Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Retiree billed after being bowled

Trish Twiname spent three weeks in hospital after being hit. Photo / Natalie Slade
Trish Twiname spent three weeks in hospital after being hit. Photo / Natalie Slade

An 83-year-old spent three weeks in hospital with serious injuries after she was hit by a car as she crossed the road to pick up her Christmas ham - and was then smacked with an $1800 bill by the driver's insurance company.

But yesterday, after being contacted by the Herald, the insurance company backed down.

Trish Twiname had serious internal and head injuries and cuts and bruises all over her body after she was hit by the car in Glen Innes on December 21 as she was going to the Nosh food store on Apirana Ave.

"I parked my car across the road. I got out of the car, locked it and stood with my back to the car. I looked right and there was nothing coming. I looked left and there was nothing coming. I remember thinking to myself 'fancy that, there's no traffic on such a busy road at 11.20am, four days before Christmas'," she said.

"I know I stepped out to cross, but I don't remember anything after that.

I must have just stepped right out in front of her, she must have come from a driveway after I checked the road."

Mrs Twiname bounced off the bonnet, over the top of the car - which was travelling at about 20km/h - and landed on the road behind it.

"I was terribly lucky I didn't break any bones, very lucky I wasn't killed," she said.

Not long after she was discharged from Auckland City Hospital she was contacted by AA Insurance.

"They told me about the damage to the car and how much it was going to be, and that I was liable and had to pay it. I couldn't believe it.

"My husband has cancer and I'm looking after him at home, my life isn't easy. This was the last thing I needed - I didn't need any more stress in my life."

Mrs Twiname was told her house and contents insurance should cover the damages. But, when she and her husband moved into a retirement village they cancelled their policy.

"The chances of fire or burglary are zilch so we cancelled all of that."

She sought legal advice and had lawyer Vernon Tava contact AA on her behalf.

"Her savings would be totally wiped out by this claim," he said. "I have spoken to the insurers on two occasions and explained her circumstances. They insist that she is liable."

But yesterday, after Herald inquiries, AA Insurance conceded there was no case against Mrs Twiname.

"We absolutely do not, now I've found out about this, intend to pursue Mrs Twiname," said head of customer relations Suzanne Wolton.

"That claim should have been flagged or raised by one of our recovery consultants. It's certainly not a case we would normally pursue.

"We're obviously sorry for causing Mrs Twiname the stress she has been caused and we will contact her immediately to resolve the situation and apologise.

"We are also going to review our internal processes to make sure a similar situation doesn't arise in the future. It shouldn't have happened."

When told about AA's turnaround Mrs Twiname was overjoyed.

"It's absolutely wonderful, it really is a relief," she said. "I can't tell you how much this means."

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