Supporting vulnerable customers in catastrophic claims

13 July 2023

3 minute read

Our Head of Serious and Catastrophic Injury, Carol Hopwood, spoke with Modern Insurance Magazine about supporting vulnerable customers in catastrophic claims

How have you prepared or trained your team to ensure vulnerable customers are supported in the event of catastrophic claims?

"Our colleagues are trained in recognising vulnerable clients from the first point of contact.  The definition includes any vulnerabilities that could impact their ability to participate in litigation or diminish the quality of the evidence they can give. They may also lack legal capacity to conduct the litigation.  We need to understand their needs, ensure our people have the skills and knowledge to recognise this and deliver our services in a way that meets our client needs. 

An important part of our role in the early stages, is to help identify the pressure points and to do all that we can to mitigate the pressure on the family.  Early face- to- face meetings and engagement with our opponent insurers is critical, as is securing financial and practical support for our clients as quickly as possible.

Certain stages of the litigation process are more stressful or difficult for our vulnerable clients to understand. For example, attending multiple medical assessments, giving witness statements or attending Chambers or Court.  We ensure that our clients are fully prepared by taking them through step- by- step what to expect, arranging domiciliary medical appointments where appropriate, arranging conferences in their own home and ensuring we ask the Court for bespoke directions under CPR 1A and PD1A for vulnerable parties.

We engage with registered intermediaries who are recruited and trained by the MOJ.  They act as a conduit to help maximise the communication of a vulnerable client and to help them make themselves understood.

Dealing with vulnerable clients means that we have to think about doing things differently.  They will receive the same professional courtesy and respect as every other client but we are trained to be mindful of restrictions, limitations or other difficulties they may face.  We will agree a bespoke approach created to meet their needs in a way that they are comfortable with and one that ensures that we fulfil our professional obligations.  Often we are dealing with a brain injured client who lacks the capacity to litigate themselves, but still wishes to be involved in the litigation.  Careful and tactful handling is needed to ensure that the balance is right between ensuring the litigation friend provides instructions, but that our client still feels very much at the centre of the process and that their voice is heard.

Speaking in simple language, keeping sentences short, using pictures or images, keeping meetings short and selecting a meeting time that fits in with fatigue management are all examples of steps that we take to ensure that our vulnerable clients understand what is happening.  We think creatively about how best to meet our clients’ needs in a way that works for them and we keep this under constant review."

Carol Hopwood
Head of Serious and Catastrophic Injury, Carpenters Group


Credit - Modern Insurance Magazine