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Insurance problems

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    Insurance problems

    Insurance comes up frequently on these pages, but my current problems seem to be different. Is this so? Or do people shrug their shoulders and put up with lack of clarity, and hidden extra costs?

    1) My insurer will not disclose in writing his (though he's a "her" too) additional charge for exceeding a limited mileage. Worse: in that event "normal suspension arrangements do not then apply" (ie one loses one's third party cover too, and starts breaking the law). Since this eventuality could arise unexpectedly abroad, one feels very distinctly "over a barrel". An amount of £47 for transferring from £5000 to £8000 has been mentioned by phone, but I am apprehensive that a "management fee" will increase this to (say) £77. I am requesting that this be made clear in writing.

    2) This is because there seems to be a management fee of £30 levied for each and every change to the arrangements even when the need for these changes was due to unexpected aspects of the policy, and they were requested the same day and the next day. In my view the 14-day "cool-off period" should relate to questions raised, and not replies and satisfaction or otherwise received, during this period. (In our case this has been a 14-day "get hot under the collar" period).

    3) I'm asked for my no-claims history: as it turns out, this is so that this can be "carried forward". This it can only be carried forward a different insurer since this company does not operate such a scheme. I must say that finding this out, after receiving the papers, tends to precipitate us towards another insurer.

    4) The usual bizarre requirements on the part of insurers have been well rehearsed on these and other motorhome pages: yes/no to heater, yes/no to car adaptations versus van adaptations, and whether or not the insured owns another vehicle for instance not to mention "when is a motorhome a motorhome?". We come out fairly well from this scrutiny, but I'm not allowed to remove the fit-out, which action would convert the vehicle into an MPV with the rear seat raised or folded. This somewhat negates our purchasing a "multi-purpose vehicle" with this objective in view, but I understand that "MPV" is a car-makers' term and not an insurers' one. As it happens, the outfit takes up so much room in the house when removed, that we would seldom do it, and this is not a major constraint on our activities.

    5) My biggest gripe is that approaches to and negotiations with this firm may only be conducted by phone. Since some aspects of insurance are arcane, some phone lines are poor, and some agents speak so fast you can hardly understand them when you can hear them - let alone write down what they are saying - this puts some strain on the "14-day cooling off period" as mentioned in (2) above.

    6) I've had three letters from the firm, helpful in a sense, but written on the assumption that if the policies are not what you expect, and matters were not advised when you were first quoted, then x, y and z management fees are incurred for putting right the insurer's own lack of clarity.

    7) I claim that a key sentence in the legal document from the underwriter is ungrammatical, and conveys literally the exact opposite of what is intended. One of the letters received from the firm sets out how the sentence is interpreted. I will attach this letter as part of the policy. But I would be happier if the original wording followed what is understood to be correct grammar!

    Is my experience unusual?

    Seek to make a virtue of necessity.

    Ahhhhh, the wonders of the insurance industry.

    If you're insuring a conventional car or van for straight-forward standard cover then it's easy. The moment you deviate and introduce any modifications or something slightly unconventional then it degenerates into chaos.

    My only tip is to get everything clarified in writing so there can be no misunderstandings later on. I also refuse to pay the 'admin fees' for corrections made during the 14 day cooling off period. It's also a good idea to have another insurance company with a competitive quote in reserve just incase you choose the cancel the policy.

    Good luck - it sounds as though you may need it!



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