Feeding frenzy at the claims management zoo!

I was t-boned by an entrepreneurial garage owner on Saturday who , after shunting me off the road enterprisingly suggested that he would be happy to do the repairs on my car. I politely declined feeling it vaguely inappropriate.

I was on my way to Lords to watch the cricket so having dumped the car, I proceeded by public transport, alerting my insurer through their out of hours service. They weren’t much interested, nor were the police so it wasn’t till Monday that I could do much about things.

What followed was surreal. A scrambling to manage my claim that ended with me dealing with claims managers, personal injury lawyers,recovery companies, bodyshops, car-hire firms and my original insurer.

Tuesday saw me spending most of the day in a body shop waiting for the other parties to argue with each other, and in the case of the car hire firm, between depots, who was going to get the largest cut of the cake.

It appears that the whole business is dependent on kickbacks. It’s like those little fish tanks you put your feet in except the fish don’t nibble your dead skin , they take chunks out of you in a most annoying way.

There seems no space in the process to stop and think of the customer. No-one denied that I was the hapless victim of a particularly dangerous piece of driving, but the only interest in my health seemed to be connected to the kickbacks surrounding the activities of the personal injury lawyers who seem to have been promoted to the top of this particular food chain.

I ended up talking this through with the owner of the garage which now has what remains of my car. It looks like he’ll earn pretty well nothing as the car will be written off. At best he can charge £28ph for his work. He’d been in the business 28 years and had been an approved supplier for my old companies Eagle Star and BAT. We talked about how the business had been turned on its heads by accountants. He told me that on one occasion he had been contacted by his fleet manager who had asked him to load his invoices by 20% so the fleet manager could beat him down by 20% and demonstrate his value to the company’s finance department who had demanded he made 20% savings on all work given to crash-repair outfits.

I’m doing a lot of work for micro-businesses at the moment. That’s firms with less than 20 employees. Every conversation I have comes back to the same things; firstly the inequitability of the supply chain that ensures that they are relegated to the back of the value queue; secondly the distance outsourcing ahs placed between the customer and the service he receives.

As I look back over the past 72 hours, I feel tired and disappointed. My car which I have driven without incident for 110,000 miles has been taken from me and I’ve been given a replacement that has the wrong gearbox, the wrong fuel and is the wrong shape. I have no idea how long I’ll be left without my car or if I’ll ever see it again. My neck,shoulder and back hurt and I’m worried about whiplash. The trauma of being hit side on by a Peugeot 407 moving at thirty miles an hour seems of no relevance.

All that seems to matter is the plethora of agreement, disclaimers, waivers and credit card agreements I have had to enter into,( none of which I properly understand).

If this is the brave new world that price comparison websites, outsourced claims management and hands off insurers have left us with – I’m all for a little reform.


About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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