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Hearts and Minds

In 1966, U.S. President Lyndon Johnson instituted a "Hearts and Minds” campaign in Vietnam to try to win the Vietnam war by getting the support of the local population. This was in essence heavy-handed propaganda, and I mention it because the motor insurers of today appear to be taking their lessons directly from that strategy.

It is worth looking at an article on page 4 of The Times last Saturday (13/02/2016). Average motor premiums rose by £100 in the last 4 months of 2015 (a 17% increase equivalent to 68% a year) and the insurers were being asked for an explanation! The ABI was well able to explain:

  1. there had been an IPT increase. Fair enough but of course they forgot to mention that this was only a 3.5% increase, so to plug the gap they said:

  2. the rise was due to "a fresh campaign by unscrupulous companies trying to encourage dishonest whiplash claims”.

The explanation is of course so ludicrous that it beggars belief, and under normal circumstances would give rise to howls of derision. Claimant solicitors had put through such a sudden and massive barrage of fraudulent claims over a four-month period that it had radically skewed the nation’s motor insurance premiums. The heavy-handed Hearts and Minds campaign which the ABI has carried out however has meant that they can be reasonably confident of getting away with giving any explanation however impossible it may be.

Solicitors and other pressure groups in the personal injury industry really need to give widespread publication to these sort of comments, and the fact that they are routinely published even in papers like The Times shows how effective the motor insurers’ strategy has been to date.

It is also an indictment of the government that it has allowed and encouraged such a one-sided debate to continue.

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