I seem to have won some sort of prize.
‘Good morning’, said the voice on the telephone, ‘I’m calling about your recent car accident’.
In truth, accident is hardly the right word for someone reversing at a snail’s pace into the parked car where I was sitting. It was all very polite and amicable; he got out and apologised profusely – ‘so sorry...wife’s car...wrong gear’ – and his insurers agreed to have the minor dents repaired.
A routine affair and easily sorted, I thought, but I was obviously missing the point. The voice on the telephone was insistent;
‘You were in a collision’, it said. ‘The other driver has admitted liability. That means you can claim at least £1,500 for injury.’
I put the phone down, but that wasn’t the end of it. A few days later, the Spouse took another call:
‘Did you know that the other driver’s insurer will already have put at least £1,500 aside for compensation? If you have suffered any injury, however slight, or any inconvenience at all as a result of the accident, however slight, all you have to do is make a claim’.
It appears that, from the day you contact your insurers, the genie is out of the bottle. Your details are available on a database for any ambulance-chaser to see and, before the respray is dry, there they are on the phone and by text, day after day, promising you untold riches if you can conjure up some sort of injury.
Had I taken up their offer, the other driver’s insurance company would be £1,500 worse off. Multiply that by the number of minor shunts taking place every day on our overcrowded roads and you have one of the reasons that premiums are sky-rocketing.
They have turned car insurance into a lottery – sure, you pay a bit extra up-front, but if your number comes up, there’s at least £1,500 waiting to be claimed every time. Having someone run into me and freely admit liability was the equivalent of a Premium Bond coming up.
And in today’s Lottery-obsessed culture of entitlement, if the callers' incomprehension is anything to go by, few people ever say no.