A letter before action, or something that looked very much like it, arrived on my doormat from an insurance company.
Regarding an incident on 25 October 2018: ‘We are holding you responsible for the damage caused to our insured’s vehicle and the related costs,’ it said.
While I had a valid insurance policy, my insurance company was not responding and so they were looking to instruct solicitors to recover their losses direct from me. Proceedings would be served directly on me and not my insurers and could ultimately lead to a court judgment being entered against me, it said.
The letter then gave me a final chance to contact my insurers and bring this to their attention so they might deal with it for me.
‘There is no need to contact us directly regarding this matter.’
I think I will be the judge of that. I assumed that this was either a scam or a case of mistaken identity. But there was one other possibility. The only car accident I have had in the past year was a minor prang on the track of the field when I hit a friend’s car on the day Tara, the chestnut mare, fell ill last winter.
I had called the vet with the old mare lying on the ground, the vet had come out and taken bloods, and when the vet departed in her pick-up truck, I had climbed into my car with tears in my eyes and backed straight into my friend’s car that had pulled up unbeknownst to me behind the vet’s truck while I had been discussing Tara.
When the pick-up pulled away, I was not expecting anything else behind on the normally deserted track. Glancing only briefly in my mirror, I ploughed straight back into my friend’s small car, buckling its front wing and smashing a headlight.
As tears of impending loss gave way seamlessly to tears of frustration about a forced error that was boringly typical of me — one calamity usually leads to another like a collapsing row of dominos — I gave my friend my insurance details and urged her to claim.
She did, we called it in, I admitted full liability. Weeks later, my friend got her car fixed, and I assumed it was all settled. Until the letter threatening to take me to court.
I ignored the last line telling me not to call them. That was the biggest cheek of all. I puffed myself up to full-sized self-righteous indignation and I rang them to give them a piece of my mind. I told a nice enough girl who answered the phone that I could not make head nor tail of her company’s impertinent accusations.
She told me that my insurers, the Direct Group, had not been returning their calls. I pointed out that as I’m not insured with the Direct Group it was unlikely to return their calls. My insurer is another company entirely whose details were passed promptly to the other side and which has been very good in dealing with the claim from day one. How can they not have had contact with them?
She had no answer for this but she did say I shouldn’t worry because so long as I got my insurers to ring them, all would be fine. The letter was not meant to frighten me.
I told her she must have a funny definition of not frightening people.
I said I would be reporting the letter to the ombudsman, but I could barely stifle a yawn as I said this. Who am I kidding? I can’t keep on top of all the stuff I’m already meant to be reporting to various ombudsmen. I’m up to pussy’s bow with scams and corruption and botched this and missold that. I’m in no position to take on new scandals.
I shelved even thinking about another ombudsman and put my energy into ringing my insurers, who told me to send the letter to them.
A day later, they had sorted it out. They told me the other firm had been sending their demands for payment for the repairs to the wrong address and, being so apparently incompetent that they couldn’t find the right one, they decided to threaten to take me to court to get me to sort it out for them. ‘The reason some firms are doing it like that now is because it prompts an urgent response.’ What it prompts is an urgent angina attack and a bad case of hives.
Also, the delay has meant the unresolved case has dragged on and when my insurance renewed a few months ago I noticed that despite my protected no claims, I had incurred a big increase in my premium because of the ‘ongoing claim’.
You do wonder whether some of these insurance firms are even trying.