Help - insurance woes - daveyjp
Bit of a long post, but it could happen to any of us:

Some friends of ours had an accident in August last year. They were driving along the M62 when they hit a sudden rainstorm, hit an area of pooled water and ended up doing a couple of three sixties before hitting the central reservation and halting a couple of hundred yards later on. Damage to car - one rear wheel was ripped out along with the driveshaft, front spoiler was smashed in two and two airbags deployed. The car was transported off to the local repairer (the car is a smart and they wanted it to go to a smart specialist, but insurance recommended repairer said they knew how to fix smarts).

After the accident our friends advised their insurance company that the car would need a full and proper check. If the Tridion (the metal part of the body) was twisted it would have to be written off. The insurance company refused to right off the car.

In November, depite chasing the car was still being repaired - the repairer were waiting for parts (the car had customised wheels which needed to be ordered).

Chasing continued and my friends were told the car should have been written off as the company had spent so long on the car it was costing the repairers money - the insurance would only pay up to the quote they offered.

The repairers had a problem they couldn't solve and sent it to a smart dealer, they refused to touch it due to the standard of the work which had been carried out to that point! (They know this because they know the guy at the smart centre who made the assessment).

This weekend the car returned to them on the back of a truck as according to the repairer it was repaired.

After being unloaded my friends looked at the car and were straight on to the insurance company. Before the accident the car was pristine. It now looks like the car has been stored in a muddy field for the past six months, the inside is soaking wet so it may have been kept outside with the roof open (the car is a cabrio and the roof stopped working after the accident - this was found after the garage thought they had fixed everything), the carpets are thick with mud, the leather seats are stained and covered in white stains where the water has dried.

The roof still doesn't work, one of the tyres has a spilt in the side wall, the panels and tridion are covered in deep scratches, on lifting up the carpet in the rear to check the engine bay a wire has been duck taped across the back of the car (we don't know what it's for as our smart cabrio doesn't have a similar wire). Half the parts which were supposed to have been ordered aren't on the car, including a new seat back which has to be replaced if side airbags are deployed (has the side airbag been replaced or have they just put on a cover?) there are exposed wires behind the seats and the front spoiler has been stuck back together and is hanging off.

To top it all someone at the repairers has stuck a 'Max Power' sticker in the cabrio window - 1) They wouldn't advertise Max Power 2) Anyone with a cabrio will know not to put stickers on them as the glue can ruin the plastic.

The insurance company sent a recovery truck to take it to the local smart dealer who are to assess the car.

What should my friends do? Can they have the car written off due to the cost. It will need at a minimum a new interior, new roof, new panels and a respray. What recourse do they have against the insurance company and the repairers (who obviously knew nothing about smart cars)?

Needless to say after 6 months they are totally p'd off. They have had to SORN the car and it's obviously dropped in value. If the car is written off can they insist on the value when the accident happened?

Help - insurance woes - teabelly
Your friends should write to their insurance company recorded delivery and insist they are put back into the position they were before the accident. If their car is badly repaired then they should insist on having it taken to a smart specialist for a quote on the repairs. This will probably exceed the write off value (usually 2/3rds of value). Hopefully the insurance company will then write off the car. If your friends then get prices for similar cars of identical age condition etc then they should get that out of the insurance company (less their excess). Also I think you can claim for loss of use of your own vehicle. They could claim for say extra cost of fuel or whatever if they were given a courtesy car that wasn't as economical as their own. If they weren't given a car then they can claim quite a reasonable amount for loss of use.

The insurance ombudsman, as was, has rulings on these sort of thing so worth a google. I think the Financial Services Authority over see all this so they are also worth contacting.

I assume the insurance company are being difficult as it is coming out of their pocket. I would remind them that if they had taken the car to a smart specialist as your friends had wanted it would have cost them less in the long run so their penny pinching has made them lose hundreds of pounds. Normal repairers shouldn't be let loose with anything out of the ordinary. I think your friends could have insisted it went to a smart repairer rather than a body shop. I have certainly been able to do this against a third parties insurer so I assume they would have the same rights against their own.

A letter to Watchdog could also prove fruitful. Get them to take plenty of pictures of the state of the car when it is returned as all services have to repair things with due diligence and letting the car get wet through certainly isn't a sign of that.
Help - insurance woes - Andrew-T
One message is always to consider giving the work to an outfit you know something about. I think the customer has this option with most insurers - though equally the insurer's assessor may have right of refusal.
Help - insurance woes - Leon on Derv
interesting one -

I was obtaing a few insurance quotes over the weekend and I noticed at least one insurer who stated they would not insure Smarts.

I have spent the weekend wondering why.... Kinda clears that one up.


Value my car