Record loss for insurance companies in the diesel scandal

Status: 19.11.2021 11:05 a.m.

Six years after the emissions scandal became known, the litigation costs for legal expenses insurers continue to rise and reach a record level. Meanwhile, the affair also catches up with the supplier Conti.

The litigation costs in the disputes surrounding the diesel scandal continue to spiral up even six years after the manipulations were exposed. According to the German Insurance Association (GDV), it is now “the most expensive damage event in legal protection insurance”. The expenses of legal expenses insurers for lawyer, court and appraisal costs have recently risen to 1.21 billion euros, said GDV managing director Jörg Asmussen in a statement today.

By the end of October, around 380,000 customers had used their legal protection insurance in a dispute with car manufacturers over allegedly manipulated emissions. The total value in dispute of all diesel legal protection cases handled by the legal protection insurers thus increased to 9.8 billion euros.

Higher-class vehicles and suppliers are moving into focus

According to GDV, the average amount in dispute per diesel case is now around 26,000 euros. At the beginning of the diesel scandal it was still 22,500 euros. “This shows that increasingly higher-priced vehicles and premium manufacturers have come into focus,” said Asmussen.

In the process of coming to terms with the affair, the role of suppliers is now also being examined more closely in addition to the car manufacturers. The question of whether VW’s suppliers might have known about the manipulation has been in the room for years.

The Hanover public prosecutor’s office has now expanded its investigations into the case of the supplier Continental. Because of the suspicion of aiding and abetting fraud, breach of trust and a possible deliberate breach of duty of supervision, three former Conti top managers are being investigated, as the judicial authority announced. Investigations were also ongoing against two senior executives below board level. Continental did not comment on the process with reference to the ongoing investigation.

Conti fired long-term CFO

According to the public prosecutor’s office, there were searches in the compliance department of Conti and an employee’s private apartment last week. On Wednesday, documents were also secured in a law firm in Frankfurt, which the company had commissioned with an internal investigation.

According to a report by “Wirtschaftswoche”, the investigations are directed against ex-CEO Elmar Degenhart, a former board member of the Powertrain division, which has since been split off from Conti, and long-time CFO Wolfgang Schäfer, whose departure the DAX group announced on Wednesday evening.

Continental had justified the separation with the fact that in the context of the examination of possible joint responsibility for the emergence of “Dieselgate” through illegal shutdown software, “deficits in the ongoing investigation” had come to light.

Investigations have been going on for a long time

In connection with the diesel emissions scandal at Volkswagen, the prosecutors had long searched offices at Conti locations and seized extensive material. “As part of the evaluation of the previously confiscated documents, we repeatedly come across clues and new findings,” said the spokesman for the public prosecutor’s office.

The previous investigations concerned whether employees were guilty of aiding and abetting fraud and indirect false certification in the years 2006 to 2015. The software used in a 1.6 liter diesel engine developed by VW for sale in Europe came from Continental. The supplier argues that such motor controls are programmed by the customer to their respective needs and that he himself was not involved in the manipulation.

In 2015, under pressure from the US environmental authorities, Volkswagen admitted that it had manipulated the emission values ​​of diesel cars on a large scale. The reparation has so far cost the Wolfsburg-based automaker more than 32 billion euros – mainly in penalties and damages in the USA. Almost half a million cars had to be recalled there. Since then it has emerged that other manufacturers have manipulated exhaust gas values.

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