Posts Tagged ‘insurance’

‘A badger ate my wall’

April 24th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

Successful home insurance claims aren’t just about humdrum leaky pipes or articulated lorries crashing into the front of your house. At the RIAS, amongst the 400,000 insurance claims they receive a year, there’s a regular stream of wild and wacky incidents involving babies vomiting on laptops, badgers chewing through masonry and squirrels breaking windows.

badger ‘A badger ate my wall

In their top ten of strange claims, a snail ate £78 worth of carpet at a man’s house in Preston, a pigeon fell down a chimney and destroyed the carpet, ornaments and sofa, causing £8000 worth of damage, and a woman locked a badger in her shed, which then ate through her wall. There was also the deer who fell into a swimming pool.

But the piece de resistance has to be the dog from Galashiels, who saw another dog on the telly and TRIED TO JUMP THROUGH THE SCREEN.

With the weary air of someone who has seen it all before, Peter Corfield, managing director of the RIAS said:

‘Sometimes it’s the most unlikely events that can end up causing real damage. Not all claims are straightforward and sometimes we do see some bizarre scenarios. But, saying that, babies and animals are often the culprits.’

CarCrash 300x168 High Court Judge calls out two women for fictitious whiplash claimsIt seems even the legal system is getting tired of spurious whiplash claims these days. We’ve all been paying through the nose for those poor unfortunate people whose entire soft-necked families happened to be in a car that received a rear-end shunt, but now it’s all become too much even for a High Court judge.

Hearing the case of two women making a personal injury claim against the Home Office after a vehicle incident, Mr Justice Mostyn dismissed the claims as inaccurate and evasive, saying they were based on “an improper pecuniary motive.” Or, in other words, that they were thieving liars. Allegedly.

The court heard it took 18 days for one of the claimants to complain to her GP about any pain, and the other waited a week before she went to her doctor to report any injury as a result of the impact. Both women were, however, assessed by a medical ‘expert’ despite there being no visible damage to the car after the accident and the fact that neither woman reported any injury at the time or asked for time off work. Two other people in the car at the time of it hitting a bollard at slow speed, the driver and front seat passenger, miraculously escaped completely unharmed.

The judge took particular offence at the medical ‘evidence’ as it was so similar it “cast doubt on the professional objectivity of the expert.” In perfectly identical terms, medical reports said both had suffered “nervous shock and psychological trauma” and endured “recurrent obtrusive memories of the accident and obsessional thoughts as to how she might have been seriously injured” by a rogue bollard, prowling the streets looking for innocent victims.

Justice Mostyn did not mince his words:

“It is proper that I should go on to record that I do not accept the evidence of either of them, which I find to be inaccurate, evasive, partial and advanced for an improper pecuniary motive,” said the judge. ”This is yet a further example of the national phenomenon of false whiplash claims being made and it is in an attempt to stem the tide that I do not shrink from making firm adverse findings against them”.

He added: “Obviously it is, in terms of probability, almost inconceivable that each of these women would have suffered physically or mentally in precisely the same way.”

Of course, anyone who has genuinely suffered from whiplash as a result of a car accident will know how genuinely painful it is, and no-one, not even Justice Mostyn, is saying those genuinely injured shouldn’t be able to make a claim. However, first-hand experience of such ‘medical experts’ does back up the judge’s opinion, particularly where medical reports contain evidence that cannot possibly have been collected during the 3 minute examination- reports that are, as a matter of course, not challenged by insurers where whiplash is the main stated injury.

But until someone can come up with a pregnancy-test style wee-on-a-stick test for genuine whiplash, we are left relying on judges to make sensible outcomes from stupid claims in the forlorn hope that it will deter fraudulent claimants from wasting everyone’s time and money.

