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Help with an insurance claim - Direct Line

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On Friday 3 July, my husband (insured to drive my car) was involved in an accident which was not his fault and this has subsequently meant the writing off of my car. The early days of the claim seemed quite straight forward, if a bit slow. On the following Tuesday I received a courtesy car for use until the 21st of July. It has taken until the 14th for the engineer to assess my car. We arrived at the settlement fee of £900 on the 14th and he (a chap by the name of Robert) said he would sign off the claim. He made no mention of anything unusual about the car. He did mention that the fact it had a radio had added £100 on to my claim. All is well so far.

 

Today I had a call from Direct Line company to say that in fact Robert had alerted them to the fact that I had non-standard alloys on the car, a fact that I was completely unaware of – it was a standard looking car with standard looking wheels so there was no reason to believe the alloys were non-standard. It was bought second hand from a private seller and no mention was made of the alloys at that time. I have had 6 new tires while I have had the car, all professionally fitted and no one has mentioned any non-standard nature of the alloys. However, evidently, they are worth £700. So now Direct Line are trying to get me to back pay roughly £350 in extra premiums based on alloys I never knew I had, as well as a £250 excess. I can almost understand this, and I mean almost as I believe the valuation is severely flawed and I have no evidence that such alloys were ever on my car and that they have a market value that high – it is with the garage 45 minutes drive away so I am not in a position to go check for myself that the alloys actually exist.

 

So let’s go back to the valuation of the car itself:

Radio - £100

Alloys - £700

 

That leaves my actual car valued at £100. It has gone from a reasonable £900 to £100 in 24 hours – let me repeat here that Robert made no mention of these special alloys. If he had, of course we would have asked him why the value of these alloys were not included in his offer, making an offer of £1600.

 

It seems to me that the logical thing to do here is to take the value of the car (the original £900 + £700 for the alloys) £1600 and subtract what DL want which is £600 for back payments and excess leaving me with the new claim of £1000.

 

What they are saying as they will do asolutely nothing with the claim (bearing in mind that I only have the courtesy car until next Tuesday) until I fork over the £350 for under paid premiums. Without a car, I am in danger of losing my job.

 

Any ideas?

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I agree with you if DL are saying that the alloy wheels are worth £700 and are asking you for back payment of premiums to reflect this then they have backed themselves into a corner and then must add £700 to the book value. They can't have it both ways (which is what it sounds like they are trying to do)

 

I'd argue it out with them and state that you were unaware they were non standard alloy wheels and ask them for a valuation based on a normal everyday BMW that didn't have special alloys

 

Mossy

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Thanks, it is actually a Citroen estate but that doesn't matter much. I did try to argue the point that I was planning on buying a new car in September using the scrappage allowance so the car should in actuality (allows not withstanding) be worth £2000. They clearly are intent on giving me nothing.

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Apologies, I don't know why I wrote BMW earlier.

 

Don't try and use the scrappage allowance as an argument for how much your vehicle is worth, it is only worth £2000 under that scheme because it is Government financed and doesn't make every car in the country worth a mimimum of £2000.

 

Let us know how you get on with DL

 

Mossy

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Typical of DL. They never learn. Mossy's advice, as usual is sound, though I would just go to the FOS who will, I suspect, uphold your compaint.

 

That's the only language DL understand. As the value involved in the complaint (£700) is more than the fee they will pay to the FOS for he complaint being made, DL themselves will probably not uphold your complaint. Their main basis for agreeing with complaints used to be the cost and not how justifiable the complaint is. I suspect that is still the case.


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Thanks for the replies. Strangely, or actually not so strangely, Robert who both made us the original offer of £900 which both parties accepted on the phone but who also reported these amazing alloys, is now not returning his calls.

 

One question, is the onus on DL to prove 1. these alloys are actually on the car and 2. they are worth what they say? I have no record in the very detailed service history from the chap I bought it off nor do I have any pictures etc to prove they exist. Surely, if they can make claims like this, they could also claim that other expensive modifications were present on any car under dispute.

