Esure and Cunningham Lindsey - absolutely awful! AVOID

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Insurance & Life Assurance
12 replies 4.7K views
BlueSmartieBlueSmartie Forumite
39 Posts
edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Insurance & Life Assurance
If anyone has just taken out insurance with Esure I suggest you exercise your right to cancel, and if their quote seems reasonable, do yourselves a favour and avoid them.

So frustrated dealing with this pair, Cunningham Lindsey are the worst company I've ever dealt with, I haven't trusted them since the start of the claim and something I've made clear to Esure. They don't seem to care and just give some faux concern, assurances and nothing improves.

House is about 11 years old and a couple of months ago had reason to make a claim due to blockages in main sewer pipe under the house as issue which had never ever been apparent started to develop. I was assured it was covered and I was dealing with a company to handle the complaint and inspections and camera survey was arranged where they told me the problem was very serious and would need a lot of work to put right, in their experience pointed to a collapse of the drains causing blockages and would only get worse as the pipe was almost totally full of waste water and solid matters (eugh I know but try living with the smell throughout the house). After this the structural engineers were appointed to find out the floor type and give instructions to the contractors exactly where to dig and to what depth. I was told at all times it was serious and progressing and was given assurances the work was due to start, and explained in great detail exactly what was the work involved and the repair process.

I only learned that after many weeks that Cunningham Lindsey are actually meant to be managing the claim, it's never felt like that. I have no respect and zero trust for them, they have lied, misinformed me, confused everyone, caused delays, fabricated information and never ever called me back when promised. I thought the other company was meant to be dealing with them but they tell me it's just as bad for them.

Basically after all this time and chasing for movement and a start date, they have repudiated the claim which is a fancy word for saying rejected, and have said it is an installation issue. After 11 years with absolutely no symptoms previously? Absolutely no way. And worst of all, not a single person from Cunningham Lindsey ever visited my property in the months the claim was going on despite promises and assurances, and me requesting repeatedly. I am of course disputing this, and giving them one final chance to deliver what was promised before taking this to the media if required, this is only the start.

I have comments on here, twitter and elsewhere on social media. Esure get very low reviews, but that's nothing compared to the slating they get on here and other forums. Seems they have been shockingly bad for many years and show no signs of improving. Avoid Esure or any other insurer who uses Cunningham Lindsey as a claims manager. You'll do all the phoning and chasing and they will make your life a misery.


  • dacouchdacouch Forumite
    21.6K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper
    If you want help, you'll need to give us more details, it would be easier for us to advise you if you remove the emotion and give us the facts.

    What reason are they denying the claim, is it due to faulty workmanship?

    Have you viewed their CCTV images and / or report or have you commissioned your own and is so what did they show?
  • edited 30 August 2016 at 7:15PM
    FutureGirlFutureGirl Forumite
    1.2K Posts
    Sixth Anniversary 1,000 Posts Combo Breaker
    edited 30 August 2016 at 7:15PM
    You'll find a lot of insurers use Cunningham Lindsey, not just Esure.

    If the drainage was installed incorrectly, it does take time for that to show. Just because it's installed wrong doesn't mean that a problem would present itself straight away. In what way was it incorrectly installed? The only thing I can think of is using incorrect joints, or installing it at the wrong gradient.
  • dacouch wrote: »
    If you want help, you'll need to give us more details, it would be easier for us to advise you if you remove the emotion and give us the facts.

    What reason are they denying the claim, is it due to faulty workmanship?

    Have you viewed their CCTV images and / or report or have you commissioned your own and is so what did they show?

    As I said, installation issue. I have deliberately kept it brief as it's an ongoing complaint and claim, and I'll go to court if I have to, it's the principle. I don't accept an installation issue would take 11 years to manifest.

    I've requested CCTV footage, but even when it's been done three times now it shows a pipe full of water, ie nothing. It's full of water for a full 9m.
  • FutureGirl wrote: »
    You'll find a lot of insurers use Cunningham Lindsey, not just Esure.