Fife is the noisy neighbour hotspot of the UK

March 18th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

Fife, on the East coast of Scotland, is not only a hotspot for Buckfast drinking, Edith Bowman and the Proclaimers, but it’s also now the place that sees the most complaints about disruptive neighbours in the UK.
noisy neighbour Fife is the noisy neighbour hotspot of the UK

That’s according to Churchill Home Insurance, which raided documents under the Freedom of Information act and found that 53 out of 1000 people in Fife had officially complained to councils about neighbours playing loud music and generally being anti-social nutjobs. That amounts to 19,070 ear shattering, dog barking complaints.

Second was Newcastle upon Tyne, with 45 statutory complaints per 1000 people, and third was the peaceful London borough of Westminster, which numbered 40 complaints for every thousand people.

Martin Scott from Churchill said: ‘These findings present a worrying picture of the effects other people and properties near our homes have on our lives.It’s a reminder to all of us to consider that our parties, pets and general property maintenance may be causing our neighbours undue amounts of stress.’

(What he really means is: ‘don’t be a dick and KEEP IT DOWN.’)

But if you don’t want to hear the bassline of ‘Blurred Lines’ thumping through your central heating pipes at dawn, then there is a solution. You could move to the Isles of Scilly, which only generated ONE complaint in the first 9 months of 2013. And that was probably about a slightly bushy leylandii.

FCA to tackle insurance add-ons

March 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

mobile phone 300x200 FCA to tackle insurance add onsThe Financial Conduct Authority is going gunning for the insurance add-on market, worth £4bn, because they think it is a closed-shop, so we all need greater competition.

The FCA are going to tell insurers that add-ons for things like mobiles, holidays and home emergencies aren’t currently competitive, so therefore, not at all working in the best interest of consumers.

This means that the regulator is all set to announce new rules after they investigated competition rules around insurance companies. For us, as well as cheaper offers (you’d hope), this means these add-ons will now be explicitly explained to us and up-front, rather than tucked away behind vagueness.

These new rules may seem like small fry, but if you consider that some motor insurers generate around a third of their profits from add-ons, this will change the way they do business for fear of big fines. Of course, last year, Swinton was fined by the FCA to the tune of £7.4m fine, with a further £11m paid out to customers who had been mis-sold add-ons.

Unveiling the initial review, the FCA said: “People are being made to feel they have to have these products when they don’t really need them. Our concern is that the products are generally poor value, and, by and large, people don’t pay too much attention to the terms and conditions. We are saying there could be anti-competitive behaviour.”

Banks offering help to those affected by floods

February 13th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

flood Banks offering help to those affected by floodsIf you’ve been hit by a flood, some of the banks and building societies are offering to help you out.

Some have already set-up special funds to cope with emergencies and others are offering you repayment holidays while you get yourself sorted. Most banks are offering a three month repayment holiday for mortgage borrowers.

Other than that, who is offering what?


HSBC are offering increased financial flexibility to customers. That means fast-tracked credit acceptance, loan and overdraft extensions and waiving fees on loans and overdrafts. They’re also going to get rid of limits on emergency payments.

HSBC are also working with mapping technologies while they try and identify which properties and areas are at the worst risk of flooding so they can make contact first.


RBS and NatWest are sending specialist business support teams to flooded areas this week and next, in a bid to help small and medium-sized business with short-term money problems as they priorities repair work and such, and of course, try and cope with their loss of income.

RBS/NatWest set up a £250 million UK Storm Business Fund which can provide short-term, interest-free financing and is available to all businesses, not just customers of RBS and NatWest. You can get three-months interest free and fee-free loans.

Ulster Bank

Ulster Bank have set up a support package of £10 million to help businesses that have been hit by the weather. The bank will help out customers with short-term cash commitments, such as repairs or managing a working capital. As Ulster Bank are part of the RBS Group, it’d be worth asking if they have the same provisions as RBS and NatWest also.


Nationwide current account customers will be able to ask for a temporary overdraft or an increase to cover emergencies brought on by the averse weather. The building society said: “We realise that not all customers may have the relevant documentation to hand and so, in such cases, we will find alternative ways to securely identify and assist our members.”


