Making an insurance claim

 

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How to make an Insurance claim
by Sean Onipede (reviewed by RSS)

have been involved in a few vehicle accidents that were not my fault and I was happy with the financial compensation I received from the third parties insurance as negotiated by solicitors. However I constantly hear sad stories from people involved in non –fault accidents complaining about poor pay-outs and bad solicitors.

I spoke to a mate who was complaining about his case to me and from what he said I knew that he was not going to get much from his insurance claim regardless of the impact the accident had on his life. He blames his solicitors, but to be fair to them, they can only work with what they are given. Often events have gone into motion and are too late to change by the time the solicitor gets the case. He suggested I write down what I know so that others don’t make the same mistakes he did.

First I am not a lawyer, just a Joe Public rider but to make this very long article easier to read I have broken it down to the following so that you may jump around the article.

In a non-fault accident, the insurance company and solicitors only look at the facts and will not get emotionally drawn into the case. You will not get compensation if the accident causes you to miss your kids school play or if you go bankrupt.  

Basically the following is all they are interested in when assessing compensation for your accident

Accident Scene

But before you make your claim, you have to ensure that the accident was not your fault. Just because the third party claims he would pay, does not mean that his insurance will. Exchange details i.e. name address, vehicle type and registration, insurance etc as soon as possible. Call police if in doubt. Do not argue liability on the road, let the insurance companies and solicitors deal with that. This also avoids fist fights. If you are certain it was not your fault note all road markings, sign and get details of sympathetic witness. An independent witness on your side is money in the bank.  

If you have to give a statement to police do not volunteer information. Remember that you will not be able to think straight after the accident especially with the build up of traffic around you and thoughts of how to explain the accident to your family. Stick to the facts in your favour, when talking to the police. Do not say “I was not speeding” or “I was not drinking”. Let them make the accusation before you defend yourself. They have to prove it.  Give yourself room to manoeuvre in your statement to the police.  

Basically, your solicitor will go as far as going to court to prove the third parties liability if you have a good statement, independent witnesses (passengers don’t count), a good sketch of the scene of the accident (before and after), photographs of any road signs, markings etc in your favour (you have to get them yourself, no one else will), etc. You can mess it up with your statement to the police.  

Insurance claim.

Vehicle.
This is often the largest part of your claim and where most people loose money. Now note that you will never get compensation worth more than the value of the vehicle. After an accident, keep control of the car. You may be liable for any storage costs (big hidden point) if the vehicle was removed by a salvage company. After the accident the vehicle is assessed for damage and one of the following occurs.  

  1. The vehicle is damaged beyond repair. (The vehicle is a class A or B write off). In this case you will be offered money, equivalent to the replacement value of the vehicle and the crashed vehicle is taken off you. They will pay any storage fees. 
  2. The cost to repair vehicle exceeds value of vehicle. In this case they may offer you one of two choices.
    1. The vehicle is written off (class C or D, uneconomic to repair) and the same as above
    2. You may be offered the depreciation value caused by the accident i.e. the vehicle is worth £2000, and the damage will cost £2050 to repair but vehicle is worth £ £500 in its damaged state. You will be offered the depreciation of £1500 as compensation and you keep vehicle. You will be liable for any storage charges.
  3. The vehicle can be repaired for less than the value of the vehicle. In this case you will be offered money to repair the vehicle and you obviously keep the vehicle. You may be liable for storage charges. 

With option 1& 2 most people expect more for their vehicle than is offered but sorry, shit happens. The furry dice does not add value to your vehicle and if you have a CD player in the vehicle you might as well take it out. If the CD player it is damaged you can make a claim under others below. How the vehicle is valued by the insurance assessor is beyond this article or me. 

In option 3 you keep the vehicle and get money which should pay for the damage, but if the quote for repairs were obtained from the vehicles official dealers (as you are entitled to) and you can get the vehicle repaired yourself cheaper you could be quid’s in. Theoretically you could have a vehicle valued at £2000 but a dealer repair quote of £1990. If you can repair the vehicle for £500 you get to keep the balance. 

Injuries
Higher authorities have set limits on the compensation you get for most accident injuries and it is not a million pounds. I think you get up £5000 for a broken leg regardless of how long it takes you to recover, whether you are a highly paid football player or a lazy unemployed person, any financial hardship you may face as consequence of your injuries, etc. Most people in hospital and in great pain expect million but are disappointed at offers of a few thousand pounds. The difference is that the highly paid footballer will be able to claim substantially under the Loss of Income part of his claim not the actual injury. 

Loss of Income.
You can also claim for any loss of income that arises from to your accident. If you receive any money from your company, insurance policy, government income support etc, they will be taken into account in making you an offer of compensation. 

For instance, if you were out of work for a year and your company only paid you full wages for 4 months and half wages for the next 4 months, and nothing for the last 4 months but you got income support, the third parties insurance will probably offer you compensation of the balance of half wages for the middle 4 months and full wages for the last 4 months minus whatever you got from income support.. If you were self employed, you may have to prove that the accident did loose you money with account statements and proof that you had work on.

Other physical losses.
Here you can claim for damage and replacement to clothing, CD player, furry dice etc. You often will not get the full value of the items damaged. Factor like the cost, when bought, condition, etc of items come into play when negotiating how much you will be offered as compensation. Write a full list of everything that was damaged and try to get the receipts or quotes for your solicitors to put in a claim. If well presented, you could get a nice bonus as you claim for everything and anything. You may have to prove everything.

Others.
Here you claim for any other costs that arise as a consequence of your vehicle accident. If the accident was not your fault you may rent a similar vehicle to your damaged vehicle and put in a claim for the cost, or for any taxi, bus or train fares you had to pay for as a result of the loss of your vehicle. You can also claim for any medical costs including private treatment, physiotherapy, home carers, acupuncture or even a box of painkillers. You must produce receipts for all. No receipt, no money. I was given £200 for "miscellaneous". I asked my solicitors what it meant and I was told “for miscellaneous items, good will etc." (??) I took the money without argument. 

Finally.

You have had your accident, spoken to and filled in numerous forms for the solicitors, and they are making your claim on your behalf to the third parties insurance, so what next. You wait and wait and wait. There are people with the third parties insurance whose job it is to contest the claim and ensure you get paid as little as possible. It is not personal. With all the communications going on between your solicitors and the third parties insurance, and the medical people, and the vehicle people and you plus all the internal memos in these companies, it is amazing that an insurance claim even get sorted.

The first part of the claim to be sorted is usually the vehicle. This is because the vehicle damage is easily assessed and a sum agreed on. This is also to reduce your claim for travel expenses or a rented vehicle. 

The injury part of your claim can go on forever. Usually they will not make an offer until you are fully recovered. This is so that they can make a final offer for all the injuries. 

The rest of your claim is sometimes settled as soon as you and the third part insurance agree on a sum. This is sometimes called "interim payments" but some insurance companies prefer to pay up the rest of the claim at the same time with the injuries. If you take a long time to recover, it may be a while before you see a penny. 

In conclusion make this easy for your solicitors at the scene of the accident by giving them a good case to work with. Then be realistic about what you will receive as compensation for your troubles regardless how much hardship it might have caused you. There are no blank cheques with insurance companies and I for one do not mind this as the cost of insuring me on my bike will be too high if everyone could make million pound claims due to a sprained neck.

By Sean

This article has been sent to RSS to check for flaws and it did not. They did however feel that you may also be intrested in reading the following
Legal Services - how to find the right one for you and your bike

 

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