A Little Reminder…

This story isn’t exactly new, however it is always sensible to remind ourselves from time to time that incompetence combined with obsessive jobsworthery, blind subservience to technology to the exclusion of facts, evidence and plain common sense are the enemies of liberty. Oh, and we can do little things to help ourselves along the way.

No2ID has a piece up about APNR and insurance from the Northampton Chronicle.

A MOTORIST from Northampton had his car impounded after an insurance company’s error left police convinced he was driving illegally.

Except, of course, he wasn’t driving illegally and could prove it, so the car should never have been impounded. He had paid his insurance premium. He didn’t however, have the documents with him. When stopped because the APNR system alerted officers to an uninsured vehicle, he offered to be taken home to retrieve the documents.

There was a time when such an event would have resulted in a seven day produce requirement; the police accepting the motorist’s word at the roadside and the motorist having seven days to get the documents to the local nick. This always seemed a reasonable compromise to me. Sure there was a risk that someone might actually be uninsured, but questioning on the roadside and decent people skills on the part of police officers should reduce that to a minimum. Besides, most of us are insured, so the driver’s story has a high likelihood of being true. This man was offering to produce there and then. But what happened after the computer said no?

However the officers refused and impounded the car.

Nice little earner if you can get the work. Not only did Mr Adams have to fork out for his taxi fares, he also had to fork out £150 in extortion fees to get his car back, which should never have been impounded in the first place and it wouldn’t have been if the police had used a modicum of intelligence and common sense.

Now the reason for all of this lies firmly with his insurer for not updating the system –  incompetence rules and all that. Indeed, incompetence and human error is a rich seam that runs throughout humanity with the reliability of gravity, so we really should be on the lookout for it and be unsurprised when it happens (Seneca would have something to say about that one). But also it lies with police officers who rely far too heavily on technology. The exercise of common sense at the roadside would have seen no money paid out and relatively little inconvenience to Mr Adams. These days, I ignore erstwhile advice not to keep such documents in the vehicle. I have more to fear from jobsworth police officers seeking to impound my vehicle than I do from car thieves, which is a sad indictment of our modern society and the database state. Mr Adams would have been well advised to have done likewise.

On the face of it there is a happy ending to this episode:

After being contact by the Chron, a CIS spokeswoman said: “Due to a clerical error, Mr Adams’ details were not updated on the Motor Insurance Database after he renewed his car insurance policy.

“These incidences are rare and we apologise unreservedly for the inconvenience caused. We will of course cover the full cost of the impounding fee and will also ensure Mr Adams is given an ex-gratia payment of £200 as a gesture of good will.”

So, Mr Adams is slightly in profit, which is a good thing, isn’t it? Until you ask the pertinent question; where does CIS get the money from to make such payments? Oh, yes, the policy holder…

8 comments for “A Little Reminder…

  1. August 29, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Yes and that last point is the critical one. In the end, it’s always others pay.

  2. August 29, 2011 at 6:54 pm

    Slightly OT, but the thing that has always got me about Motor Insurance is that it is mandatory by law to possess it and yet it is sold by private companies with no checks or balances.

    I believe it is the only Private sector product that can use the Police as it’s enforcement arm and does not have to pay for those services*. Not even the BBC does that.

    *I know, maybe the IPT (5% Insurance Premium Tax) covers it in part

  3. August 29, 2011 at 7:09 pm

    @Pavlov’s Cat

    I’m not sure about that. The police aren’t enforcing the right of the companies to have a customer, but the right of other motorists to be paid when someone injures them or damages their car. And what checks and balances do you mean? The law (rightly or wrongly) establishes the cover we must have, but we choose who to buy it from, and the market, competition-wise, looks pretty healthy. Would you like to see a state agency providing compulsory motor insurance? They’re so good at that sort of thing, aren’t they?

  4. David
    August 29, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; buy a car outside UK jurisdiction and DO NOT register it. We all know that there are plenty of people on the roads who shouldn’t even be here who are driving illegally (although not unlawfully – a different thing entirely), so fuck TPTB. If this is how they treat the law abiding then stop being obedient.

  5. August 30, 2011 at 8:28 am

    So, Mr Adams is slightly in profit, which is a good thing, isn’t it? Until you ask the pertinent question; where does CIS get the money from to make such payments? Oh, yes, the policy holder…

    That the payment comes from money given to the insurance company by policyholders doesn’t bother me much. If I bought a bag of spuds and half of them were mouldy, and the grocer gave me a 50% refund it’d be coming from money I’d already given him, but where else would it come from? It bothers me a lot more that they’re calling it an ex-gratia payment and acting like they’re doing him a favour when they should be calling it a partial refund of his premiums in order to compensate him for losses incurred due to their error. And I’m not sure he really has come out ahead because he’s only in profit if he spent less than fifty quid on taxi fares and his wasted time isn’t thought to be worth anything.

    • August 30, 2011 at 8:32 am

      Although the insurance company made the initial error, they shouldn’t be the ones compensating Mr Adams, the police should. They were given ample opportunity to resolve the matter without impounding the vehicle. That they did so was sheer spite. The insurer should be seeking recompense from them.

      He did spend less than fifty quid on taxi fares. Not counting his time, he is up by a tenner.

  6. nonomad
    August 30, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    As most people on here know in most other countries it is obligatory to carry the documents with you in the car ,if this was the same here this type of farce wouldnt occur ,the police are either following a procedure and are not assed by the end result or as one is not required to carry the documents with you are in this case as said being spitefull in the extreme.
    A few years ago i was stopped in a commercial vehicle for a VOSPA check ,nothing wrong was found with the vehicle but i didn’t have my documents with me,i was told i would have to produce them at the local nick within the usual seven days ,i had the cheek to ask why they couln’t check in the same way they do with mobile patrols ,as this set up to check vehicles comprised about 20 people including several police and 2 portakabins and 2 patrol cars,the answer of course was no,they dont do that in these circumstances ? total jobsworths the lot of them all coming and going with cups of tea and whatever during the duration of the check.
    I then produced the relevant documents at the local nick and the officer at the counter spent all of 15 minutes filling in a ridiculous form because this was a VOSPA check not an ordinary one ,i did ask wouldnt it save time and form filling if my earlier request had been carried out and the reply was a shrug of the shoulders and a comment that thats the way it is.
    In this day and age you couldnt make it up.

  7. Jack Savage
    August 30, 2011 at 8:29 pm


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