A new credit hire business aiming for “zero litigation” by pushing disputes through arbitration instead of the courts was launched today.
Cogent Hire is owned by fast-growing services business handl Group and run by solicitor Kirsty McKno, who stepped down as chair of the trade boy, the Credit Hire Organisation, at the end of last year.
Cogent Hire will partner with Europcar UK to source vehicles and also has a number of strategic alliances, including with Hills in respect of salvage, Verius and the Cotswold Group on counter-fraud, and fellow handl Group company Claimspace to deal with disputed claims.
There are now 14 companies in the group. In recent months it has acquired rehabilitation business Reach Personal Injury Services, Tessa Gough & Associates – which specialises in expert witness reports, rehabilitation and care management services – and motor claims ADR provider Autoresolutions.
Ms McKno said Cogent Hire would reduce friction and improve the customer experience by working cooperatively with insurers.
“Insurers dealing with Cogent Hire will see a number of changes to traditional credit hire, including fraud checks before and during hire, standard handling fees, transparent hire rates and a partnership approach to repairs.
“By removing hidden extras, Cogent Hire will reduce the average credit hire bill by at least 25%.”
She added that artificial intelligence-based technology would enable Cogent to find the right solution for customers.
Claimspace will supply arbitration services to disputed cases. “For Cogent Hire, litigated cases are a mark of failure, especially when faced with year-long delays in civil court cases as a result of the pandemic,” said Ms McKno.
Ms McKno said she had long experience of “how often litigation is required in credit hire and how often it goes wrong”. Cogent was “borne out of all those years of seeing the best and the worst of the industry”, she explained.
She said the volume of credit hire litigation was increasing, as was the time taken to resolve disputes, meaning that “the journey for customer isn’t very good”. Claimspace will use experienced barristers to conduct arbitrations, which will take 21 days from uploading the claims pack to a decision.
Ms McKno predicted that litigants in person bringing whiplash claims through the new regime from 31 May would find disputed credit hire claims to be “extremely complicated” and difficult to handle. Arbitration would be a much better process, she argued, and would cost each side £175.
Chris Chatterton, the handl Group’s chief commercial officer, added: “We started with a blank sheet of paper and asked insurers what good looked like in credit hire.
“Nobody we spoke to thought the current market was working for customers or the industry, despite the government’s reform programme giving every incentive to re-boot credit hire for the 2020s.”