Defenders Vs Insurers tomfoolery

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Active Member
Bit of background

After having to deal with insurance companies for a couple of NAF claims I wanted to share my experience and tips I have picked up.

Good thing about insurance companies is they are bureaucratic which helps. lots of the people you deal with are led by scripts/systems and a lot of red tape. So getting to know their methods can help to get better outcomes.

With the changes to Supply Chains costs and availability of both hire cars and parts for repairs, have become an issue to the point some insurers are writing off more car's. Because the repair costs become uneconomical much faster.

remember that all insurance claims are negotiations from the off as every penny they pay you is straight out of their bottom line/profit/charismas party fund. So they want to pay you as little as possible.

Always claim through your own insurance. this does a few things.

1 - They will deal with the 3rd party insurance company - if you have the 3rd party insurance call you after an accident (normally because you have exchanged details at the side of the road and they have been passed through) - just say your own insurance company is dealing with it.
2 - Because any settlement is paid for by a 3rd party, your insurance claims handler will be "more flexible" in trying to get the claim settled fairly.
3- your agreement is with them to cover you, so are then your covered by the FOS

Note - When you register a claim, they will often say your NCB is affected until liability is established and accepted by the 3rd party, some are straight forward and others there could be some back and forth. This is a case by case sort of thing.

The main takeaway here is - the main reason your told not to accept liability at the roadside is the insurers may be able to argue for their driver that some at fault accidents become 50/50 (often on roundabouts). this reduces their liability and stings the other insurer. But this will happen regardless so best to stick with the home team. even if people do admit liablity at the road side its makes little to no odd's its based on facts presented and is why Witnesses and/or video are key if people get creative with their memory after the event when it comes to claim form time.

Right to Repair
If you have been in an accident its the duty of the insurer to put you back into the same position that you were in before the accident this can be achieved via 2 ways

Repair or Financial compensation

this is where people can get unstuck because if your vehicle has a low value it doesn’t take much to become uneconomical to repair on paper only and the financial settlement is a reasonable remedy and is covered for in UK law. otherwise, most Cat S(c)/N(d) car's would end up repaired and Copart would be way smaller.

there are a few factors here that you can work in your favour.

The value of your vehicle, the cost of the repair and the payout method.

each insurer has their own way of doing things, but most follow the same format.

you submit claim normally with a few photos of the damage/car, "Someone" has a quick look to try and assess the basic value of the car Age/Condition using tools bit like webuyanycar - will chuck out a book value and they then try and estimate if its a quick write-off or requires further investigation.

Old cars get caught because the book value goes wonky over time as some cars head for classic status and can be missed by the non-car people who work at the insurance firm so you can get very low almost comical values. Which they can try and put a low-ball offer to you at this stage.

but it does 2 things. Some will take it and its a quick win for the insurance company but it’s mainly to feel out how receptive you are, gives them a chance to ask questions, but the psychology will start to kick in as they try to convince you, your car is worth less than you think and to lower expectations.

this is the point where I would head-off the insurers and have my own valuation report ready based on my own finding's and what I consider and can justify to be like for like and list everything that’s required to bring them to the same standard if different. As no 2 defenders are alike to the uninitiated eg. if you have recently (<12 months) spent big money on major repairs/parts or done a major refurb eg Galv chassis/Bulkhead. this all effects its value.

In the report keep it factual,

Your “good” recent pre-damage photos to show what the car was really like (not the pay and play ones)
List of high value parts eg galv chassis/bulkhead/recent engine restoration
list modified parts, cost and labour if declared/covered/applicable
list of what you believe is required for repair if your able too or get a engineers report from garage to do this for you.
List of like for like cars currently for sale

If your modified or if a bit different, list what the costs would be to re-modify/repair as required
I am modified so did this 2 ways.
I took a lower car and costed bringing it up to spec
I took a higher spec and listed the differences then I deducted those costs
From these you can avg out values to justify your costing as needed

If at this stage you reject their kind initial offer, this can be pushed back internally, and someone may do a more detailed desk based valuation using Autotrader/eBay ( they will tell you these arnt valid tools, but they do us them lol) to try and find like for like examples and base the valuation off this plus the extra info. This is normally where things get unstuck. cars like defenders have so many variants, the person at the insurer will struggle to tell 1 from the other so a late registered TDI vs early TD5 for example.

this is where you give the person a report (its doing their job for them) and if it’s not unreasonable they can use this to the justify your cars value, cost of repairs and you can then hopefully settle faster.

if they come back and don’t agree they will share why and you can then dispute this and there can be some back and forth - this is where using your own insurer will help if they are not footing the bill. Your looking for what can be justified this is where you do Point, Evidence, comment on all their points. If you look at it like your trying to cover their ass for giving you more money this may help.

If at this point you cant agree you can raise a complaint - each companies complaint policy is roughly the same and after 90 days. by going through your own insurer you can if you’re at deadlock escalate up to the FOS they will try and mediate and then if this fails they will investigate. a lot of claims are disputed around valuations. You can’t go to the FOS if your claiming through the 3rd parties direct which is why they like to deal with you directly.

just remember sentimental value has £0 value and the FOS look at it that if you and the insurance company are both unhappy then a compromise has been made to get a fair settlement. justice (LAW) isn't fair.

but the valuation is the corner stone of any insurance claim and worth spending time on your own report.

