Collaboration, still the way forward

03 February 2020

Moving into 2020, the insurance industry has narrowed in on the idea of collaboration. Modern Insurance spoke with members of the Executive Board of Carpenters Group about their key strategy for collaborative success; how this aids customer interaction, tech and the push to combat fraud.

For over a decade, Carpenters Group has striven to break down traditional barriers in the claims sector. We fundamentally believe that effective collaboration is essential to customer care and by working together we can achieve shared goals.

Easy enough to say but we all know that collaboration in practice can be difficult. It requires a long-term commitment by senior management to be ethical and put customers first, mutual respect for differing opinions, long-term investment to create quality relationships, deep reserves of patience and a regular dash of humour! Productive collaboration can only be achieved once trust has been earned and trust can only grow from an open and honest dialogue that’s professional and reasonable overtime.

Difficult though it may be, Carpenters has demonstrated that working collaboratively with others can achieve practical solutions to some of the problems we face, working with the whole industry to combat fraud and improve sector standards. As former Chair of the Motor Accident Solicitors Society (MASS), Donna Scully, played a leading role in setting up the MASS Fraud Forum and helping to establish AskCUEPI which took four years from conception to implementation. Carpenters’ commitment to collaboratively fighting fraud saw them invest in and support the Insurance Times Fraud Charter since its launch in 2012, effectively bringing together leading players across the sector to discuss fighting fraud together.

Strongly advocating the necessity of working together across the claimant-defendant divide, we’ve constantly sought to break down barriers, attending numerous insurance conferences, seminars and meetings that were once ‘echo chambers’ without industry-wide participation. Carpenters is now proud to be an associate member of both the ABI and the Insurance Fraud Bureau.

The coming changes to the claims process have been divisive and there will undoubtedly be problems ahead, but the reality is that there’s still much agreement within the sector. The end of all conflicts begins with talking. Solutions to problems have been found before, and they will be again when we focus on what we can achieve jointly whilst respectfully disagreeing when we have alternative views. As we have done, Carpenters will continue to work hard with all sector, colleagues to develop a fair and workable system that functions well for all sides.

As insurer-insurtech partnerships continue to succeed, what does this mean for wider collaborations across the industry, and what are the benefits that collaboration brings?

Karen Campbell: In order to succeed, and as the rate of change accelerates, the opportunity to deliver what people want becomes ever more challenging. Listening to the customer and understanding their needs is fundamental. More importantly, the way we deliver systems, solutions and services to the customer becomes more challenging but is becoming more and more critical. By working collaboratively, the opportunity to treat tech as an enabler brings opportunity to deliver creative and meaningful ways of interacting with customers that have never existed before, and with a speed and agility that would be impossible to do alone. It will also allow us to build better business relationships with partners, clients, consumers and suppliers to create a “friction-free” experience.

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What strategies would you suggest be adopted to ensure collaborative success? In addition, what examples can you offer from Carpenters Group?

Alan Hayes: Our key strategy in ensuring collaborative success is to adopt a completely transparent approach, both with our insurer clients and with insurers when dealing as the third party. We understand the pressures faced by insurers and unlike many law firms representing claimants, we know that insurers want to identify to genuine claims - where their policyholder is at fault and pay a reasonable settlement as quickly as possible. To that extent, the insurers share the same aims that we do, which is to achieve the best result for the customer as quickly as possible.


At Carpenters Group, we work in collaboration with a number of insurers to deliver processes that help to achieve these goals. We have operated our “Resolver” process for more than two years. It is proven to resolve Stage 3 cases more quickly and at a significantly lower cost than the court process. We also operate an Early Settlement Protocol, which enables straightforward low value claims to be settled at a very early stage, while both producing full evidence to the insurer and reducing the insurers touchpoints and operating expenses.

Where can the industry’s stakeholders better collaborate to create more joined up outcomes?

AH: The main area for improvement in cross industry collaboration is to help combat fraud. Much good work has been done over the last couple of years by the Insurance Fraud Bureau, and other industry bodies, but there is still lots to do. The whiplash reforms will undoubtedly lead to new areas of claims exploitation. There is widespread concern about the wider access to the new LIP Portal, particularly with significantly increased value in bent metal claims.

We have long argued for greater industry cooperation in the sharing of data, aimed at benefitting the entire industry. We understand that this can be difficult, where insurers operate sophisticated anti-fraud strategies in an effort to achieve commercial advantage, but we need to redouble our efforts in relation to improved collaboration, to meet the evolving threat of the motor insurance fraudster.

You have mentioned before that better collaboration across the sector is not an option, but essential – how can collaboration be used to combat the evolving threat of fraud in the future claims environment?

