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Pollyparrot - Halifax strikes again - Pet insurance


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Hello all,

I read the article in today's Daily Mail (who says it doesn't pay to be a Mail reader!?) and now expect a letter from Halifax/BDML will arrive next month. My wife and I have a Border Collie, 2 yrs 4 mths old, who at 8 months started having seizures. We have our insurance with Halifax, taken out in April 2010 and renewed last April and I made sure before I took out any cover, that it was continuation of condition cover (we also have an older Lab with arthritis and know how valuable continuation cover is). It is only for £1000pa and just about covers the cost of the epilepsy meds for the Border Collie. Given that his lifespan is going to be 14-16 years, we will have a potential bill of £12-14K coming over the years (at current medication costs) just for his epilepsy although that doesn't take into account 4 monthly blood tests which are currently three quarters paid for by one of the pharmaceutical companies as part of a trial so that bill will rise when the trial ends.

The article wasn't good reading but thankfully it seems, in the form of this website, that there is help out there and support from others in the same boat. Without the article in the Mail, we would have shrugged and probably taken out another policy elswhere at great cost while having to pay out for Max's epilepsy meds. To be honest, I only took out the policy for the public liability cover in case he was involved in an accident, as BCs are normally a hardy breed except the epilepsy.

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This is from another Halifax thread, if you would like to contact our admin with your details as below the address is..

 

[email protected] ( no spaces) :)

 

 

 

We think that you are being treated very unfairly - and more to the point we think that your insurer is acting in breach of contract.

 

There are already two people who are preparing to take a county court action against Halifax. If you would like to do the same, we would be very happy to help you.

 

I received your email message to our admin address and I responded. If you would like to let us have a phone number to our admin email address, we can chat with you about how we propose to go ahead

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Waiting to receive your email.

 

We are also interested in the 20% expenses excess. Have you been faced with this? Can you tell us when it was introduced into you policy - or was it always part of the contract?

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Please have a look at this letter which is being sent by one of the Halifax victims:-

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?336842-Halifax-Pet-Insurance&p=3710245&viewfull=1#post3710245

 

The letter sums up the basis of the legal situation. Take time to understand the issues which are being raised and the points which are being made. They aren't complicated.

 

You should consider sending a letter based upon this to your insurer and also make sure that you send a similar letter of complain to Trading Standards, the OFT and the FSA. These regulatory authorities will do very little about it (you may get an acknowledgement if you are lucky) but at leat you will get the complaint on file and it will add to pressure to the authorities to get up and do their job for once.

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Today I sent a letter to Halifax (BDML) to register a complaint after phoning them and they confirmed that after 5th April, I would be without insurance cover. They refused to give me an address for Halifax and told me that Halifax were not dealing directly with customers as BDML had been told to deal with complaints. The letter was sent Next Day and will be with them by 1300 tomorrow. I also sent off a complaint with a copy of the letter to the FSA. Somerset CC Trading Standards and the OFT were sent emails with the same complaint and both times I got the auto reply telling me that complaints should now go to Consumer Direct (it won't let me post the web address).

 

I also sent an enquiry to BBC 'Inside Out West' to see if they would have an interest and will post details if they take it up. Incidentally I believe all BBC regions have an 'Inside Out' programme so it might be worth everyone emailing and telling their region that other regions are affected and that BBC IOWest has been specifically informed as I've seen items on the programme before that have originally been national problems but tailored for the Westcountry.

 

Letter to Halifax/BDML............

Re: Pet insurance policy number HBOXXXXXXX/XXX

Dear Sir or Madam

 

Further to a telephone call of 6th February 2012, during which one of your customer service agents informed me that you are discontinuing the Halifax pet insurance policy as numbered above, I am writing this letter as my formal complaint and to inform you that I reject your discontinuation of this product.

 

Your conduct in abandoning the lifelong cover, which I have had with you for 2 years, is not only a breach of your FSA obligation to treat customers fairly but it is also a breach of contract. A contract into which I entered as the customer, in the belief that it would be honoured, as long as I met my obligations in terms of payment of premiums and medical history disclosure.

The terms in your contract that entitle you to terminate the policy are being operated contrary to the requirements of good faith and in a way that is detrimental to me, and are therefore invalid under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999.

 

 

Breach of Financial Services Authority Regulations

The FSA Handbook, which regulates your activities, contains as one of its binding principles, a rule that requires you, as a regulated firm, to treat your customers fairly and to have regard to them when making decisions. Not only is this a statutory duty, it is also implied in the insurance contract and forms one of the terms and conditions that exist between us.

 

Breach of Contract

At the outset of my lifetime care insurance policy with you, there was an implied term that you would provide cover for any conditions that came into existence after the initial commencement of the policy. As you fully realise, I will be unable to seek new cover with any other insurer for pre-existing conditions if you do not renew my policy.

 

You or your underwriters, for your own economic reasons, have made a unilateral decision to terminate your program of lifelong cover and this leaves me in a position where I am unable to insure my dog Max and am faced with the prospect of being unable to pay for medication required to control his epilepsy. This is despite the reasonable expectation that you created in me with your marketing of the product and which persuaded me to enter into a contract with you.

