Article by Eamonn Fleming
I recently acted for a person in the defence of a drunken driving charge. The drunken driving incident also involved a collision that occurred between her and another person.
Having contested the drunken driving charge in full the court convicted my Client of drunk driving, fined her and disqualified her from driving for 2 years. On my application to the court, and because my Clients licence was so important to her, the Judge postponed the commencement of the disqualification for 4 month.
My Client’s insurance company became aware of her conviction for drunken driving. This arose because the party into which she crashed made a claim against her.
On that basis her insurance company wrote to her giving her a 6 day notice period and telling her after the expiry of the 6 days in question they were going to cancel her insurance policy. The reason they gave for cancelling her policy was that she failed “to take reasonable precaution to prevent loss”. This was in spite of the fact that she was up to date in all her payments on the insurance policy (she was paying by installments) and the policy was not due to expire until the end of 2016.
On her behalf I wrote to her insurance company and told them that they were not entitled to this and if they didn’t change their mind (and confirm restoration of her policy) I would bring the matter to the attention of the Financial Services Ombudsman. I went so far as completing a form of complaint to the Financial Services Ombudsman and sending the insurance company a copy of the form. I also told them that if they persisted with the cancellation of insurance and the Ombudsman found in favour of her I would sue them.
Low and behold within 24 hours of me sending the email in question the insurance company got me back confirming that they had agreed to withdraw the cancellation and that my Client would still be entitled to drive until the date of the postponement of the disqualification came into effect.
I have not come across a situation like this before and from speaking to my colleagues neither had they. I think this was heavy handed by the insurance company and effectively I think that they were “chancing their arm”. I think if my Client had not engaged my services the insurance company would not have relented.