Controlling repair costs

By default, all insurers should use like for like parts this means mostly its Genuine/OEM parts for defender’s core components, mods will always be like for like. (check your policy policy some can have a clause which state no genuine parts can/will be used and can be a whole other can of worms)

But this is where you also have a right to choose which repairer is used, most insurers will push you to use their own approved repairer - this can be good/bad,
Good - all work is guaranteed for the life you own the car ex ware and tare items so painted body panels if they start to flake after 5 years you can go back to them.
bad - Although workmanship is an unknown - work is done on a book value and tends to be lower than an indie. also, you have no control over costs.

one thing I found was my insurers “approved repairs” refused to fix my defender I think this maybe because of the book value they get and what a pit of misery the simple jobs on an old Landy can spiral out too. again good/bad - far easier to choose my own repair path, made the write off option far more likely.

So if you want too, you can control the costs better eg. are happy for non-genuine parts to be used to lower the repair bill or you can nominate your own repairer and parts if you feel the quality of the repair is questionable, just make sure the estimate is realistic and pre-agreed. always keep in mind the 50% write off value is not a target and everything must be accident related. no fixing the 25 year old oil leaks/water ingress :) or getting too creative. for non-approved try to ensure your not at 49% value from the off. if your on the limit they will budget some creep their side as they can’t control it as well. so may not agree to it and go to write it off as uneconomical. Also they will benchmark against their own estimates so you cant put in a low estimate that keeps on growing.

If you authorise a repair beforehand you could end up out of pocket.

but normally once a repair is approved they are rearly cancelled and repair costs are exspected to go above the estimates and is why they use such a big buffer.

You don’t need 3 quotes. 1 will do they have their own they can benchmark against. or they can send out an assesor.

For those who cant get a repair agreed but want one. you can repair at your own cost/risk then submit a claim for this as a cash settlement so the costs are known and then if needed go via small claims to get a settlement in an extreme example. Most insurers would just cash settle as this point but has a massively high cost to get to this point. the threat alone can be enough. but it will not go above the value of the vehical.

For cash in Lieu this can work in your favour as you can price up Genuine parts but once your paid what you spend the money on is your choice as your fully in control and everything is settled. But using genuine parts will help the insurance company to reconcile your costs to their own cost’s vs a load of blue box’s/fred in shed bits.

Extra Info

3 main settlement options
- vehicle is repaired
if done by them you have a guarantee
if done at an independent repair place your guarantee is with repairer. No come back to insurer

Write-off - 1 time Cash settlement for value of car -
Full and Final settlement (No Comebacks)

Cash In Lieu
-1 time cash payment to cover repair/labour costs
full and final settlement (No Comebacks) - No CAT markers applied
Will lose hire car on day of payment

Hidden Costs that can be used to negotiate a better Cash in Lieu settlement.
Hire car costs
Storage costs
It’s a cleaner/faster full and final settlement (no come backs)
Also dont forget its parts + LABOUR in your costings if doing a self repair
this is the best option in my exsperiance especially if you want to self repair. This has a different claim path and the earlier you state you want this option the quicker/easier it can be.

Insurers like the options that have no comebacks.

Buy Back
Defenders are 40-60% buy back insurers are putting this up recently because you can pull a lot of parts from defenders more so than a normal car.
Aviva 40% Buyback Nov 23
NFU 60% Buyback Nov 23

Write off
Write off is normally 50% of cars value
can sometimes push to 60% (Cash in Lieu with help of hidden costs) (again own insurer will help)

So you may find that Write off + Buy back is getting more expensive so the cash in lieu can be a better way to go but cost both and make an informed decision.

3 tiers of insurers - pick your insurer carefully.
Tier 1 - LV, NFU, Aviva, probably should mention AdrianFlux - old/established companies normally not on comp websites.
Tier 2 - companies like Admiral/hastings/Churchill - darlings of the comp websites
Tier 3 - online only super cheap policies normally at the top of the comp websites and can be spun off tier 1or 2 companies eg quotemehappy until you have an issue and want to talk to someone.

Try to avoid the bottom end if you can, claims are often form based or web chats and are a nightmare and will take ages for resolutions for the simplest things.

Be careful with Admiral etc are geared up for more volume (pile high/sell cheap) so you can come off worse with their systems/algorithms for write off' as its much more in/out for claims.

Old adage you get what you pay for sometimes.

Hire cars
If you’re a 3rd party your entitled to a like for like replacement so for a defender that can be a 4x4 pickup/discovery type car
If you’re at fault your own policy may contain a clause that stick you in a small hatchback or similar unless you buy an add on check the policy wording.

Possession is 9/10th's of the law.
be careful of the insurance company separating you from your car - they can go missing in their care, due to admin error's they can go to Copart and be sold. this then removes any repair dilemma's if you’re in a disagreement and saves them money on storage charges.

Disclaimer – this is just based of my own experience, I am not legally/financially trained. their can be lots of factors involved. hopefully this just illustrates some ways to work within the system to get a better outcome. But I can offer no guarantees.