    If the drainage was installed incorrectly, it does take time for that to show. Just because it's installed wrong doesn't mean that a problem would present itself straight away. In what way was it incorrectly installed? The only thing I can think of is using incorrect joints, or installing it at the wrong gradient.

    That's the issue, they can't or won't provide any information on why they believe it's an installation issue, mainly because there is no evidence.
  • TSxTSx Forumite
    821 Posts
    Part of the Furniture 500 Posts Combo Breaker
    Your insurance policy will almost certainly be a perils-based policy rather than an all risks policy (correct me if I'm wrong and ignore the rest of this post!). What this means is that it covers a list of causes of damage (in insurance industry jargon, they're known as perils). For example, your policy will cover Fire, Theft, Flood etc.

    To be covered, the damage has to have been caused by one of these perils. If it isn't, then there is no cover.

    For drainage, the appropriate section of cover is the "Accidental Damage to Underground Services" section - and as the name suggests, there needs to be an element of accidental damage. This would normally be something like ground movement, or tree roots.

    If the problem is an inherent defect (commonly as above the gradient not being correct) then it is not covered under the policy. These issues take time to build up and 11 years for a defect to become apparent certainly isn't outside the realms of possibility.

    I mean this with the best intentions, but the insurer will have heard it all before in respect of going to the media, watchdog, taking it to court etc. They will (and should anyway) be reviewing their file to make sure they've made the correct decision, but threats like that won't scare them into covering a claim which isn't covered.

    It certainly sounds like the service element has been bad, and they should be responding to this. Your best course of action now is to make an official complaint to esure if you haven't already done so. They'll have 8 weeks from the date the complaint is made to investigate and issue a formal response to all your issues.

    If you are still unhappy after this, you can escalate to the ombudsman, for free. The Financial Ombudsman is an independent regulator - they assess claims based on fairness rather than legal merit (and as a result tend to be much more pro-consumer than the courts). If you are still not happy with the Ombudsmans decision, you can then take esure to court.

    If you do it the other way round (court first), you don't get a second chance with the ombudsman.

    Should their drainage experts be saying it is an installation fault, regardless of if you go down the court of financial ombudsman route, you'll almost certainly need to engage your own drainage company to provide an independent report to dispute the conclusions esure have come to.
  • I do appreciate the replies and I understand about the risks, damage etc and didn't rule out the ombudsman, it was my cynical mind predicting the outcome in advance, and ruling in the insurer's favour.

    I wouldn't mind if they had said at the start it wasn't covered (inspection and CCTV survey done the day I raised the claim over 8 weeks ago. They could have stopped the claim then. As I said though, I don't want to give too much specific details until after the complaint has run its course, but I know 100% the drain has never shown these symptoms before and never had the stench in all the time I've lived there even with more people living in the house for years.

    I appreciate it's not beyond the realms of possibility, but I've never been provided any written information, and one day last week I was told over the phone (confirmed recorded, copies requested) the work was definitely going ahead and due to start, and have other evidence too. Official complaints in place, follow up letters sent, etc. I even said to them they probably hear it all the time about the media etc but I'll go down that route if they don't deliver on their promise.
  • edited 28 September 2016 at 11:58AM
    BlueSmartieBlueSmartie Forumite
    39 Posts
    edited 28 September 2016 at 11:58AM
    They still cannot provide evidence, now asked 28 times for this! The complains process was a joke as expected, and the claims handler was just awful too. Lied to me on a number of occasions, and proof of this which I'm now following up.

  • have you not seen the CCTV ? or am i reading the previous posts wrong?
  • I've still not seen the CCTV footage, done twice now. Requested loads of times, first they said I wasn't allowed to see it, then said the file was corrupted (!?) and now just refusing to provide it again. The first one that was done at the start of July was mysteriously not provided by the contractor I am being told now, they don't know who the guy was, don't have any contact details for him or if he is even still trading. It's just mental.

    They also now get confused and can't maintain consistency between them if it's being classed as a "design" or "installation" issue. I've got the building warranty sign-offs from the coucil thanks to FOI and they show no issues whatsoever and signed off.