 

Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999

The UTCCR state that when there is a non-negotiated standard-form contract, and a term in that contract is operated contrary to the requirements of good faith to the detriment of the consumer, then that term is unenforceable.

 

For the reasons above I reject your termination of the insurance cover and I am writing to inform you that I am fully prepared to continue the insurance cover on the same terms as before.

 

I should point out to you that I am not the slightest bit interested in the fact that your underwriters may have changed their minds about providing the insurance policy as that is your issue. My concern is merely with your contractual obligations towards me.

 

I require an immediate response to this letter and although I am fully aware that there are many thousands of your customers who are facing exactly the same kind of injustice at your hands, I am not prepared to wait months for a reply. You should understand that if you have not provided a satisfactory response within the next 7 days I will be forced to commence legal proceedings via the County Court either to enforce your contractual obligations or to seek compensation to provide for lifetime care for my dog.

Any advice you may make regarding an approach to the Financial Services Ombudsman will not suffice in this case. Taking my case to the County Court is the primary course of action open to me and I advise you to forward this letter to your legal representatives if you are not prepared to meet my requests.

 

Finally, please understand that I consider there to be a public interest in this issue and I hereby give notice that should this matter not be concluded to my complete satisfaction, I will not be involved in any duty of confidentiality towards you, nor will I become involved in any “without prejudice” discussions on this matter.

You should also be aware that I am sending copies of this letter as part of a complaint to Trading Standards, the Office of Fair Trading and the Financial Services Authority.

In the event that I do not hear from you within the specified 7 days from receipt of this letter, copies will also be forwarded to various newspaper consumer pages, both local and national, and also to the editor of BBC Watchdog.

 

Yours faithfully,

 

 

 

 

Next stop will be the Halifax directly once I've done some digging on the person in the hot seat.

Incidentally, I found this on the Halifax's own website, it's laughable! "Halifax is withdrawing from the pet insurance market and therefore Halifax Pet Insurance will no longer be available to new customers. Halifax has not taken this decision lightly and a lot of consideration has been given to how this can be done with as little impact to customers as possible.

Edited by pollyparrot.1
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Well done but let me say that Halifax are the responsible party here. You entered into the contract with you and it is they who must be held to account. They will do what they can to dodge responsibility but if it comes to court action it is they who will be the defendant in the action.

By persuading you to complain to another party they have already scored a point in the game of piggy in the middle - in which the customer plays the part of the piggy

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I am well aware that the Halifax is the responsible party but as yet I have no address for the 'man at the top' so as a first salvo I sent BDML a registered letter. If I have no response by next Tuesday, letter number two will go to the Halifax and I will start preparing my case against them.

Incidentally, after getting auto replies from the OFT and TS telling me to ring Consumer Direct or fill in one of their on line forms, I filled in a form and their system wouldn't let me send it. I phoned and spoke to them to be told that they can only offer advice if I want it and that they could give me the FOS number:-x, but they appear to be another taxpayer funded job creation scheme, so no joy there.

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Consumer Direct apparently gave another complainant about pet insurance the advice that the insurers were within their rights and nothing could be done.

 

Let's face it, Consumer Direct and Consumer Focus are being disbanded soon - and who will notice the difference.

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That's interesting, they didn't feel the need to tell me. It begs the question why Halifax apparently settled with Mikbandit? Unless there was more to his story than just them not renewing.

 

'Dogs Today' magazine is planning an article soon, I'll post here whe I find out it's being published.

 

Edit - my wife has just told me that she's received an email from another insurer with a quote (not covering the existing illness) and it's coming out at £22 per month. As I said the other day Bankfodder, other insurers will now load the premium regardless of the fact that Max's epilepsy will be excluded. It's what they do. You asked how I knew that and there's the proof as thats an increase from now of about 125%.

Edited by pollyparrot.1
New insurance quote through
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  • 4 weeks later...
That's interesting, they didn't feel the need to tell me. It begs the question why Halifax apparently settled with Mikbandit? Unless there was more to his story than just them not renewing.

 

'Dogs Today' magazine is planning an article soon, I'll post here whe I find out it's being published.

 

Edit - my wife has just told me that she's received an email from another insurer with a quote (not covering the existing illness) and it's coming out at £22 per month. As I said the other day Bankfodder, other insurers will now load the premium regardless of the fact that Max's epilepsy will be excluded. It's what they do. You asked how I knew that and there's the proof as thats an increase from now of about 125%.

 

Hi pollyparrot. My case was dead straightforward. a massive breach of trust just like everyone on here who was misled. I was one of the first affected in sept and went in like a ton of bricks armed with archived internet screenshots of thie lifetime promise. i called to see the directors of bdml, and lobied hard. i am not entirely happy with my settlement, but on balance felt at the time it was the best i would get, as the story had only just broken. in fact the lloyds policies were still being sold then, and the complaints manager would not confirm or deny the situation regarding the lloyds policies. although here stance made it obvious.

the complaints dept in newport seem to be make ex gratia offers quite erratically. some people get, whilst others don't.

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