Claimants need protection from the growing practice within the insurance industry of making pre-medical offers at an early stage of a claim. A pre-medical offer is an offer made without medical evidence and it is designed to buy the Claimant off cheaply before he or she can fully investigate their injury or assess their rehabilitation needs.
Insurers are clever. They know that if they dangle enough cash in front of the Claimant and dress it up as a good offer, the Claimant is likely to take it. Once accepted the Claimant cannot come back later and say ‘sorry, I made a mistake’ or ‘I didn’t know any better’ – that is it; if you accept, the insurers have bought you out quickly and cheaply and there is nothing you can do about it.
I had a case where my client suffered a broken leg. Liability was not in issue. The Defendant insurer offered £7,500 within 2 weeks of receiving first notification of the claim. To my client, £7,500 was a lot of money so he wanted me to accept this there and then. I knew that his claim was worth more, and I also knew that if he took the offer he would not have access to private rehabilitation. As a Claimant representative, my job is not only to get money for the client (I can’t get him a new leg!) but also to see if I can address his rehabilitation needs and help him actually get better rather than struggling on with his injury. Rehab support can be vital in injury claims, ensuring that the injury has far less of an impact on a person’s life than it would have done normally. A Claimant will miss out on this if he/she accepts an early offer which could be disastrous in the long run.
For my client, I was glad that I was able to convince him to hold on. It transpired that my client had suffered a psychological injury which I was unaware of at the time the pre-med offer was made. The case is ongoing but not only do I expect to settle his claim at around 3 times the amount of initial offer, I have already obtained well over £2,000 worth of CBT treatment for my client which has greatly assisted with his psychological injury.
I constantly have to tell clients not to rush their claims. Yes it can take months or even years to finalise claims, especially those involving serious injuries, but it is much more beneficial for clients in the end if they can hold on and be patient. Money isn’t everything, I want the best settlement for my clients but I also want them to get better, get back to work and carry on with their lives with the support they need.