ACSO/ABI Covid deal expires but “spirit of partnership” continues

Dalton: Many of the measures are now embedded

The deal struck between insurers, law firms and suppliers to keep non-MedCo medical examinations and rehabilitation going remotely during the Covid-19 crisis expires today.

The Association of Consumer Support Organisations (ACSO) and the Association of British Insurers (ABI), which agreed the ‘statement of intent’ first published in April 2020, said the practices were either now common practice or no longer necessary.

The statement provided that, so long as the agreed approach is followed, insurers would not challenge examinations or rehabilitation purely on the basis that they were conducted remotely.

Remote medical examinations remain the norm for claimants, while remote rehabilitation continues to be accepted by most compensators on a case-by-case basis, the groups said today.

Further, payments are now routinely being paid by BACS, not by cheque as was often the situation previously.

The other measures, aimed at giving claimant firms and compensators more time and flexibility in the claims process – such as extending the negotiation period and considering joint settlement meetings and/or an independent barrister to arbitrate a settlement – were now seen as “increasingly superfluous as the national picture continues to improve”.

The rehabilitation elements of the statement were developed by Together for Rehabilitation, an industry group of rehabilitation providers.

ACSO executive director Matthew Maxwell Scott said: “The statement was always intended to be temporary, but it’s welcome that many of its very sensible and consumer-friendly measures have now become part of business as usual.

“That the agreement lasted so long is as a result not just of the length of the pandemic but also the spirit of partnership we fostered in a sector not always known for close co-operation.

“We look forward to working together more with our insurer colleagues on shared consumer issues such as encouraging alternative dispute resolution, tackling fraud and working to make sure that regulation is proportionate and fair.”

James Dalton, director of general insurance policy at the ABI, said: “Even though the statement of intent is being concluded, we are pleased that many of the measures put in place have become embedded practices which will benefit consumers.

“It has demonstrated that positive engagement between insurers and claimant firms can be beneficial to everyone, and we hope that it will lay the foundations for future collaboration.”

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