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Mistaken (at best) Insurance Claim


Seminole
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I have an issue with Direct Line at the moment. I think I'm dealing with correctly but would appreciate any advice.

 

In July I placed an advert to sell my old Celica on the Autotrader website. The ad included photos where the number plate wasn't obscured. I also ticked the box to allow potential buyers to email me. I received lots of Paypal [problem] emails and I told a number of them where to go. I eventually sold the car three weeks ago.

 

A few days after the sale I received a phone call from my insurer stating that they believed that I had been involved in an accident on 3 August and they they had a claim from a third party that included personal injury. I asked where the accident had taken place and I was told that it was in Bradford. It suffices to say that I've never been to Bradford, the car hasn't been to Bradford in the time I had it, it was sitting on my drive in Surrey on 3 August and both I and my wife can prove where we were that day. The Direct Line person said that they thought that the claim was probably mistaken but they would send an insurance assessor around to interview me.

 

I'm a little annoyed by this and also because, having sold the car, I would like to be able to cancel the insurance. Direct Line have told me that the policy has been cancelled but I will not receive any premium refund until the matter is resolved.

 

I would like to think that this is simply a mistake and it will resolve itself without much fuss. However, I've heard some horror stories from friends and family. I also have a lingering concern that this is some sort of [problem]. It seems a bit coincidental that a car which has been sold is alleged to have been involved in an accident. I am writing to Direct Line setting out the facts as I understand them and stating firmly that neither my vehice, I nor my wife were involved in any accident.

 

If I do eventually reach the conclusion that this is a [problem] rather than a mistake, I will take the matter to police as I suspect the insurance companies will sweep it under the carpet.

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I'm not sure about it being swept under the carpet, why would any company do that? Your doing the right thing by getting your word in now, agreeing to interview, and any co-operation, check everything you have for that date (receipts etc) fopr proof. It may blow away with as simple as a call from the third party reps saying wrong reg, or it could takes ages to resolve, either way direct line are within their rights to withhold cancelation monies until they can be satisfied there is no claim to be made under the policy. Good luck

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Yes you are doing everything you can. No point involving the Police at this stage, as it is up to Direct Line to investigate and for them to involve the Police if necessary. It may just be that someone has written down a number plate incorrectly and nothing to do with the Autotrader ad.

 

Perhaps the easiest way to resolve is for Direct Line to ask the third party to provide a description of the driver of your car they had the accident with. If it relates to the Autotrader ad, they will know the car details, but would have no idea what you looked like. That is unless you included your full name for the ad and you have a Facebook page photo or other image online.

 

You will probably be waiting for a few months for this to be resolved, before you get your refund.

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If there were injuries there should be a police record and you should be able to access this as you mention that you advertised the car in July, but only sold it three weeks ago which would put the sale at the end of August after the "accident".

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Thanks everyone.

 

I'm expecting this to take several months to resolve and I'm keeping a detailed record of all communications and any costs that I incur.

 

The driver description idea is a good one as my surname is unusual and my photograph comes up on google.

 

It took two rounds of Autotrader adverts to sell the car plus I had a couple of weeks away.

 

I'll add the police number reference to my letter to Direct Line. So far I've simply assumed that the whole matter is ridiculous and haven't asked for much information. On reflection this is the wrong approach and puts me at a disadvantage.

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Hello Seminole. I've had to remove what you said in the post above. The language filter at CAG automatically replaces the word you used with [problem].

 

My best, HB

 

No problem, I remember being on the losing side of that particular debate :-)

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A quick update.

 

I spoke to a friend who is a serving police officer and he agreed with me that this is, more likely than not, a fraudulent claim. The fact that the car was up for sale, had photos plastered over Autotrader and it took more than a month for me to hear about the potential claim all seem a bit coincidental. My fairly blunt way of dealing with paypal [problematic] may also be a factor. In any event, I'm not going to throw accusations about at this stage but I will deal with this appropriately if it comes to it.

