There’s a poignant moment in Hook, my fifth favourite Robin Williams film, when Captain Hook realises he actually misses his long-time adversary Peter Pan.
In Pan’s absence, Hook was forced into less fulfilling and ultimately more dangerous combat with the crocodile. He wants to renew his fight with Pan, telling Smee: ‘There’s no adventure here.’
Perhaps there will be same sense of regret from motor insurers once they deal with the fallout of the Civil Liability Bill.
The legislation, which passed through the final parliamentary stage yesterday, is half-baked and flimsy. It feels like the insurers were thrown a bone but forgot to check if there was any meat on it.
They will have their way by forcing experienced and qualified solicitors out of the market for handling whiplash claims. But instead of fighting old adversaries, they face the whack-a-mole game of trying to take on claims management companies.
There is even the chance the digital portal could offer an opportunity to opportunistic claimants – just wait until word gets around that a few hundred quid could be made just through filling out an online form and spending 10 minutes with a doctor ploughing through dozens of appointments a day.
Did the government really expect this fleet-footed multi-million pound industry to go quietly into the night? Already defendants are reporting an increase in injuries which are not covered by the new regulations – one imagines elbow complaints might increase when the prospective rewards are much greater.
The insurers had it pretty sweet. They had claims figures falling, they had solicitors doing much of the legwork on rooting out fraudsters, and they knew their opponents.
Before clinking the champagne flutes just yet, they should ponder this: they don’t know what will happen to claims figures, they don’t know if fraud will increase, and they don’t have established relations with the new entrants that may come into this market.
And that’s not even accounting for likely increased costs in credit hire, rehab and vehicle repairs, which are left out of the bill altogether, kicked into the long grass for now.
Don’t forget too that the industry has committed to passing on £35 in savings to customers. If the unintended costs outweigh that figure, expect trust in this industry to sink. Insurers may find they should have been careful what they wished for.