Blog: I believe in fairies but not insurance


When Post editor Stephanie Denton had her first experience of making a claim, her faith in the insurance industry was left more than a little shaky...


I believe in fairies. I do I do and I'm not ashamed to admit it. I cringe a little inside when someone says they don't because I know what that means and I clap every time to save Tinkerbell when she falls down.

I also want to believe in insurance - but I'm not sure I can. As editor of this mighty insurance journal I hear from the industry every day about how hard it works and how much it does, its empathy with customers, its speed when rectifying problems and the importance of doing repairs right. I see some evidence of this in award entries, I curse fraudsters taking money out of policyholders' pockets and in the past I have extolled its virtues even to national media journalists.

But this week I became a customer. I've always bought insurance like a good girl. My car is insured, my buildings and contents are insured, my health is insured and my life, and even my trailer tent (don't ask). So I've had that annual touch point with the industry where we play cat and mouse and I tell you I've had a better deal elsewhere - scanning the small print as best I can in case anything jumps out - and either you improve my quote or I buy a 'new' policy with you through the internet to get the same price I pay already because I'm a new customer.

But this week I mean I really became a customer as I had a claim. Oh yes, I saw your shop window - and to be honest it was a disappointment.

I had an escape of water. Not a personal one you understand, but in my house. It seems it's been going on for a while as the underneath of my kitchen floor is soaking wet and starting to mould. So I called a handyman who had a look, stopped the leak and recommended I call my insurer as I might be covered. I checked, and his day job is not being a broker - but you owe him one.

So I did. Working with the industry as I do I expected mentions of dehumidifiers and the importance of stopping the mould and quite a lot of empathy - it's not nice finding water and mould in the place where we eat our breakfast and dinner.

What I got, however, was a different story. Once past the fraud messages and identification verification I encountered the problem of not knowing the date my claim started. I do not know when the escape of water began, or I would have stopped it before it ruined my floor. So after being asked a few times I simply made up a date. I'm pretty sure you can strike out my claim for that but my back was against a wall and she said: "I just need a date for the system".

Then it was highlighted to me that I might not want to claim, three times. Did I know this might affect my no claims bonus? Did I know I have to pay an excess of £350 as its escape of water? Did I know my premium might go up after this claim?

Now I don't know how much it costs to dry out and replace a floor so I admit to hesitating at the excess. So the helpful claims handler said she'd check for me, put me on hold and came back with the price of around £60 to replace the lino in the kitchen - but no mention of drying out and mould.

I love my little house and would like a proper job done and to be reassured there will be no more mould, so having paid my premiums for the last 10 years I thought I'd crack on - although I'm still to be told if I am covered or not.

My details were then passed to an independent floor specialist who would call me within 48 hours. A text from the insurer confirmed this and from the top five insurer that was that.

Within six hours I received the call. ‘Ah, this is looking up - here we go,' I thought - but it was just to book an appointment and leave a reminder that it would be better if the decision-maker was present so they can make a decision about the replacement floor and pay the excess by credit card.

I gently reminded about the mould and questioned if dehumidifiers would be installed at this point, only to be told this chap would just be writing a report and then a decision would be made.

Fair enough, I thought, but when is the soonest appointment I can have - my kitchen is moulding you know? Well that would be in 10 days' time madam - hardly a rush then.

So my first experience as an insurance customer has seen no empathy, a definite lack of speed and quite a bit of encouragement not to be a customer at all.

I believe in fairies but I'm yet to believe in insurance.

Click here to read the next installement Blog: Supply chain? More like supply jigsaw

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