breakdown, cars are sometimes involved in accidents. When the
police come out to investigate they quite rightly want to get
the cars off the road as quickly as possible so they phone up
companies that have sufficient equipment to get them towed or
carried away and stored until the insurance companies involved
can finally get at them.
So far, so good. However, certain police forces don't ring up
the company which is nearest to the vehicle, or even the company
with the best equipment for shifting this vehicle. They ring up
particular companies with which they have commercial
arrangements, and which pay them a fee.
And this is not a small fee either. Rumour has it that the West
Midlands police force, claimed to charge £25 per vehicle,
received approximately £1.3 million in two years from grateful
recovery companies. Needless to say, these fees plus 'handling
charges' and storage fees were eventually passed on to the
insurance companies, who then passed on the cost involved to the
policyholders in the form of increased premiums.
To their credit, the Metropolitan Police and Strathclyde Police
do not make a charge for this; but a number of police
authorities have refused point blank to divulges any figures
about what they earn from this business, in the case of Greater
Manchester Police and Merseyside Police citing commercial
confidentiality. Commercial? What are the police doing getting
involved in commerce?
Recovery companies are overjoyed with this type of business; not
only do they have a guaranteed income from insurance companies,
but when an injury has been involved they can sell on the
information to claims handling companies, often for hundreds of
pounds, and to credit hire companies that provide vehicles on
loan to people whose own cars have been damaged in an accident.
The cost of all these sidelines, naturally, fall onto the
insurance company and then, ultimately, the policyholder.
Insurance companies do of course have their own contracted
garages that take in and repair, or dispose of, their insured
vehicles. If the police were to inform insurance companies when
a car needs to be moved (the information is all there on the
motor insurers database, which the police access thousands of
times a day) those insurers could then inform their own garages
to collect the vehicle. Instead of which, the car is picked up
by another contractor who takes it to a store, and then the
insurance company have to pay this contractor for collecting the
vehicle and storing it as well as any 'commissions' that have
been paid to the police force, as well as the cost of having it
collected again and delivered to their own approved garage.
With so many getting bites out of the cherry is it any wonder
that car insurance premiums are so high?