Thursday, 14 February 2013

Livin' Aviva Loca !

At around 8.00 on 8 July 2010 one of my staff was travelling to work from her home about 13 miles away when her car was hit by a Land Rover.

It was a fairly minor collision as a result of which she suffered mild shock and a whiplash injury (yes, they’re real). Liability was never in issue.

By 10.00, my employee had a call from the insurers of the Land Rover – Aviva – offering to sort the repairs and a hire car, and wanting to know if she was injured. They would contact her again later after she had been to hospital.

In the course of the telephone calls that followed, and having been to hospital for treatment after the accident, my young lady spoke to Kayleigh who told her, at the mention of getting independent advice:

“We do not recommend that you see anybody else about the claim”

At 16.00, there followed another call from Melissa who introduced herself as my employee’s case handler. She would be ringing every 3 weeks for an update and would send £200 by way of an interim payment.

Unbeknown to Melissa, this victim knew that her claim (ultimately worth over £3,500) would, if handled by lawyers through the Portal, attract an interim payment of £1,000 – 5 times the amount offered.

My lass said she wanted to seek independent advice and was firmly assured that she would be offered no more just because a solicitor was involved.

Well, she was because – unsurprisingly – she retained her employer to deal with it. The process was painful and at the end of it Aviva instructed a high profile firm of costs solicitors in Manchester to vet the claim for tens of pounds of disbursements. For the rest of the story see Portal of horrors.

We don't know, sadly, what might have been offered in final settlement if the claimant had been an ordinary punter, with no legal knowledge or assistance. The seemingly generous offer of an interim payment of only 20% of that the law prescribes coupled with the insistence that she should not seek advice doesn't inspire confidence.

What are the chances of this grubby little drama befalling a personal injury paralegal under the nose of a disbeliever like me, if it doesn’t happen all the time?

This is what they are truly like. Trust them to deal fairly and honestly with your claim if you don't have a lawyer?

I wouldn't.

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