 

The latest development is that I have cancelled the insurance policy. My new car is an Audi and I bought insurance through them. The old car insurance was on an instalment basis and I have just paid for September. I cancelled the policy at the weekend and yesterday I received a letter from Direct Line saying that they would be collecting the whole of the outstanding on 1 October.

 

I have a serious issue with this. Why should I pay in full for a policy where a bogus claim has been made? If there was anything to the accusation then fair enough but there isn't. The amount of money involved isn't large and I can easily afford it but I don't want to pay for a product I am no longer using. Moreover, if Direct Line has the funds I can envisage it being hassle to get a refund even when this matter is dealt with. My final concern is a matter of principle rather than anything else. The amount that DL want me to pay includes the interest payable under the original agreement. Given that there would be no facility in place, I see no reason why anyone should be required to pay interest. This is a red flag for me and I am now less than inclined to accept that I should bear any costs from this claim. When it is withdrawn I want to recover any costs (time, phone calls, stamps etc) but I'm not sure whether this should be from my insurer, the "claimant's" insurer or the "claimant" themselves.

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For the new Audi policy, if they want NCD proof, it will include this bogus claim and you will need DL's cooperation to obtain the corrected NCD proof when the claim is eventually declined.

 

DL are correct that when a policy is cancelled mid-term and a claim is registered, they will require the full premium to be paid. As for the interest, this is added at the start and it is always paid in full, whether you actually pay over the whole year or not. I presume the terms of the CCA would confirm this.

 

If you can afford the amount due to DL, I would suggest that you pay this, but also ask DL to register an official complaint for FOS purposes. This is just to put a marker down that you are not very happy and will expect DL to do what they can in a timely fashion. See if you can get a complaint handler to monitor what is happening with the claim and policy. You expect this bogus claim to be declined in an efficient manner, for the claim record to be updated in timely fashion with proof of corrected NCD issued and a refund of the unused premium from the cancellation date to be made.

 

The danger if you don't do this, is that it becomes a pain in the *ss. DL will chase for the debt and may pass it onto a DCA. In the meantime they will drag their feet with the claim and updating information on the policy.

We could do with some help from you.

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Thanks. I will think further about this.

 

DL told me over the phone 10 days ago that they didn't think this was a valid claim but they want an insurance assessor to meet me. I haven't heard anything about this since and so, as far as I'm concerned, they are already dragging their feet except when it comes to demanding monies from me. I'm already angry that I've been, at best, dragged into a claim that has nothing to do with me and, at worst, been targetted by fraudsters and so if any party to this does anything worthy of a complaint, such as dragging their feet, then making complaints will be the least of what I will do.

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A further update...

 

I had a telephone conversation with the insurance assessor yesterday and I have signed a witness statement. Interestingly the assessor described the claim as "crap". I now have the time and location of alleged accident and thankfully I can prove that I was in a Marks and Spencer in Surrey when it is supposed to have taken place in Bradford.

 

There are however a couple of red flags from the interview. Apparently the driver of the vehicle also has a first name of Paul and the claim is for personal injury for all four persons in the vehicle. Kerching!

 

Direct Line were notified of the claim through a solicitor's letter. I would have expected the claim to have been notified in the first instance by the claimant's insurer along with extensive details of the claim. The assessor told me that DL only have the time, location, the name of the other driver and the claim for 4 personal injuries. Apparently they don't have a description of the vehicles involved, a description of the other driver or any police reference. Does this sound right to anyone?

 

I am, to say the least, a bit annoyed that DL haven't requested any of the above information from the claimant's solicitors over the past three weeks. I thought that it would be pretty standard stuff for them to go after. If for example they found that the make and model of the vehicle involved was completely different to mine, then that would close down the matter quite quickly.

