We all know that the majority of Police Officers are honest and hardworking, but like any section of society, you get the odd bad apple. Here’s a true story from 1999, back when I was working as an insurance claims manager:
Customer phones up to say his car has been hit whilst parked on the street outside his house. The other driver had tried to drive off but a pedestrian saw the accident happen and phoned the police, who stopped the driver a couple of miles away. Our Customer, a gentleman in his 70’s, said he needed a copy of his insurance certificate to show the police as they’d given him a producer. I remember asking him if he was sure if it was a producer, as I’d never heard of one being given to someone just because their car was hit whilst parked outside his house – i.e. there was no reason to suspect he’d done anything wrong. Customer confirms it is indeed a producer, and can we send the certificate as quickly as possible as “the police don’t seem to like me”.
Here we hit the first problem: taking a closer look at the insurance policy for that car, it becomes apparent that the policy lapsed two months ago as it wasn’t renewed. I gave the Customer the bad news – “Sorry sir, there was no cover in force at the time of the accident”. Customer starts begging me to do something to help him – anything – and can I take it into consideration that he’d been insured with us for many years and not renewing was an oversight on his part, he says. I say give me a couple of hours to think about it and I’ll phone you back. I have a consultation with a colleague, and decide that as there is zero probability of the other driver claiming our man is to blame, if we do decide to cover the car for that day, it won’t cost us anything, and it will be a nice gesture of goodwill.
I phone the old gent back and explain that I have decided to “indemnify” him for the accident, i.e. we will provide sufficient third-party cover for the day of the accident to satisfy the law, but make it clear we’re not paying for the repairs to his car. Customer is delighted with this. I tell him that as our database shows his policy was lapsed at the time, I can’t simply generate a certificate for him, instead I will type up a “letter of indemnity” for him. He asks what happens if the police refuse to accept the letter of indemnity and insist on an insurance certificate instead, as they don’t like him? I tell him that although they’re not obliged to accept it, I’ve issued dozens, for various different reasons, and no police force has ever opted to decline it. Letter goes out by recorded delivery that day.
The next day the Customer is back on the phone – he received the letter of indemnity, took it down to the police station that same day, but they’ve refused to accept it – they’re exercising their right to see the actual certificate, WTF? I say. Not only that, in this type of situation I’d expect the police to issue a new producer, giving the old gent another 7 days to produce his documents at the station. Instead, they’ve refused to do that and are insisting the original producer stays in force, meaning he now has only 5 days to show them his certificate.
Time for the big guns I reckon. Get the master policy certificate out of the safe (covers anyone to drive any car), and get a courier to deliver it to the Customer, so he can take it down to the police station.
Customer phones back the next morning to say the master certificate worked a treat and thank you very much for being so helpful. You’re welcome, I tell him.
That afternoon, a WPC from the old gent’s local police station is on the phone to my staff, asking questions. All calls from police get passed through to me, so I end up speaking to her. “I’m calling about the insurance certificate this gentleman produced to us” she says, “I want to make sure it’s not a forgery”.
“Is there some reason to suspect it is forged?” I ask.
“No, but I wanted to be sure. Who issued it?” she asks.
“I did” I say.
“When did this insurance policy start?”
“That’s not your concern” I tell her.
“How much did he pay for the policy” she persists.
“That’s also not your concern” I say. “All you have to do is ascertain whether the car in question was indemnified on the day of the accident, and you have documentary evidence that it was indeed indemnified by us”. She hangs up.
I phone the old gent back to tell him of the conversation I’ve just had. Told you they didn’t like me he says…..