The muddled world of motor insurance

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Sir,
Although not a member of the insurance fraternity, my own advice to Mr. G. R. Simpson is to sue the driver responsible for his accident directly in the civil courts, without recourse to any insurance policy.

I base this advice on my own experience of a few years ago which may be of some interest: at the time I was driving a week old new car that had just cost me in excess of £8,000, and was involved in a collision with a van which came round a blind corner well over a double white line.

I advised my Brokers, through whom I had insured with a well-known group at Lloyds for many accident-free years, and sent the car in for repair, the cost of which was around £600 including a respray which I required to return the car to its condition prior to the accident.

My own underwriters refused to accept this estimate and would only agree to a much lower figure based on a patchwork repair job, and therefore, I told them that I would drop my claim under my policy with them and sue the other party direct.

My own underwriters thereupon contacted the other driver’s insurers and told them that they had already rejected my proposed repair cost of £600, and suggested a much lower figure of £400 would be adequate.

When asked why they divulged this information to a party which they knew I was proposing to sue, they blithely answered that this was to protect their knock-for-knock agreement.

In the meantime the other driver had pleaded guilty to dangerous driving in the local court and so I instructed my solicitors to issue a writ for the full £600, but at the 11th hour a cheque for this amount plus my legal costs reached my lawyers office by hand, so the matter was settled out of Court.

The joke of the whole matter was that in the end, my own underwriters were obliged to repay this amount, less my £100 excess, to the other insurers under their knock-for-knock agreement, but since I had made no claim under my policy they could not penalise me. On this occasion, at least, I think I had the last laugh and perhaps so too can Mr. Simpson.

James E.S. Rusbridger.
London, SW5.

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