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I agree with you if DL are saying that the alloy wheels are worth £700 and are asking you for back payment of premiums to reflect this then they have backed themselves into a corner and then must add £700 to the book value. They can't have it both ways (which is what it sounds like they are trying to do)

 

unfortunately this is what DL do,they charge extra for mods but do not take them into account if the car is a TL etc.

 

argue this out that you were unaware of these non std alloys etc

 

Are they trying to charge you from renewal or when the policy started?

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They are trying to charge me from when I bought the car. They asked me on the phone, after the £900 had been agreed, when I put the alloys on. I said January, mistakenly thinking she meant the tires. I now wish I had stuck to Jan (even though they were on the car when i bought i) as I would have only had to pay extra premiums on those few months instead of 3 years.

 

Any idea about the proof issue ie how can they prove I actually have such alloys on my car and the actual value of them?

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internally DL have some wranglings between the underwriters & the legal team, in that the legal team are saying that as these are only yearly contracts we can only charge from the last renewal as whats gone has gone etc,the u/w`s however say different and this is still being argued out.

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Vusys1, that is a very interesting point. The renewal was in April. So what you are saying is that if the legal team had their way, I'd only pay that extra premium on the past 3 months. So how would I go about arguing this point with them. Talking with them today, they are standing firm that the car is only worth £900 and until I cough up my £350 in back payments, no money will be released. How do I get hold of the legal team to argue the point?

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from what i know the FOS is also out on this and sometimes go 50/50,i.e policyholder has to pay half. an example i had to deal with was an issue with points on a licence,where the guy sent it in,but the conviction was over 5 years,however the company still backdated the premiums to when he took the policy out as they still should have been disclosed,our beef was that he did not have to declare them and now that they are spent how could we take them into account, the legal team came down on our side,the u/w`s didnt the complaints dept said we wouldnt have a leg to stand on if the guy took this further,but unless you know you believe all the company tell you,think he had to pay nearly 1k in back premiums.

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Right, the FOS are going to help us. Not on the basis of the alloys but on the basis that the valuation of the car is too low. I am also going to bring up with them the last point from vusys1 about renewal vs the start of the policy as I think it is a valid point.

 

I finally talked to Robert who said he maintains his position on the matter - the alloys add desirability but not value - that has me boggled. And I pay for that desirability but get no compensation for it at the other end. FOS have recommended that I phone the manufacture to find out what the standard alloys are. I've also asked Robert for some proof ie photos of the offending alloys as I still feel the onus is on them to prove that they exist.

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When I worked there, a lot of staff looked at the overall situation. If the premiums were high and there were few claims and premiums paid on time, then it was just the last three months that were charged, otherwise it would be the full year. I kid you not.

 

I only ever charged three months if it was a renewal. I think there is a legal basis for charging the entire period, but I personally think it is a cheek if it has been renewed.

 

The "legal" team I believe is the best practice team, who frankly could not tell their a***s from their elbows. I had many a row with them and usually had to go to senior underwriters (as the general underwriters weren't even CII qualified) to get the most basic things done.

 

I would not bother arguing with them. Leave it to the FOS to sort out - DL can answer to them.

 

BTW, do you have Robert's last name? PM me if you do - I'm intrigued if it is the same Robert I am thinking of.


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gyzmo, I can't find out how to PM you. His last name starts with a B and ends with a M and sounds vaguely like a famous footballer named David. You information is great - I'm going to talk to the FOS about it. If I can get the underpayments reduced to paying from April I will be very happy. Needless to say, DL will not be insuring my next car! Do you know of any better companies!?

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Not the one I was thinking of.

 

Better insurers? Can't mention any.

 

NFU get consistently good ratings for customer services, but I do not know of their policy cover. Axa, Zurich and the likes usually put their staff through CII training, so they at least should have a decent understanding of insurance principles. With most companies, it generally is a case of the staff you get to speak to.

.

I hope people realise that insurers are not all the same, and neither are policies.


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