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Letter to The Actuary

The editor has declined to publish this letter

Julian Lowe (letters, November) directs readers to my website for further background on my article "Better routes to redress." Although his quotations from the website are taken from different contexts, his main inference is correct: my criticism is directed at the profession, rather than just at his working party.

As I have previously written in these pages (letters, October 2003) I am, broadly speaking, in favour of a justice culture. I believe that in comparison with many other rich countries, aggregate compensation for accidents in the UK is rather low. I support some improvements in compensation to accident victims, mainly at the expense of insurers and ultimately policyholders.

My view that the position of accident victims in the UK should be improved towards that in other rich countries is a matter of political opinion, and not amenable to actuarial verification or disproof. I would be surprised if the actuarial profession promoted such a view as professional policy. But I am saddened that the actuarial profession denigrates this view, and promotes as policy (a "line to take") the assertion that "the costs, both financial and in terms of restricting activities, outweigh the benefits of providing better compensation to accident victims." This is a political attack on accident victims, which has no prospect of objective justification.

As well as harming many accident victims, the policy promoted by the actuarial profession is very favourable to the short-term commercial interests of some insurance companies, which are powerfully represented on the profession's governing bodies. The interests and perspectives of accident victims are not similarly represented. Independent observers can and do draw their own conclusions about the motivations for the profession's policy.

Guy Thomas
29 December 2005