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    • Hi @BankFodder
      Sorry for only updating you now, but after your guidance with submitting the claim it was pretty straight forward and I didn't want to unnecessarily waste your time. Especially with this guide you wrote here, so many thanks for that
      So I issued the claim on day 15 and they requested more time to respond.
      They took until the last day to respond and denied the claim, unsurprisingly saying my contract was with Packlink and not with them.
       
      I opted for mediation, and it played out very similarly to other people's experiences.
       
      In the first call I outlined my case, and I referred to the Contracts (Rights of Third Parties) Act 1999 as the reason to why I do in fact have a contract with them. 
       
      In the second call the mediator came back with an offer of the full amount of the phone and postage £146.93, but not the court costs. I said I was not willing to accept this and the mediator came across as a bit irritated that I would not accept this and said I should be flexible. I insisted that the law was on my side and I was willing to take them to court. The mediator went back to Hermes with what I said.
       
      In the third call the mediator said that they would offer the full amount. However, he said that Hermes still thought that I should have taken the case against Packlink instead, and that they would try to recover the court costs themselves from Packlink.
       
      To be fair to them, if Packlink wasn't based in Spain I would've made the claim against them instead. But since they are overseas and the law lets me take action against Hermes directly, it's the best way of trying to recover the money.
       
      So this is a great win. Thank you so much for your help and all of the resources available on this site. It has helped me so much especially as someone who does not know anything about making money claims.
       
      Many thanks, stay safe and have a good Christmas!
       
       
        • Thanks
    • Hermes and mediation hints. https://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/topic/428981-hermes-and-mediation-hints/&do=findComment&comment=5080003
      • 1 reply
    • Natwest Bank Transfer Fraud Call HMRC Please help. https://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/topic/428951-natwest-bank-transfer-fraud-call-hmrc-please-help/&do=findComment&comment=5079786
      • 31 replies
    • Hermes lost parcel.. Read more at https://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/topic/422615-hermes-lost-parcel/
      • 49 replies

Churchill home insurance woes ***Resolved***


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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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 ....... "

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There are generally no minimum standards for claims - they should be dealt with in a timely fashion - but the weather this winter has been severe which has stretched most insurers significantly. Complaints should be acknowledged within 5 working days, and a response should be provided within 40 working days.

 

In terms of a breakdown of costs, it is commercially sensitive (as there will be an agreed schedule of rates with the contractors, forming part of a confidential commercial contract - in most cases they are not permitted to release this information to third parties) - what most insurers will (and should) provide is the scope of repairs which will show exactly what work they are carrying out. If they say they are replacing with an equivalent quality flooring, then this is what they will do.

 

If the insurer carries out the work, then you have the protection of the ombudsman if anything goes wrong

 

It may be worth making a complaint (have they responded to your previous complaint?) and I would anticipate them offering £50-100 in compensation for the inconvenience of the delays.

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Many thanks for your response. My original complaint went unanswered for two weeks. Churchill did eventually answer my complaint and, as you suggested, £100 compensation was offered for the poor service and cost of phone calls. Also, they came down to deducting just 15% from the John Lewis quote without any real explanation. Initially I was told there would be a 32% deduction, my wife was told the same 32%, then 25% was mentioned and finally it came down to 15%, which all seems rather random. Churchill did play the "commercially sensitive" card to avoid giving the breakdown of the work proposed by their contractor, but since it's my house, IMHO, I think it's unreasonable for Churchill to withhold important information on what's going to be done. Although you say I have the protection of the Ombudsman if anything does go wrong, I'm thinking that if John Lewis refiitted the floor then they would be much easier to deal with than the Ombudsman plus Churchill if a problem arose.

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Commercially sensitive, as they may buy bulk numbers of hours from contractors to keep the price down. They should be able to confirm details of the scope of the works and what materials they will be using. When I say should, this would be a reasonable expectation, as this is the detail you would expect, when using your own contractors.

 

The 15% deduction I expect relates to the difference between John Lewis and the Insurers own contractors. Insurers contractors are willing to work for a cheaper rate and Insurers will expect discount on materials used.

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They should have been clear on anything which they have been deducted. Quite often, their contractors will charge a management fee (which is the charge to manage the claim - admin staff, etc) which can legitimately be deducted from the settlement. They may also have initially deducted VAT but then decided to pay it.

 

You are perfectly right in saying you are entitled to know what work they are doing in your house - however you are not entitled to know how much they will charge for that work - the reason is fairly straightforward. If (as an example) their contract with Churchill says they charge £20.50 for protecting a room, they don't want that getting back to XYZ insurance, who they charge £35 to.

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  • 2 months later...

Just to update this thread, I took the settlement from Churchill and paid for John Lewis to refit the floor. I then decided to to contact the Ombudsman to see if there were any guidelines or test cases to draw upon. IMHO, if an insurance company wants to use their own contractor to repair damage then they should be willing to supply - in reasonable time - a clear breakdown of the work to be done, so the customer can compare this with other quotes to feel happy the insurer's solution really is equivalent. If the insurer cannot respond to legitimate questions in a timely manner, or if it becomes clear the insurer's proposed solution is sub-standard then the customer should have the right to instruct his own contractor.

 

I completed the form sent by the Ombudsman and submitted a claim for the difference between what Churchill had paid me and what they would have had to pay if they'd approved John Lewis to do the work initially. Many weeks passed, but after the Ombudsman made contact with Churchill, the not-so-trusty Bulldog offered to settle my claim. I received a cheque this morning.

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Just to update this thread, I took the settlement from Churchill and paid for John Lewis to refit the floor. I then decided to to contact the Ombudsman to see if there were any guidelines or test cases to draw upon. IMHO, if an insurance company wants to use their own contractor to repair damage then they should be willing to supply - in reasonable time - a clear breakdown of the work to be done, so the customer can compare this with other quotes to feel happy the insurer's solution really is equivalent. If the insurer cannot respond to legitimate questions in a timely manner, or if it becomes clear the insurer's proposed solution is sub-standard then the customer should have the right to instruct his own contractor.

 

I completed the form sent by the Ombudsman and submitted a claim for the difference between what Churchill had paid me and what they would have had to pay if they'd approved John Lewis to do the work initially. Many weeks passed, but after the Ombudsman made contact with Churchill, the not-so-trusty Bulldog offered to settle my claim. I received a cheque this morning.

 

Yes good result and a sensible way to handle such situations. The Insurers do seem to rely on their customers either not knowing their rights or being too busy to argue.

We could do with some help from you.

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