Archive for Claims

An Insurance Company Is Only As Good As It’s Claims Department

Few people actually think about their insurance cover until they hear a loud crash, smell smoke or discover that someone has made off with their possessions. TV news footage of people being rescued from floods, their homes devastated by water and rendered uninhabitable, are surely the best reminder that having insurance cover is a good thing. Or is it? Many flood victims will say, after they got over the initial shock of the damage, that is when their problems truly started. If the TV cameras revisit the scene months later, how many of the people who are interviewed say they are waiting for the insurance company to sort things out?

What should be the greatest advertisement for being fully insured, can turn into a PR nightmare for the insurance companies. They never seem to get their act together when they are needed most, but once again, this is not actually the case either. In fact everything hinges on the quality of the insurance companies claims handling.

The cameras will not revisit houses where they have been completely restored and look immaculate with new decoration and furnishings throughout. Neither will commentators mention the number of cars insurance companies swiftly paid out for after a flood.

An example of good claims handling is the speed an insurer will make a payment on account for emergency work or to enable their customers to move into temporary accommodation. Those affected will get to know where builders gut and rebuild a home at the insurance company’s expense, as they will those who seem to spend months haggling.

Quality claims handling is all about treating the customer as an individual and taking responsibility for the claim from beginning to the end. In contrast, those companies that just focus on the process and chiefly see their role as cost reduction, are almost incapable of delivering good customer outcomes. They are set up to fail, inevitably their complex system will ‘drop the ball’ at some point.

If their customer  has to ring around and then sent from pillar to post to chase up their claim, they will immediately tell everyone that this is not what they signed up for. Being kept on hold for several minutes can be OK, provided the person who picks up the call can deal with the problem. But if they just send the caller to another queue to speak to someone else, this is just bad service in action.

Good claims departments make or break an insurance company. However, that is not just from the viewpoint of their first duty to deal efficiently with own customer’s claims. Not paying out is also very important. Particularly if they are good at detecting fraud, for example third party ‘claims rings’ where criminal gangs make money from staged accidents. In these cases a good insurance company will have the expertise and ability to gather evidence that could ultimately help with a criminal conviction. Ultimately, an insurer that is good at dealing with fraudulent claims, will see an improvement in their claims costs that in turn will enable them to price more competitively. In this case everybody wins, including their customers.

Are claims departments a good place for an insurance company to invest in efficient and customer focused service? The customer would say of course. An excellent example of where this can been seen in action is the niche on-line provider iprotectinsurance.co.uk. They have achieved outstanding feedback from customers, yet in their field of Mortgage Insurance, offer some of the lowest premiums in the UK.  Since 2007 they have proven that offering a good claims service does indeed deliver low prices and has been critical to establishing their reputation and success.

Author Dennis Haggerty is a Chartered Insurer and Fellow of the Chartered Insurance Institute and is currently Marketing Manager at Wessex Group.

Does your BMW Car Insurance actually cover you for theft?

If you own a recent BMW car you may be surpised to find that it’s not actually covered should you fall victim to theft and try to make a claim.

The problem stems from the on-board computer and the associated key-fob technology which allows car thieves easy access to your vehicle.

Technology has been widely available and can be obtained on the Internet, that allows would be thieves to tap into diagnostic system of the on-board computer and clone the key technology, allowing easy access to the car.

The problem has been exacerbated by recent EU competition directives that allow non BMW garages the ability to access diagnostic systems.

West Midlands police have reported 154 thefts of BMWs with this technology in the last three months.

The Government sponsored company responsible for setting the insurance security rates Thatcham Research thatcham.org for members of the ABI reported the problem to insurance companies  over nine months ago. They have refused to downgrade the 5 star security rating of the affected models as they state this would be unfair to the manufacturer.

The BBC has been leading an awareness campaign for owners of these BMWs with its consumer affairs program Watchdog and Radio 4.

