McHale & Co. Solicitors Blog

In an accident? Don't assume your insurer has your best interests at heart

So, you have been in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault. The first thing you do is contact your insurer. Of course, it is a term of your policy that you must inform your insurer of an accident, whether your fault or not - but it may be worth giving us a call first.

The moment you contact your insurer, a chain of events begins. This will often result in your telephone number being passed to numerous organisations, who then call you relentlessly. What most people do not realise is it is often in the insurer's interest for you to use their ‘preferred suppliers’. People also do not realise these suppliers are often linked to the insurer, and so the insurer is making money on the fact you are using them. 

Gone are the days of referral fees when, despite what the insurers will have you think, they made millions in passing your claim to solicitors. However, now we have law firms actually owned by the insurers. I recently had a client ask me to close his file of papers after his insurer told him he had to use a certain law firm. I will leave you to guess why they told him this (for the record, you are free to use whichever firm you choose).

At the same time, the insurer will arrange for your vehicle to be inspected by an engineer in order for you to claim through your policy. So think, what do the insurers want, irrespective of fault?  Well, they want to minimise their exposure, and so will generally, in the event the vehicle is repairable, reduce the labour rate for the repairing garage. Indeed, they will send the car to their approved garage. 

Now you may be different, but I wouldn’t want my car being repaired by somebody who is working for cheap. If a car is a total loss, then we often see the insurer reducing the proposed amount of the value and increasing the salvage value, i.e. the scrap value. The fact that you receive the difference between the vehicle value and salvage value (vehicle value – salvage value = what you receive) makes this rather worrying.

So, your car is being repaired, or you are happily shopping for a replacement vehicle whilst waiting for your insurer’s cheque to clear. Luckily, when you took your insurance policy out you chose to pay that little bit extra per month so you can have a replacement vehicle in such situations. What your insurer failed to tell you, however, as is the case with some insurers out there, is the fact the hire car is only with you for a week (perhaps they forgot it takes five days for the cheque to clear, not to mention the fact that by the time the car has been inspected by the engineer, the report authorised, the cheque requested by the insurer, the cheque posted, and the letter pushed through your letterbox by your friendly postman/woman, takes upwards of six or seven days! If your car was repairable, you’d be lucky for repairs to be completed in seven days).

While your personal injury claim is being dealt with, your car is being fixed etc, it obviously takes some time for the claim to settle. In the meantime, your monthly insurance payment may increase, as you have made a claim on your policy, and indeed will remain at that level until the at-fault insurer has paid your insurer for their outlay.

So why use insurers? I wouldn’t. Therefore, if you are ever unfortunate enough to have been involved in a road traffic accident that wasn’t your fault, call us first to discuss - you can let your insurer know later. We can refer you to a private physiotherapist straight away to ease your pain.  In the meantime, we will arrange for an engineer to inspect your car and arrange a replacement. vehicle for you, and all with your monthly direct debit to your insurer staying as it is. 

Categories: General, Personal Injury
Tags: For You