The Association of British Insurers has stepped up the pressure over the Law Society’s controversial “Don’t get mugged by an insurer” campaign targeting personal injury clients by calling for the £300,000 campaign to be pulled.
Director-general Otto Thoresen has escalated the row in a letter addressed to new Law Society president Nick Fluck which expressed his “anger and disappointment”.
In a strong-worded repost, Mr Thorensen branded the striking strategy as “a gross error of judgment” and said that it is “little more than public name-calling”.
And he has argued that the data, on which the central claims of the campaign are based, is flawed.
Last month, Legal Futures revealed the Law Society’s new advertising campaign which, for the first time, was focusing on a particular area of practice.
The society said the campaign “deliberately takes a bold, humorous and memorable approach” to gets its message across. It features posters on public transport and stations, PR coverage in regional media, radio advertising, online advertising and a video on YouTube. Firms can request A3-size posters and postcards, as well as a rotating banner advert for their websites.
The key message of the campaign is to urge personal injury consumers to not just accept the first offer of compensation from insurers.
According to Chancery Lane, research from the Financial Services Authority following a freedom of information challenge “revealed personal injury claimants who turn down an insurer’s initial offer and take legal advice from a solicitor get on average three times more compensation”.
However, after ABI director of general insurance Nick Starling hit back at the campaign, claiming it is lawyers who are “mugging” the public, and the Forum of Insurance Lawyers also complained about it, Mr Thorensen’s letter has added more heat to the debate.
Discrediting the Law Society’s data, the ABI stated that the figures are from a study of 113 cases from three insurers, undertaken four years ago.
In the letter, Mr Thoresen says that the authors of the FSA report themselves describe the data that underpins the study as “patchy”, “limited” and that it doesn’t give a “definitive conclusion”.
In his letter calling for the campaign to be withdrawn, Mr Thoresen states: “Your campaign is a gross error of judgment, represents a deeply regrettable resort to little more than public name-calling and it comes as a matter of considerable surprise that a professional and well-respected organisation such as the Law Society is prepared to lower itself to such action.
“I am more than aware that the insurance industry and some – but by no means all – of your members have taken different positions in the on-going debates over personal injury compensation reform.
“Robust debate on key policy issues is to be welcomed and, as part of those debates, the insurance industry has always been careful to ensure our contributions are based on evidence rather than the highly misleading and selective use of statistics.
“This campaign can only be damaging to relationships between the Law Society’s wider membership and insurers. I look forward to your assurance it will be withdrawn immediately.”
The Law Society had no comment yesterday.