Should my insurer pay out?

Should my insurer pay out?

My motorcycle was stolen recently. It is valued at around £7000 but I gave the registration incorrectly to the insurers.

I reported the bike stolen and the police told me that I was not Insured according to their database. However, when I showed them the certificate (everything matched with the exception of one letter) they accepted I was Insured and gave me my crime number. I also reported the theft to my insurers and they have been very funny with me.

They said; “We will have to refer the false registration to underwriters.” Mistaken perhaps but surely not false. They also require; “Proof that the bike had a Sold Secure gold-level lock and chain fitted”. Funnily enough, the thieves did not leave that much evidence. I had an Abus Granit lock and a 14mm Sold Secure chain but it looks like the thieves lifted my bike over the 4ft tall concrete bollard it was shackled to, leaving with the lock and chain still on the bike, no doubt to be cut off in their lock-up.

I am becoming increasingly concerned that I am not going to be paid out. Would the Insurers be within their rights to refuse my claim? They have not said that they are not going to pay yet. but I have been waiting four weeks and I keep getting told my queries are being “referred to underwriters” or “investigated fully by the counter-fraud team.”

Answer

Your insurer is going to have to pay out but you may need to deal with a rejection first. The wrong registration plate is not a relevant factor. Unfortunately you seem to have an insurer who tries to wriggle out of every claim but pays out if you are willing to escalate. Most try it on but they certainly cannot reject your bike for a misplaced digit on your number plate.

How they are more likely to try to push back is by effectively telling you that they are not going to pay out because you cannot prove that the bike was securely chained-up when it was parked.

However, as they are alleging that the bike was not chained, they cannot simply say; “You cannot prove it so we are not paying out.” You entered into a contract of insurance as a consumer. You have a perfectly credible reason to explain how the motorcycle was stolen, and your policy states that if the motorcycle is unattended it must be locked with a Sold Secure gold-level lock. You had that lock and you went over and above your policy and insurance requirements by having the bike fixed with a brute of a chain to a concrete bollard.

That would have put most opportunistic thieves off. It seems to me that your bike was stolen exactly as you and the police surmise, by four burly scrotes lifting it clear of the bollard and putting It into the back of a waiting van.

My experience is that where Insurers can try to wriggle out. they will play a numbers game. They will reject the claim at the first instance; you then challenge it; and they then accept it. If that does not happen, then you are going to have to sue on the contract of insurance and unfortunately, because this claim is worth less than £10,000, you will have to do so without the assistance of a solicitor, or to pay for one yourself.

You need to go to somebody independent – but don’t go rushing off just yet. See If you can sort it out yourself, and only when you get something that amounts to a final refusal, or they mess you around for another three or four weeks, will you need to call in a lawyer who is willing to go to court, rather than just write a few stroppy letters.

My experience of Insurers, over many years and many interactions, is that only when they get a summons to appear in court will they start behaving reasonably. You do not need a bike specialist but a decent civil litigator.

Andrew Dalton

RiDE Magazine January 2019

Disclaimer: The legal advice and statements contained within this/these articles is correct at the time of printing. If you are seeking legal advice after a motorbike accident please contact us to speak directly with one of our lawyers.

Posted by Andrew Dalton. Last modified: November 19, 2018 at 4:17 pm

Andrew Dalton is a highly experienced trial lawyer who delights in taking on difficult and demanding motorcycle cases. He has a tough and relentless litigation style and is utterly focused on getting the best possible outcomes for his clients.

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