Road Traffic Insurers face test case

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There is a really interesting test case currently being heard at The High Court in London, which has the potential to cause a big headache for motor vehicle insurers.  If the case is successfully pursued, there is no doubt that the insurers will be passing on increased premiums to cover their increased liabilities.  It’s the way of the insurance world and lets be honest, the insurers are experts at not losing money!

The case centres around the gruesome acts of a Mr. John Worboys, a black cab driver in London.  He is now where he should be – in prison – after being found guilty of raping a number of women in his licensed cab.  Clearly, the female victims of his crimes were left suffering emotional and physical injuries and many of them will never fully recover.

The test case being heard at the moment is being pursued by a group of eight female victims and it will decide if the un-named insurer of Mr. Worboys cab is liable to pay any damages that have or will be awarded against Worboys to a group of eight women. It will consider how far car insurance covers harm caused by crimes using a vehicle – not just road accidents.  The story has been widely reported – as here on this BBC News link – which you can read if interested.

This case is undoubtedly a landmark case and will last several days.  When reaching its verdict, the court will rule as to whether or not the insurers (the insurers in question are unknown as they have been granted anonymity) can be held liable to pay damages because of the actions of Worboys whilst in his insured cab.

Current law states that motor insurers can be liable for Personal Injury caused by the use of a vehicle on a road, even when the vehicle is used as a weapon – for example to drive deliberately at someone.  The eight women claim Worboys used his black cab to entice, imprison and assault them.

Its an interesting case and one that could have repercussions for all of us who take out insurance.  Unsurprisingly, I hope that the women in question can obtain some compensation.  What has happened to them is awful and money won’t make it right, but it might help them get treatment or help them to move on.  However, I do have some sympathy (that doesn’t happen often!) for the insurers.  I’m sure that their risk assessment team have never considered that they may be liable for the actions of their insured other than his driving.

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