Article date: 30 January 2008
Norwich Union is calling for stricter and more controlled statutory charges following recent Home Office proposals* to hike costs for removing vehicles from the highway under police powers.
Phil Gledhill, claims technical manager, Norwich Union, said: "The current statutory charge for removing a vehicle is a flat fee across all vehicles of £105, and there was general understanding and acceptance that £105 is insufficient to cover costs to recover vehicles ranging from small motorcycles to articulated lorries. However, the changes look like they will drastically increase recovery costs for insurers and it is likely that all road users will be paying more. Not all recoveries are insurance claims, but where they are, the scale of these changes may force Insurers to increase premiums.
"The police and possibly soon the Highways Agency, have powers to remove vehicles that are illegally, obstructively or dangerously parked, abandoned or broken down and if the proposed table of charges come into force this will create an opportunity for unscrupulous recovery operators to cash-in at the motorists' expense."
Gledhill adds: "In a consultation held in 2007, the Home Office proposed a table of charges, calculated according to weight of the vehicle and the scenario of the incident, which insurers felt was generally in-line with what had been initially discussed. However, the Home Office is now suggesting differing, weight classes, charging bands and incident scenarios to those previously proposed.
"We now see 4x4s and some large prestige vehicles in the same group as 7.5 tonne commercial vehicles, and the scenario where a vehicle that is not free to roll is placed in the same category as a vehicle upside down on its roof. "
Gledhill fears that with the revised charges due to come in to force mid-year, there will be strong adverse reaction from all road users who fall foul of statutory recoveries.
"Motorists are unlikely to accept the charges, the scenarios and the vehicle bandings, all of which have been radically changed to the advantage of recovery operators.
"As an insurer, we see the need for a single charge to cover all recovery scenarios for motorbikes, cars and light commercial vehicles. For trucks, it is different given the wide variation of weights and scenarios of loaded and unloaded vehicles. The individual circumstances of the recovery with set charges attached should be considered, for example, where a loaded artic has broken down and all wheels are between the kerbstones. With incidents confirmed by photographs, a fixed charge regime would encourage recovery operators to provide a faster service whilst clearing the road sooner, a key objective of the Highways Agency. This would stop the current practice of some recovery operators making an expensive drama out of each event, increasing congestion, with excessive charges being passed to the customer or insurer."
He added: "It is hoped the Home Office will review their proposals and produce a table reflecting the Consultation document and apply fair recovery charges."
For further information, please contact:
Jo Rosenberg 0161 919 8014/07973 143215 or Sam Bramwell 0161 919 8024/07738 196667 at Staniforth or Adam Cracknell at Norwich Union on 01603 684 916/07800 699 517
Notes to editors:
* Letter detailing proposals titled: STATUTORY CHARGES FOR THE REMOVAL, STORAGE AND DISPOSAL OF VEHICLES BY THE POLICE issued by the Home Office, dated 21 December 2007 and was addressed to 'Respondents to the consultation on statutory charges for the removal, storage and disposal on police instructions of vehicles that are illegally, dangerously or obstructively parked, or broken down or abandoned'.
Norwich Union is the UK's largest general insurer with a market share of around 15%, with a focus on insurance for individuals and small businesses.
It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.
Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media.