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Accessible legal tips, know-how and news for anyone with a complaint or legal issue from Stephen Gold, author of The Return of Breaking Law, the book

Thursday 19 January 2017


Renewing your car insurance? I have already alerted you to one development which your insurer might use to justify a premium increase (see my Don't let your insurer get away with it post on 5 January 2017).

Here's another.

Insurer to you: "It isn't necessary for you to shout at me, sir. A European order coming in on 1 March 2017 means that we must pay more  money to the Motor Insurers Bureau to cover any claims by victims of negligent drivers who were uninsured or have never been traced. That is going to cost us an arm and a leg and we are having to pass that extra burden on to our policyholders. All insurers are doing it. It really hurts us, be assured. Our chief executive officer has been up at night worrying about it. But there you are. Thank goodness for Brexit but it hasn't happened yet. We very much appreciate your loyalty to us over the last 30 years and would you mind answering a customer survey when we have finished?"

The facts. The Motor Insurers Bureau pays out compensation to the victims of motor accidents where the driver at fault was not insured  or has hit and run and is untraced. That compensation covers personal injury and damage to property, be it the victim's car or his brick wall and comes out of the pockets of the insurance companies. Pause to weep. There has been an exception. No compensation for damage to property has been paid where the victim has had no insurance so an uninsured victim could not get his car repairs paid for by the Bureau. This changes in relation to any accident  on or after 1 March 2017 because it was felt by the government that the exception was incompatible with Europe's directive on the subject. 

But the Motor Insurers Bureau has not yet assessed how much more money, if any, they will have to levy from the insurers to reflect this new liability. And, in any event, they will not be asking insurers for their next contribution towards their annual levy until this Autumn.

You to insurer: "Yes I would  mind answering a survey and you answer this for me. Why are you relying on a liability which may amount to little or nothing and, anyway, which could not result in you paying over extra until after the Autumn when my new policy would be running from now? May I speak with your supervisor?"