Car insurance renewals – check the prices

It seems to have become the norm in the motor insurance world that the quotes motorists receive to renew their insurance are often higher than many first time offers by other companies. In some extreme situations it has also been witnessed that renewal quotes can be higher than the original payments, causing many motorists to question their insurance companies.

Internet-savvy motorists have also discovered that their company, who offered them a pricey renewal quote, are offering the same cover cheaper through price comparison sites. This is a very risky strategy for insurance companies, who are assuming that loyal motorists will accept the higher renewal quote without question/looking around. This demonstrates how little the companies are taking into consideration individual drivers’ circumstances, skills, and accidents to date.

It has been found that insurance premiums have increased by 17% in the last year alone, with insurance companies quick to offer excuses of increased whiplash claims and increased fraudulent scams.

The BBC’s Watchdog programme highlighted this ‘trick’ that insurance companies use. Interestingly enough, it is not limited to the smaller insurance companies – instead companies like MoreThan, Admiral and Swiftcover were all offenders. The programme followed a MoreThan customer who had just received a renewal quote of £750. After visiting some price comparison websites, he found the same cover, from the same insurer, for just £512. MoreThan were contacted, and when demanded an explanation, the best they could do was offer the customer the £512 rate for renewal, instead of giving any justification as to their renewal quote pricing structure.

MoreThan later spoke to the BBC and stated that they need low premiums to attract new customers, but existing customers are quoted renewals based on the risk they pose to the company. If that truly were the case, then why were they so quick to offer the customer mentioned above the cheaper renewal rate?

Another customer the BBC Watchdog programme highlighted was a customer from Admiral. Paying £1000 a year for 2 cars, he was shocked to receive his renewal quote, which required him to double his premium at £2000. Searching online, this customer found exactly the same type of cover with the same insurer for just £961. After ringing up Admiral, they again were quick to offer him the cheaper rate without fuss. When asked for an explanation for this strategy, they too attempted to give a similar justification for their pricing structure.

Having read about these case studies, it is imperative that all drivers who manage their insurance do not just accept the renewal quote from their insurance company that gets posted through the door. At the very least, customers should check online price comparison websites, to ensure they are aware of the prices their insurance company are offering to new customers. According to GoCompare, some 27% of people do not even do this small step, allowing their insurance company to automatically renew their policy at the end of the existing one. Estimated savings which drivers could have saved by not doing this reach around £3.1 billion.

Everyone recognises that with the current economic climate, companies are feeling pushed to retain their profits. However, it becomes quite unacceptable when companies are resorting to these sort of tactics in an attempt to fleece their loyal customers. It means that customers are having to work extra hard in order to spot these tactics in an attempt not to trip over them. The sheer fact that these companies are readily offering the lower, new premiums when loyal customers complain about their renewal quotes is evidence to the fact that they are just trying to rely on those that will renew automatically without questioning the raised price.

Cosmetic Surgery Negligence Cases

When you undergo surgery, there is always the chance that something can go wrong and many people are finding out just how wrong cosmetic surgery can go, which is ironic considering it is supposed to make you look better!

The rise of cosmetic surgery negligence cases can be explained by one simple fact – more people are having it done. However, what is more worrying are the surgeons that people are going to when having their surgery. Due to the expense involved with cosmetic surgery people are putting money before their health. As a result people are not carrying out any due diligence because they want to save money and surgeons are cutting corners because they want to make money. For example, there have been some recent cases where people are using cheaper surgeons, carrying out a variety of procedures when in fact they are only trained for one. Some people even go abroad for these treatments and it is even possible to go on a package holiday where cosmetic surgery is included.

Going abroad for cosmetic surgery can be very dangerous. As well as usual issues such as language barriers, your travel insurance is unlikely to cover you if things go wrong with your cosmetic surgery and things can very easily go wrong. There have been a number of cases abroad where it has been found that surgeons are either not qualified to do the job, their practices do not have the same health and safety standards as the UK or the surgeons are simply not competent to carry out these procedures. This has resulted in a number of horror stories from utensils being left inside bodies following procedures or unconnected parts of the body being permanently damaged.

Other common blunders by surgeons both in the UK and abroad include: failing to obtain proper consent, not taking down medical history, leaving permanent scars and asymmetrical features. In these cases, if the patient has carried out their due diligence and is not to blame for the procedure then they may be entitled to compensation. The amount of compensation varies depending on the seriousness of the negligence and the long term effects, but it can be substantial. You may be surprised to learn that on average, cosmetic surgery negligence cases are more successful than medical negligence cases, particularly in cases of breast surgery, eyelid operations, facelifts, nose reductions and weight loss.

What is important is that before a patient undergoes cosmetic surgery, their doctor carries out a psychological evaluation to make sure that the patient understands what surgery they are getting and that they do not have unrealistic expectations. Duty of care and health and safety should always be put before profit making otherwise the number of cosmetic surgery negligence cases are going to continue to rise.

If you have had a cosmetic surgery procedure which has gone wrong, there are now some specialist solicitors who may be able to assist you. However, choose carefully, don’t make the same mistake twice.

Clarification of asbestos law

Finally Asbestos Victims Receive Justice

The families of literally thousands of victims who have died due to exposure to asbestos will now be able to put forward successful claims for compensation thanks to a new ruling made by the UK Supreme Court.

There has been much confusion within the courts surrounding the area of asbestos claims and judges in lower courts have been unable to come to an agreement as to when an insurer becomes liable to pay compensation in cases of exposure to asbestos.

