In the insurance industry, it is known as "Third Party Capture"… This is where your opponent’s insurance company tries to get to you first before you have the chance to consult with a solicitor and learn about your rights as an injured person.
Unlike your solicitor, opponents’ insurance companies are not regulated as to what they can and can’t tell you in order to "capture" your claim. This means that the insurance company can (in theory) get away with telling you anything in order to persuade you not to go to a solicitor. There is only one reason they want to do this: to save themselves money.
What they may tell you:
- You don’t need a solicitor (One insurer has even gone as far as telling an injured person that if they instruct a solicitor to represent them, the solicitor will take a percentage of that person’s compensation in payment. This is not true. Until 31st March 2013 Solicitors in England & Wales were not allowed to do this. Since then a solicitor has a choice whether or not to charge a "success fee" which can be up to 25% of a person’s compensation. The decision to charge any "success fee" at all will normally be dependent upon the circumstances of each individual claim. REMEMBER - If you are successful in your claim and your opponent is insured, then your opponent’s insurers will have to pay legal costs in addition to your compensation1).
- Your claim can be settled within a few days
- You’ll have your money quickly
What they almost certainly won’t tell you:
- That at this stage it is virtually impossible to know things such as:-
- How long your injuries will last and any possible long-term effects (for example, soft-tissue injuries and scarring often have much longer-lasting effects than you might think)
- Whether you need any treatment or further investigations
- How long you may be off work for (you are entitled to claim for any loss of earnings due to the incident)
- That you are entitled to claim for the cost of such items as physiotherapy if this turns out to be necessary
- That you can’t re-open your claim later if things turn out to be worse than you expected
- That you don’t necessarily have to deduct ‘wear and tear’ from the value they give you for your damaged property
These factors significantly affect the value of your claim. If you let the insurance company settle your claim directly with you, there is a real risk that you may not be properly compensated for your injuries and any other losses. Then you will have lost your right to make any further claim against your opponent.
1Separate rules apply if the claim falls into the "small claims track" - if your claim is likely to fall into this category, we will tell you.