Other than those working in the motor insurance industry, I doubt that many motorists are aware of the Claims Underwriting Exchange. This is a data base to which all insurance companies are mandated to notify accident claims; and as such, is the source that is used to provide the information which is used to determine the quote you receive when attempting to insure your vehicle.
Briefly, in April 2018 it was alleged that I had reversed into another car (a blue Audi), a claim which was subsequently amended to my having twice opened my drivers door causing damage to a door of that vehicle. This incident was supposed to have occurred in the ASDA car park in Seaham. Whilst I do not deny being in the car park at the time concerned, I vehemently denied having committed the act of which I was accused, immediately forwarding photographs of my car (front rear and sides) to my broker. At my insistence it was arranged for an Assessor to visit me and inspect my vehicle, at which time no trace of blue paint was found. At the time of the initial claim I was informed the third party had a witness but no witness statement was ever produced, neither were any photographs of the alleged damage I was supposed to have caused. Eventually, after some considerable delay, I was informed by my then insurance company that the third party had withdrawn their claim. in other words, logically, the ‘incident’ can never have happened.
The following May, Helen had to surrender her driving licence due to her having suffered an epilectic seizure during the day, her first ever. Her car was insured in her name with me as a named driver; as was my car insured in my name with her, likewise, as a named driver; both through the same broker and same insurance company. This resulted in my having to drive her to and from work, whilst also driving her to any appointments with her clients, those which were not within walking distance. Understandably, I ‘sorned’ my car with the DVLA as it was pointless paying for insurance and road tax on a vehicle which was not going to be used.
When the time approached to re-insure her car and have it put solely into my name I discovered that this one incident, which was recorded on the CUE database, meant that my premium had increased by £350. When I queried this with my brokers at the time I was informed that only the insurance company at the time, who made the report, had the power to remove this ‘incident’ from the CUE database. Contacting ERS, the insurance company with whom I was then insured, I was informed that this they were unable to do and forwarded me a letter stating that the claim had been raised in error and subsequently cancelled.
We are informed that: “CUE was established in 1994 to help fight insurance fraud. By enabling insurers to access details of incidents, it makes it harder to successfully commit claims fraud or misrepresent claims history. Ultimately, this helps to keep down the cost of insurance for honest policyholders.” .(https://www.mib.org.uk/managing-insurance-data/mib-managed-services/cue-miaftr). We are also informed that: “Insurers could potentially use CUE to calculate renewal premiums based on incidents that you have to report. These can be quite trivial. If someone walking past your car at night decides to kick your headlight in, it’s considered an incident. Even though it’s quite minor, it’ll probably be added to CUE. Incidents like this can result in a higher premium or quote regardless of whether you intend to make a claim – not just from your current insurer, but from all those using the database. Nevertheless, you need to be honest and report all incidents to your insurer. if you don’t, you’re committing non-disclosure – a form of insurance fraud. (https://www.gocompare.com/car-insurance/guide/cue-database/).
I then approached Lloyds to raise what I felt was an injustice. At this point I must admit to not having contacted the Financial Ombudsman as I believe, ‘pound to a penny’ (to coin a phrase), the response will be no different than that received from Lloyds.
If, quoting from Lloyds email to me and the foregoing, a number of logical questions arise:
- “In my opinion (the Lloyds responder), recording information about incidents, accidents and potential claims on the CUE database is an essential part of the motor insurance business. Insurance companies ask their underwriters to set criteria against which the risk posed by a particular driver or set of circumstances can be measured. This often involves taking into account information about previous incidents over a fixed period of time. It may include not only situations like the one that you experienced, but non fault claims where a driver has been completely exonerated of any fault for an accident but the details are still recorded on the CUE and may be taken into account when calculating premium. (my emphasis)”; Therefore, why do instances such as mine, or where a driver has been completely exonerated, can/are such cases used to increase an insurance premium – as I have discovered.
- If a driver finds his headlight kicked in and replaces it without notifying his/her insurers why should he then be stigmatised with the accusation of committing insurance fraud? Let us face it, the police have no chance of solving such a minor incident and would no doubt dismiss the report as a waste of their time.
Eventually I accepted a quote and in their documentation, under the heading: ‘Claims History’, it states: ‘April 2018 Insured parked – opened door/pulled out’, Another point I find puzzling is that having had a quote from the same insurance broker towards the end of December 2019, by the end of January 2020 the premium had increased by further £400. When queried, the response that I received was: “That is what I am being informed by the computer”. It was pointless querying this increase as the operative obviously did not know why – yet surely they should? Coupled with this, when I attempted to explain the accident of 2018 and suggested they should investigate the claim to confirm my innocence, I was informed they are unable to so do and have to rely on their computer read-out, their computer informing them I had an ‘accident’ that year. Yet my previous broker appears to have been able to so do when advising me of my no claims discount, which reads: “17/4/2018 Accident Insured Hit TP Cost: £140.40 At Fault; No; but the years of my no claims had been reduced. Incidentally the sum of £140.40 was paid by my insurance company, consequently there was no cost to me.
Two further points then arise: namely, Having queried the origins of the CUE data base with MiB I have been informed by them that “CUE did not originate from any Act of Parliament or Statutory Instrument”. Yet the letter from Lloyds states: “keeping to legal responsibilities”; which therefore suggests that there must have been parliamentary oversight. I have also written to the Ministry of Justice on the origins of CUE and unfortunately their response states a 4 week delay in responding (although they may extract ‘the proverbial digit’ in reply to a query from a Member of Parliament). The second point is that if, as stated, the 2018 ‘non-event’ did not affect my no claims discount, why then has it?
I have searched the European Motor Directives and am unable to find any reference to the need for CUE to be created. It may be subject to Contract Law, about which I know nowt, but in any event if there is a ‘legal’ requirement, as stated by Lloyds above, then surely there must be a legal basis on which it rests.
Anyway, as I feel it time for my Member of Parliament to ‘earn his keep’, I have passed the matter to him and await his words of wisdom, ending with the question: why is it I feel the motorist is but a ‘milch cow’ for the motor insurance industry.
All comments from readers are welcome.