Claims Management & Adjusting (CMA) is urging UK drivers, fleet operators and insurers to challenge the costs associated with road surface and street furniture repairs following a crash, spillage or fire.
If you damage Crown property, for example, by striking a motorway barrier, hitting a traffic sign or damaging a road surface, you or your insurer will be presented with a bill, usually from a council, Highways England, Transport for London or one of their contractors.
Rather than simply paying it, CMA says it is wise to engage a specialist to scrutinise the invoice, and has published three recent examples to illustrate the potential savings:
Case study 1: When a fleet operator was hit with a £46,000 claim for a barrier repair from Highways England, CMA pointed out that the length had been conveyed as yards when it should have been feet. A fair adjustment was to reduce the original invoice by two thirds, saving the client around £30,000 but, as the contractor was described as ‘problematic’, the entire claim was written off.
Case study 2: When an insurer was hit with a £56,000 claim for resurfacing a stretch of road in South East England, CMA used the Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) to demonstrate that a larger contaminant spill in Scotland had been addressed for just £750.
Case study 3: When a driver was hit with a £4,700 claim for a small paint spillage, CMA discovered that the contractor had attended within half an hour and washed the road surface within 16 minutes. A new settlement figure of £700 has been presented, representing an 85% reduction on the original bill.
Managing director of CMA, Philip Swift, a former police detective, said: “I do not make these comments lightly, but certain Highways England contractors seem to be acting in an informal environment. The tail appears to be wagging the dog, particularly where contractors have agreements to retain claims under a certain threshold, commonly £10,000. My experience of dealing with hundreds of these below-radar claims has caused me to question whether many of the costs being presented are accurate or appropriate. There is a shocking lack of transparency – contractors are not subject to the Freedom of Information Act – and we frequently see cases of serious overcharging. In a not insignificant number of cases, no payment is warranted at all. We advise any drivers or businesses who think they might be a victim of this behaviour, particularly insurers and fleet operators, to get in touch.”
A Highways England spokesperson said: “Emergency repairs are essential to keep traffic moving and maintain safety. We have a good relationship with the insurance industry and work with our contractors to ensure that repair costs are fair and accurate.
“It is right that those responsible for causing damage foot the bill, so it is not left to the taxpayer to pay.”