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They deal with thousands of new car claims every week and all the communications that come with these. So perhaps DL have done all they could have through their standard claims process. If there is any suspicion of a dodgy claim by a third party, perhaps they don't want to jump on them too quickly. Once they have spoken to you, I guess they will write to the 3rd parties sols to advise them the vehicle concerned and its insured drivers were in Surrey, with proof in the form of a shop receipt. They will suggest that their client must be mistaken and they should go back to them for more information.

 

I think the 3rd party has gone straight to a firm of solicitors and are not using their Insurers. I think from the fraud cases I have seen in the media, that they tend to use dodgy solicitors and not go through their own Insurers. I guess the reason for this, is that the policy they may have arranged may have been set up with dodgy info anyway.

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"I think the 3rd party has gone straight to a firm of solicitors and are not using their Insurers. I think from the fraud cases I have seen in the media, that they tend to use dodgy solicitors and not go through their own Insurers."

 

I guess that makes sense although I expect it would be a red flag for Direct Line to receive a claim from a solicitor that was not preceded by or accompanied by an actual insurance claim.

 

There's a part of me that would like Direct Line to get out of the way and let me deal with this matter directly as it would be far quicker to establish the facts but it's impossible and would be foolhardy anyway at this stage. I'm quite prepared for them to come back with the car was my make and model and for them to have a description of me. All of this information is on the internet. Obviously I hope that doesn't happen but if it does, I'll be going for blood.

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They receive claims direct from Solicitors all the time.

 

There is BBC prog at the moment which you can see on I player 'claimed and shamed' which covers Insurance issues.

 

Bradford I think is known for iffy Insurance claims. I think if you searched, you will find media coverage on a major Insurance fraud that I think was in the Bradford area. But in fairness to Bradford, this is happening in many parts of the country.

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Having now spoken to the assessor again, the claimant's solicitors are Scott Rees & Co from Lancashire. They seem to be a typical no win no fee firm but quite sizable.

 

Up until now I've been quite passive in my dealings with Direct Line. Having made my witness statement I would expect DL to make the necessary enquries so that I can see whether I'm dealing with a simple mistake or an aggressive fraudulent claim. Am I within my rights to request a copy of the letter from the solicitors and to separately demand that DL ask some specific questions? Am I allowed to directly deal with the solicitors?

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Speak to DL about this. I don't think I would get involved. But make sure DL keep you up to date and perhaps ask them for an action list of what they will be doing. If the Solicitors letter contains any personal info about the third party, they may not want to provide a copy to you.

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Well so far DL have done very little and it makes me nervous. I think I'll drop them a letter along those lines without asking specific questions.

 

I can understand why they might not want to provide a copy of the letter for that reason provided I can be assured that my identity is being kept confidential from the claimants.

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Unfortunately for you, the matter is at the mercy of the third party solicitors and how long it takes them to make their investigations. Just ask Dl to keep you posted.

 

I thought that might be the case.

 

I can't find much on the web about how this plays out if the claimants don't ignore. I guess I can stop my insurer from settling but if the claimant doesn't withdraw, what happens?

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Most insurance companies are wise tothese cases now and let them run to court and then take a big bite out of the claimants backsides. The reason for doing this is their expert witness costs and legal fees are then passed on to the dodgy claimants' solicitor, who then has to bear all the costs themselves (commonly take out indemnity insurance so we all chip in a little bit). If enough dodgy claims fail thyis way the lawyers will avoid them like the proverbial plague.

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I thought that might be the case.

 

 

 

I can't find much on the web about how this plays out if the claimants don't ignore. I guess I can stop my insurer from settling but if the claimant doesn't withdraw, what happens?

 

 

 

These can drag, right now there are too many "if's", hopefully this is nothing more than a registration taken down incorrectly and the rest is just bad coincidence.it happens , quite a lot, and whilst the motor insurance database is a good thing, it also breeds lazy claims handling from people who don't check the facts(I.e the right registration) The above post is right about the insurers riding this out, unless there is compelling evidence to settle, at this stage that doesn't appear to be anywhere near the case.

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