Claims firm says motor insurer is forcing brokers to use Ockham firm

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is considering an allegation that Highway is putting unfair pressure on brokers to use Crusader Uninsured Loss Recovery services.

Ockham-owned Highway passes non-fault claims on to Crusader, which then appoints a legal firm to organise a conditional fee agreement (CFA) policy if an injury is involved. Crusader is controlled by Ockham Holdings.

Donald Rodger, managing director of WiseCall Claims Assistance, has accused Crusader of unfair competition and has submitted a complaint to the OFT.

An OFT spokesman said it was "still considering the inquiry".

Rodger said the dispute had been going for two years. "We feel aggrieved," he said.

His letter to the OFT stated: "It is our experience when visiting brokers who use our services and potential new

brokers, that there is pressure from Highway on them to use Crusader, as opposed to companies of the broker's choice.

"The threat is of losing their Highway agency agreement or other financial restraint if they don't conform.

"Highway's influence on brokers is restricting the choice of legal expenses insurer available to the consumer and undermining the brokers' ability to provide independent advice on the products they sell."

Rodger said the situation had become political. Sources close to the case suggested that due to pressure by Highway, a large broker was forced to switch to Crusader to save its agency with Highway.

Highway chief executive Andrew Gibson said there was no truth to the allegations. "We can categorically deny it," he said.