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Help! Car stolen, Insurance hadn't auto renewed!

in Motoring
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  • Richard53Richard53 Forumite
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    JordanBos said:
    AdrianC said:
    Insurance policy documents were attached to that email.
    Those documents said that the insurer was declining to renew, because they did not wish to cover the risk.
    The insurer then did not take the annual premium from the OP's account.

    THREE MONTHS later...
    Ok Adrian, they were, you are right on that. But would I didn't think I needed to look at them. The point I'm making is if the subject heading had been a little clearer it would have saved me a lot of pain. Even if it had said *Important rather than *declined.

    When you say “if it had said important rather than declined” does that mean the subject header of the email did say it was declined? If that’s the case, I suspect you’ve gone from having a tiny chance with the ombudsman to zero chance.
    My reading was "Even if the heading had just said 'important' rather than using the word 'declined', it would have been better than 'documents attached'."

    I'd need to see the actual documents, but my feeling is that the ombudsman might be interested as on the present evidence the insco has missed an easy opportunity to alert a customer of a serious issue, which might be viewed as negligence. I mean, these days a lot of companies use language like 'Read This, Do Not Delete, Action Needed!!!" when they want to change a semi-colon in the T&Cs.
    If someone is nice to you but rude to the waiter, they are not a nice person.
  • GrumpyDilGrumpyDil Forumite
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    OP said in original post that the email header said something like 
    "Your Insurance Auto-Renew" or similar. Agree that not noticing payment had not been taken weakens any argument but if the header didn't include some wording along the lines of "Declined" then OP loses nothing by raising a complaint. Don't think it's likely to work but you lose nothing by trying. 
  • user1977user1977 Forumite
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    Richard53 said:
    JordanBos said:
    AdrianC said:
    Insurance policy documents were attached to that email.
    Those documents said that the insurer was declining to renew, because they did not wish to cover the risk.
    The insurer then did not take the annual premium from the OP's account.

    THREE MONTHS later...
    Ok Adrian, they were, you are right on that. But would I didn't think I needed to look at them. The point I'm making is if the subject heading had been a little clearer it would have saved me a lot of pain. Even if it had said *Important rather than *declined.

    When you say “if it had said important rather than declined” does that mean the subject header of the email did say it was declined? If that’s the case, I suspect you’ve gone from having a tiny chance with the ombudsman to zero chance.
    I mean, these days a lot of companies use language like 'Read This, Do Not Delete, Action Needed!!!" when they want to change a semi-colon in the T&Cs.
    Bit of "crying wolf" though if they all start doing that for everything - how then to distinguish the genuinely important stuff?
  • AdrianCAdrianC Forumite
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    user1977 said:
    Richard53 said:
    JordanBos said:
    AdrianC said:
    Insurance policy documents were attached to that email.
    Those documents said that the insurer was declining to renew, because they did not wish to cover the risk.
    The insurer then did not take the annual premium from the OP's account.

    THREE MONTHS later...
    Ok Adrian, they were, you are right on that. But would I didn't think I needed to look at them. The point I'm making is if the subject heading had been a little clearer it would have saved me a lot of pain. Even if it had said *Important rather than *declined.

    When you say “if it had said important rather than declined” does that mean the subject header of the email did say it was declined? If that’s the case, I suspect you’ve gone from having a tiny chance with the ombudsman to zero chance.
    I mean, these days a lot of companies use language like 'Read This, Do Not Delete, Action Needed!!!" when they want to change a semi-colon in the T&Cs.
    Bit of "crying wolf" though if they all start doing that for everything - how then to distinguish the genuinely important stuff?
    Rule of thumb... It's from your insurer, around renewal time... It's important.
  • LangtangLangtang Forumite
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    AdrianC said:
    user1977 said:
    Richard53 said:
    JordanBos said:
    AdrianC said:
    Insurance policy documents were attached to that email.
    Those documents said that the insurer was declining to renew, because they did not wish to cover the risk.
    The insurer then did not take the annual premium from the OP's account.

    THREE MONTHS later...
    Ok Adrian, they were, you are right on that. But would I didn't think I needed to look at them. The point I'm making is if the subject heading had been a little clearer it would have saved me a lot of pain. Even if it had said *Important rather than *declined.

    When you say “if it had said important rather than declined” does that mean the subject header of the email did say it was declined? If that’s the case, I suspect you’ve gone from having a tiny chance with the ombudsman to zero chance.
    I mean, these days a lot of companies use language like 'Read This, Do Not Delete, Action Needed!!!" when they want to change a semi-colon in the T&Cs.
    Bit of "crying wolf" though if they all start doing that for everything - how then to distinguish the genuinely important stuff?
    Rule of thumb... It's from your insurer, around renewal time... It's important.
    Important doesn’t necessarily meant that you’d read it. If the subject heading said something simple like “you’re covered for a further 12 months” or even simpler “good news, you’re covered” etc, etc. Depending on what device you regularly read emails on, it may be that you don’t see the complete email heading due to the size of the screen, so I would always want to open to see the full heading. 

