ASK TONY: Why did my car insurer slam the brakes on paying back my £250 excess?


My car was hit by a lorry last July while it was parked outside my flat. Someone saw the incident and took pictures. 

My insurer, Co-op Insurance, took the case forward. My car was picked up and repairs were carried out on the instructions of the solicitor who became involved.

I was asked for a £250 excess and paid it, thinking it was part of the bill for the car repairs and that I would get it back later. 

A reader was left £250 out of pocket after his insurer refused to hand back excess payment after his parked car was hit by a lorry

A reader was left £250 out of pocket after his insurer refused to hand back excess payment after his parked car was hit by a lorry

The solicitor asked if there were any expenses, such as loss of work or injury, and I replied there were not.

In April I was told that everything was sorted out, so asked about the return of my excess payment.

I was told I would not receive this because I had not put it on the solicitor’s claims form.

C. P., Essex.

This strikes me as a case of too many cooks being involved — and it shows how complex insurance claims can be.

You are correct in that you only have to pay the excess if you make a claim on your own policy. As this claim was against the third party’s policy, Co-op should have recouped the excess from their insurer.

You paid a £250 excess to the garage and were then provided with an emailed note by a Co-op claims advisor. This note was intended to be passed to the third party insurer so the excess could be reclaimed from them.

So when the solicitor asked about any expenses, this should have been included — though I’m surprised you were not directly asked about an excess by the solicitor.

A spokesperson for Co-op says: ‘We have investigated Mr P’s concerns to understand why he did not receive the £250 excess. This was due to an isolated administration error, for which we are sorry.

‘We have been in touch with Mr P and reimbursed the £250 with an additional £50 to apologise for this isolated error.’

You have YOUR say 

Every week Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails about our stories. Here are some about families struggling to move up the property ladder who swap houses with parents looking to downsize.

My dad wants me to sell my house and move into his. My partner and I will then buy him somewhere to downsize. He wants to help me avoid paying too much inheritance tax.

D. P., Devon.

Our parents bought us our house and we just pay the mortgage on it. It’s basically my share of the inheritance anyway and there is paperwork to show it.

W. B., Manchester.

Stamp duty is a farce and it’s a major contributor to the stagnating property market. People simply can’t afford it on top of the sky-high property prices you have to pay now.

J. M., London.

I had to pay stamp duty again when I bought out my brother on a jointly-owned property just two years after we purchased it.

R. R., Reading, Berks.

Once upon a time, it was not possible to obtain a mortgage offer at more than three times a person’s salary. It helped keep house prices in line with general inflation. But banks and building societies have put an end to that.

J. P., Exeter, Devon.

I’ve never understood inheritance tax. It’s a scandal. Parents work hard their whole lives, pay their taxes and then have to pay more from beyond the grave.

A. S., London.

The housing market in London is broken. A couple working full time and with a budget of £600,000 should be able to afford to move from a small, former local authority flat.

N. R., Yarm, Yorkshire.

We have been dual-fuel customers of E.ON for years. The account is in my name but we want to change it to my wife’s, as I am not in the best of health.

Last summer, we renewed with E.ON via a comparison site, which we thought would allow us to put the bills into my wife’s name. Instead, they kept coming in my name.

After perhaps 15 phone calls, E.ON admitted the mistake and gave us two £50 refunds as goodwill gestures. 

Now it has told us that the only way to make this change is to cancel the contract and pay a penalty fee, then for my wife to apply for a new contract in her name.

R. C., Somerset

I want to draw you a picture. I am sitting at my desk with my head in my hands and my jaw agape. 

How utterly daft! Who would have thought it could be so difficult to swap the name on an energy contract, especially when it’s from husband to wife? You have to suspect that the problem is that the computer system says NO!

It’s particularly galling because you thought you had already changed the contract holder to your wife, yet something — most likely a binary-digitised brain — thought it knew better and over-wrote it with your name.

E.ON has now recommended that it make the change in July when your fixed term tariff ends. In the meantime, you have given authority to E.ON to discuss the account with your wife.

Straight to the point 

I have savings invested in the Woodford Equity Income fund. Am I protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) against any losses?

R. G., by email

You are only protected by the FSCS if the regulated firm, in this case Woodford Investment Management, has gone bust without giving you your money back. 

You cannot claim under the scheme for the poor performance of your investment. 

For firms that fail after April 1, you can claim up to £85,000 per person, per firm.

*** 

I paid £465 for three rooms at the Exeter Premier Inn for my niece’s wedding. 

But when I called my sister, she told me the wedding date was actually next year. 

I suffer memory loss and now my grown-up son and daughter have lost money because of me — it’s making me ill with worry.

L. S., Essex

These rooms were non-refundable but Premier Inn has agreed to make an exception given your circumstances. It has now reimbursed the full cost.

*** 

EDF Energy installed my smart meter in April, but the screen won’t display my gas usage. I’ve called the provider nine times and sent emails to no avail.

P. H., Preston, Lancashire.

When you first contacted EDF, the firm thought it was just taking a while for its system to update. 

It later realised the problem was caused by an IT error, which it should have identified. 

After I contacted EDF, its customer service team contacted you to apologise and resolved the issue over the phone.

It has also credited your account with £100 as a goodwill gesture.

*** 

I receive Marriage Allowance, but my wife and I have just learned there is also a benefit called Married Couples Allowance. Can I claim both?

E. D.,Gosport.

No, you can claim only one of the perks. Both allowances help married couples to reduce the amount of tax they have to pay.

To be eligible for Married Couples Allowance, one or both of you must have been born before April 6, 1935. 

If you qualify, you may be better off claiming this benefit instead. For help switching, call HMRC on 0300 200 3300.

I moved in with my partner in 2016. He is a digger driver, earning between £14,000 and £20,000 per year, and renting a bungalow for £500 a month.

While going through his bank statements to help him become a bit more organised, I found he was paying £324 a year for a NatWest Black account. 

But this should be available only to Premier customers with an income of at least £100,000 , a mortgage of at least £500,000 or £100,000 in NatWest investments.

Apparently, NatWest had sent a letter saying it was migrating him to this account in December 2011. 

But he was, at the time, looking after his mum, who was dying. We have taken this case to the Financial Ombudsman without success.

A. B., by email

While I have sympathy for your complaint, there are a number of reasons why it won’t succeed.

The first is that you were out of time for a complaint to the Ombudman. In general, you have six years from the time of the incident to make a complaint; alternatively, you have three years from when you could reasonably have become aware of the problem.

NatWest tell me that your partner held fee-paying accounts with them for more than 15 years and did then meet the criteria for these accounts.

It is difficult to argue that he was not aware of the accounts, because he used the car breakdown cover element in 2010 and another benefit, phone insurance, in 2014. You have cancelled the Black Account, and I suggest you put this behind you.

 



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