By Mark Merrell, partner at Corclaim
Most of those involved in operating a vehicle fleet will know all about uninsured loss recovery.
But it’s such a big issue and always worthwhile to reflect on internal procedures and policies to ensure you do know what to do if one of your vehicles is involved in an accident and it is not the fault of your driver because if you do not carry insurance for that damage, or you have some liability for it such as an excess, then you need to get your money back for the costs incurred in getting your vehicle repaired, along with any other consequential losses.
Unfortunately, it’s not always a simple process to recover these uninsured losses and my firm handles approximately 10,000 such cases a year for a multitude of clients of all shapes and sizes.
In our experience the main problems in recovering your money include:
- Proper identification of the offending vehicle and driver at the time of the incident – you may be surprised at how many cases we get where all that has been obtained is a mobile telephone number of the perpetrator, try ringing that when you are after money and see how far you get
- Getting the insurer in question (when identified) to respond and admit liability - their interests are not always aligned with yours.
- Arguments over the amount of costs being claimed – this is especially the case where those losses are not so easy to document such as: loss of profit arising from the vehicle being out of use or claims for loss of use of the vehicle and the like.
How do you overcome these obstacles?
Driver training is key
Ensuring all of your drivers understand the importance of getting full details including photographs of the vehicle (especially if is it a company vehicle with a livery on it), areas of damage and if possible, the other driver.
The impact of failing to do these basics can cost your business significant sums of. Furthermore, whilst it isn’t usually relevant to the recovery of losses, photographs of the inside of the other vehicle to show whether there were any passengers and if so how many is always a good idea.
Be assertive in your dealings with insurers
It’s important to remain diligent and keep on top of paperwork and communications with the insurer – this can sometimes feel like a full-time job but it is vital to recover the money you’re owed.
Ensure your claims are reasonable whilst also ensuring they are maximised
You can put forward whatever claims you like as they will of course be subject to scrutiny and insurers will ask for documentation.
The lack of documentation does not mean you cannot recover a particular loss but the better the documents in support then the better your prospects. For example if you have a claim for loss of profit you need to show the working out.
Just providing details from a spreadsheet is not usually sufficient. Where are your records of usage/money per vehicle/orders and so forth?
You don’t need to go over the top, just understand how you are getting the figures and prepare your supporting documents in anticipation of the challenges.
In relation to evidence about a particular loss, in the event you get into a dispute then don’t forget, you can support a claim by way of a witness statement from someone who will be able to explain, if not show by reference to a document, how a loss has been incurred and measured. Good witness evidence is often sufficient.
And finally, don’t give up…it’s your money and your business needs it back.