    It was requested officially as part of subject access request for which they have 7 days left. All breaches will be reported to ICO and I'm expecting there to be a lot.
  • edited 28 September 2016 at 7:51PM
    1.3K Posts
    edited 28 September 2016 at 7:51PM
    Just saw your thread about avoiding Cunningham Lindsey and came here to see more detail of your experience.

    I have been looking at the esure full Policy Wording and I can see it has been mucked about with by policy drafters perhaps filching some ideas from competitor products but perhaps with amateur intent to rein back on providing quite the peace of mind the customer thinks they are buying.

    I really do hope there are not too many other wordings out there as full of holes created by marketeers (who are not and never will be technical wordings specialists) mucking about, but I bet there are.

    Looking at specifics, I contend it does not matter with the esure wording whether you bought their wider Accidental Damage (AD) coverage or not. The cover for the specific problem you have looks to me to be there in every esure home buildings policy with or without the AD option, and it is this (specifically the extended cover I have bolded in black):
    Underground services
    What is covered?
    We will pay for the cost of repairing underground pipes, cables and septic tanks providing services to and from Your Home, which You are legally responsible for, and which break accidentally.
    We will also pay for the cost of breaking into and repairing any foul water underground pipe between the main sewer and Your Home following the blockage of a pipe, if this is necessary because normal methods of releasing the blockage are unsuccessful. We will also pay for the cost of clearing a blocked drain if caused by damage to the fabric of the drain.
    What is not covered?
    We will not pay for loss of or damage:
    • to the drains caused by any defect in their design, construction or installation
    I would argue this:
    1. The claim you are making is not for damage to drains, it is for the cost of breaking into drains to clear a foul water blockage that apparently could not be cleared by normal means. It is especially unreasonable you should have been forced to endure a hygiene hazard. The work to clear the blockage should have been instructed by esure through CL and carried out on an emergency basis as soon as it was realised how badly it was affecting you. To leave the matter festering and you in limbo over it is not a sign of any insurance professionalism. I would say it is in fact the exact opposite.
    2. the sole intention of that extra any foul water pipe wording I have bolded in black above is quite deliberately to make it irrelevant as to what ultimately triggered a vulnerability to any smelly drains blockage. The 'What is covered?' sentence before the bolded one is restricted by the words 'and which break accidentally'. That sentence doesn't go far enough to cover incidentally smelly pipes unless everyone knows what broke them and it was indeed an accident. Evidently esure marketeers agreed, so via the extra sentence in bold they put back some unrestricted cover to cover the cost of breaking into any foul water pipes that suffered blockages.
    Ask yourselves why they needed to add the part in bold if they were only interested in covering accidental damage to foul water pipes? Accidental cover was already granted by the sentence above it.

    As a complete cynic when it comes to the 21st Century UK insurance industry, I'll tell you - its because their competitors also saw the need to offer proper no-fuss protection for such a unhygienic emergency problem, and esure wouldn't sell many policies if they didn't appear to do so too.

    Cunningham Lindsey are acting as the agent of the insurer and they know which side their bread is buttered as all loss adjusters/assessors do when appointed by insurers. They also know that a household insurance policy is probably one of the most complex insurance policy wordings sold anywhere in the insurance market, whether it be for insuring an actor's gleaming white unbelievably straight teeth that might break if a dummy punch is thrown on stage carelessly, or for insuring launches of Israeli communication satellites that go off with a big pop on the launchpad a day before anyone starts the countdown.

    I've a feeling adjusters/assessors like CL ploddingly involved in more mundane opportunities to make their crust are constantly having to blow their own trumpets to insurers to justify their fee over the next lots' volume claims management offer. Reports we ordinary customers never see - reports which tell the insurers how much the adjuster saved the insurer by 'informing' or 'advising' the principal's customer their claim is not covered - they actually call it "savings" and they love to put a nice plump figure on it. Adjusters might have charged a £250 fee for their excursion to come and see you and endure a few telephone calls. They'll have all the while perhaps have scurried straight back to the insurer to report "sorted - look what we saved, boss - £5,000 we reckon!

