Urgent Review of Highways Claims Required

CMA calls for urgent review after Highways England, Kier Highways Ltd., contractor confuses 3.5 tonne truck with a supercar

Claims Management & Adjusting (CMA) has called on Highways England to review its processes for handling Crown property claims against drivers, fleet operators and insurers, with cost exaggerations and data errors unacceptably common.


If you damage Crown property, for example, by hitting a motorway barrier or traffic sign, you or your insurer will receive a bill, usually from Highways England or one of its contractors. CMA says many are incorrectly priced.

In a particularly shocking recent case, CMA discovered that a 3.5 tonne pick-up truck supposedly used by a contractor in a motorway repair was listed as stolen at the time. When queried, Highways England explained that their contractor blamed a typo in the vehicle registration mark (VRM) and provided a slightly different one. On checking the new reg, CMA discovered it was for a Mercedes-Benz E350 AMG convertible!

Managing Director of CMA, Philip Swift, a former police detective, said: “Presenting a sports car as a truck is one of the more amusing inaccuracies we’ve seen, but it reveals serious problems: The contractor seems to be guessing at the VRM, an important data point, and Highways England appear willing to accept what they are presented with without verifying it – their systems are not robust enough to detect even obvious anomalies.

“This is all the more worrying when you consider the sheer volume of inaccurate claims we’re seeing these days. From wildly varying rates for the same service, to hefty charges for spurious additional items, we have to be vigilant to ensure drivers, fleet operators and insurers aren’t overcharged. In a not insignificant number of cases, no payment is warranted at all.

“With Highways England reportedly preparing to take more Crown property claims back in-house, they urgently need to review their processes. In the meantime, we await confirmation as to whether the vehicle involved was actually a stolen truck or a supercar, to receive a third VRM or to be told there was no other vehicle! The lesson for drivers, fleets and insurers is: don’t take these claims at face value, engage a specialist to scrutinise them.”*

If you need further advice on this issue, please contact CMA on 0845 3888 810 or email

* We have yet to be provided the correct VRM for the vehicle apparently involved in the repair.

We continued to chase Highways England for an update and eventually, received the following email

From: Jim.O’Sullivan@highwaysengland.co.uk
Sent: 03 September 2018 14:31
To: Philip Swift <pswift@cmaclaims.co.uk>
Cc: chris.grayling.mp@parliament.uk; tom.tugendhat.mp@parliament.uk; boardsecretariat@orr.gov.gsi.uk; Jonathan.Roper@ombudsman.org.uk; tim.reardon@highwaysengland.co.uk

Subject: RE: claims for non-existent or incorrect vehicles – FORMAL COMPLAINT

Dear Mr Swift,

I can confirm that this matter is receiving my direct attention.

Yours faithfully

Jim O’Sullivan.

Jim O’Sullivan
Highways England Tel: +44 (0) 300 4703497

21/09/2018, we received the following update:

From: tim.reardon@highwaysengland.co.uk
To: Philip Swift <pswift@cmaclaims.co.uk>
Cc: Dave.Wright@kier.co.uk; Kevin.Mullaney@highwaysengland.co.uk; Sarah.Green@highwaysengland.co.uk; Dana.Bourne@highwaysengland.co.uk

Subject: claims for non-existent or incorrect vehicles – FORMAL COMPLAINT

Dear Mr Swift

I referred your complaint about Kier charging for non-existent or incorrect vehicles to Kier for comment. The response I have received from Kier is below. If you wish to pursue the matter further, I suggest you take up the issues directly with Kier. I do not propose to take your complaint any further.

Yours sincerely

Tim Reardon
General Counsel
Highways England
Tel: 0300 470 1224 Mobile: 07525 908857 Tim.reardon@highwaysengland.co.uk

06/09/2018 email from Kier accompanying Mr Reardon’s email (above) was:

From: Dave.Wright@kier.co.uk
Sent: 06 September 2018 08:46
To: tim.reardon@highwaysengland.co.uk
Cc: Kevin.Mullaney@highwaysengland.co.uk;  Sarah.Green@highwaysengland.co.uk; Dana.Bourne@highwaysengland.co.uk

Subject: Re: claims for non-existent or incorrect vehicles – FORMAL COMPLAINT

Hi Tim

I Hope you are well.

In response We have reviewed the contents of the email sent by Philip Swift and comment as follows;

* The references provided do not match any Kier references or references of our legal representatives Shakespeare Martineau

* Whilst we aim to have zero errors, 7 claims represent around 0.1% of claims in a year, and whilst we cannot confirm this from the information provided, the 7 cases below may even cover a period greater than one year making the percentage error rate even smaller

* Some of these queries are familiar and have been raised by and discussed with Phil Swift previously and resolved from Kier Highways perspective, as a result we are unclear as to why these are being raised againIt is possible that a transposition or other error may take place on a registration number recorded against a claim due to human error when information is keyed into systems. This would ordinarily be addressed through the normal claims recovery process as additional information is requested by insurers, loss adjusters and / or their legal representatives to enable a settlement to be agreed. Point to note below, one of the queries refers to a motor cycle on site instead of an 18T TM truck.

Happy to have a further look if required, if we can get some more information on the claims/queries in question

Hopefully this is sufficient but please do not hesitate to contact me with any further queries .

Sent from my iPhone

Kind Regards

Dave Wright
Executive Director

Kier Services I Highways I St John’s House, 2-10 Queen Street,Manchester, M2 5JB
T: 0161 838 5959M: 07909 976 639

To date Kier have failed to support their assertion to their Public Authority client that the matters have been discussed with me (P. Swift).  They are unable to do so because the statement is false.

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