Donna Scully: I’ve always felt that fighting fraud is something where the industry can find rare unity. There is nothing good about it. It costs money, impacts on the reputation of the industry and has an obvious adverse impact on good customers. Fraud will become increasingly digitalised in the future and the only way to tackle it will be by enabling better technological systems and by sharing data. Carpenters’ affiliate membership of the ABI and the Insurance Fraud Bureau will enable us to collaborate ever closer, share data and intelligence and more actively contribute to the industry fight to stay ahead of the fraudsters. 

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I still believe that better collaboration across the sector is not a nice-to-have, but a must. The sector is going to look very different in the future, with many more CMCs and fewer lawyers. With the gathering pace of cross-ownership and joint ventures, the future market will function very differently and those organisations that, let’s say, tacitly, if not actively, encourage fraud, will be less easy to spot. Post-reforms, there will need to be some forum that can pull together all concerned parties in a coordinated manner to develop strategies and plans to tackle fraud.

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There is a lot of uncertainty as we move into a new decade, how will Carpenters Group be responding to the looming changes surrounding the industry?

Donna Richards: Carpenters Group embraces change, one of our core values is being ‘agile and adaptive’. The Business has evolved over the past 25 years, building on the sound foundations of great people, quality personal service and constant investment in technology. It has always been important to work smartly, remove process friction and maintain customer journey but this is where we endeavour to excel. We develop our technology and systems in-house, engaging with our teams, our insurance and broker clients and our mutual customers. This enables us to plan for change, past and present, and adapt to the requirements of a changing market place.

The changes ‘looming’, both the Whiplash Reforms and the increased use of technology in the sector are therefore taken in our stride. Keeping the customer at the heart of the process, producing both bespoke white-labelled technology offerings for insurers as well as our own branded technology ensures we can deliver on this key objective. The past 20 years or so have seen numerous changes in the sector. We at Carpenters Group see this as evolution, not revolution, and embrace this process.

What would you say has been the biggest moment and/ or change within the industry in the last 10 years?

DS: The coming reforms will fundamentally and irrevocably change the market, but looking back over the last 10 years, I would say the period when the LASPO reforms encouraged the use and exploitation of the supposedly liberalising measures of the earlier Legal Services Act. The combined impact was a massive moment and set much of the industry off in a direction which will arrive, depending upon your point of view, at its zenith or nadir with the future landscape once the current reforms are implemented. LASPO removed the recoverability of costs and fees, so reducing damages for accident victims and the costs to the industry, and supposedly banned referral fees, whilst those wishing to circumvent or by-pass the ban were able to exploit the creation of Alternative Business Structures created by the Legal Services Act. The two events combined meant the claims market changed massively, with the creation of new entrants, some desirable and many others less so. Sadly, these will be set to further benefit when they are actively encouraged to pursue claims and take advantage of many loopholes in the new claims market.

Diversity, inclusion and equality remains a top priority for the industry to address; as we head into a new year, what can the industry do to promote equal opportunities across all levels of the business?

KC: With a female majority on both our Executive and Operations boards, we can proudly demonstrate that diversity is an everyday part of our working life at Carpenters Group. The wider industry is going to be a tougher nut to crack, but progress is being made all the time. More and more businesses will recognise that they cannot be agile and adaptive without the benefit of a diverse and inclusive employee base, especially if the business is focused on customers. There are many gifted and able women in leadership roles in the sector and over time, they will break down prejudices and progress the advancement of women.

What are Carpenters Group’s plans for 2020?

DR: 2020 will be another exciting year at Carpenters Group! Our team continues to grow, particularly in the insurance services area and therefore, we are increasing our capacity with another 17,000 sq. ft. being taken at our Liverpool office. In relation to our offices, we are undertaking a refurbishment plan, which will see the introductions to more flexible workspace and practices.

Our Legal Academy is launching, which will run alongside our already established Insurance Services Academy and completes our career path project for our teams. Currently, the reforms in the motor market are due to be introduced in April 2020 and we are working hard finalising our plans with our insurance partners to ensure their customers who have the benefit of LEI cover as well as those who do not are looked after post-reform in a manner that policyholders would expect from major reputable insurers.

2020 will also see us move into the other non-motor areas of insurance services, which is a very exciting time for the team and sees our services continue to evolve into those of a TPA, all part of the agile and adaptive approach of our business. All of this and continued participation in, and development of our corporate and social responsibility projects, will ensure there is never a dull day at the office!


Read the full supplement here: Carpenters Group Supplement with Modern Insurance Magazine