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Fife sheriff says it might be wise to change insurers after firm’s speeding-ticket bid to avoid liability

Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.
Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court.

A Fife sheriff said yesterday people might consider changing their insurance company – after hearing a leading UK firm was seeking to avoid liability following a three-car crash because its client had failed to declare a single speeding ticket.

At Kirkcaldy Sheriff Court, Sheriff Jamie Gilchrist QC refused a ruling sought by car and van insurance specialists Premier Underwriting Ltd invalidating a policy their customer, David Taylor, thought had covered him, on the grounds he had not mentioned he’d picked up a fixed penalty notice three years earlier for exceeding a 30mph limit.

The insurance firm had wanted a “declarator” that it could “avoid” the policy, under a clause of the Road Traffic Act which has already been repealed by Parliament.

The clause, section 152 of the 1988 Road Traffic Act, has been amended by MPs to remove an insurer’s right to avoid Road Traffic Act liability on the grounds that a policy had obtained by way of non-disclosure or misrepresentation when being taken out.

The court heard that from midnight on Thursday, it would no longer be possible for the company to use the get-out, and solicitor Kenneth Young, for Premier Underwriting, sought an immediate order.

Mr Young said the claim followed “a motor crash involving three other vehicles”, one of which, not Mr Taylor’s, was uninsured.

He said: “The insurer seeks to avoid the policy because Mr Taylor has ticked the ‘no’ box in respect of previous motoring convictions, when the DVLA licence summary indicates one offence.”

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Sheriff Gilchrist interjected: “Are you saying you wouldn’t have insured this guy if you’d known he had one conviction for speeding?”

Mr Young said that was the case.

The sheriff went on: “Is Premier Underwriting an insurance company which has not got a single customer or client who has a single conviction or fixed penalty for speeding?

“I don’t believe that and if you thought about it for a minute you wouldn’t believe it either.”

Sheriff Gilchrist refused and continued the case until November 25.

Ian Jeffery, underwriting director at Premier Underwriting Ltd, said last night: “By voiding a policy, we are putting ourselves in the position we would have been in had the penalty been disclosed when the insured applied for cover.”

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