Minster targets “lazy” solicitors in push to expand services


Woolham: Above-plan performance

Minster Law, the law firm owned by insurance giant BHL, has outlined plans to expand its offering for both road traffic claims and other insurance-backed legal services.

Its chief executive, Shirley Woolham, said it was looking to upend the approach to legal expenses insurance (LEI), claiming that a lot of law firms were “lazy” in how their approach to work they received through it.

It comes with the Yorkshire-based firm reporting pre-tax profits of £505,000 in the year to June 2021, compared to £1.1m a year earlier, on turnover down 16% to nearly £29m.

After tax and exceptional items, Minster Law made a loss of £4.2m. “The recognition of a contractual commitment of £4.7m is a one-off exceptional charge relating to an agreement to assist a partner in transitioning to a post reform environment,” the company said.

But chief executive Shirley Woolham said the results represented an “above-plan performance” given the impact of the pandemic on its business.

She said it has grown its partnership base and overall market share, including contract wins with insurers LV=, esure and motorbike specialists Principal and Bemoto, and post-year acquisition of the volume personal injury business of Irwin Mitchell.

Part of its continued growth strategy, Ms Woolham said, was to build an end-to-end offering of all the elements required to capture and then deal with a road traffic accident “through partnerships with or acquisitions of other suppliers with specific expertise”.

This would also enable data to flow “quickly and easily so customers know where they are in the claim”.

She explained: “Increasingly, insurers are seeking to remove the burden and cost associated with a disaggregated supply chain. Multiple hand-offs, fragmented journeys and variability in service quality create inefficiencies and risk customer detriment…

“With support from our board and a strong balance sheet, we are actively looking at deals which meet these objectives and enable us to become the pre-eminent supplier of claims-related services in the UK insurance market”.

BHL is also the holding company for the BGL Group, whose brands include Budget Insurance and Comparethemarket.

Ms Woolham told Legal Futures that its corporate ownership structure “means we have a shareholder in it for the long term that enables us to put in place the strategies we need”.

She also saw opportunities to expand the services it offered to people with LEI, claiming that a lot of law firms have become “lazy in generating income without thinking what customer needs”.

The typical model in home LEI meant law firms only tended to make money when assessing the merits of potential litigation and then running it.

However, this was “misaligned” with what both the individual and their insurer wanted – a quick resolution for the former and reduced claims costs for the latter.

Minster is looking to build up the team that deals with non-motor LEI, covering areas such as employment, consumer and property law – and apply the approach it has taken to digitise low-value motor claims as much as possible while ensuring advice is available where needed.

“You’ve really got to understand the process, the commercial model, where and why the cost is created and challenge everything about that end-to-end process,” Ms Woolham said.

On the Official Injury Claim portal, which deals with whiplash claims, she expressed disappointment with how much “post-live bug fixing” the firm has had deal with.




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