A Kent lawyer specialising in personal injury claims has urged motorists involved in road traffic accidents to insist on a courtesy car from their insurer, rather than opt for a credit hire car which often leaves the victim liable to pay the hire charges. 

Rachael Stibbe, a lawyer with Kent law firm Furley Page, explained: “If you have comprehensive insurance cover, the chances are you have a replacement courtesy car option on your motor policy in the event of an accident. 

“However, if an insurer thinks that you are not at fault for the accident, then they may direct you to a company offering credit hire instead, as they know the defendant’s insurers will be responsible for paying your losses. The credit hire company can make a profit and you may find senior staff have a role or interest at both the insurance company and the credit hire company.  

“Unfortunately, policyholders are rarely made aware of the differences between a credit hire car and courtesy car. If you have a free replacement courtesy vehicle option on your policy insist on just that, as using a credit hire car incurs a personal liability on your behalf to pay credit hire charges, including credit interest, if these are not recoverable from the at fault driver.” 

As credit hire vehicles cost significantly more, when trying to claim back credit hire charges from the defendant, the Court will address a number of requirements, which must be satisfied in order to fully recover those charges. This includes satisfying the impecuniosity test which means if you could have afforded to pay the normal market rate yourself then the Court won’t order the credit interest amount to be paid on top of any damages. In addition, you must satisfy a ‘need for hire’ and only hire for the duration of time that is reasonable. 

Rachael continued: “If you cannot satisfy these conditions, you remain liable for the full credit hire charges incurred but will not recover the full balance from your opponent, leaving you personally liable for the shortfall.  

“As such, motorists should not let insurers entice them into using a credit hire car, which only benefits the credit hire industry and puts the motorist at personal risk to cover the cost of the credit hire charges.  

If you have been in a road traffic accident, contact Rachael Stibbe or a member of Furley Page’s Personal Injury team for a free consultation on 01227 763939 or by emailing res@furleypage.co.uk 

By Ed

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