Friday, 4 November 2016

Insurance Hassles

This was to be an article about the joys of touring France on a Honda CB750F2, my girlfriend as pillion and her family to carry our luggage in their car. Six days into the holiday the dream turned into a nightmare. A Dutchman, also on holiday, ignored a stop line and hit us side on. He didn’t even look. Luckily we only suffered a broken leg each which will mend, but we will be off work for a few months yet.

If you do have an accident try to write down as much as you can remember. Details of the other parties insurance are obviously essential. Even if you are too seriously injured (as we were) the police or independent witnesses may have obtained them. Factors like yours and the other vehicles speed, the weather conditions and the road surface can all support your case. Basically, write down everything you can think of.

It is also worth spending time deciding what actually happened. If you were screaming along at 65mph in a 30mph zone then it may be best to keep quiet and pray you don’t get a large bill for damages.

But if the accident was partly or totally the fault of another driver then collect as much evidence as you can to support your claim. Photographs of the accident scene, showing your view, the other drivers and relevant road signs are invaluable. I only wish I could have taken more, but France is a long way even without crutches.

Unless you have comprehensive insurance, you’ll have to submit a claim against the person you believe liable. Legal fees are not cheap and insurance companies pretty clever, but all is not lost. If you belong to the AA or RAC they may provide legal assistance if you have a decent case. Or your insurance company may have sold you a policy which provides legal assistance after an accident. If you’re a member, the BMF may be able to help. The Law Society also run a scheme called Accident Legal Advice Service (ALAS) which has a free initial interview with a solicitor.

Keep photocopies of all letters and documents, and when sending letters obtain a Certificate of Posting or Recorded Delivery. Be prepared for a long wait. Don’t admit anything. The Flying Dutchman who hit us wrote to me with a diagram explaining his version of events, that went straight to the AA and I told him to send all future letters via legal advisors.

I don’t believe that money can compensate for serious injury, but there’s damage to the bike and clothes, not to mention loss of earnings. You can‘t afford to forget it, because dangerous driving costs lives.

Alan Williams

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