19/03/2021

Anyone else starting to feel like Donald Rumsfeld?

Another week of whiplash reforms and the picture is perhaps no clearer than a week ago.

Judging by the reaction to the question we posed in our latest Motor Webinar Wednesday:

Do you think the reforms will work?

The position may have got worse - 46% answered “Yes”. Only eight days prior in our first webinar on the reforms the answer was more positive with 57% answering “Yes”.

Why has the view changed? My suspicion is that with each planning or strategy session more questions arise and these are added to the mountain of existing questions.

I do have a sense that I am starting to turn into Donald Rumsfeld, the former US Secretary of Defense with his often quoted:

“Reports that say that something hasn't happened are always interesting to me, because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don't know we don't know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tends to be the difficult ones.”

So what I ask myself now is what are “unknown unknowns” when it comes to the reforms?

I guess this is going to come down to how the market reacts. Will there be more collaboration? I was hopeful after the experiences of lockdown that a more collaborative approach may be taken but two events of this past week leave me wondering if my optimism is misplaced.

Firstly, I was on the panel for the Legal Futures debate a week ago where I posed how much detail would be required in the compensator response – the answer was pretty much "don’t know, we will come back to you...".

But perhaps what was more interesting was a comment on the chat addressed to my question that read along the lines of the compensators need to invest some of the savings they are going to make in responding in the prescribed 30-days, perhaps a fair point but very often there are issues that are well beyond the control of the compensator.

The second moment where I sensed collaboration may quickly evaporate was the number of mentions I have in claimant forums of how insurers can be reported for poor behaviour.

It seems my optimism for collaboration was unfounded.

Of course we are in an adversarial process and each party should, with good conscience, do the best they can. But there are areas where collaboration may have removed some “unknown unknowns”.