More than three-quarters of the public does not believe insurance companies will hand customers any savings made from proposed government reforms to personal injury claims, research from claimant lobby group Access to Justice has found.
The YouGov poll of 1,699 people also found little public confidence in insurers, with just 15% saying they thought insurance companies cared about the interests of their customers.
Other findings included that 60% of people expected that an insurance company would treat them fairly if they had legal representation, but only 23% thought that would happen if they did not have a lawyer.
Though only 36% trusted the other side’s insurer to offer them the right amount of compensation for any injuries even with a lawyer’s help, that fell to just 15% if they were not represented.
Some 41% of people said they would prefer to keep the cost of their motor insurance the same if it meant they could keep what they were able to claim for after a car accident the same; 28% said they would trade that right for lower premiums, while the rest did not know.
Asked which of a range of businesses they trusted the most to act in the best interests of their customers, solicitors were clear at the top with 29% – financial advisers were next with just 9%. Insurers were the least trusted.
A2J spokesperson Andrew Twambley said: “The research proves that car insurers have a trust problem. The public do not trust insurers and they do not believe they will act in consumers’ interests if these reforms go through.
“Customers, especially those injured by another driver, are right to be sceptical. Insurers have no interest in helping non-fault injured people get back on their feet because it costs them money.”
He argued that the impending personal injury reforms would allow insurers to pay out less to customers in claims “and instead maintain dividend payments to their shareholders”.
James Dalton, director of general insurance at the Association of British Insurers, said: “A report from claims lawyers saying the public don’t trust insurers has to be one of the year’s best pot and kettle moments.
“That aside, we know insurers have a trust problem and we are taking action to address that. Insurers have a demonstrable record of passing on cost savings to consumers through lower premiums – a fact that A2J won’t let get in the way of their tired arguments resisting the need for reform to deliver a better deal for motorists.”
Earlier this month Aviva published a survey of 2,000 people it commissioned from Censuswide, which found overwhelming public support for the government reforms. It said “the vast majority (85%) of Brits believe that Britain has a compensation culture, with almost nine in ten (88%) saying that too many people see compensation as an easy way to make cash”.
Aviva said that it made a £6 pre-tax operating profit on an average £377 premium, with the rest made up of £48 in marketing and operational costs, £35 in insurance premium tax and £287 in claims. Of that, almost exactly half (£141) was attributed to third-party personal injury.