Last year, the Council of Bureaux had been informed about the practice of certain insurers to refuse to handle claims arising from accidents that occurred in “their” state if this claim was addressed by an injured party resident in another Member State. Certain insurers would refer the claimant in such cases to the insurer’s claims representative in the state of residence of the injured party.

Such reaction is not compatible with the Motor Insurance Directive

Can the insurer of the liable person, in the country of accident, refuse to directly handle the claim of a foreign victim and transfer the claim to its representative in the country of the victim?

In compliance with Article 18 of the Codified Directive, the injured parties have a right of direct action against the insurance undertaking covering the third party liability of the liable person.

The insurer may therefore not refuse to directly handle the claim and transfer the victim to its representative. He may therefore not judge the victim’s choice of procedure even if the representatives have been instituted to facilitate the procedures of the victim and the victim, by directly contacting the insurer, cannot benefit from the comfort of communicating with the claims representative in his own language.

It would be suitable to note that the insurer has no economic interest in transferring the handling to his representative. Indeed, if he directly handles the claim he saves handling fees.

However, for practical reasons such as the set-up of an expert report, the insurer may turn to his representative. He may also ask him for help regarding the assessment of the damage. In this case, the insurer is the victim’s interlocutor and directly handles the claim. For all the necessary handling procedures he has recourse to his representative.