SUING THE “MAN OF STRAW”: IS THERE ANYTHING YOU CAN DO ABOUT THE IMPECUNIOUS AND UNINSURED DEFENDANT?

A perennial problem for litigators is the situation where a claimant has a good case but the Defendant is impecunious and uninsured.  In many (but not all) motor claims the Motor Insurers Bureau will provide a practical remedy. In all other cases, however, the case often comes to an end.

IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU LOOK AT YOUR OWN CLIENT’S INSURANCE

However, before the file is archived, it is often worthwhile looking at your own client’s home insurance policy. Many policies have a section which will pay. For instance the Lloyds TSB home insurance policy contains a term which states that cover includes:

“Unrecovered damages and costs.

Damages and costs which you or your family cannot recover. If you have claimed against another party and have been awarded damages and taxed costs in any court in the British Isles for something would be covered under the Personal and employer’s liability section, as a result of anything you or your family do in the personal lives, and payment has not been received 3 months after the date of the accident.

 “We will pay the outstanding amount up to £1,000,000 for: 

          – accidental death, disease, illness or physical injury to you or your family;

          – accidental damage to property belonging to you or your family. 

If you die this cover is transferred to your legal, personal representative provided the representative follows the terms and conditions of the policy as far as they possibly can.”

 A VERY REAL AND USEFUL SOLUTION (AND IT HAS WORKED).

So there is a possibility of claiming of an unsatisfied judgment in respect of personal injury, damage to property or a fatal accident claim.

Clearly the precise terms of the policy have to be examined. These clauses are surprisingly common. I have been involved in a number of cases where the home insurance policies have paid out after I have asked the solicitors to check the client’s own policy.  Note that, in the Lloyds case, the policy not only includes the policyholder but the policyholder’s  “family”. It pays to ask in relation to family member’s policies and investigate precisely the scope of any insurance.

2 comments

  1. Alex Brown · · Reply

    Hi Gordon,

    I saw your post on this a few weeks ago and I have come across a similar clause for unsatisfied judgement in one of my client’s Allianz home insurance policies offering cover for up to £2m in damages and costs. Very useful in P.I cases for laborers working for ’employers’ who carry no EL insurance.

    I would also envisage that in such cases there will be very little opposition to the claim as the ’employer’ would not seek to defend as they would have no funds to do so.

    A message that certainly needs spreading in these tough access to justice times.

  2. You’ve misquoted the clause. It’s “within three months after the date of the award [not accident]”.

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