This might be unfair, but there’s a bit of me that doesn’t trust insurance companies. I’ve heard a million stories about people who lose everything, and the insurance company doesn’t pay out because of a cheeky technically, so I never feel 100% confident with any policy I take out.
That said, I always get travel insurance. And as I’m sure you can imagine, me being me, I like to spend a bit (ahem – a lot) of time looking at the terms and conditions to make sure i’ll be covered. I rarely get the cheapest cover, and make sure I get the least amount of excess as possible, because who is going to claim on their insurance for £120 sunglasses if they have to pay out £100 to get them?
We got robbed in Las Vegas (but phew, was insured – right?)
For the New Year I took my sister to Vegas to celebrate my birthday (baller eh?!), used a comparison site to pick a policy. I chose a small insurance company that was in the same family of a giant one. I got cover the day I booked the flights (very important! Don’t wait until a day or so before you leave) and stuck my sister on the policy too.
The holiday was going well until New Year’s Eve when my sister had her expensive wallet stolen, with a load of her money in it. After a lot of swearing and us trying to hunt down the thieves (as if we were Sherlock and Holmes!), we decided we were just going to report it to the police – after all, the insurance company will have it covered – and then get on with the holiday. There’s no point crying over spilt milk right?
You CAN’T go to a police station on the Vegas strip
So we go to a bar, order a Corona to calm down and start Googling where the police station is. There wasn’t one. We got over a security guard who explained that it doesn’t work like that in Vegas. You call up the police on the hotel phone, and they’ll deal with it like that.
It’s like that in super touristy places where crime of that nature is really high – such as Barcelona and places in India. The police don’t have the capability to deal with the crimes face-to-face, so you need to do it over the phone and electronically.
So fine. We didn’t really feel the need to speak to someone in the station and knew we would need a police report to claim on the insurance.
I was on the phone with the police for a good half hour or so and was told to officially make a report online. They’ll then look into it and email us the official report. Went back to the hotel room, filled out the report – went out. All good.
The insurance company wanted a physical report, not an online one – so wouldn’t pay out
So back in London, I get a phone call from my sister in tears. After days of long forms, phone calls and interviews with the insurance company – they told her they were not going to pay out. We’re talking £200ish. The reason – the police report needed to be in paper form, not an electronic email form.
To say I was angry was an understatement. It was a combo of my sister being upset and the insurance company being particularly weasely that made me hit the roof. I rarely lose my temper, but when I do – it’s a force to be reckoned with.
How I convinced the insurance to pay out and apologise
So me being me, I took to Twitter. Lot’s of people stuck up for me, and retweeted, and commented, saying the treatment of my sister, by the insurance company was disgusting.
And yeah, in the T&C’s there was a bit saying that you needed a physical police report – which hands up, I completely missed. But even if I hadn’t – I couldn’t have done anything about it. The reporting system in Vegas, and in many popular tourist destinations around the world is electronic now. Those T&Cs are utterly archaic.
I ended up on the phone (mad as hell, but polite because you don’t get anywhere shouting and being rude), explaining the above and threatened to go to the Ombudsmen and the papers. The complaints department quickly apologised, explained that they will re-look at the T&Cs in general and paid my sister the money that minute.
The £200 payout was really not worth the bad PR I could give them.
How you can argue get your failed claim overturned
It’s obviously easier for me. I have a big social media following, this blog and I write for the papers – so companies rarely want to mess with me – especially when they are very much in the wrong.
That said, if an insurance company turns your claim down, you need to tell them how unhappy you are first. I like to do everything in writing (or at the very least ask them to put what they said on the phone in writing for me), so I have proof of what has been said.
Don’t accept the first answer either. If they tell you no, tell them you’re not OK with that and want to speak to someone higher up. Be a pain!
If you’re still not happy you can complain to the Financial Ombudsmen completely free who will look into your complaint.
You know what, you can also go to the papers with your story with the hope it will shame them into acting appropriately. Companies do not want bad press, and need to be pushed sometimes to get the right answer. Don’t let them get away with cheeky decisions if you’re in the right!
Has an insurance company ever denied your claim? Name and shame in the comments!