My bike was knocked down in a Morrisons car park whilst it was parked in a proper bike bay. Morrisons were as helpful as they could be, and gave me video footage of a white, fairly new, but grubby Fiesta knocking my bike over. On the video footage which I saw I could not read the dirty number plate.
My Insurers paid for the repairs, no problem, but my no claims bonus went, and my insurance policy went up over £200 this year. Apart from feeling a bit sore, I did not think any more of it until a couple months ago when I received a letter from a firm of solicitors saying that they ‘wanted to recover their insurer client’s outlay, but needed to bring a claim in my name’, and went on to say that their investigation team had run the Morrisons footage through some video enhancer and had got the number plate, which matched a white Fiesta whose registered keeper lived 1.3 miles away from Morrisons.
Their question was ‘could they sue in my name’ and they went on to add that if won in full I would get my no claims bonus back and a refund of the nearly £200 loading I had to pay after the crash. I am very suspicious. Am I being scammed?
No. The firm that has written to you is straight. They are a big, well known defendant outfit. I am against them all the time. But well done for having your wits about you, and I do not blame you for being a bit suspicious.
The legal logic is this. Your insurers paid out under your contract of insurance because the driver could not be identified. The insurers now have what they think is a solid lead on the car that knocked your bike over.
The usual presumption in law is that the registered keeper is the driver. Your insurers cannot as a matter of law, bring a claim, because they are not the victim of the civil wrong, but you can. In short, they are asking you to ‘lend them your name’.
If they win, your no claims bonus is reinstated, they get back from the Fiesta driver’s insurance what they paid to either repair or replace your bike, and you would get back your increased premium. If you lose, or if they lose on your behalf (such as failing to satisfy the court as to the identity of the driver or the car registration), then they have said that they will meet your costs so your only risk is the very slim one of you being forced to go to Court to confirm that your bike was hit. This is frankly a tiny risk.
If it was me, I would go along with my insurers. The firm they use are a tough bunch who see things through to the end, and your insurers are unusually stubborn, and good luck to them. Your insurers and this law firm are well known for pursuing and publicising fraudulent claims and they have a reputation for seeing things through to the bitter end. They are not afraid of a trial.
I cannot give you odds of success because I do not know how clear the footage is, but you have very little to lose. Your policy of insurance does have a clause in it which says that you have to assist in a ‘civil recovery’, but wisely your insurer solicitors are asking nicely rather than demanding, so go for it.
If the video footage is clear enough to persuade the court as to your hit and run, the insurers of the white Fiesta will pay up, and if the driver of the Fiesta has a job or a house, the insurers will go after their insured who is in clear breach of their policy requirements to report an accident or claim.
Fast Bikes February 2020