are you happy with the service you are getting from your insurance company?
(and if you’re not is there anything you can do about it?)
Well, not much actually. The first thing to remember is that all policies are the same . By law a Comprehensive motor insurance policy or TPF&T and TPO policy have to provide certain level of protection. So the comprehensive policy from motor insurance company ‘A’ will be exactly the same as the comprehensive policy from motor insurance company ‘B’. The only difference between them will be the price. (Just look at the adverts for car insurance ). Sometimes an insurance company will attempt to make its product more attractive by including some benefits such as:
Lost keys cover
Free Breakdown cover
Personal Effects cover
A free courtesy car.
Driving Other Cars extension.
Free Green Card.
But even these benefits come on standard in many policies. But the thing to remember is that an insurance company does not need to include any of these benefits in a comprehensive policy. They are offered at their discretion. In other words even if you have a comprehensive policy don’t assume that you will be automatically provided with a hire or courtesy car if you have to make a claim. So read your policy to check what is covered and what is not. It will specify exactly was is covered. It will also list what you can’t claim for. But this list of exclusions wont be exhaustive (the list would just be too long if it was) so a useful rule of thumb is: if it is not mentioned on your policy as being covered…then it’s not.
Most crucially of all your policy (even if you have a comprehensive policy) does not cover you for personal injury after an accident, loss of earnings or hire (travel) costs and reimbursement of any excess that you might have had to pay or any other losses that might result from any claim. These out of pocket expenses are called: Uninsured Losses. To recover these in a claim the services of a solicitor will need to be arranged. It will be their job to reclaim any of the costs you suffered as a result of any accident. Insurance companies will very often offer to sell Motor Legal Expenses cover alongside your motor insurance policy. If you have this additional cover your insurer will arrange the services of a solicitor for you to recover any uninsured losses. If you don’t you will have to organise your own legal representation. And of-course if you only have a TPF&T or a TPO policy and you are involved in an accident your insurance company will not deal with the claim as the damage to your car is an ‘uninsured loss’. So whatever level of cover you have make sure that it at least includes Motor Legal Expenses cover.
People unhappy with the service they are receiving from their insurance company will often say,
“I will not be renewing my policy with you.”
That is fair enough if your insurer is slow in dealing with a claim, makes mistakes that mean that you need to ring up all the time to get them corrected or has overcharged you on. But if you are unhappy because your policy does not cover what you thought it did then taking your business elsewhere wont help because you will just end up having the same policy with someone else that you had before.
“I pay a lot of money for my insurance so I expect you to…”
You may well have an expensive insurance policy. But just because you pay twice as much for your policy as someone else it does not mean you can expect twice the service. Your policy that is costing you £1000 a year is exactly the same as the policy of the OAP who only pays £150 for their motor insurance policy . So if the OAP does make a claim they will get exactly the same service as you. Buying an insurance policy is not the same as buying a rail ticket. In that case if you pay more you can expect to get more. But that is not the case when it comes to buying an insurance policy. The reason why you are paying a £1000 is because you are a higher risk to insure than the OAP.
“I’ve been a customer of yours for many years and now that I want to claim you tell me that you wont…”
Irrelevant. You have a contract that explains what your policy covers you for. It does not include (for example) breakdown. Your insurer will not pay for something that is not covered on your policy just because you have had a policy with that company for ten years. Nor will it provide you with a hire vehicle if this is not provided on your policy as a benefit just because you have been with that insurer for many years.
“But no one told me when I bought my policy that a £400 excess would apply.”
That is why you should read your policy documents; To check what it covers you for and also to make sure that the details of the policy are correct such as: you name, your address, the make and model of your car, the drivers on your policy, that any convictions on your licence are also included, that the No Claims Discount is correct, that the premium is correct and…what excess applies to your policy . The excess on the policy is (in effect) your contribution towards the cost of the repairs to your car when you make a claim and it must be paid to the garage once the repairs to your own car are completed.
“But this accident wasn’t my fault you should be on my side and fight them.”
Your insurer is not on your side. If the accident circumstances indicate that you were at fault (or partially at fault) even if you don’t think that you are then your insurer will deal with the claim on that basis. Your insurer will always say that they will deal with your claim on “the best possible terms” and if they think those terms are accepting a settlement on your behalf with the 3rd party insurer on a 50-50 basis then it will do so. Your policy booklet will say that if you make a claim you also agree to leave it to your insurance company to deal with the claim as they think is best. You might not agree with that but you have no say in the matter. Even if you have MLP cover this only comes into effect to recover uninsured losses and does not provide for the cost of a solicitor to challenge a settlement that you might not agree with. (Nor, by the way, can your MLP cover be used to defend yourself against any criminal charges that might be brought against you).
“I don’t want you to repair the wing. I want a new one.”
It is not the job of your insurance company to do what you want. When you make a claim for any damage to your car it will be assessed and the engineer appointed by your insurance company will have to decide if the damaged panel can be repaired or needs to be replaced. Your insurance company has to repair your car to the standard and condition that it was before . If they think this can be done by repairing the wing then that is what they will do. An insurance company will always choose the cheaper option so long as standards aren’t compromised. (So it can happen that an engineer will authorise the repair to your wing but when he realises that the repair does not bring the car back to the standard and condition that it was before the accident he will change his mind and authorise the cost of a new wing).
You do have Rights and the FOS exists to protect them but when you take out a policy you agree to allow your insurance company to deal with the claim in the manner it thinks best. You may not agree with how your insurance company is dealing with your claim but under the terms and conditions of your motor insurance policy it is their decision and not yours. You can challenge their course of action and if not satisfied you can refer the matter to the FOS, but as long as your insurer is doing the right thing for the right reason their actions will be upheld by the FOS no matter what you think.