As part of the process of abolishing the VIC scheme, the Department for Transport is considering what needs to be done to protect consumers from fraudulent sales of repaired insurance write-offs. And whether certain types of salvage should ever be repaired.
The report below, obtained from local media sources, highlights a horrific example of what can go wrong when insurers loose control of their salvage. Data obtained from the VIC scheme has already confirmed that many category B vehicles are repaired. There is also a significant trade in the export of category B vehicles, almost certainly for repair overseas, but they are openly traded on public auction sites in the UK
In June 2013, teenager Rebecca Learoyd & her best friend Megan Robinson were driving a repaired insurance ‘category B’ Fiat 500 when it hit a Citroen Xsara, killing both of them & the driver of the Citroen, Anne Peachey.
The survivor of a triple fatal crash, Mrs Peachey’s daughter Joanne, who was seriously injured in the crash, spoke of her dismay after the couple that sold the Fiat 500 were given only suspended prison sentences at Durham Crown Court after admitting fraud. They maintained their innocence right up to the last minute.
She said: “We are disappointed it was a suspended sentence. They are only sorry because they have been caught.”
It emerged during the investigation that Ralph Brown and Anne Stidwell bought two ‘category B’ write-off Fiats, both of which were so badly damaged they should have been crushed after spare parts were removed, in 2012 from a well known insurance company. Instead they were repaired to a “poor quality”.
Amazingly, there is nothing to prevent badly damaged write-offs being repaired and there is no system in the UK for checking the quality of repaired vehicles.
Brown & Stidwell then fraudulently sold the Fiat 500 driven by Rebecca – falsely claiming that the vehicle had belonged to their daughter & was in ‘mint condition’. But they had actually purchased the vehicle for £1366 from an insurance internet auction. They then sold it for £4850. The other Fiat had also been sold for £5350.
Simon Reevell, prosecuting, said Brown and Stidwell ran a business buying damaged cars from insurance companies and repairing them and reselling them through their company website.
Passing sentence Judge Christopher Prince said: “This was sophisticated offending by each of you. “These people trusted you and believed you to be private sellers on behalf of your daughter.”
Sidwell was sentenced to ten months imprisonment and Brown to eight months, each suspended for two years. They were each also ordered to do 100 hours unpaid work and pay £1,100 in costs.