The Financial Guidance and Claims Bill is well-advanced in the Lords – it gets a third reading today – and is due to get to the Commons early next year. It will move the regulation of the claims management sector from the Ministry of Justice to the Financial Conduct Authority; a measure likely to take effect well into 2018 or perhaps even later. It is also worth noting that the Government has committed to amending the Bill – when it gets to the Commons – in order to ban cold-calling for claims leads. While the overall approach is both necessary and sensible, getting there has taken far too long given that this regulatory tightening was first suggested in the March 2016 review of the claims management sector but won’t bite until at least three years after that. [Contrast that with the far quicker approach to tackling abuses in holiday sickness cases, where we expect fixed costs controls to kick in from April 2018.]
With no coach, no robes, no Duke of Edinburgh – and no majority Government – this was a very different Queen’s Speech. Although Brexit and national security were among its critical themes in a Parliamentary session that has been extended to last for two years rather than one, three Bills directly relevant to the general insurance sector were announced.
A good deal of this recently-published Government Bill deals with prison reform and prisoner welfare and these issues took up much of the debate on Second Reading in the Commons yesterday, which ran from late afternoon until nearly 10pm. In addition, part 5 of the Bill seeks to implement the Government’s reforms to whiplash claims, which were also discussed at some length.
This short post covers none of those topics but instead suggests that perhaps the two most important interventions yesterday, in terms of financial impact on the claims sector, came relatively early in the debate and then right at its end. Both were quite brief and taken together they clearly signpost reform to the process by which the discount rate for future losses in personal injury claims is set.