Do I have to help my insurance company?

I was involved in a minor accident with a car when we were both going around a blind bend.  I didn’t think either party was to blame.  I wasn’t injured and thankfully the damage to my bike was pretty minor and has since been repaired. I thought this was all done and dusted about a year ago but apparently the car driver is now trying to claim for whiplash. 
My insurance company has told me that I may have to go to court to help defend the claim but they’ve told me it will still go down as fault accident even if it settled on a knock for knock basis.  Given that I have nothing to gain, do I have to help my insurance company defend the claim?
Gerry Young, e-mail

Answer

Yes. You do have to provide reasonable assistance to your insurers, which could include being a witness in court.  It’s generally a term of all insurance policies that you are only indemnified by your insurance company as long as you help to minimise the amount which they have to pay out on any claim.  If you failed to do so, you would be in breach of that policy.  They would still have to pay out on the third-party’s claim, but they could then sue you in breach of contract for the money which they had paid out and any legal costs. 

The best way to minimise your involvement is to give a detailed statement to your insurers (or their solicitors) and to be specific as to what you didn’t see as well as what you did.  This will minimise the chance you will need to go to court.

If you say that you don’t see what either party could have done differently and that you think the blame should be shared then say so.

Insurers are very hot on whiplash claims so they may want you to give evidence as to how the car driver was at the scene.  If you don’t know how the driver was then be explicit about that.  You may find that if they know that your evidence doesn’t really help their case then they won’t want you to be involved.

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