How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site. Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask Jo C. Your Own Question
Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71154
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
Type Your Law Question Here...
Jo C. is online now

While my wife and I were abroad on holiday recently, our 31year-old

This answer was rated:

While my wife and I were abroad on holiday recently, our 31year-old daughter gave the keys to my car to an unknown person without my knowledge or permission. This person then drove my car and was involved in an accident with another vehicle that I understand suffered minor damage. I am also told that nobody in my car was aware of any injury to the other driver at the time. Three weeks later my insurance company informed me that the third party involved is claiming for whiplash injuries on my fully comprehensive policy. They also state that they will pay up but will be reclaiming all costs from myself because of an exclusion clause in my contract when family members are involved. They state that this exclusion clause does not apply if the matter is reported to the police. We fear, of course, that if we report this to the police it could give our daughter a criminal record and still not guarantee the policy will pay-up as we do not know the name of the driver. The illegal driver has changed all his contact details and has, not surprisingly, disappeared. My insurance company is also asking me to sign a form of “consent and indemnity” that will require me to cover all the company’s costs. What should I do??
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
Are you asking if you should report this?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Yes but also just how I should react to the insurance company's demands. After all, I wasn't even in the country when this occurred.

No, you weren't but whichever way you look at this they are relying on this exclusion clause which almost certainly does exist.
You can check your contract to see if it is correct but they are going to have some form of exclusion covering a situation like this.
Ultimately how you deal with this comes down to your priorities. If you report it then they probably will have some questions for your daughter. If you don't then the insurance company will pursue you for the amounts involved. It depends which you prefer.
I'm not sure whether you are asking about this or not really but if the police do contact your daughter then she might want to consider her position. I realise that she has told you that there was a third party but if she was the driver then it is not a good idea to lie to the police. There is CCTV all over the UK now and if they prove that she was the driver then she will probably be prosecuted for perverting for which she will be going to prison. It is never worth it. If there genuinely was a third party then it is nothing to worry about.
It doesn't make much difference whether you sign or not. They will sue if they consider it worthwhile even if you refuse. Overall it is probably not the best idea to sign a confession of liability effectively.
In terms of reporting it though, I am not sure what they are suggesting you report. This person does seem to have had your daughter's permission to drive and so it isn't a taken and driven away. I suppose there are issues of failing to stop and report but that probably isn't what the insurance company mean.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Many thanks for this, Jo.

The actual wording in the insurers guidance notes is: We will not cover loss of, or damage to, your car if, at the time of the incident someone in your family for someone who is living with you was using it without your permission. (This exception does not apply if you report the person using your car to the police for taking your car without your permission)"

I presume this does not guarantee any payment, however, and if we cannot name the driver is there any point in trying to report the incident?

Well, that is pretty clear. There isn't really any way of arguing that.
You could report the fact that this person had your car without your permission truthfully.
He may well argue that he had your daughters and so not be guilty but it complies with your duty.
It doesn't guarantee payment but it is pretty clear that the exception does not apply. If you make a report then I don't think they could rely on the exception allowing them to dishonour the claim.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Great. Thank you Jo. May I just clarify: Assuming she was NOT driving it is your opinion that this incident is unlikely to result in Kristina being given a criminal record...

I bring this up again because she is currently applying for naturalisation after living here 10 years and so this is a critically important factor for her...

Well, it depends.
If we are honest with each other it is quite unlikely that she handed the keys over to a random third party. What would be the point?
What may happen is that they may send her a S172 request demanding the identity of the driver. I suppose they could prosecute her for permitting no insurance but that just carries points and a fine.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

So I assume that "points and a fine" would be unlikely to have an effect on her naturalisation application or is it difficult to be sure?

I don't do immigration at all so I wouldn't know.
I would be surprised if it had any realistic impact. Half the country had traffic offences.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your help, Jo!

No problem and all the best.
Remember that I am always available to help with your questions. Even if I am in Court I will usually pick up a question within 12 hours. For future information, please start your question with ‘For Jo C’. You can also bookmark my profile
Jo C. and 4 other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

‘For Jo C’

Hello again Jo. One follow up question, if I may.

I have now reported this incident to the police as best I can. However the police asked an awkward question that I did not expect: basically, did I personally wish to bring charges against the driver. Of course, I was confused as I assumed the insurance company would do that, but I answered yes in my in ignorance. My question is: have I let the insurance company off the hook by doing this? Hopefully not!

You answered that you did want to pursue this?
We don't press charges in the UK. That is American nonsense and the police should know that.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Interesting!! Thank you Jo... Then I can stop worrying!

If you told them that you did want to pursue it then you have complied with your insurance requirements.