Cricket accident leads to big bill

MARTY SHARPE
Last updated 05:00 01/03/2014
Taine Forster
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
STUNNED: Taine Forster was pursued by insurers after he hit a ball on to a car.

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An insurance company chased a 15-year-old for compensation after a wayward cricket ball hit and dented a car parked close to a cricket ground.

Wellington College pupil Taine Forster, 15, was billed $759 by AA Insurance after a ball he hit at Happy Valley Park on December 1, while practising batting and catches with a team-mate, landed on the roof of a car parked on a nearby street.

The claim stunned both Taine's parents and College Sport Wellington executive John Hornal, who said he had never heard of such an action.

Taine received a letter from AA Insurance last week saying the ball had caused $759 in damage to a customer's car and the company wanted the sum paid by March 3.

Taine, who had never hit a ball into a car before, said it made a very small dent.

"I was really surprised it was going to cost that much. I thought insurance covered that sort of thing. I don't think it'd be a good idea if everyone playing sport had to pay whenever something like this happened. It happens quite a lot at practice."

Hornal said balls were always hitting cars "but I haven't heard of an insurance company getting involved, not in my 25 years".

College Sport held indemnity insurance but it did not cover this sort of accident.

"There are all sorts of opportunities for this sort of thing to happen.

"When you're driving to the airport past St Pat's College and Kilbirnie Park, I'd say there's plenty of times a ball of some sort could hit you."

Taine's mother Carole said she found the letter "astonishing".

"Firstly, I find it strange that they sent it to a 15-year-old and not his parents.

"Mostly though, I think the person parking beside the sportsground should accept the risk," she said.

"If we start charging children and their parents, many of whom can't afford the likes of $759, because a ball hits a vehicle, then they'll just stop playing sport."

Yesterday, Taine's uncle, lawyer Eric Forster, emailed the company questioning how he could be legally responsible.

"He was playing cricket at a cricket ground. The insured parked his car next to the cricket ground.

"Taine hit the ball that went over a high netting fence and hit the insured's car.

"Your claim is defective because it does not explain why he is legally responsible. So it is denied," he wrote.

Within an hour of The Dominion Post contacting AA Insurance, Forster received a call from the company to inform her the matter would not be taken any further.

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The company's head of customer relations, Suzanne Wolton, then sent a statement saying the case had been reviewed prior to the media inquiry.

"Taine was not negligent and therefore not liable for the damage caused to our customer's vehicle.

"We will not be pursuing this further, and have let Taine's mother, as well as our customer know."

Forster said she believed they would still have been expected to pay had a lawyer and the media not become involved.

- The Dominion Post

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