The sudden demise of “Vehicle and General” may make the following tale of insurance of particular interest to readers:
In the early part of 1969, I sat waiting in a queue of stationary vehicles, with hand-brake applied, when a Fiat saloon car ran into the rear of the large PO van behind me, pushing it into my Variant estate car, and the latter into the rear of the Ford in front. This might appear to be a fairly common type of accident, and I therefore assumed that the insurance companies involved would have no difficulty in concluding payments resulting from the accident: I could scarcely have been more mistaken.
The driver of the Fiat refused to give me the name of his insurers, on the grounds that his car had not struck mine (!), and suggested that I claim from the insurers of the PO vehicle. My own (very reputable) insurers were unable to confirm that this was the correct course, but suggested that I should try it. The PO insurers declined to accept liability and helpfully passed on the name of the Fiat owner’s insurers. At this point I passed the entire matter over to the legal department of a leading motoring association.
The total cost of repairs to my car, and of hire of a similar vehicle (necessary on account of my living in a country village with no bus service), amounted to just over £400. This fairly large figure was in part due to a lengthy wait for a body panel, but all possible steps were taken to hasten completion of repairs.
The Fiat driver was subsequently fined and had his licence endorsed, so that once again I expected an early settlement. The present position is as follows:
1. I have been over £400 out of pocket for well over a year.
2. On the grounds that the delay in obtaining spare parts is not their responsibility (it is scarcely mine!) the Fiat driver’s insurers have so far declined to meet my costs in full, instead offering me a sum of £56 less than my expenses: this, needless to say, takes no account of any interest I might have earned.
3. Some of the best legal advice in the country, accustomed to dealing with car insurance claims, has not yet been able to recover the expenses of a motorist, halted in stationary traffic, from the insurers of a driver who has been found guilty of causing the accident which gave rise to the expenses.
As I feel sure that every insured motorist would wish to avoid the possibility of being placed in a similar situation, I would ask, on their behalf as well as my own, whether any representative of the motor insurance business can advise me where I went wrong, or why in these circumstances my claim should not have been met?
Those who have lost financially through the collapse of a reputable insurance company would do well to reflect that payment of an adequate premium is no passport to freedom from worry or financial loss in the event of an accident.
May your magazine’s originality long continue.
[We shall be delighted to publish any constructive information from the insurance world. The present position of “legalised robbery” borders on the criminal.—Ed.]