After several incident free years on the road I was both curious and annoyed that my insurance premiums were rising every year. I knew that the industry was suffering because of the volume of fraudulent claims but I had no idea that the actual claims handling procedures could be the root cause of the problem until I had a minor accident. This small incident turned into an interminable claims process which lasted a year, 11 months and two weeks of which were unnecessary.
The episode started when I was driving out of Banbury after a morning at work. It was a few days before Christmas and the weather was horrendous. Heavy rain meant that I was driving more slowly than usual and had my headlights on. As I tried to exit a roundabout from the correct lane whilst clearly indicating my intentions, a gentlemen drove into me and he was clearly attempting to turn right on the roundabout from the left hand lane. I couldn’t believe that he was stupid enough to do that or that he hadn’t seen me and simply applied the brakes to avoid the crash.
I parked my car and walked down the road in the pouring rain to talk to him. He was full of apologies, admitted the incident had been his fault, gave me his insurance details and then took a look at the damage to my car. By now I was soaking wet and was struggling to write my own details on a soggy piece of paper. I eventually managed and left the scene to return home. I made my insurance claim immediately and heard nothing for a few days until I was contacted and told that the other driver’s insurance company were disputing that he was at fault.
I was stunned as it should have been an open and shut case but things were about to get even worse. I was treated to a series of letters from the other driver’s insurance company claiming that I was at fault and threatening court action if my insurers didn’t settle. My own insurers seemed to be doing little or nothing to resolve the situation other than request the usual statements and diagrams.
Things were dragging on and I didn’t want to get the repairs done on my vehicle until I had some sort of resolution as the damage itself was evidence and I didn’t want to pay the excess. Eventually I had to relent, undergo the repairs and pay £250.00.
More months of threatening letters followed and I couldn’t get any sense out of my insurers. Eventually they informed me that we should offer the opposition a proposal of joint liability to end the matter and so I agreed in order to put the incident behind me but the other side refused the offer and the claim was forwarded to my insurer’s legal department.
They obviously had more sense than the claims section and reviewed the case carefully. I was astonished to be informed that during the whole process my insurers had been in possession of a statement and diagram from the other driver in which he admitted his guilt! Lawyers were then engaged as the case was now to go to court. I had several discussions with the legal experts and had to fill out many forms and statements. This episode was clearly getting very expensive!
Ultimately my case never made it to court as the two sides settled and I was credited with half of the excess payment. Case closed. A whole year of messing about and sending letters back and forth, paying lawyers and wasting my time in what would have been over in a less than two weeks had anyone in the claims department read the other driver’s statement and done something about it.
I will always remember that day in the pouring rain. Standing there soaked to the skin and anxious to get home I did not call the police to come to the scene and that was a mistake. Fumbling around in what had been my lovely new handbag for a dry piece of paper, all I wanted to do was to get dry and warm. I have learnt that I should never leave a scene without calling the police or finding witnesses and that my insurers are wasting vast sums of money dealing with claims ineptly.
I should also mention that the opposing insurers were also wasting vast sums of money pursuing a case that they clearly couldn’t win. We the drivers are paying for all this and it is time something was done to improve the situation.
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