In most cases you buy insurance for one reason only – to protect you from a huge bill if something goes wrong.
But it looks like the companies that provide cover are increasingly trying to weasel out of paying up, sometimes using the flimsiest excuses imaginable.
One tried tried to put sweeping exclusions on a policy because the customer’s dog once swallowed a conker.
In another case a firm voided a car insurance policy after an accident even though the driver PASSED a police breathalyser and wasn’t charged.
Perhaps worse of all, on company to put off a £30,000 payout for a serious injury abroad because it hoped there might be evidence he had been drinking but hadn’t found any yet.
Overall, complaints about insurance firms have soared by more than 60% in the past five years – new analysis from Which? reveals.
Between April 2018 and March 2019 some 25,122 travel, home and car insurance policyholders escalated a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman – and not without success. Almost one in three of the complaints were upheld.
Jenny Ross, Which? Money editor, said: “While it is encouraging that consumers feel empowered to challenge insurers, we have concerns that firms may not be handling claims fairly.
“When choosing an insurance firm it’s worth checking its record with the ombudsman to gauge how it treats customers – a firm with a high proportion of complaints upheld in favour of customers should be a red flag.”
Who people are complaining about most
Buildings insurance was the worst area for rising complaints, Which? found, with a 42% increase in the past year and more than one in three (35%) complaints found in favour of the customer.
Of firms, Which? found The National House-Building Council had the highest uphold rate of all insurers across all product types – with more than seven complaints in 10 ( 71%) found in favour of the customer.
More than a third of complaints about travel insurance were also upheld, with 34% found in favour of the policyholder by the Ombudsman.
Of the firms people complained about, Which? highlighted Allianz travel insurance where more than two in five (41%) complaints were upheld.
When it cam to car insurance, Great Lakes had the worst record for complaints being upheld at 42%, while overall 29% of car insurance complaints were resolved in favour of the motorist.
Which? Highlighted some of the more surprising or outrageous cases it had seen during its research.
In one case, Red Sands insurance rejected a claim because the policyholder’s dog had once had diarrhoea, despite the fact the claim was for possible internal damage after the dog ate a lolly stick.
In another case Zenith car insurance voided a customer’s policy because they accidentally entered the date their daughter obtained her provisional license instead of the date she passed her driving test.
Meanwhile Axa declined a claim after they surgery abroad for a disc hernia, because the policy holder didn’t declare they’d bought over-the-counter medications for back pain and self-refer for physiotherapy.
But in each of these cases, the ombudsman found in favour of the consumer.
“While there are a number of other reasons why an insurer may decline a claim, it is worth going to the ombudsman, if the reason seems unfair or unclear, for a review of the case and to settle the dispute,” Which? said.