Santander are offering a loan payment holiday or giving you the opportunity to change your mortgage to an interest-only one, so you can reduce your monthly cost. Credit facilities will be extended for 12 months for farmers (6 months for small businesses). They are also paying £100,000 into a recovery fund.

The Association of British Insurers

The ABI have issued an emergency guide for households so they can be better prepared when dealing with insurance companies. You can read that here.

old driver car Driving insurance premiums to fall thanks to online driving recordsMinisters are saying that all driving records are being moved online, which should mean that the cost of your car insurance should fall. The days of keeping the paper bit of your insurance with your licence is soon to be over (mid 2015, they predict).

Premiums should fall because insurers will now be able to check you for traffic offences, which means, if you’ve been a good driver, you’ll get a cheaper deal as the insurance companies won’t have to make guesses about the risk of motorists.

Now, all your speeding points and the like, will be available online. If you’ve been a lousy driver, this is not great news. This might not be great news for anyone if you consider the government’s record of IT cock-ups.

The Association of British Insurers says there should be ”significant cost savings” resulting from “reducing the need to obtain paper copies of licences from policyholders” and the DVLA will allow insurers to access information through the website using an individual’s licence number, national insurance number and postcode.

This comes after the news that paper tax discs will be scrapped and that the paper counterpart to the driving licence photo card is to be killed off too.

The DVLA said that “although some services cannot be delivered digitally, such as assessing a customer’s fitness to drive, we can improve the processes supporting the delivery of these services through making greater use of digital tools”.

Are you happy for all your details to be on a government website in exchange for cheaper insurance, or is this an accident waiting to happen?

Will your breakdown service cover you for flood?

January 8th, 2014 1 Comment By Lucy Sweet

If you’re unlucky enough to find your car wheel-deep in floodwater, you would think your friendly breakdown service would give you a hand out of there. But er, no.

car in flood Will your breakdown service cover you for flood?

Drivers who’ve broken down on flooded roads have been finding themselves getting short shrift from breakdown companies, because quite a few of them don’t cover flood damage – instead they ask for a £150 fee to tow you away from the flow.

Scott Kelly from GoCompare warned: ‘Drivers need to be aware that the cover available from breakdown companies varies considerably. If you are unlucky enough to encounter flood water, don’t automatically assume your breakdown company will rescue you for free.’

Obviously, getting your car waterlogged is NOT GOOD, and it can completely bugger up your engine. And if this happens to you, you have to try and get the money back from the insurer – which will also bugger up your no claims bonus.

The advice is to check your policy for exclusions. Some policies, particularly with the AA, can be very vague – so go through it with a fine tooth comb, Or, if life is just too short, take the easiest option and switch to Green Flag. They’re the only major breakdown company that will fish you out for free – unless you’ve done a Jason Bourne and driven off a bridge into a deep river, in which case it’ll cost you. (If you’re not dead.)

The good news is their flood policies could change in the future. The RAC have already said it will scrap any fees for flood affected cars – and if the weather keeps getting worse, others will probably have to follow suit…

When you’ve got a leaking roof and a water damaged house, life seems bleak –and contacting your insurance company seems even bleaker. But like a chariot full of experts in white boiler suits from heaven, in swoops Which! to save the day with their top tips on claiming on your insurance after the floods.

Lake District flood damage 3 300x224 After the flood: Which! top tips for handling your insurer

Assuming you actually HAVE insurance – and if you don’t, good luck with replacing that roof – the first thing to do is check whether you’re covered for flood damage. This is the painful bit, obviously. But standard buildings insurance should cover outer damage, and contents can fix all your belongings that are currently floating down the street.

Which! then tells you to call your insurer – policy number to hand – and ask what you’re entitled to claim for. If you’re flooded, arrange for a loss adjuster to visit, and you can ask them to recommend repairs to stop it from happening again.

