Insurance is an oxymoronic concept… is not what the judge said

Sahin v (1) Havard (2) Riverstone Insurance

This was an interesting case in itself for a number or reasons and well worth a read of the summary that our head of motor, Nick Rogers has prepared, here. The legal issues that can be thrown up by “motor” and the complexities of the interplay of statute, case law, social policy and – dare I say it – Europe (yes – Vnuk gets a mention!) do mean that we are never short of cases for the next edition of Bingham and Berrymans.

However the comment that caught my eye is at the very end of Nick’s commentary. One of the reputational issues for insurers is that their core product is not widely understood amongst its policyholders. It is one of the recommendations of the Insurance Fraud Taskforce to improve consumer understanding and one does sometimes think that the judiciary too does not quite “get” some of the important underlying principles.

Too often the perception seems to be that the “deep pocket” of the insurer can and should fund every claim. This certainly seems to have been the approach that led this claimant to push this case to the Court of Appeal.  It was, therefore, very interesting to see Lord Justice Longmore’s comment which I quote inaccurately above to get your attention but accurately below:

“Insurance for failing to ensure that there is insurance is an oxymoronic concept for which it would be impossible to assess a premium.”

It is good to note that the Court of Appeal “gets” it!! Ultimately the “deep pockets” are those of every policyholder.


Written by Terry Renouf, consultant

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