/ Money

Is your insurer asking you to jump through hoops?

Lion and circus master jumping through hoop

Have you ever made an insurance claim only to be asked for evidence in excess of what you can provide? We’re investigating insurers who make unreasonable requests, and we need your help.

Earlier this year, we asked you about your experience with insurance companies. Feedback showed that some of you are being asked to provide what we believe, to be an unreasonable amount of evidence to support your insurance claims.

For example, we heard from two people who made claims when their freezers became faulty and they lost their frozen food. Their claims were rejected because they couldn’t produce receipts for all the items in their freezers. This prompted us to ask: In reality, how many people are likely to keep receipts for their frozen peas and carrots for weeks after they were purchased?

Going over-board for claim evidence?

Other people told us about buildings insurance claims being rejected because the homeowners couldn’t prove they had carried out regular maintenance on their properties. One insurer pointed to some moss growing on a roof as suggesting a lack of maintenance. Another claim was rejected because the homeowner didn’t have all the tiles in his shower grouted annually.

Of course, insurers do have a right to ask for evidence to support a claim – they need some way of checking that the claim is legitimate. But problems arise when insurers push their demands, asking for evidence we can’t be expected to provide. Your feedback suggests that, when faced with unreasonable behaviour by insurers, many policy holders simply give up their claims and walk away.

We know from Naomi Milward’s case that a robust challenge can sometimes turn the tables. It can be worth the fight, but it shouldn’t have to be this way.

Unreasonable requests from insurers

We’re worried that you’re being treated unfairly and that insurers could be breaching the rules. If this is the case, and the practice is widespread, we want to know about it so we can take action.

Can you tell us about any experiences you’ve had where an insurer has made an unreasonable request for evidence or asked you to jump through hoops before they would take a decision on your claim? And did you receive the money owed to you?

Comments
Profile photo of John Ward
Member

This a consequence of wafer-thin margins due to excessive concentration on the premium in contrast to cover and claims handling. My only recent claim experience was on a travel policy with John Lewis Insurance. The claim was handled speedily, without demurring or prevaricating, and was accepted in full. Possibly not the cheapest insurance but peace of mind isn’t negotiable. The firms that make people – who are already distressed enough by the loss – go through the hoops and over the hurdles, with a water-splash finish on the final lap, should be named and shamed. Obviously, insurers have to protect themselves against inflated claims and fraud but they could do more to check the situation before issuing cover.

Incidentally, this demonstrates another benefit of ordering groceries on-line for delivery; at least we’ve got an audit trail of previous orders with Sainsbury’s so there should be no arguments over the freezer contents.

Profile photo of tbwtg
Member

My mother’s chimney, shared with a neighbour, was damaged in a storm which affected a number of houses around, and our claim on her behalf was rejected on grounds of lack of evidence of maintenance of the chimney. What do you do to maintain a chimney in a brick-built terrace house, go up and grease it every couple of years? We didn’t have evidence of regular roof inspections, though they had been done every couple of years in the past few years, and didn’t bother to challenge the insurers (Legal and General). We’ve since changed insurers and fixed the chimney during other work.

But I’m not sure that roof inspections would necessarily have looked at the shared chimney, or recorded any acceptable evidence of good condition. Roofers tend to be men of few words.

Member
Tim Leunig says:
5 October 2013

AutoNetVan wanted evidence about my driving record which the contract did not allow them to ask for. They said they would cancel my cover and give me very little money back. When I rang they said “We can ask for whatever we like”. Hmmm.

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

Absolutely not …..unless it is clearly stated in the policy
itself.

Profile photo of ArgonautoftheSeas
Member

“To claim for damages for breach of contract, for breach of an express
term providing for funding of legal expenses on occasion of an insured
event, with respect to issue of third-party proceedings in accordance
with the Terms and Conditions set out in the Contract of Insurance
(Home Insurance Policy) imposed, entered into or otherwise agreed
between both the contracting parties.”

Am looking for a direct-access lawyer who will do it on the CFA…..
failing which may have to do it myself, generous Limitation period
still prevailing, as against my insurers.

Member
Anon the Mouse says:
10 October 2013

I had an accidental damage claim with the AA (Lloyds underwriters), and it was the worst experience of my life.

I was told to prove it at my own expense with no reimbursement for anything. All their post was sent 2nd class yet had extremely short turn arounds to avoid them cancelling the claim.

The report they wanted they claimed not to do inhouse or have a specialist that did. And I was advised to “drive around until you find somewhere”. After a few days of asking at every available location I got someone that would do the report. I paid the £30 and sent it to Lloyds/AA. It wasn’t the right one for them. I broke down on the phone as I had been spending every waking moment looking for somewhere that would do this mythical report. I only ever spoke to my “claims handler” once.

In the end I had to submit 3 Official complaints, contact the regulating authority and spend half an hour crying on the phone to them just to get someone that could pass it to their specialist company (DVS). Oh and argue the policy documents wording repeatedly with them for months. As well as ringing them up every day to try and get the one person that might actually be reasonable.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151587221583284&set=a.487146173283.260812.678383283&type=1&theater

After getting it settled other information came out of the woodwork….

DVS are used by Lloyds all the time for claim inspection reports… I was told 100’s per week by DVS.
Lloyds send ALL time sensitive documents 2nd class.
Amongst my crying and tears on the phone I once said “You lot want me to just cancel and go away don’t you? Well I won’t.” The operator took cancel my claim as the only part of that sentence

Which, all of this is verifiable, and I’d be happy to go into more detail with you if you wanted 😀

[Hello Anon, thanks for sharing your story. We’ve had to edit it slightly in order to publish it. Thanks, mods.]

