Viggen: where it’s at

I was waiting on a lawyer here to help me make sure that my letter to the insurer with regards to the Viggen crash was OK. It must have been a little too small for him to deal with as getting anything from him has veen very difficult.

So I did it myself. The insurer actually called me yesterday to ask if I’d be disputing the claim, which I thought was a little strange. Like they’re expecting it (maybe because their decision was total crap to start with).

Anyway. Here’s the letter.


I am writing in response to your letter dated August 9, 2007, regarding your denial of indemnity with respect to the claim noted above. I would be pleased if you reconsider this decision and include the following in support of this request.

In your letter to me you cite Section One – Additional Benefits, and specifically, clause 13. You state:

Your policy schedule confirms that you did not seek to take up the club racing endorsement. It also confirms that at no stage did you make any enquiry as to whether the course you were attending would come within the terms of your policy.

I had no idea that my non-enquiry would have a bearing on my coverage and would have assumed that lack of coverage is the issue in question rather than a lack of enquiry. There was a very good reason for me not enquiring about coverage for racing, and that is because I was not racing.

As was recorded in my statement to the investigator and printed in black and white on the application for the event I attended – which you have a copy of – this event was a driver training day only.

There were no timing devices. There was no requirement to wear helmets. There was an instructor in the car at all times. There was a speed limit imposed on the track. All of these factors should point to the fact that there was no competitive aspect to this day, that it was an instructional event only.

The reference to CAMS on the application and the requirement to purchase CAMS’s most basic licence was a requirement to participate so that the club’s public liability insurance requirements would be satisfied. There was no other CAMS licensing required or paid for on the day.

Your letter also states the following:

The course in which your were participating at the time your vehicle was damaged was not one designed to improve your skills on the road but rather one designed to teach and/or improve your skills at driving your car to its full potential….

I draw your attention to the Information Sheet for the course, a copy of which should be on your file as it was provided to the investigator. The first paragraph of that information sheet reads as follows:

The day is divided roughly into three sessions. It will begin with a briefing session which will be followed by a series of car control and emergency exercises. In the afternoon, participants will be driving on the full circuit with a driving instructor in the car.

As you can see, the emphasis on the day was on car control and thereby learning to be a better driver in your own car. The emergency exercises included controlling the car through a tightened bend, thereby learning what the car can handle and how it will behave in an unexpected situation.

This section also included a two-stage braking test. The first part of the braking test involved wet braking, allowing drivers to see how their vehicle reacted under wet conditions and the braking distance needed. There is no safe way to learn this on a public road. The second part was a dry braking test on a bend, which may be an essential skill in highway driving (which I do a reasonable amount of for my employer) and again, can’t be learned safely on the public road system.

Your conclusion that I was participating in order to drive my car to it’s full potential, or to learn to do so, is mistaken. One can go jogging to get fit without the assumption that they’re training for the Olympics. The same applies here. I was learning to be a better driver, not a better driver so as to engage in competition. I have no aspirations to compete in any driving events and have never done so in the past. Obviously, I wasn’t going to be able to drive my car to its full potential on the day itself with a speed limit in place and an instructor in the car, neither of us with helmets on.

The accident that damaged my car was a result of driver error, not excessive speed or daring. I insured my car with you because I believed your advertising; that you would cover an enthusiast’s car with more understanding than a regular insurer. I did not participate in any sort of competitive event, nor did I train to do so. I simply wanted to learn to be a better driver and do so in my own vehicle so that I could better understand how it operated.

I hereby request a review of this decision and trust that you will honour the coverage offered when you willingly collected my premiums (which you still collect for that car, for the replacement I’ve bought until it’s repaired, for my wife’s car and for our home).


Steven Wade

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  1. Swade – when I had my accident with the 9-5 Aero on 30 May 2007 it was on a public road in a conservation park in a remote part of the country which is not transversed that often and no police station nearby. Hence I forgot to report the accident within the stipulated 48 hour time frame but it took me longer then 48 hours in the first place to get away from the wreck and there was no telephone coverage. I was more worried about my state of mind and the repurcusions from the accident and getting it safely towed to the nearest safe place then fretting about reporting the accident. My claim thus was repudiated on that basis but my lawyer got the quickly sorted out. Years back in secondary school I was a cartoon with a flamingo swallowing a bull frog whole – 1/2 of the frog’s body was gone already – but he had his hands safely in a grip around the flamingo’s neck. The caption read: “Never give up – negotiate!”

  2. Hey Swade… I’ve only just found out about all this through a mate of Andrews – what a spot of bad luck ol’ chap.

    If the sound of Glen Ridge talking out his backside when you ring your insurer and put on hold is giving you murderous temptations, then believe me, after the dozens of phone calls getting a payout on my Aero, I know exactly how you feel. Just keep at them until you get results. They are underwritten by AAMI who have a reputation for contesting practically everything, in the hope many just give up. See it through, and g-o, g-g-go elsewhere with your insurance. Best of luck.

  3. Looks like a well written non-confrontational first response. I suspect they will understand that you are a logical and persistent person, with the facts on your side, and they will thus attempt some settlement, but maybe not enough on the first round. Good luck.

  4. In the UK, many insurers offer discounts to members of the Institute of Advanced Motorists as they are likely to be better – and therefore safer – drivers. Have never heard of an insurer that would discourage drivers from getting more training. Amazing. And retarded. Good luck…

  5. State Farm will not allow a discount for experience at the Aero Academy in the U.S. It appears that the only discounts are available through driving schools that have some ties to the state or through the community college system. Therefore, instead of improving driving skills, you spend 8 hours on a Saturday in a classroom chair watching films like “Blood on the Highway” and learning the finer points of living from the drunks, wife-beaters, and meth-head tweakers in attendance trying to get points off their driving licenses.

  6. Swade,

    as to choice of words:
    You write that you want to become a better driver, the insurance company reads better driver as faster driver …
    Change better driver to safer driver.
    Of course you did not attended the driving course to have fun, no the only reason was to become a safer driver …


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