A VAN driver fears a “misleading” council form could end up costing him hundreds of pounds in insurance premiums.

Paul Eccles, a self-employed joiner from Astley Bridge, says he did not give the town hall permission to contact his insurance company after he hit a pothole with his car in Oldhams Lane last November.

He paid to repair the damage to his Volkswagen Passat himself and asked the local authority to reimburse him for the £83.85 fee.

But now his premiums could go up by 20 per cent because of the council contacting his insurer without his permission, Mr Eccles claims.

He said: “There was no need for them to contact my insurance company. I paid for the damage. I wanted the money off them.

“I’ve never claimed in my life but because the council has rung up my insurance, I’m being penalised for somebody else’s actions.”

Mr Eccles was told that his van insurance premium would increase by £150 this year.

When he asked Autonet why the cost would rise, he discovered that the pothole damage to his car had been recorded on the Claims Underwriting Exchange (CUE), an insurance industry system which is used to eliminate fraud.

He asked his car insurance company, esure, whether they had recorded the incident as a claim and was told that its would be associated with him on the database for the next five years.

An esure spokesman said: “After receiving third party allegations from Bolton Council we contacted the Policyholder to confirm the details of the claim. This incident was recorded on our system and CUE as a notification incident.

“We notify customers that that claims data will be shared in this way when they sign up to a policy with us. As a notification incident this will not impact his renewal premium with esure. We can’t comment about Autonet’s decision to increase the premium.”

Since Mr Eccles first contacted The Bolton News, Autonet has agreed to waive the added cost for the next year.

However, the insurance broker could not guarantee that the incident would not affect his premiums when he renews his insurance in the future.

The 36-year-old fears that this could end up costing him hundreds of pounds over half a decade if insurers use the pothole damage to his car to raise the premiums on all of his vehicles.

He said: “I’m a small business and I’ve got lots of overheads. I’ve got enough insurance to pay out. I don’t need this extra charge. It’s wrong what they’ve done."

His grievance is with the council as he claims he did not give the town hall permission to contact his insurers in the first place.

The vehicle damage form which Mr Eccles signed asked him to provide details of his motor insurance company, name, address and policy number.

The form states: “We will not contact them unless you give us permission to do so.”

The declaration at the end of the form, which applicants must sign to complete, states that the council’s insurers and other insures check the answers provided.

Mr Eccles told The Bolton News that he is now considering legal action.

He said: "The form is misleading. They shouldn’t have done it because they have not asked me personally. They are doing checks behind people’s backs without their permission.”

A council spokesman said: “By signing the vehicle damage form, claimants give the council permission to contact their insurer in order to check certain information.

“On top of this, the council is subject to exemptions under the Data Protection Act which allow us to conduct certain checks as a safeguard against potential fraud.

“This should never be recorded as a claim by the motorist against their insurance, and any adverse impact on insurance premiums is not a result of the checks being carried out by the council.

“Drivers should be aware that they have a contractual obligation to inform their insurer of any accident or damage to their vehicle, even if they pay for repairs themselves.”

Autonet said it would be inappropriate to comment about a specific customer as an insurance broker.

The underwriter, Pukka Insure, which determines the price of the quote, was contacted for comment.

A spokesman said: “The policy holder's Broker became aware of an incident that is recorded on a central database shared by insurers. The broker then contacted Pukka Insure to ascertain if the claim should be recorded against the policy, and if so, if any additional premium was due.

"Pukka Insure’s Underwriting Team reviewed the claim circumstances and decided the claim should be noted on the policy but that no additional premium would be applicable. The Broker then completed this transaction, keeping the customer informed at all times.

"Pukka Insure value all customers and aim to deliver a fair and transparent approach to ensure we act in a manner that maintains our company values.

"We believe this acts as a great example of Broker and Insurer working together for the good of our joint customer.”