Speaking on Radio 4 a Mr Gordon who is a director of Southampton Football Club said he was treated like a criminal by his car insurance company LV after he made a claim for theft. Despite having both keys in his possession and a CCTV tape he managed to secure from close by to where the car was stolen from he claimed that LV  inferred that he was party to the theft. They sent out a private investigator to interview him and  treated him as a suspect. It took them 9 months to finally settle claim, only paid out the minimum amount which was a lot less than the cars value and he lost his no claims discount.

When contacted BMW suggested that any concerned owner should contact their  dealership and fit secondary security devices such as steering wheel crook locks.

Mis Sold PPI? Claims Could Reach Titanic Proportions

PPI Claims To Date Are Only The Tip Of The Iceberg

Despite the banks and others who missold payment protection insurance (PPI) being forced to pay out over £2 billion to date, it appears from the latest reports and estimates that this could be just the tip of the iceberg as the misselling scandal escalates, with an expected final payout of over £9 billion in compensation. Billions are still waiting to be claimed.

Mis-sold PPI? Claim now before its too late

Last year alone over 200,000 complaints were made to the Financial Ombudsman about individual policies, despite instructions from the FSA for all those involved to deal fairly with their customers.

Both these figures indicate that although most of the major financial institutions and banks that missold PPI are taking some steps to compensate those that they missold the products to, many people are either not being notified that they are due for compensation, or it appears that an even greater amount may not be aware that they even had PPI and that they have been paying for it in charges since they first took out the debt.

It also appears from the number of continual complaints to the Financial Ombudsman that the compensation offered by those guilty financial institutions has been in many cases derisory or insufficient.

This has been particularly the case where individuals have sought to deal with the PPI claims themselves, rather than seek the help of those professional claims teams and lawyers who have years of experience in maximising claims settlements through negotiation and the courts.

The FSA is concerned by the titanic scale of the misselling and has extended the period for which claims can be dealt with in order for the firms and the courts to deal with the high demand.

PPI was missold throughout the last decade by nearly all the major institutions including all the high street banks and most of the mortgage, loan and credit card companies. It was often sold on the back of credit agreements, where it was neither explained properly to the client or the client do not want or need it.

Many people who were aware they had purchased PPI, bought the cover because they feared their credit application would be refused if they did not agree.

In the most extreme of cases it was often sold to people who could never claim, such as those with existing medical conditions, pregnancy or the self-employed.

If you think you may have been missold PPI, Insurance Blog urges you to check the wordings of all your credit agreements and to act quickly to contact a PPI claims specialist to assist you in your fight for compensation.

The iceberg of claims may be melting slightly, however there are rules of limitation under UK law and the right to be compensated for being missold PPI may not be around for too much longer.

Business Insurance Quotes Caveats

Disclose All Material Facts When Comparing Business Insurance Online

If you are in business you will want the re-assurance that the business insurance policy you bought is actually going to cover your losses and pay out in the event of a claim.

It is an unfortunate fact that when then worst happens and your business makes a claim on the policy, that either the offer from the insurance company is nothing like what you lost or expected to receive to get the business flowing again, or worse still that the claim itself is contested or repudiated.

The majority of these problems occur at the proposal stage which translates in modern parlance to the quote stage.

All the information a business supplies when applying for business insurance quotes online, will eventually become part of the policy contract. All insurance contracts come under a class of legal contracts subject to the rule of ‘utmost good faith’ and this requires full disclosure of material facts. If mistakes are made when filling in online forms and comparing business insurance quotes, then this will cause problems for the policyholder when a claim is investigated.

The FSA is already investigating the use of default data in form fields for personal lines products sold online and the potential for these contracts to be missold. We asked Insurance Blogger to have a closer look at this increasingly occurring problem that will only be exacerbated by the increased popularity, particularly for small business insurance, of using an online business insurance supplier.

Get Your Business Details Correct When Applying Online For Business Insurance Quotes

Applying for business insurance quotes online has become a simple process and many of the five million small businesses in the UK are purchasing cover this way.

It is now easy to get both business property and liability insurance quotes and buy cover online from numerous outlets including commercial insurance brokers, direct business insurance companies and business insurance price comparison sites.

