I’ve just had a claim with Churchill home insurance in relation to a damaged kitchen floor and am wondering if anyone can help with two questions I have:
Is there a minimum standard an insurance company’s claims service must meet? My experience to date with Churchill has been that it takes a minimum of thirty minutes waiting before a call is answered on the claims line. Churchill did not answer letters or faxes in weeks. When I finally got through to speak to someone I was told that some customers have been waiting up to eighty (80) minutes to speak to the claims department this winter. My letters - including a formal complaint - had been scanned onto their system, but they’d just not had time to deal with them. Churchill’s Facebook page is littered with customers having similar experiences.
Am I entitled to see a breakdown of Churchill’s contractor’s costs if they use their own contractor to provide an equivalent replacement? On two occasions Churchill refused to provide a breakdown of those costs and only in the reply to my formal complaint was any sort of breakdown given. However, this provided insufficient detail for me to be happy the replacement would be of the same quality as the original.
I became so fed up with the whole process that I eventually took a cash settlement after Churchill improved their offer, but I’m wondering if I should approach the Ombudsman. Any advice gratefully received.
For amusement here’s a summary of my claim experience which I forwarded to Churchill’s marketing department for use in their next campaign. It might be funnier if it weren’t true.
Why won’t you talk to me, Churchill? On 28th November I made my first home insurance claim in twenty years and I can’t understand why you don't you pick up the phone. I thought you were a trusty dependable Bulldog, but why don't you get back to me when I write you a letter or send you a fax?
Only when I called on 7th March about a policy renewal did you actually acknowledge my complaint. My letters had been scanned into your system, but you just hadn’t had time to do anything about them.
You told me this winter it had not been unusual for customers to wait thirty-plus minutes to speak to you. It seems that some of your valued customers are waiting up to eighty minutes to get through. I bet that 0845 number at 4p a minute is turning into quite a money-spinner.
And when I finally got through to discuss my claim, why do you keep saying "no"?
Some years ago John Lewis fitted a new kitchen for us and also fitted a quality vinyl floor .... "oh yes"
But, sadly last year a small leak damaged the floor and now the vinyl has to be replaced .... "oh yes"
I've shown your loss adjustor the original receipt from John Lewis, so you know what I paid .... "oh yes"
John Lewis have quoted like for like to replace the flooring, so please can they do the work? .... "oh no"
You're saying you have a contractor who can fit equivalent flooring ... "oh yes"
The total amount he is quoting is within a few pounds of the John Lewis quote ... "oh yes"
You tell me your contractor gives you a 32% discount and still manages to make a profit ... "oh yes"
Can you send me a written breakdown of his costs, so I can compare quotes? ... "oh no"
Is it possible to get a cash settlement, so John Lewis can do the work? ... "oh yes"
But, you'll only pay their quote less 32%, so it matches your contractor's discount? ... "oh yes"
Perhaps your contractor could source exactly the same flooring as John Lewis? ... "oh no"
So, can your contractor really provide an equivalent to the original John Lewis flooring? .... "oh yes"
But, I know nothing about your contractor and they don't have a retail outlet near me .... "oh yes"
How do I know where they source their flooring? I'd be in a right mess if it came from Cheap-as-Chips Flooring Supplies ... "oh yes"
I'm worried that your contractor might use Bodge-it & Scarper to fit the new flooring. Do you understand my concern? .... "oh yes"
Great, so you will after all pay the full cost for John Lewis to supply and fit the new floor? ... "oh no"
So, can I really trust you to fit a new kitchen floor of equivalent quality to the original? ... "oh ....... "