What is “claims notification”? You must notify your Car Insurance Company as soon as you have a claim made against you or wish to claim against some other party. The policy wording will usually include a conditional clause that demands that you notify the Car Insurance Company as soon as you have a claim. For example:
The insured or his legal personal representative shall give notice in writing to the company as soon as possible after the occurrence of any accident loss or damage with full particulars thereof. Every letter claim writ summons and process shall be notified or forwarded to the Company immediately on receipt. Notice shall also be given in writing to the Company immediately the insured or his legal personal representatives shall have knowledge of any impending prosecution in question or fatal inquest in connection with any accident for which there may be liability under this policy.
The insurers must have early notice of any event likely to give rise to a claim.
In some EC countries, car insurance policies contain a clause to the effect that due notification of the occurrence must be given within a certain number, e.g. eight days after the event and if this condition is not observed, insurers in principle have a very strong right of recovery against the insured, although the tendency nowadays is for the courts to insist that the insurers prove that they have actually been prejudiced by the late reporting.
In the UK in so far as accidental damage is concerned, repairs are normally proceeded with speedily in order to preserve harmonious insurer/insured relations although the insurers ought to have the opportunity of inspecting if the damage is serious and will rightly ask to do so. What constitutes ‘serious’ may vary in terms of repair costs, between say £50 in the eyes of one insurer and £1000 in the eyes of another, dependent upon each company’s philosophy and practice.
Where notice is received of a third party claim, the Car Insurers should know at once since their experience in handling claims must be available from the outset if it is to be used to the greatest advantage.
Dependent upon the circumstances of each individual case, the Car Insurance company may elect to have an injured third party examined by one of their medical advisers or may delegate an inspector to attempt to reach a speedy settlement with the third party before the latter institutes legal proceedings.
If Car insurers are to protect their own position in these and other ways, they will obviously need to be informed immediately that there is the possibility of a third party claim. The natural feelings of sympathy of the driver must not be allowed to operate to the disadvantage of the insurers.
One could well understand, for example, how a motorist who has caused an accident involving bodily injury to a third party may be tempted, on purely humane grounds, to visit the victim in hospital but from the insurers’ point of view this would be unwise since the visit may be seen as a tacit admission of responsibility for the accident on the part of the motorist and this may subsequently be used to the detriment of the insurers.
Any fatality (involving an inquest or, in Scotland, a fatal inquiry) or any prosecution may indicate that a serious claim may be forthcoming and the insurers normally require to be legally represented at the proceedings in order that they may be acquainted fully with all the facts and be enabled to consider the course of action to adopt in the claim for damages which will probably follow.