Operators warned to check clauses in insurance policies

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London coach firm faced with massive bill after driver fails to disclose health condition

A London-based coach operator is warning fellow firms to check the clauses in their insurance cover.

Dan Brown of South Woodfordbased Dan’s Luxury Travel Ltd told CBW he feels he has been banging his “head against a brick wall” after one of his drivers crashed a coach, having ignored his doctor’s instruction to inform his employer and the DVLA over his lack of fitness to drive.

“One of our drivers crashed a 51-seater coach full of forces personnel on the M3 after he suffered a blackout,” said Mr Brown. “He went through the central reservation and across five lanes of traffic, remarkably without hitting other vehicles, before coming to a standstill. The result was £60,000 worth of damage to the coach, £4,000 recovery charge, which is the standard cost from the Metropolitan Police and £17,000 worth of damage to the road – in addition to the loss of hire for the coach concerned while negotiating with our insurance company. All this was due to the failure of the driver to disclose his capability to drive to the DVLA.

“We later learned the driver had had a couple of dizzy turns and that his GP advised him to report the matter to the DVLA. The question I have is why the GP failed to contact the DVLA directly – as would be the procedure for someone with diabetes?”

Mr Brown continued: “When I asked the GP for information, I was told details could not be disclosed due to patient confidentiality and I was met with the same response at the DVLA.

“Our insurer, QBE, has a clause in its policy which I believe is totally unacceptable. I think brokers should point this out at renewal. The clause states that if a driver fails to disclose information while under an employment contract, the liability is on his of her employer to pay for any damage to vehicles or property in the event of an incident. They will, however, pay out for a death or personal injury.”

Mr Brown said he had consulted a “top solicitor” and a QC which had cost him “thousands” but they assured him the insurer’s case was “rock solid.”

Mr Brown concluded: “After 35 years of operating, you do everything by the book, you’ve got a 100% first time MOT pass rate and you run your own Driver CPC centre but I’m in a hole. I feel I might as well be uninsured.”

A spokesperson for QBE told CBW the firm was “unable to comment on individual claims.”

Call Dan’s Luxury Travel on 0208 8505 8833 www.dansluxurytravel.co.uk