If you have been involved in a road accident, you may be contacted by the other driver's insurance company before you have had chance to seek you own legal advice.
The insurance company may attempt to convince you to give them control of the claim. They may suggest that the claim will be settled faster and it will be simpler as they do not require as full medical report or a detailed investigation.
This practice is known as 'third party capture' and is often operated when the opposing insurance company knows their client is at fault and seeks to reduce the amount of compensation they must pay.
Insurers taking control of your claim
By convincing the claimant to allow them to have control of the claim the insurer will be able to eliminate legal costs to a solicitor and will be able to control the costs of repairs and hire cars. Although this will make the process faster, it also makes it a lot easier for them to manipulate the costs and under settle a claim.
The insurance company will often offer to give the individual their settlement figure straight away. This figure should be is impossible to appropriately gauge without a medical examination report. It is likely that the insurer is relying on a very general estimate, which have little bearing on the claimant's injuries or costs, and could be a lot less than a claimant is entitled to.
Efforts to regulate third party capture
In recent years, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has attempted to regulate the practice of third party capture.
The ABI code states that the opposing insurance company should offer assistance rather than 'capture'. The code also states that insurers should recommend that a claimant seeks independent legal advice when dealing with certain claims, including claims where there is a conflict of blame and where there are 'causation' issues.
The upside of third party capture?
The practice of third party capture can prove useful to some claimants if they are looking for a quick and easy settlement, but may see them losing money they are entitled to. This may be more suited to cases where there are only minor injuries, but if a person's injuries are more serious , or even potentially more serious, a medical examination should be arranged in order to pursue a more accurate compensation settlement.
If you have been approached by the other side's insurers before you have had a chance to consider your options, take your time. Do not be pressured into a quick decision.
To talk about your options with a specialist solicitor, you can arrange a free consultation on 0800 376 1001 or arrange a callback.