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Insurer drops client who queried other driver’s claim

by | Sep 24, 2008 | Personal | 0 comments

Sep 24, 2008
Insurer drops client who queried other driver’s claim
NTUC Income says it had done its best, but client was still unhappy
By Christopher Tan
AFTER businessman Amirul Bahar was involved in a fender bender in a carpark last November, he replaced the bumper of his Toyota Wish seven-seater for $650.

amirul.jpg

The 52-year-old got a shock when the other driver, whose Nissan Sunny sedan sustained a minor dent on the front right fender, filed claims amounting to $18,000, the bulk of it for personal injury.

amiruli.jpg

This kicked off, for Mr Amirul, nearly nine months of trying to convince his insurer NTUC Income that the other party was making exaggerated claims.

Then last week, he got another shock: NTUC Income wrote to say it no longer wanted his business. In a letter to Mr Amirul’s wife, in whose name the car is registered, Income noted that the car’s insurance would expire next month, and that it was not ‘inviting’ her to renew the coverage with the company.

Mr Amirul said: ‘We’re disappointed. We were trying to make some sense of how a minor accident could result in such high claims.

‘We wanted to protect our no-claim bonus, but at the same time, we were trying to help Income save some money.’

With the help of a private investigator they hired, the Amiruls said they found inconsistencies in the claims made by the other driver, who is an AIG insurance agent.

These include:

  • A doctor’s report noting that the other car was hit on the driver-side door, when the impact was on the right front fender;
  • A workshop claim for four days of repair and loss of use, when the car was collected the day after it was sent in; and
  • Parts listed as repaired or replaced when they were undamaged in the first place.Separately, Income engaged an orthopaedic surgeon who examined the other driver and found that his ‘complaints were unlikely a result of the accident’.

    But Income, one of Singapore’s largest motor insurers, said it did not have ‘conclusive’ evidence to dismiss the claims.

    In the course of his correspondence with Income, Mr Amirul had objected to the insurer’s choice of a surveyor to re-inspect the other party’s car, on the grounds that it was the one that did the first inspection.

    Mr Amirul said: ‘We were willing to pay for an independent surveyor, but Income did not agree.’

    Income said it engaged LKK as surveyor because it was ‘a reputable company… used by many big insurance companies’.

    The other party involved in the accident, who declined an interview, has since filed suits to get compensation.

    Asked why it has decided to drop Mrs Amirul as a customer, Income said it had done its best, including ‘investing senior management time, monetary resources and engaging professional services’.

    It paid $4,000 for the services of the private investigator the Amiruls hired.

    ‘Despite our best efforts, Mr Amirul has made clear his dissatisfaction with our services, and we are not confident of being able to meet his expectations moving forward…As with any business making a commercial decision, we feel that it would not be in the best interests of both parties to continue this relationship.’

    It is not the first time that the insurer has dropped a customer. It has in the past refused renewals from people who ‘act unreasonably’ when settling a claim, or those it suspects of having colluded with workshops to inflate claims or to stage accidents. It has also refused to do business with people who have harassed its service staff.

    The Amiruls are at their wits’ end.

    ‘We’ve spent so much time and effort on this. Look at the size of this file,’ Mr Amirul said, pointing to a phone book-size folder documenting the case.

    ‘We will look for another company to insure with. Worst comes to the worst, we will stop driving temporarily.’

    He admitted that the Primary Dispute Resolution Centre, a mediation centre at the Subordinate Courts, had found him 90 per cent liable for the accident, which happened when he was reversing to make a turn out of the carpark. His car collided with the approaching Sunny.

    He said he disagreed with the centre’s finding, but it was not why he pursued the matter. His fight has been about the $18,000 bill for a minor scrap.

    ‘How could such slight damage result in such high claims, and how could it result in injury? Something must be very wrong,’ he said.

    christan@sph.com.sg


    HOW COULD IT BE $18,000?

    ‘We were trying to make some sense of how a minor accident could result in such high claims.’
    Businessman Amirul Bahar, on the claim filed by the driver whose car he dented

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