    If CL have not had a conversation with you about the difference in the accidental damage cover and the special 'breaking into foul water pipe' cover, and about what is the true intention of the design/installation exclusion then it looks to me like their behaviour dangerously might border on the fraudulent. It would surely be so if it is in any way motivated by them seeking to impress their principals by deliberately obstructing valid claims which they may know can be clouded by complex policy wordings most customers can never even begin to argue against. Saving their principal money by turning down a claim under false pretenses - what are we supposed to call that if not fraud?

    If alternatively, such behaviour is motivated by ignorance of how to properly interpret insurance wordings, and of insurance principles and correct practice then I am not at all surprised. The whole industry suffers from ignorance and cultural defects. I wish we could insure no fuss against those!

    The exclusion clause isn't even structured into proper English - look at it:
    We will not pay for loss of or damage:
    • to the drains caused by any defect in their design, construction or installation

    It could have been written as
    We will not pay for loss of or damage to:
    • the drains caused by any defect in their design, construction or installation
    which would have been properly structured but it wasn't.

    Loss of to the drains doesn't make sense. Damage to the drains makes sense, but is a blockage actual damage to the drains? Loss of the drains makes sense if someone steals them or completely flattens them.

    When does "the drains" become more than the fabric of the drains (because they choose to use that phrase too in the Underground Services Clause to make it clear that "We will also pay for the cost of clearing a blocked drain if caused by damage to the fabric of the drain."And what kind of damage do they really think they can reasonably exclude by stating "We will not pay for loss of or damage:
    • to the drains caused by any defect in their design, construction or installation"

    How exactly can you install a drain defectively such that it works problem free for over 10 years? And even if there are lots of ways, as an insurer who offers a special feature for dealing with the cost of breaking into a hidden drain to clear a blockage that can't be fixed any other way, why would you even attempt to lay the claim back onto the policyholder when you know they had no way of telling there was a defect ? Isn't that exactly why we buy insurance?

    Or was it design? Was it perhaps because for the first ten years of use, you never had a deep fat fryer, or if you did, you never tipped used fat down the drain which would have highlighted the drains defect in not being able to deal with 21st Century Asian sympathetic cuisine style large quantities of fat? Or perhaps for the first 10 years you had never discovered wet wipes and your drains were defectively designed not to be able to deal with wet wipes when someone in the house started using them? Or a combination of the two? I jest of course. I think it is a bloody disgrace that CL suggested the declinature and esure have accepted it as a proper declinature. They should both be boycotted and reported to their regulators.

    Clauses fiddled with like this are worse than ambiguous, and by the law of the land, ambiguous insurance policy wordings have since time immemorial always been upheld by courts in favour of the customer. But how many ever get there these days? The industry knows that court tests are few and far between now. And they very cynically will just palm you off with an FOS leaflet and they hope you will give up at the prospect of having to tell it all again to FOS.

    My fear is that there is a trend for insurers to make wordings like this deliberately ambiguous so that on the one hand they can tout the clause as a valuable feature (a heading labeled "Underground Services" followed by a specific line within it elaborating the feature of covering the cost of breaking into a drain to unblock it).

    Then on the other hand they add a further sentence carelessly - one which might almost be reasonable if it was to exclude perhaps what might have been rectified under for example an NHBC 10 year guarantee e.g. if a drain repeatedly blocks from new and it becomes clear that the design was inadequate, or it wasn't installed correctly. But even then, the insurer could deal with it as a proper insurance service to their customer and then subrogate against (recover from) NHBC in their own time later.

    In whatever they were trying to achieve, esure seem to have made their wording wishy washy enough for a kowtowing loss adjuster to come along and to dare to use as a try on to completely deflect the first emergency problem with the drain in 11 years!

    That is NOT how insurance like that sold is expected to perform, although, as reputation seems to mean little to any insurer now, many would say that's exactly the sort of rough deal we might now expect if being realistic!

    Hands up all those who want to try to change it?

    And if we dared to be counted, would that make us some kind of Corbynite world changing socialists I wonder? :rotfl:
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