If there’s anywhere dry to hand, keep a hold of your paperwork and a record of the flood damage. Take pics and list everything that’s buggered. And finally, say Which, if your claim is rejected or not sorted in 8 weeks, you can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Otherwise, phone Richard Lloyd – he’s probably back off holiday on Necker Island and raring to go. Good luck.

hackers Insurer gets hacked and loses 100k customers detailsIf you’re with travel insurance company Staysure, you should be aware that they have confirmed that customer names and addresses have been stolen by hackers. They also managed to make off with card payment details and the CVV three-digit number on the back of a card.

The Financial Conduct Authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Police have all since been informed of this data breach.

Staysure’s CEO says: “We immediately hired independent forensic data experts to fully ascertain the extent of the problem and have written to 93,389 affected customers, which represents fewer than seven percent of our customer base, to warn them and ask them to check that they have not been the victims of any fraud as a result.”

This only affects customers who took out insurance before May 2012.

If you haven’t received a letter, it would be worth contacting the company. Compensation is available too, with customers being offered free access to Data Patrol (an identity fraud monitoring service from Experian).

Hopefully, Staysure will be beefing up their security in the meantime.

car crash Competition Commission says car insurance premiums are too highMotor insurance premiums are unnecessarily high for all drivers according to the Competition Commission, and they’re blaming the complex chain of claims and the cost of repairs and replacement cars.

Not only that, post-accident repairs are often shoddy and concerns have been raised about how hard it is for drivers to spot the best value products.

The Commission has been studying the insurance market for over a year, following up a referral from the Office of Fair Trading and they agreed with the OFT that the system was not working well for motorists, stating that premiums were being hiked up because the insurer of an innocent driver in an accident sorts out the replacement car or repair, but the at-fault driver’s insurer pays the bill.

“This separation of control and liability creates a chain of interactions which result in higher costs for replacement cars and for repairs being passed on to at-fault insurers,” it said. ”The Commission estimates the extra premium costs to be between £150m and £200m a year. There is insufficient incentive for insurers to keep costs down even though they are themselves on the receiving end of the problem.”

The Commission will now have to come up with ways to sort the market out and submit their final recommendations by September 2014.

They areas they’ll be looking at is capping the cost of replacement vehicles, making the at-fault driver’s insurer manage claims, making the not-at-fault driver responsible for providing a replacement vehicle and addressing the volume of sub-standard repairs following accidents.

“[These] possible remedies are a further step along the road to getting a market that enables insurers to deliver fully for consumers,” said James Dalton, of the Association of British Insurers (ABI). ”We look forward to continuing to engage with the Competition Commission as it carries forward its work and we hope that this will lead to further improvements in the market and lower premiums for customers.”

Churchill send best letter to customer, ever

November 21st, 2013 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

One avid Bitterwallet reader’s girlfriend (yes, there are BW readers who aren’t crushingly lonely) received a letter from those nice folks at Churchill Car Insurance (oh yes), and on the face of it, it seemed they’d send a boring blank letter.

However, you could argue that Churchill just wanted to acknowledge a customer’s existence while telling them everything they needed to know about car insurance, ie, absolutely nothing.

BZiiuDfIgAEdEDu 375x500 Churchill send best letter to customer, ever


Britain: A pothole for every mile

October 10th, 2013 3 Comments By Mof Gimmers

pothole 300x199 Britain: A pothole for every mileAccording to research, Britain has a pothole for every mile of road in the country, which won’t surprise anyone who has been anywhere near a road, ever.

Data obtained under a Freedom of Information request showed a 79% increase in compensation claims in the last financial year from people who have had their vehicles borked by potholes. Cyclists will be rolling their eyes at the news too, as Britain’s cycle lanes are like Screwball Scramble.

Britannia Rescue, which conducted the research, said potholes take up a total area of 295 square miles on these shores – that’s twice the size of the Isle of Wight.

With that, nearly 1 in 10 people have suffered car damage as a result of our dreadful roads in the past 12 months, and the company added other stats:

- Local authorities have paid out £2.5m in compensation to motorists in the past financial year.

- UK councils have received 32,600 compensation claims over the same period – a 79% increase over the previous year.

- The most common problems are tyre damage (43%), damaged suspension (34%) and damaged wheel rims (26%).

