Forgive me this blog if you have no insurance – that probably means you are a social anomaly (not a bad thing either), but read on, this warning may help you at some time in the future. For everyone else, you probably have the same mistrust I have for insurance companies. We’ve all heard the horror stories of non-payment for what we think of as ludicrous, barely legal – and wholly immoral reasons.
When you next do your household insurance renewals, just remember to read the contract and truly make sure you understand the clauses they present. Most have that little symbol that says the information is written in real English and not legalese, but don’t be fooled, they have thought of and come across every scenario for non-payment and more that you could ever devise.
I have two scenarios you might not be aware of, and you will never really understand what you have read in their terms and conditions until the exclusions suddenly apply to you.
- I had a problem with what appeared to be subsidence to my garage. My policy says it covers subsidence. So far, so good. It also says that it covers outbuildings, so great, another tick in the box. So I call the insurance company for guidance and they send two ‘experts’ out to assess the problem. Low and behold, as far as they are concerned it was subsidence, both were very definite about that. I won’t go into the detail of the other issues they uncovered, but in spite of everything it was subsidence. Then I get a letter saying that we are not covered for this problem. It is now classified as slippage for which we are not covered. Well, that was fortuitous for the insurance company. I phone them and they say that because the garage has a concrete floor it doesn’t count as subsidence. I suggested they were using an interesting and little-known definition of subsidence, but my sarcastic humour didn’t seem to impress them much. I also suggested that maybe they ought, in their clear-English clause booklet, to insert a clause stating that they don’t cover garage subsidence – how many garages do you know that do NOT have cement floors? Very few indeed. In spite of my protests I am now significantly out of funds because my insurance is not worth the paper it’s written on. Strangely they won’t refund my premiums by way of recompense.
- In a recent newspaper article I read about some poor sod who, unknown to him had underinsured his house contents. This was not due to any attempt to defraud but when he and his fiancée married, his wife had received jewellery as wedding gifts. Because of recent gold price rises, when his house was burgled and the insurance assessors valued the gold jewellery as being above the individual limits in their policy, his insurance company was apparently within its rights to refuse the WHOLE claim. The man is now £30k out of pocket.
The moral of the story: Read and understand all of the policy. If you are unsure of whether you are covered for whatever reason, give them a call. Underinsurance is the easiest way for them to not pay up as they say you failed to inform them properly – conversely do not overvalue, they will see that as fraud. No matter whether they use cute bunnies, lovely heart-shaped images and smiling, happy people to advertise their business, insurance companies are not there to make sure you are satisfied and not out of pocket by adversity. They are in business to make money and they do it best by paying out as little as possible to you, the customer.
One thing a lot of people don’t realise is that insurance companies have very specific target markets. Following constant in-depth analysis by adjusters (serious egg heads), they target specific segments of the market (e.g. male, 25, lives in XYZ, etc.). If you were suitable insurance fodder to them last year you might be exactly what they don’t want this year. They harp on about brand loyalty but this is simply marketing jargon. This targeting explains why some companies you go to for a quote offer ridiculous premiums they know you won’t accept. Most of you will have seen this evidence yourselves, even with your ‘favourite’ insurance company. The lesson to be gleaned from this is to hunt around for your insurance every time it’s due for renewal, you can save literally hundreds of pounds by a simple phone call. My 20-minute exercise for my car insurance saved my just shy of £100 – that is an excellent hourly rate of £300/hour. Tell me it isn’t worth it.
Zombie books by David K Roberts:
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle
The Common Cold: A Zombie Chronicle – Cabin Fever (Sequel)
Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle
Return Of A King: A Zombie Chronicle – Z Factor