ABI calls for CMC clampdown

The ABI has called for tougher regulation to protect the public from rogue claims management companies (CMCs) that plague people with nuisance calls, charge high fees and push up the cost of insurance for honest customers.

Last year (2014/15) nearly a quarter (23%) of all CMCs faced some sort of regulatory intervention from the Claims Management Regulator, either being given a warning or having their authorisation cancelled. This has increased from 18% in 2012/13.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is proposing oversight of CMCs be transferred to a tougher regime under the FCA, since the current system is failing to provide enough of a deterrent to rogue firms.

In its submission to the Government’s review of Claims Management Regulation, the ABI points out that: there need to be more effective sanctions against any CMC employee found guilty of serious breaches, and all employees should be subject to an ongoing training and competence regime set by the regulator; CMCs should be obliged to declare the source of the claims they submit and provide data on how many are not upheld; the FCA would be better placed to measure the wider economic impact of CMCs, by collecting data on the volume of claims they are involved in, and that it remains unusual for a regulator to sit within a Government department rather than as an independent body.

General insurance manager at the ABI, Rob Cummings, said, ‘Consumers have the right to be represented by whoever they wish, but no one should be pressured into making a compensation claim. For too long some claims management companies have helped fuel a compensation culture through nuisance calls, misleading adverts and high charges. By encouraging frivolous and fraudulent claims their actions have led to higher insurance premiums for honest customers.

‘The continuing high levels of nuisance calls and speculative claims some CMCs are responsible for demonstrate the urgent need for a regulatory regime which is fit-for-purpose. Tougher supervision should drive the cowboy operators out of town and ensure that honest customer do not end up footing the bill for the rogue firms.’