Ensure private motor insurance settlements don't get out of hand

I fully support Mr Goh Poh Thiam's suggestion for an independent agency to be set up to investigate and to arbitrate in suspected cases of "fraudulent or inflated" insurance claims ("Set up agency to investigate questionable insurance claims"; Wednesday).

Similar cases where the parties involved have initially agreed to a private settlement should also come under its purview.

My friend accidentally knocked into the rear bumper of a car when driving out of a parallel parking space, causing a small dent and a few light scratches.

He left his contact number on the windscreen of the damaged car, saying that he was prepared to settle the matter privately, after taking photographs of the very minor damage sustained.

He showed the photographs to a workshop, and was quoted less than $500 to rectify the damage, including the respraying of the whole bumper.

Subsequently, the owner of the damaged car called my friend, saying he was willing to get a quote from his workshop for the repairs.

He later called back and told my friend that he wanted to replace the bumper instead of repairing it, citing possible colour difference after the repairs as a reason; this would cost more than $1,000.

His workshop may have "advised" him to replace the bumper. And if my friend did not pay up, the owner of the damaged car would claim against my friend's insurance policy, knowing full well that this would adversely affect my friend's renewal premium and no-claim bonus.

In short, my friend is being "held to ransom", instead of being appreciated for his honest and responsible act.

The case is still pending, but my friend is prepared to challenge any unjustifiable claim in court as a matter of principle.

Ng Chee Kheon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 20, 2015, with the headline 'Ensure private motor insurance settlements don't get out of hand'. Print Edition | Subscribe