Every type of business cover can be bought online if your company does not employ more than fifty employees, and even these larger cases are handled today by helplines and callback facilities.

The practice of buying cover online is particularly of interest to small business and self employed tradesman, often working from home. An hours research and comparison of business insurance quotes could save a small business a significant amount in annual premiums.

There are however sometimes major problems that arise for businesses that buy online, further down the line, if they are unfortunate enough to have to make a claim against the policy.

The majority of the problems that can delay a payment or repudiate a claim, occur because of the information about the business that was supplied or given, when first getting a business insurance quote.

It is therefore imperative when getting quotes online that the correct information about the business is supplied.

In particular clams will be questioned when the business is either misrepresented by the information supplied or there has been an alteration to the business activities which was not declared when getting the quotes.

Misrepresentation can be either deliberate to avoid paying additional premiums or unintentional, however neither is an excuse and will be penalised.

Deliberate misrepresentation is for example a builder applying for builders liability insurance quotes,who uses heat and works at height but who declares he only works on single storey extensions. Another example would be a company applying for employers liability who only declare half of the workforce.

Unintentional misrepresentation is far more common but can still lead to disappointment when making a claim.

Get your sums insured right

The most common mistake made by business men and women when applying for business insurance cover online, is to declare the value of property at a level less than its true worth. This could apply to declared sums insured for commercial buildings and or contents insurance.

If the declared value of the sums insured is less than market value or the cost of re-instatement, whichever is applicable to a particular policy, then the claim will be subject to what insurance companies call ‘Average’. All properties will be subject to average if the market is inflationary and prices have risen over the period of the contract.

Average is applied to a claim and is a means by which the insurance company will reduce its liabilities. Average assume that the businessman will cover the loss for the difference between the declared sum insured and the true value and will reduce the claim amount proportionally.

Claims will also be repudiated and denied where it is found out that their has been an alteration to the original cover described at the quote stag which later went on to form the policy contract. For example if a motor trader has not declared that he also runs a taxi business with the same vehicles in the evenings for hire and reward.

To avoid disappointment and ensure that your business is properly covered be prepared with the correct and most up to date information about your business, when applying online for business insurance quotes.

When applying for business insurance quotes online it makes sense to use a company that can either offer fixed levels of cover so that you know that your business falls within these, or provide additional help and advice from an expert or broker on the phone.

At UK Commercial Ltd. you can compare business insurance quotes online from multiple suppliers who offer various levels of cover so that you can avoid losing out to average, at a claim.

Gadget Insurance – Better Security Reduces Theft Risk

Most of us live our lives around our gadgets these days and whether its our 3g mobile, laptop or ipad – it is at risk!

What’s more, in many cases our lifestyles are also at risk as our gadgets carry so much personal and company information and are in effect, our the portals to our social and business lives.

Insurance Blog and if the claims figures are to be believed, half the country, know only too well the pain involved in lifestyle interruption caused by losing a gadget!

The cost of replacing the item can be covered by traditional gadget insurance polices, but insurance as yet does not compensate for lifestyle interruption. So it is good to see alternative methods to insurance being used to tackle this ever growing problem.

Catch That Thief!

The solution to replacing a gadget is to recover it and new security software is already showing some truly amazing results. After all I’d rather get my laptop or phone back than get a new model of market value, as it contains all my personal files and contact details.

Prey Security Software

One solution for PC and laptop theft or mislay is a piece of software called Prey. When you loose your laptop you simply login to your Prey account and activate the device as missing. Sit back and wait for your phone to text. (assuming you haven’t had that stolen as well) and you can login to the Prey website and see a map of just where the device is being used and if its got a webcam you can see who is using it! You’re nicked sonny!

Check out the Prey Software in action on the BBC Video as it catches a real life laptop thief. The video also contains invaluable information on services to protect your other gadgets as well.

Insurance Blog welcomes any measures that help reduce premiums, so we expect all the gadget insurance suppliers to radically slash their rates for those who have anti theft devices for their gadgets!