A recent court case should deter Highways England contactors from overcharging insurers for damage to highway infrastructure, according the boss of a claims management company.
Claims Management & Adjusting (CMA) said a judge at a Bristol court reduced a claim made to an insurance company after expressing concern that the costs claimed were significantly higher than those charged to Highways England itself.
It said the court heard that response staff employed by contractor Kier Highways, known as asset incident watchmen, were charged at over £70 per hour to the insurer, but only about £25 per hour to Highways England.
The case follows comments made in Parliament last month by the Earl of Lytton that Highways England’s contractors ‘are apparently not averse to submitting inflated “green claims”, as they are known, for highway infrastructure damage caused during motor accidents’.
CMA managing director Philip Swift gave evidence at the court case earlier this month, which did not set a precedent as it was a small claim.
Mr Swift said: ‘The judge’s comments fully support the Earl of Lytton’s statement. Too often invoices for repairs to motorway barriers, traffic signs and road surfaces are way over the top.
‘We have gathered clear evidence of this excessive charging, repeatedly voicing our concerns to Highways England about not simply accepting the costs their contractors present.’
He added: ‘This ruling must surely prompt a change in approach. If not, there are potentially thousands of similar cases, which will end up in court.
'This would not only be a drain on the public purse, it would also be an additional expense for insurers which will ultimately push up premiums – a double whammy for the motoring taxpayer.’
Mr Swift said the company’s own calculations have estimated that drivers, fleet operators and insurers have overpaid by at least £10m the last three years in claims.
Kier Highways was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.