Do I have to use solicitors appointed by my insurers?
Many motorcyclists can feel underrepresented by a solicitor appointed by their insurer after an accident. But do you have to accept the solicitor named by your insurance company?
Over the years, many people who have been involved in a crash have been told that they have to use the solicitors appointed by their insurance company, in accordance with the terms and conditions of the policy.
This used to be the case, but fairly recent changes in the regulations ensured that people who have a legal expenses insurance policy are now free to choose who they want to represent them, rather than being forced to use an in-house panel firm who in many cases might be located at the opposite end of the country to where you are.
Despite these changes in the regulations, many insurance companies even now will often still try and insist that you must use one of their panel firms. Why? Well mainly for no other reason that they (the insurance companies) can retain a degree of control of the case as well as ensuring that legal fees they may be required to pay will be significantly less than those of an independent law firm.
This often means that in the case of a motorcycle crash, you could end up with someone at the other end of the country who does not know one end of a motorcycle to the other, and probably has no interest in bikes or how the dynamics of motorcycling come into play.
I have no doubt that some of you who have had to make a claim in the past may have had mixed experiences in the way your case has been handled or how you have been made to feel. I often hear stories of riders complaining that they never spoke to the same person more than twice and so they felt that they were nothing more than a number on a conveyor belt.
It does not have to be this way
It is important to remember firstly that you are the client, the customer, ultimately the person paying for the service whether it be through legal expenses insurance or by way of a no win no fee agreement.
You have the right (despite what you might have been told) to use whoever you feel best meets your needs, whether that is through recommendation, reputation or previous experience, maybe even because of location, for example, a firm local to you, regardless, it is your choice.
Most importantly, the right solicitor, unlike many claims management firms, can advise you as to whether your claim is worth pursuing in the first place.
What is the point of spending hours on a claim, waiting for months to sort it out only to get a pittance at the end of the day? Or where the only winner is the claims management company?
How many of you have made a claim in the past and wished you had used someone else? How many of you were told that, if you wished to make use of your legal expenses insurance, you were obligated to use the law firm or legal representation appointed by your insurers?
You can change in the middle of a case
Even if you initially choose to use the legal representation appointed by your insurers, it does not prevent you moving your case to someone else at a later date. In simple terms, you sack your current solicitors.
So if you are ever unfortunate enough to require legal representation and you are told by your insurance company that you must use one of their panel law firms, unless you are happy to go down that route, tell them that you wish to use a law firm of your choosing, that is your right!
Even if you currently have a case running with a solicitor, but you feel that you are not getting a fair crack of the whip, you are being treated as a second-class citizen, or you simply feel that you are not receiving the service you are paying for, then you don’t have to. You can always change to another legal representative, to get the representation you need and deserve.
Tony Carter is a former police accident investigator and now works for Hudgell Solicitors where his knowledge and experience is used to help bikers and other road users negotiate complex insurance claims and investigations.