Amongst a raft of other somewhat more unpalatable reforms set out by the Conservative government this year, one which apparently all sides could agree on was that there should be a ban on pre-medical offers.

Pre-medical offers are by definition offers which are made by either party before medical evidence has been obtained in support of the claimant’s position, dealing with the nature of the injury sustained in an accident, how long the symptoms stemming from that injury are likely to last, and the extent to which those symptoms are deemed to be accident related. The medical evidence therefore forms the cornerstone of any valuation of a claim for personal injury. Indeed, some might argue that it is impossible to properly value a claim without such evidence. Nevertheless, there has been a persistent problem with insurance companies seeking to make very early pre-medical offers to claimants, especially in road traffic accidents, in an attempt to “buy off” claims at an early stage.

As can be appreciated, early pre-medical offers clearly have huge financial benefits for insurers, both in terms of savings on costs if they can get in there before claimants secure proper legal representation, and “nipping claims in the bud” (aka “under settling” claims) in that the premedical offer will be in full and final settlement of a claim, and claimants will not be able to change their mind in the future, even if their symptoms go on for much longer than anticipated, or even turn into chronic pain cases.

The importance of medical evidence in valuing a claim is no doubt why a ban on pre-medical offers was included in the Queen’s speech on 21st June 2017, when the Queen announced that legislation will be introduced in the form of a Civil Liability Bill to ban the practice.

Given the apparent consensus in relation to the evils of pre-medical offers, one might have thought that the practice would have now been put to bed. Unfortunately this is not the case. As the head of Ralli’s Portal team (and so dealing with “low value” RTA cases), it is very clear that some insurers, particularly Covea, LVI and Admiral, have rolled out their grubby annual practice of seeing which Claimants are so hard up in the approach of Christmas that they can buy them off with cheap pre-medical offers. It appears that the Scrooge “Spirit of Christmas” lives on in these strikingly Dickensian reminiscent times.

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