insurance company, they can sort it out themselves or they can call an accident management company. Sorting it out personally can be very time consuming, expensive and complicated Ė you really need to know what youíre doing.
Calling their insurance company seems like the most obvious thing to do and in fact that is what most of us do but beware! Even if the accident is not their fault, going through their insurance company can prove expensive and be very frustrating. They may be required to pay out up front for things like your excess, car hire, repairs, recovery and storage of the vehicle etc. These may be costs that can be claimed back once the Ďat-faultí partyís insurance company has paid out but this could take months. Their premiums could go up even though it wasnít their fault. The damage to their vehicle would be subject to the insurerís rules so they have no choice over who assesses it or repairs it. This could lead to inflated repair costs or a low valuation should the car be written off. Any repairer that the insurance company uses has an alliance with the insurance company and will be looking after their interests Ė not the driverís. Also, as we have seen reported in the media, some insurers will sell their data to personal injury solicitors without their consent.
The alternative is an accident management company. An accident management companyís role is to assist drivers in dealing with all the issues involved in having an accident that was not their fault. A good accident management company will manage all these issues on their behalf without cost to them. That includes recovery and repair of their vehicle, arranging a like-for-like replacement vehicle (a courtesy car arranged by their insurance company could be any type of vehicle so even if the driverís own car was a family saloon they could be expected to ferry the kids around in a Fiat Panda for the duration!) and management of any personal injury claims. A legitimate, responsible accident management company will not bully anyone into making a personal injury claim and would only claim for genuine injuries sustained. If the driver, or any passengers, has a genuine injury sustained in an accident then they have a legal right to claim and this could cover a range of things such as loss of earnings, medical expenses, travel expenses etc as well as compensation. The accident management company would handle all this on their behalf and recover the costs from the Ďat-faultí driverís insurance company. In short, the way they add value is as follows:
∑ They work for the victim, not the insurance company, therefore they have their interests at heart
∑ Independent valuations and assessments on vehicles
∑ No cost to the victim at any time
∑ The option of claiming for personal injury (but no obligation) conducted on a no win no fee basis
∑ Central management of all these issues, saving time and potentially a lot of hassle
∑ No risk to insurance excess, no claims bonus or cost of premium
So Why The Bad Press?
As stated earlier, there are lots of accident management companies out there playing the system and making a lot of money: pushing people into making claims, over exaggerating claims, selling data, exchanging big referral fees etc. It is these types of company that gives us all a bad name.
What Makes RTR Different?
RTR is one of the few accident management companies that operates in a completely transparent way. We are upfront about what we do and donít offer and how we make our profit. We are fully regulated by the Ministry of Justice. We would never exert pressure on anyone to make a personal injury claim nor would we inflate that claim.
The industry thrives on referral fees, that is true and we are open about the fact that we do offer them. However the referrals we get are generated by many more factors than just the fee the referrer gains. Our main referrers are recovery operators and while we do offer a referral fee these are significantly lower than most others pay. So why refer to RTR? After all, surely itís about where the most money is to be made? Not so. The recovery network refer to us for a number of reasons:
They know that we are a legitimate, regulated, trustworthy accident management company and we will look after their customers
We support the recovery operator through our Road to Recovery breakdown scheme - the only breakdown scheme in the UK that operates on a pay as you go basis and is completely independent of any insurance company. This scheme provides the recovery operators with high volumes of work on a long term basis
We have a code of best practice. For example, we always insist that they ask their customerís permission for them to be referred to us Ė we never contact anyone without their prior knowledge so you wonít find us targeting accident victims with unsolicited calls and texts as others resort to
It has recently been reported that Jack Straw is campaigning for referral fees to be banned. That is actually good news for us. We pay these fees because thatís the industry expectation but without the issue of fees who would get the genuine referrals? The accident management companies that can be trusted, are regulated and offer a valuable service Ė we think thatís us.
Accident Management companies have been accused of causing insurance premiums to rise when in fact RTR actually helps to save insurance companies money. Just take a look at our breakdown scheme. Our national network of recovery operators are all signed up to a capped pricing structure so the cost of recovery and storage (which would then be recovered from insurance companies) is significantly cheaper than if the Police organise recovery through their Ďapproved supplierí list. Legally the Police have to ask the driver who they would like to use or look for evidence of membership of a breakdown scheme before they call in recovery (all our members have an RTR sticker in their windscreen). This does not always happen and we are campaigning to enforce the Highways Agencyís own guidelines in this respect.
What Is The Future Of Accident Management?
Increased regulation is definitely coming and we believe this is what the industry needs. In a few years time only the legitimate few accident management will remain, RTR being one of them. Having been around for 20 years we have seen a lot of companies come and go and we welcome increased regulation and best practice procedures. By getting rid of the unscrupulous operators we will increase the publicís confidence in those of us that are providing a valuable service.
RTR UK LTD
MD with RTR Team Leaders: Lindsey Wogan, Paul Hoyle (MD), Andy Rowley
RTR UK Ltd Dovecote House Middlecliffe Lane Little Houghton Barnsley South Yorkshire S72 0HW - Company Registration No 5174365 - CRM No 2737 - Regulated by the Claims Management Regulator in respect of Claims Management activities, its registration is recorded on the website http://www.justice.gov.uk/claims-regulation - This website is copyright of RTR UK Ltd - Complaints Procedure
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