Nigel Wiggett of the UK Trailer Co. and Bridge Bike Hire in Cornwall wanted his day in court but he didnt get it. Hes now hopping mad. Why?

No win, no fee encourages freeloaders

Because his insurance premiums have gone up from £500 pa to £3000pa to cover the risk of hire customers suing for negligence.

Rather than fight one recent case, his insurance company decided to settle out of court even though Wiggett reckons he had an open-and-shut case. It costs insurers an arm and a leg to fight a case and its often cheaper to pay off a spurious litigant than go to the expense of hiring barristers for a multi-day trial that the insurers may not win.

This is leading some people to exploit the system, believes Wiggett, and put in relatively low claims of just under £10 000. Insurers settle out of court for, say, £7000 and the litigant walks away with a pile of cash for very little effort.

Wiggett cites one recent case where a woman daimed to have been thrown from the saddle of one of his hire bikes. She later claimed she was no longer able to drive a manual car because of her injuries so had to upgrade to an automatic. She could no longer do her own gardening so hired a gardener. The list of injury expenses went on but the total wasnt pricey enough to make it worthwhile for the insurance company to fight. Wiggett never got a chance to see the litigant in court because the insurance company backed down at the last minute, their bluff having been called.

Wiggett is bitter because if insurance companies arent willing to contest these sub-£10,000 claims many more spurious ones will be made in the future. And, of course, insurance premiums will go up again…

Perhaps a register of claiments could be created so repeat offenders are caught out?

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