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Flat Battery (and why solicitors don't insure cases)

Before I get onto After the Event Insurance, I have a problem.

We have a run-around Nissan Micra which to be honest we don't use very much. It is on the drive parked with the passenger side against a wall. It has been there a while so this morning I thought I had better start it (we are going to sell it). Guess what? Yep - flat battery. Not the end of the world I thought but then spotted a problem. You see, in the old days, before cars were opened with a press of a key fob, you used to open the door with a key. Well the Nissan doesn't have any key holes - it is all done via the fob, which is fine as long as you have some power....

So how do you get in? Surely they would have allowed for cars having flat batteries now and again? A quick look on the Internet and bingo, they did hide a key hole away- under a removable panel on ....the ...........passenger .............door............ handle.

Oh dear. I can now unlock the passenger door, but I can't climb in due to the small matter of a wall being in the way. The windows are, you guessed it, electric, so I can't wind them down and climb through and the other doors are still locked (including the boot).

Any suggestions?

Whilst I ponder this problem - here is another poser. What is it about After the Event Insurance that causes over a quarter of solicitors to decide not to bother insuring their client's cases? We have obtained information which indicates that an incredible 27% of firms fail to insure some or all of their cases - prefering to let their clients face the risk of adverse costs rather than taking out ATE cover.

Surely this is madness? After all, policies are (currently) recoverable from the defendant, protect the client from adverse costs and own disbursements and don't have to be paid until the end of the case. Isn't this a win-win situation for firms and claimants? Well obviously not.

The problem, in our view, is the perception of (a) the admin normally associated with policies and (b) the solicitor's own view of the prospects of success. Let's look at these:

(a) Admin

Most policies have a detailed application process, normally a form to fill in which can take some time and sometimes a fee is involved. In addition, many policies require the solicitor to provide a progress report at key stages and the firm may need to request permission if they want to incur unusual disbursements for example a second medical report. Solicitors see this as a burden that they don't need - particular when linked to (b(3)) below.

(b) Prospects

Solicitors quite rightly must assess prospects of success before taking on a case. At this stage they have probably placed the claim (in their minds at least) into perhaps three different categories: (1) Propects marginal but worth a punt (2) Propects quite good but may be a split liability or some risk of losing (3) Dead cert.

Our research shows us that categories (1) and (2) are generally always insured as the solicitor thinks there are risks and so the admin (a) is worth it - but Dead Certs (3) generally aren't insured. This can be expressed in a formula: Too much admin + Very low risk of losing = Not worth insuring.

Simple. The problem is - dead certs can be lost. What about causation issues and part 36 offers? What about lost interim applications? We see several of these claims every day.

So what is the answer? Well, if you remove the admin then the formula becomes more straight forward: Low risk of losing + easy to insure and no reporting = Worth getting cover anyway just in case.

This is what we have done: a simple on-line application (30 seconds), no reporting and no requirement to get permission to do anything.

Much easier than getting into a Nissan Micra.

Box Legal Limited: After the Event Insurance Providers
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