Do the right thing and the right thing will follow. Right? After my encounter on the Queen’s highway with Wayne and Waynetta Slob, I decided I had better ring my insurance company and warn them that there might be a fraudulent claim.
The couple had screeched off from the police station in their shiny new Ford Galaxy (Motability range) having accused me of a crash that had not happened and fleeced me of my insurance details.
The police were no help at all, insisting that I fill out a serious-injury accident form. They didn’t give two hoots for my protestations that there had been no accident, or injury, just a shunt in a traffic queue after which a pair of ne’er-do-wells cried whiplash whilst clutching their lower backs. I asked the police to look at the undamaged cars but they refused. ‘Procedure,’ said the officer, insisting I fill out a 50-page form asking ‘how many vehicles left the carriageway?’ and requesting that I ‘list the number of casualties taken to hospital’.
There was no tick box asking ‘how many layabouts are trying to commit fraud by claiming you smashed into the back of them in a slow-moving traffic queue?’
So I decided I would have to take matters into my own hands. As I had left my phone at home, I hadn’t been able to get a picture to prove there was no damage.
The next morning, therefore, I drove two hours across London to the address on the scrap of paper that Wayne Slob had given me as we remonstrated on the roadside.
It was a god-forsaken housing estate but a public road ran through it so I turned up my collar, put on my sunglasses and started looking for the Ford Galaxy. It occurred to me that as it was 10 a.m. there was a chance Wayne might have gone to work in it. But not much of one. I found it parked against a wall so I had to climb on a bank to photograph the unblemished back end of it with my BlackBerry.
Heart pounding, I walked away with a weird sense of triumph. Was I beating the scammers for once in my life? Was I getting one up on the scroungers?
Not a bit of it. Before I could ring my insurance company to tell them I had the photo, they rang me.
‘Miss Kite, it’s about your claim,’ said a nice Indian lady. ‘Oh dear, what have they said?’
‘Who?’ ‘The couple who say I injured them.’ ‘Nothing, they haven’t rung us yet.’ ‘So how come there’s a claim?’ ‘Because you rang us.’ ‘Now hang on a minute, I only rang you to warn you that someone might be about to lodge a fraudulent claim. I didn’t create a claim. There is no claim.’ But there was. It turns out FSA rules mean that if you ring your insurance company to warn them someone might be about to initiate a wrongful claim against you, that phone call in itself automatically creates a claim, which in turn invalidates your you-know-what.
‘You mean — let me get this absolutely straight — that I have managed to forfeit my no claims bonus by ringing you to warn you that I was worried someone might be about to ruin my no claims bonus?’ ‘Miss Kite, we’re very sorry but unless the other party rings us to tell us they are not going to claim after all we have to suspend your no claims.’
I tried to explain to Rukshana that Mr and Mrs Slob were unlikely to notify Aviva formally of their decision to drop their attempt to defraud me because they couldn’t be bothered to fill in the form and anyway they still had a nice little earner from a slip on a supermarket floor to look forward to.
But Rukshana insisted that she couldn’t cancel the ‘claim’ until either a) the claim was made then rejected after a dispute process or b) the people who were not going to make the claim rang Aviva to tell them they were not going to make it.
The only other way she could close the ‘claim’ was if I obtained a police report confirming there was no evidence of an accident. But, of course, as Streatham police had refused to come out from behind their comfy desk to look at the cars that was not possible.
If I could give them the name of an eye witness who could testify that they had seen no accident taking place that would help, she said.
Oh, fine, I’ll just do that then. Because witnesses to things that haven’t happened are ten a penny, aren’t they? Do the right thing and a big, black, bureaucratic hole will open up and swallow you.
This article first appeared in the print edition of The Spectator magazine, dated December 10, 2011