I stopped for a tea break at a National Trust beauty spot. My bike was knocked down by what looked like a child driving an old tractor. The tractor had a registration plate that I took down, and the Police were called as I was genuinely suspicious that this kid was not old enough to drive a tractor. The police were happy with all of his documents, and I reported the claim to my insurance company who appointed somebody to look after my case.
I was completely uninjured, but my bike is third party only with legal cover. My bike had over £3,000 worth of damage, mostly fairing and scuffs to the silencers. My insurance company have had the claim rejected by the farmer’s insurers. They have said that the tractor’s insurers do not have to pay for the bike because this did not take place on the road and therefore road traffic insurance does not apply and they therefore ‘decline to indemnify. My own claims managers have said that this is correct in law, and they have told me to pay for my repairs myself and put it down to experience. Surely this cannot be right?
It is not right As a starting point a 16 year old can drive a small tractor on the road, which is why the Police were not overly excited about a kid driving a tractor. The tractor clearly was insured, by one of the tougher insurers who specialise in farming work. I happen to know the insurers quite well, and they know that if they have got some useless claims factory against them, they will refuse the claim, as indeed they have done here. It works.
However, the defence is nonsense in law. The English law has been clear for some time and it has fairly recently been confirmed by the European Court which has said that if any vehicle is being used which is consistent with the normal function of that vehicle (so a tractor being used for agricultural work falls within this) which is being used anywhere, even on private property, is covered.
My advice is the same as I give to a number of Fast Bikes readers who have got relatively small claims and no injury. You are better off sacking the claims clowns that come free with your insurance and actually bringing your claim through the small claims Court yourself.
You need to write to the tractor insurers confirming that you have sacked the people appointed for you by your insurers, tell them what your damages are, wait for the cheque and if you do not get the cheque within 21 days after you have sent them the repair estimate for your bike, issue your claim in the small claims Court, not forgetting to include £25 per week for all the time that your bike has been off the road- as your bike is really only used at the weekends for leisure, you should claim a modest loss of use. I can pretty well guarantee you that the farmer’s Insurers will pay up. You might want to refer them to a case called Vnuk v.Triglav which will at least show that you have carried out some research and you understand what the law is which is more than can be said for your ’emergency claims technical manager’ and as a general rule of thumb, the longer the title the less is the qualification. I’m just a solicitor.