I have an ethic of never accepting their quote, I always plead for mercy and a reduction to the new proposed payments. It’s worth the grovelling when you’re as skint as I am. I pride myself in always getting the premium reduced, not by much but cumulatively I deem it to be worth the effort when applied across all my insurance policies.
This last twelve months I confess to taking my eyes off the ball, due to other more pressing issues and have really only checked my bank account to ensure that there was enough cash to cover the outgoings.
I scrolled through my bank statement but couldn’t find the name of the finance firm that debited my payments on a monthly basis, on behalf of the insurance company. I scrolled back through the previous year to November 2015. Nothing.
My home – a mobile home constructed from highly combustible materials – had not been insured for the last twelve months. I felt sick and my stomach suddenly knotted.
I rang the insurance company and spoke to Ben. I asked him if my renewal documents were due to be sent to me. Ben, with a measure of pride, told me that the renewal documents were already in the post.
I expressed surprise at this news and asked how effective renewal documents would be, if the actually policy had ceased to exist?
Ben could offer no explanation as to why my bank account had not been debited with my insurance payments for the last twelve months. He would consult with his supervisor and ring me back. Needless to say he didn’t.
The next day I received my renewal documents, which apart from the increase to the payments, were a carbon copy of last year’s renewal documents and assured me that I didn’t need to do anything, as everything would happen automatically. The insurance company obviously had no clue that something had gone horribly wrong.
I rang them again and asked for Ben. He transferred me to his supervisor. She didn’t know what had happened either but would be prepared to renew my insurance with their company but I would have to pay the previous year’s premium in full, plus the monthly payments for the coming year.
I maintained (unbelievably) a calm yet forceful attitude.
“No. That’s not going to happen. If I’d made a claim during the last twelve months, I guarantee that your firm wouldn’t have honoured it. I’m willing to re-insure with you – mistakes happen – but it will have to be a new policy, not a renewal of this one.”
I think she could see this as an easy ‘no blame on us’ way out of the situation and with an air of doing me a favour, she agreed and after a haggle over the premium (well, old habits die hard) the price was set. The new documents would be in the post that day.
They arrived about a week later. The forms were identical to the ones that were still sitting on my table, except for the revised price and date. Renewal documents NOT a new policy.
Just to check that I wasn’t going mad, I rang the finance company. I was informed that my account still existed but had been inactive for the last year and they had not received any communication from the insurers with reference to a renewal or a new policy.
I’d coincidentally received a leaflet through my door that day from another insurer who specialised in mobile homes.
I rang the firm and spoke to Mark. I explained my situation and Mark took my details and gave me a quote there and then, quite a bit below what I'd been about to pay.
“That all sounds pretty good Mark but in fairness I’ll have to get back to my present insurer and terminate my policy with them before I commit to your firm.”
“What policy? You don’t have a policy with them, it doesn’t exist.” Mark said.
I had to admit he was absolutely right - It didn’t. It was a done deal.
I rang my inept insurer and told them I no longer had need of their services. I briefly explained why I thought they were totally incompetent, but I kept it factual and polite.
My new insurance documents arrived. There was a minor error – they’d given the measurements of my home as being twice the size that it actually is. I rang them to rectify the mistake which was altered there and then. The revised documents were sent to me electronically with copious apologies and the premium reduced further to reflect the actual dimensions.
So, in the end it was a pretty successful, albeit stressful, insurance renewal negotiation. It was a shame that all the phone calls were during the day, at premium rates and my phone contract was free weekend and evening calls only. On the up side, I’ve just renewed my contract with them and got a really good deal, with unlimited calls and unlimited broadband at a cheaper rate than last year.
And that is where it should have ended. I’m not the type of person to complain to ‘The Ombudsman’ except…
Possibly to be continued.