Member
Debbie p says:
11 October 2013

Halifax reward card travel insurance has not much to offer the honest traveller. After a break in to the villa in Turkey this summer , the burglars jimmied the double glazed windows , we reported all the losses to the police pointing out where the goods had been . The villa had no safe. The claim was rejected because we hadn’t hidden the goods in wardrobes , cupboards or drawers. The goods could not be seen at night as curtains and blinds were drawn but we are still responsible for the loss because we honestly told the insurers they were on a table, I am more aggrieved that if we had lied and said to the police and insurers they were in a cupboard they would have paid out, what does that say to the customer? Is honesty the best policy? Definitely not it seems.

Member
Joey says:
12 October 2013

When an unfortunate lady backed into my car in the dark in a supermarket car park, and thankfully owned up, what I thought was my insurance company, M & S, handed the case over to one of the firms that are once or twice removed from the actual insurers. They wanted to collect my car, on a transporter, drive it to a holding pound which on enquiring turned out to be 300 miles away, leave it there to be assessed taking heaven knows how long, and then take it to a garage of their choosing. Please be aware that a courtesy car is never offered until the assessment is completed because if the car is a write-off no courtesy car is ever allowed as it is the repairing garage who provides it at their cost not the insurers. My car was a Nissan and bought from a large local (20minutes away) dealership and repairers. In all the conversations I was being pressurised into letting this unknown company take my car out of my control. What they were proposing, I worked out, could have cost me £3.500 if they eventually wriggled out of paying my claim and I would have had no way of getting my car back. Their actions seemed to be primarily to make large sums of money for the transporting companies, their signed up garages and possibly from me. It could all be done much cheaper by my local official Nissan garage (who were horrified by these shenanigans). I was very uneasy and very stressed, not being used to having accidents to contend with, so I queried everything, agreed to nothing, and rang the M&S number again to ask what was going on. They had a very nice customer assistance lady who was very sorry and said of course I could use my own garage to assess the damage, quote, and when agreed, repair the car. From then on it all ran smoothly. A courtesy car was provided and all was fixed within a week.
When a follow up call from M&S came to find out if I was happy (!) with the way the claim had been handled I said it was certainly not worthy of their company for customers to be treated so shamefully and put under such stress. I think they have taken it on board but I am now with Tesco who, should I be unlucky again, I hope will behave properly and with more consideration.

Member
conor says:
28 October 2014

I have been dealing with a home insurance company called Policy Expert. The home cover was arranged by compare the market. Following a break in and burglary to our house when we were in bed asleep, the insurance company have refused to pay out on our claim. The burglars stole a car as well as a variety of household items amounting to £2900. This insurance company sent out a company called Martindales who assessed the damage to our kitchen window. Although the window was secure at the time of break in, Martindales report maintained that there was no evidence of forced entry. This is despite obvious chip marks on the paint work where a bar/ screw driver was forced through under a sash window.
Martindales asked us to pay the excess on our policy following the inspection £200, which I refused as the claim had not been assessed. Policy Expert will not give me access to the report and insist that I obtain another report to prove there was forced entry to the house. Someone has been arrested for possession of the stolen car keys in the mean time.
The dispute amounts to what the definition of forced entry is. There are no handles on the outside of the window and it is obvious that someone has had to force the window to gain access.
Obviously this has been a very upsetting experience for our family and I feel this company are employing some very sharp practices. I would avoid them at all costs.
I have since discovered that their head office is based in Gibraltar – make of that what you will.
I have learned a valuable lesson re insurance cover – go with a company with a proven record and do not trust companies with phoney positive reviews online.
I am currently pursuing this complaint through the financial ombudsman.

Member
Paul says:
18 July 2016

My fridge freezer broke down, well the freezer did actually. I telephoned More than, when did you buy the freezer, where did you buy it, whats the model number? I asked them why they would need to know where I purchased it from, its the contents that I am claiming for not the freezer. More than claims is closed on Sunday, it is now Monday I am at work. Can you take pictures of the food? Have you got receipts for the food she said, no why would I have its frozen. Have you got bank statements, well yes I spent £86.33 at Waitrose 3 weeks ago. Am I supposed to now work out what portion of that went on frozen food? All this and I haven’t even mentioned the claim amount.

I will get back to you my computer has frozen, well its more than my bloody freezer has then!

So why when people claim does the computer freeze, is there a time I can call you back when the computer
does not freeze? She needed to check my policy, to see if I was covered. I will call you back later she said.

I told them to keep it, I don’t want to claim after the interrogation. I felt like a criminal. Haven’t claimed for at least 10 years. Told them Brexit must have hit you hard, so I feel sorry for you and won’t claim, idiots.

Profile photo of malcolm r
Member

It is reasonable, when making an insurance claim, to provide evidence to support the value of your claim. I’d simply take photographs of the food, estimate its cost and send that to your insurance company.

Profile photo of wavechange
Member

Paul – Unfortunately, some people defraud insurance companies, intentionally or otherwise, so it is necessary to provided evidence to support claims. As Malcolm says, this need not be difficult.

Until recently I had a large freezer in the garage and was happy to store surplus frozen food for neighbours when their freezers have broken down. I hope they would do the same for me if the need arose.