Britannia Rescue said: “Short-term fixes are often chosen over longer term solutions, with close to a quarter of councils admitting they usually temporarily fix potholes rather than resurface the area. The average cost of repairing a pothole is around £50, meaning the amount paid out by councils in compensation could have been used to repair more than 50,000 potholes.”

The company’s managing director, Peter Horton, said: “Britain’s pothole epidemic has resulted from years of under-investment … we now have around 200,000 potholes on UK roads. Motorists should protect themselves and their vehicles by reducing their speed on potholed roads, and also reporting damaged roads to their local council.”

The recently reformed So Solid Crew are clearly short of a few bob, hence being ‘recently reformed’. And, to further the point, SSC’s Romeo has re-recorded ’21 Seconds’ for a commercial, flogging insurance with a robot.

Here’s the video.

“It was a strange thing to do as I’m so used to performing the normal verses,” Romeo told Digital Spy. “I had fun with it though, that was the main thing. We got to chill with Brian the Robot as well. I was actually fascinated by the thing. I’ve never actually seen a robot in my life! I wanted to play with the controls and stuff but they wouldn’t let me. I’d probably crash it or something.”

“It’s more accessible for teenagers to buy cars these days,” Romeo continued and, without any hint of irony, added: “But whether they can afford to actually insure the car is another thing. That’s what we’re trying to raise awareness of.”


7 million customers could be due up to £300 compensation each for the scandalous mis-selling of credit card insurance cover by Britain’s biggest banks. 13 banks have signed up to the compensation scheme, which amounts to £1.3bn.

credit card 300x188 Have you been mis sold credit card insurance? Its payback time...

The banks referred customers to insurance company CPP, which sold them pointless policies – like ID theft cover – that the city regulator says aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. The big banks – Santander, Barclays, RBS, HSBC, Tesco and MBNA – managed to co-erce 4.4 million suckers into buying the ID protection policy, which was already covered in the terms of conditions of the credit card.

Customers who took out the cover, dating as far back as 2000, will be entitled to the amount they paid for their policy since January 14 2005, plus 8% interest on any sum they owe.

Barclays are the worst culprit, which is a bit embarrassing for its new chief exec Anthony Jenkins, who appears to have merrily stood by in his previous role as CEO of Barclaycard and let it all happen.

As for CPP, they’ve already been fined £10.5 million by the Financial Conduct Authority, and this latest bout of compensation could put it out of business.

FCA’s chief exec Martin Wheatley said: ‘We believe this will be a good outcome for customers who may have been mis-sold the card and identity protection policies. Subject to CPP’s customers approving the scheme, these policy holders will be able to claim a full refund of premiums with interest.’


The curse of the killer flip flops

August 19th, 2013 6 Comments By Lucy Sweet

Many things cause car crashes – stupidity, texting, not paying attention, – but it would appear that the worst offender of all is…flip flops.

flip flops 300x200 The curse of the killer flip flops

Yes, not only are flip flops are vile, but they’ve been proved to reduce braking times, and could be responsible for over 1.4 million accidents in the UK alone. In a poll carried out by Sheila’s Wheels, 1 in 3 people said they had driven wearing flip flops, and 27% of drivers admitted they’d got their foot caught under pedals or had near misses as a result.

More than half the 1055 motorists who took part in the survey also said they’d like to see tougher guidelines about the kind of footwear that’s suitable to drive in. And the worst driving shoes were (in order of danger): Flip flops, bare feet, wedge heels, espadrilles and sandals.

Of course, some surveys are dodgier than others, and guess what? Sheila’s Wheels have developed a special shoe cover with extra foot support which you can keep in your glove compartment and attach to the bottom of your flip flop before you drive. They’re calling it ‘the ultimate summer car accessory.’

Hmmm. How about (as it’s nearly autumn, anyway), you just bin your stinky £3 Asda flip flops and wear another pair of shoes that don’t cause you to mow down pedestrians and die?

Just a thought.