Third party capture

Third party capture

Third party capture is the name given to a practice operated by some insurance companies after road traffic accidents. They know their own driver is at fault so the insurer will contact the innocent party direct, before that person has time to seek their own advice. The third party, that is the person not responsible for the accident, has been “captured.”

Sometimes third party capture produces a quick result. Vehicle repair and sometimes hire are arranged, and payments are sometimes made for injury and loss without a medical report or detailed investigation. If there is no injury and everything is put right, who can complain? If there is an injury and losses are not investigated then the innocent party may not get everything they are entitled to.

The saving to the insurance company is produced by controlling the cost of repair and hire, and by not having to pay legal costs to a solicitor, or for the cost of a detailed medical report. The downside for the insurance company is they are accused of taking unfair advantage of the innocent party.

There has been pressure to regulate the practice of third party capture, and like so many industries faced with regulation the insurance companies have developed a code of practice through their trade association, the Association of British Insurers.

The code is called Third Party Assistance, not capture. The code applies to an insurance company settling a claim directly with a personal injury victim of a policyholder, without the victim receiving independent legal advice.

The ABI code states that claimants should be informed of their right to seek independent legal advice. Initial contact with victims should be by telephone, text message, email or letter, and should not involve unsolicited visits to claimants’ homes or hospital beds. All compensation offers should be ‘fair and reasonable’.

The code also states that insurers should ‘strongly recommend’ that a claimant seek independent legal advice when: dealing with minors; where there are issues over fault; where the claimant has a limited understanding of English; where the injury requires more than one medical report or is complex; where there are possible fraud issues; and where there are ‘causation issues’.

Causation means the link between an incident and an injury – has the accident caused the injury or did the problem already exist? That is a question as to causation.

Personal injury solicitors say that this practice can mean injury victims are not getting everything they are entitled to. On the other hand a quick payment and you are back on the road might be all you want.

The difficulty with the practice is that it is designed to save money. It is not designed to provide good service to the public, neither is it designed to ensure the right result in every case. Claimant personal injury solicitors have complained that cases are under settled, as settling for compensation without a proper medical examination means the long term consequences of an accident are not known. Just as important, injury victims are being persuaded to take a final payment when they could be having rehabilitation treatment, and a proper medical examination, if they followed a solicitor’s advice.

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