Drivers, fleets and insurers urged to contest excessive highway repair bills

Drivers, fleets and insurers urged to contest excessive highway repair bills

Image supplied by CMA

“We often see cases of serious overcharging. In a not insignificant number of cases, no payment is warranted at all,” says CMA MD Philip Swift.

Claims Management & Adjusting (CMA), of West Malling, Kent, urges UK drivers, fleet operators and insurers to challenge the costs associated with road surface and street furniture repairs following a crash, spillage or fire.

If you damage Crown property, for example, by striking a motorway barrier, hitting a traffic sign or damaging a road surface, you or your insurer will get a bill, usually from a council, Highways England, Transport for London or one of their contractors.

Rather than just paying it, CMA says it’s wise to engage a specialist to scrutinise the invoice.

It’s published three recent examples to illustrate potential savings:
Case study 1: When a fleet operator had a £46,000 claim for a barrier repair from Highways England, CMA pointed out the length had been conveyed as yards when it should have been feet. A fair adjustment was to reduce the original invoice by two thirds, saving the client £30,000. But as the contractor was described as ‘problematic’, the entire claim was written off.

Case study 2: When an insurer had a £56,000 claim for resurfacing a stretch of road in South East England, CMA used the FoIA to demonstrate a larger contaminant spill in Scotland had been addressed for just £750.

Case study 3: When a driver had a £4,700 claim for a small paint spillage, CMA discovered the contractor had attended within 30 minutes and washed the road surface within 16 minutes. A new settlement figure of £700 was presented, an 85% reduction on the original bill.

Said Philip Swift, CMA’s MD, a former police detective: “I don’t make these comments lightly, but with some Highways England contractors, the tail seems to be wagging the dog, especially where contractors have agreements to retain claims under a certain threshold, commonly £10,000. My experience of dealing with hundreds of these below-radar claims, which Highways England acknowledge are unsupervised, caused me to question whether many of the costs presented are accurate or appropriate.

“There’s a shocking lack of transparency, contractors aren’t subject to the Freedom of Information Act, so we frequently see cases of serious overcharging. In a number of cases, no payment is warranted at all. We advise any drivers or businesses who think they might be a victim of this behaviour, particularly insurers and fleet operators, to get in touch.”
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