HC Deb 29 June 1934 vol 291 cc1461-3

11.41 a.m.


I beg to move, in page 11, line 41, at the end, to insert: In any case where the holder of a policy of insurance issued for the purposes of Part IV of the principal Act is entitled by the terms of the policy to a reduction of the amount of the premium payable in consideration of not having made a claim on the insurer for payment under the policy the right of such holder to a reduction of premium shall not be affected by a payment by the insurer to meet a claim under this section if the injury out of which the claim arose was caused by the wrongful act of some other person than the holder of the policy. I move this Amendment because there may be an injustice done to motorists inadvertently in excess of the opinion expressed by this House, wisely or unwisely, that in future a perfectly innocent man may be held responsible and liable to penalties in court for an act over which he had no control whatsoever. My Amendment is to add certain words in order to try and make quite sure that such a person is protected so far as the insurance of his car is concerned. It is a well known fact that insurance companies in encouraging the careful driver are in the habit of allowing a reduced premium to those people who have made no claims on their funds under their insurance policy during the past 12 months. One knows quite well that where minor accidents have occurred that are hardly reasonable to take into court there is a principle called the knock for knock principle, under which the insurance company pay out small claims without contesting who is responsible. There have been many cases of difficulty where motorists were unable to get the benefit of the "no claims bonus," to which they were entitled, because of an accident over which they had no control. The suggestion of the Amendment is that where an insurance company is called upon to pay a fee of 12s. 6d. to a medical practitioner for attending an emergency case or to a hospital for doing similar work it shall not be regarded as having any effect on the claim of the policy holder if the injury was caused by the wrongful act of some other person than the holder of the policy, and that the policy holder should be entitled to all the benefits of the "no claim" bonus. One always experiences certain difficulties in framing Amendments, and I hope that if the words of the Amendment are not in accordance with the purpose which I have outlined the Minister will be good enough to consider the matter and have further words inserted in another place to cover the point which I have raised in all sincerity here.

11.45 a.m.


I hope the Minister will accept the Amendment. It makes it clear that no-claim bonuses which are now allowed by insurance companies shall not be effected by the kind of case with which we are dealing here.

11.46 a.m.


I desire to support the Amendment. It merely provides that a person who has not committed a wrongful act shall not be placed in any difficulty. I cannot see what reasonable answer there is to that proposition. Cases occur in which higher premiums have had to be paid because a person, through no fault of his own, has had to make a claim. I cannot see what moral basis there is for that, or how it can be said to be reasonable. Now that an opportunity is afforded for dealing with this point I think the Minister of Transport should take advantage of it and gladly and willingly accept the suggestion.

11.47 a.m.


I have considerable sympathy with a good deal that has been said, but it is a matter which is inapt in a Bill of this kind. There is no statutory control whatever over no-claim bonuses. They have not to be given by any Act of Parliament. It is perfectly open to insurance companies, even if we pass the Amendment, the day after to withdraw all no-claim bonuses or to reduce the percentage of no-claim bonuses. Much as I sympathise with the case, it is not one which ought to be or can be dealt with in an Act of Parliament. I can, however, give the hon. and gallant Member some reassurance in regard to this matter. I cannot give any pledge on behalf of insurance companies as a whole, but I can tell him that I understand that it is not the practice of those with whom I have discussed this matter, and they cover the greater field of insurance, to make a man forfeit his no-claim bonus in respect of an accident where it is clearly shown that it is not his fault.


In view of the Minister's explanation, I beg to ask leave to withdraw the Amendment.

Amendment, by leave, withdrawn.