In 2008 the High Court ruled that the company’s insurer became immediately liable from the moment the victim inhaled the asbestos but, just two years after this ruling, the Court of Appeal claimed that, in certain cases, it would only be after the symptoms of the asbestos exposure had developed that the insurer’s liability would come into play.

In many cases of asbestos exposure, such as asbestosis, the symptoms of exposure can take up to 30 years or more to make their presence known and, due to this confusion, the Supreme Court was asked to step in and interpret insurance policies to give everyone involved a clearer picture of the insurer’s liabilities and the point at which they begin.

The Supreme Court have done just that and their new ruling states that liability lies with the insurance company providing the employer cover at the time the victim inhaled the asbestos.

This ruling has been seen as a real breakthrough for many victims of asbestos exposure and their families who, before the ruling, would have had to wait possibly decades for symptoms to arise or even death to occur before being able to put in a claim.

Many insurers took the view that it was the insurance company providing cover at the time that the symptoms of asbestos exposure became apparent that were liable, not the insures providing cover during exposure and it is this mindset that has caused so many victims and their families to miss out on what is rightfully theirs.

The other problem that many victims had to face under the old ruling was that, over the period of time it may well have taken for their symptoms to become obvious, the insurance companies who provided those victims with cover at the time may well have ceased to operate.

Sadly, many insurance companies were more than happy to sit back and continue to receive premium payments for extortionate lengths of time, especially in cases of mesothelioma, a cancer caused by exposure to asbestos which can take up to 60 years to develop, knowing full well that they would sway liability when the victim eventually put in a claim. With the new ruling in place it is hoped that we will see an end to the likes of these insurance charlatans and their underhand dealings.

The ruling has also brought results for the relatives of a victim of asbestos exposure who have spent the last 6 years fighting for justice. The insurance company they were claiming against argued that, because the illness developed outside the period of cover in question, they weren’t liable for the compensation pay out, however, the courts rejected their argument and finally, after their long and arduous ordeal, the family received what was owed to them.

It’s a sad fact that asbestos exposure is still a prolific problem and claims more than 2,000 lives every year, however, it is hoped that, with the new ruling in place, the families of those victims will feel a little more protected and, although it could never make up for the loss of a loved one, compensation payouts will be easier to obtain.

Defective products & personal injury

What Constitutes a Defective Product?

A defective product is, quite simply, a product which is not safe or not as safe as expected. The injury may be caused by a defect in the actual product itself, through not being put together or used properly because of poorly written instructions or through unsuitability of the use for which the product was advertised.

Some of the most recent cases involving defective products include:

  • Drugs and medication
  • Children’s travel/car seats
  • Sofas

Making a Claim

Anyone who has suffered an injury from a defective product has the right to put in a claim for compensation against the product’s manufacturer.

The defective product does not need to have been bought or even owned by the claimant and if more than one person has suffered an injury from the same defective product then it may be possible to make a group claim or ‘class action’.

When an injury has occurred via a defective product there are several forms of evidence a personal injury solicitor will require in order to put a case together and make a claim.

  • If possible the individual should take photographs of the injury as soon after the occurrence as is feasible
  • If the injury required hospital treatment then the individual should keep records of visits and travelling expenses
  • If possible the individual should try to obtain written statements or reports from all medical staff who saw and treated the injury including nurses, surgeons and GPs
  • The individual should keep records of any medication prescribed and any prescription costs incurred
  • The individual should also keep notes on the symptoms suffered as a result of the injury as, often, symptoms can be ongoing
  • If possible the individual should try to find receipts and original packaging for the product or, if the product wasn’t owned by the individual, ask the defective product’s owner for any receipts and proof of purchase they may have
  • The individual should also keep an accurate record of any loss of earnings incurred because of the injury

Most personal injury solicitors work on a ‘no win no fee’ basis which means that if, for some reason, the individual making the claim doesn’t win their case then their insurance will cover the legal costs incurred by the defendant as well as their own solicitor’s fees.

If the individual making the claim is successful then the defendant will be expected to pay all court costs as well as the compensation.

The compensation will be calculated by:

  • The severity of the injury and the symptoms suffered by the individual
  • The impact the injury has had on the individual’s day to day living
  • Whether the individual has suffered any loss of amenity due to the injury – can no longer carry out or take part in activities which gave them enjoyment or pleasure
  • The long term effects of the injury
  • Loss of earnings suffered by the individual as a direct result of the injury
  • Any other costs incurred by the individual as a result of the injury such as travelling expenses, prescription costs and treatment costs

The Case of the Toxic Sofa

In the past few years numerous claims have been put forward for defective product compensation due to cases of so called ‘toxic sofas’.

The toxic or contaminated sofas were treated with a highly toxic chemical used to prevent mould. This chemical is known as Dimethyl Fumarate and, once the crystals within the chemical are exposed to a heat source such as body heat, the crystals turn into a gas which can then pass through and individual’s clothing and cause quite severe health problems.

Dimethyl Fumarate gas can cause:

  • Breathing/respiratory problems
  • Skin rashes
  • Blisters and burns
  • Sores and lesions
  • Eye irritations
  • Fatigue

The sofas were purchased from a number of UK retailers including Walmsley’s Furnishing, Land of Leather, Argos and Homebase.

The retailers were ordered to pay a joint sum of £20 million to all the people who suffered from exposure to the Dimethyl Fumarate inside the sofas with payments varying from between £1,175 and £9,000 depending on the severity of the victims’ injuries, making this one of the UK’s largest consumer group litigations in legal history.