Insurance – the one word to make me groan. There are many different types – contents, buildings, car, health, life (assurance), critical illness, business, to name but a few. However, from the stories I have heard over the years and from the limited amount of experiences I have had when I have made claims (for example the massive roll of foil paper which literally fell off the side of a lorry and rolled down a hill into my stationary car) claiming is anything but straight forward. Why is it that we are forced to go into battle to be compensated for something which is covered by an insurance policy?
I am in the midst of a claim and it’s rather like walking in treacle. Apart from the frustration of having to repeat the same story of how the damage happened, to many different people, the insurance company seems to be unhappy to settle my claim! My insurance is with Payment Shield, a company which has been trading for 25 years and which, according to their website, has excellent reviews! I pay a rather high premium (£66.79 per month, building and contents) but would rather pay a higher premium to an organisation which delivers an excellent service. I have just discovered that I have been paying a high premium for VERY poor service, which is a shame because I have been with Payment Shield for approximately 14 years. So much for loyalty!
This sorry state of affairs started quite a few months ago now, whilst I was showering in the bath. I was using a massive tub of hair conditioner, which I had bought from Homesense. (My favourite store.) It had a pump dispenser which had somehow turned slightly, preventing the pump from working. I picked it up with wet hands and tried to twist the pump, but it slipped through my hands into the bath – thankfully I managed to dodge it as it fell. I thought no more of this incident until some time later, when I happened to notice water on the ceiling of the downstairs cloakroom. I called a plumber, who discovered a crack in the bath, where the bottle had fallen. I rang the insurance company and was asked to obtain 2 quotations and to email them across, together with some photos. So far, so good. The person I was speaking to added, we will need detailed quotations… including the size of the room, the cost of the bath, labour, materials, flooring under the bath, the ceiling… the cost of each element needed to be listed. I thought this was a little odd, but perhaps they were being thorough and trying to stop any fraudulent claims. So I called the plumber and asked him to come and provide a very detailed quotation and then I spent time – lots of time – trying to find a second plumber to do the same. I discovered that plumbers aren’t overly keen to spend their valuable time providing a second, very detailed quotation for insurance companies.
Finally I was able to email both quotations and some photographs to the home claims team at RSA Group, who were handling the claim. During a follow-up call, I was informed that the claim was too high-value for the team and that they needed to pass it on to the loss assessors. I was then contacted by Cunningham Lindsey who made an appointment for a loss assessor to visit. He came, looked at the damage and submitted his report. I was then offered 1/3 of the value of the claim as a ‘cash settlement’. Seriously? What the hell was I supposed to do with that? It made no sense at all and it still doesn’t… why would my insurance company who I have been with for 14 years, and to whom I have been paying a massive monthly premium, offer me 1/3 of the amount of the quotation? Needless to say, I declined the offer. So they passed it on to another department… where it would be looked at by the ‘full loss adjustment team’. I then received a text message from Cunningham Linsey (not even a phone call) asking me to call ‘Invisio’ and giving the phone number. I did and was told that they needed to send someone else to examine the damage – I think he was a Buildings Claims Inspector. So he came, looked and assessed the damage last Thursday. I have to say that both of the aforementioned gentlemen were very courteous.
The challenge I have is that my bathroom suite is coloured. It’s a sort of ‘duck egg’ colour which I rather like. My tiles are patterned. Both are discontinued. It is possible to get a replacement bath from a specialist for around £500 (if they can identify the exact colour) but not the tiles. I would be happy to accept white tiles. I’m not a diva. However, I do have OCD about ‘matching’ things, particularly colour! I have said that if it proved too difficult/expensive to replace the bath, I would accept a white suite, providing it was of a comparable quality. I received a phone call today stating that they will only put a white suite in if I make a contribution!!! In addition, of course, to the policy excess of £200. And yet I’m pretty sure a white suite could be sourced for less than the cost of the replacement bath, which would need to be sourced from a specialist dealer. To replace the bath the toilet will probably need to be removed. AND, to cap it all, they will only replace ‘some’ of the tiles, which means that the bathroom would have a mix of white and patterned tiles (which have a grey background). Quite frankly I am appalled!!! So my response was for them to replace my duck egg bath with another one the exact same shade. I also stated that I do not find it acceptable to have a mixture of white tiles and grey patterned tiles. It will look hideous! The ‘new’ grout will stand out against the existing grout. It makes me think I should have got the cheapest insurance on the market, rather than paying over £800 a year! (Which over 14 years is £11,200 – although in fairness the premium 14 years ago would have been less than I’m currently paying).
This whole sorry saga has been going on for months! It took quite some time to get 2 quotes to send off, but I finally emailed them about 4 weeks ago. I was hoping to be able to have the work done by Christmas, ready for my house guests, but this looks less likely every day.
Before publishing this post, I looked at my Payment Shield policy to ascertain who is covering the contents element of my insurance policy. It is Royal & Sun Alliance so I made a quick phone call to them to double check that they were still covering it. Having passed the security check, I explained that I was unhappy about the service I was receiving over my claim and that I was writing a blog post about it, which I needed to be factually correct. She wasn’t happy with the service I had received either and said she would log a complaint on my behalf. So it could be that the actual insurance companies themselves would handle claims far more efficiently without the middlemen… However, on adding the links to this post I have realised that RSA Group is actually Royal & Sun Alliance, which of course was who I emailed the quotations and photos to in the first place… Confusing, isn’t it? Which makes it really easy to understand how confused.com came up with their name!
If you have had a ‘positive’ experience of a ‘contents insurance claim’ please comment below with the name of your insurer. Because once this situation has been resolved I will be looking to change mine!