Cash insurance settlements – could this be the next mis-selling scandal?

A disaster waiting to happen

Last week, a colleague had a conversation with an insurance company’s so-called “Approved Repairer”, concerning a claim they had prepared a cost for, which based on insurers rates for the reinstatement work, we considered to be woefully low. As a company that works for the policyholder, we were concerned the works could not be completed at the price quoted, and that the policyholder would be left with either sub-standard workmanship or having to fund part of the reinstatement work themselves.

The response we got from the builder to our question over their quote was “Yes we will do the works at the price quoted, as we have a contract with insurers to carry out the works at the rates they provide. WE WILL HOWEVER LOSE MONEY ON THIS CASE”.

Alarm bells began to ring in my ears at hearing this! Essentially, the contractor was saying that he does the smaller claims at a loss and offsets this against the money he makes on the bigger claims, and relies on volume of work provided to make any profit.

Now, as a building company authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority to carry out Claims Mediation, we decided to look in to this practice in further depth to establish how it will affect the policyholder.

The problem for the policyholder starts with the wording applicable, and how insurers propose to settle the claim, and in particular if they propose a Cash Settlement. The particular policy wording in this particular case stated that if a cash settlement was proposed then insurers would limit their liability to the sum that their “approved repairer” would carry out the works for, which in this case we know was not sufficient to complete the reinstatement to a reasonable quality.

So it appears that we have just opened a big can of worms. It seems that Insurance companies are offering cash settlements to policyholders knowing full well the reinstatement works cannot be carries out at the figures quoted!!

In our view, this practice is not ethical or moral, and would strongly recommend that policyholders NEVER accept a cash settlement from their insurers based on their “approved repairer’s quote”.

We also recommend that you should NEVER ACCEPT the “approved repairer’s” quote without getting your own independent survey and reinstatement quote to compare it with.

If you have had a claim, or indeed you are in the middle of a claim, and you are uncomfortable with how it was settled please call us and we will be happy to discuss it with you and advise you.

Could this “miss-settling of claims” be the next PPI scandal?

Good claims handling is not settling claims as cheaply as possible. It is dealing with a claim within the policy wording, fairly and swiftly. You never know, if claims were dealt with fairly and swiftly policyholders may even renew!

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Suite 220, SK House, Vansittart Estate, Windsor, Berkshire, SL4 1SE.

Jane Smith

Regional Director at Thames Valley Office

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