Blundering drivers cost council dear

BLUNDERING county council drivers have caused nearly £110,000 to be paid out in motor insurance claims last year, it emerged today. A Freedom of Information request by The Evening Star revealed the cost of insurance payments to third parties for motor claims involving the council's vehicles was £109,811.

BLUNDERS by county council drivers have caused nearly £110,000 to be paid out in motor insurance claims last year, it emerged today.

A Freedom of Information request by The Evening Star revealed the cost of insurance payments to third parties for motor claims involving the council's vehicles was £109,811. The figure includes the estimated value of claims which have not yet been finalised.

More than a quarter of the total payout was due to a fire engine crashing into the house of 84-year-old Violet Tye in Bramford Road, Ipswich last July while en route to a blaze at the former Churchill's public house.

The smash, which caused damage to the vehicle and the terraced property, ended up costing £28,452 when the final bill was settled.

No one was seriously hurt in the accident.

Among the other incidents ending up in claims of more than £5,000 being upheld, was a driver hitting a stationary vehicle costing insurers £12,783 and another council employee hitting the vehicle in front causing damage valued at £9,277.

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When a coach driver hit a car on a slip road, causing a child on his bus to sustain whiplash injuries on March 23 it ended up costing the insurers £9,209.

A further £6,000 was paid out after another council driver did an emergency stop, but still failed to avoid smashing into another car.

A Suffolk County Council spokesman said costs in relation to incidents involving damage to its own vehicles were met by the county council, except in cases where these costs could be recovered from third parties.

In total there were 59 claims ranging from £55 to the fire engine settlement of more than £28,000. Eighteen of the claims ended up with settlements of £1,000 or more.

The county council has almost 800 vehicles and plant covered by its motor insurance arrangements, including 70 fire engines.

During 2005/06 it has spent just under just under £50,000 on external premiums for motor insurance.

It is part of a package of policies which includes public and employer's liability and also property insurance.

The council spokesman said within this there is a significant element of self-insurance, where the council meets the cost of claims across all policies up to a certain threshold. Beyond that the insurer would meet the costs involved.

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