    Of course, some of us would read it anyway, just to find out what was covered for a further 12 months (car, house, dishwasher, TV, pet insurance, MY/OUR health insurance) but also we could then decide which sub folder to move it to. 

    I have some sympathy with the OP, in that if the wording is correct, it could be easy to dismiss and file away. However, the headline wording worries me. I cannot imagine a car insurance company sending you an insurance policy document, with said document then going on to say that cover had been declined. Surely the declination statement would have been in the body of the email only. I can’t imagine an insurance company mocking up policy documents purely for the sake of declining the cover. OP, I believe, has been asked if he’d be comfortable sharing scans of said documents and the  name of the company, to help try and find an amicable outcome. 

    However, Until my wife’s car was declined for insurance a couple of weeks ago, we’d never been party to this. Our email had a perfectly worded, simple to understand heading, no attached dummy insurance policy telling me that cover was being declined. 

    In regard to someone posting about gmail allowing you to create subfolders, I wholeheartedly agree. Although, I thought that would have been a given, in that most people would create those to keep their lives in some kind of digital order. Having  said that, I was shocked to discover recently that I am in a minority of people who can remember their NI number off by heart. 
    It'll be alright in the end. If it's not alright, it's not the end....
  • TooManyPointsTooManyPoints Forumite
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    Surely everybody can remember their NI number, can't they? I also can remember my credit card number, expiry date and security code, my main bank account sort code and account number as well as my online login details. 

    However, as fascinating as all this is, I digress. I think we need to cut to the chase. The long and short of this is this:
    • The insurers declined to renew and they informed the OP by e-mail.
    • That e-mail was not read. This meant the OP had no confirmation (a) that his policy had been renewed and (b) how much he might have paid for it.
    The OP would not have known about this until either (a) he was stopped by the police; (b) he had an accident (c) he received a notice from the DVLA under the Continuous Insurance legislation or (d) his vehicle was stolen.

    His insurers will not want to know. Imagine: "Although you told me you would not be be renewing my policy, I took no notice of that. And by the way, my car's been stolen so will you pay me 65 Grand?" 

    I doubt the Ombudsman will see it any differently. It would be interesting to learn what the e-mail heading ("Your Insurance Auto-Renew (or something similar)") really was.

    This is indeed a very harsh lesson - far more excessive than an administrative oversight warrants. But running a car carries a number of responsibilities and citing "...as admin/organisation has never been a strong point" does not really cut it. You do not need to be an administrative expert to check your insurance renewal properly. Drivers have an absolute responsibility to ensure they have insurance cover at all times. Whatever shortcomings the insurer may have demonstrated (and it's by no means sure they have demonstrated any) that responsibility does not diminish. I have sympathy for the OP - nobody should be left that much out of pocket for an oversight. But he cannot (and to be fair I don't believe he does) expect the insurers to make good his loss.


  • Grumpy_chapGrumpy_chap Forumite
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    Langtang said:
    people who can remember their NI number off by heart. 
    I thought every one does that.
  • AretnapAretnap Forumite
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    Found a couple of Financial Ombudsman Service decisions which may assist the OP.

    As a general policy the FOS says "Our approach in these circumstances is that an insurer should take significant steps to highlight that it had changed from auto-renewing a policy to expecting a customer to contact it to renew."

    In one case, Churchill sent the customer a letter which invited him to renew, but didn't highlight the fact that the policy would not automatically renew, as it had done in the past. It then sent two further letters, which the customer didn't open, assuming that they were just the usual paperwork that comes every year after you renew. The Ombudsman ruled that Churchill had not done enough to alert the customer to the fact that his policy would not auto-renew - and ordered them to retrospectively reinstate his policy and cover him for the accident that he had after his insurance had lapsed. Details here - https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/files/127290/DRN5016304.pdf

    In a similar case Direct Line were told to compensate a customer who had been convicted of driving without insurance after their renewal letter did not include a prominent enough warning that it would not auto-renew as normal. https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/files/167728/DRN6778330.pdf

    OTOH when Eldon sent this fellow a total of six letters and Emails warning him that his insurance was about to expire, or had expired, the Ombudsman ruled that they had done all they reasonably could to ensure he knew that his policy was not renewing, and they did not uphold his complaint. https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/files/227739/DRN9715117.pdf

    The OP's case isn't exactly like the cases above - it's essentially about the subject line of an Email rather than the contents of a letter, and it involves an insurer who no longer wanted to cover the risk at all, rather than one that just wanted him to contact them to renew. But still, based on the principles in the cases above and on what he's told us here, I don't think it's beyond the bounds of possibility that they would uphold a complaint from him. Certainly he has nothing to lose by making one.

    You can search for further cases here. I'm sure there are some more, but most complaints about auto-renewal are from people complaining that their policies renewed when they didn't want them to, so I guess to an extent insurance companies are damned if they do, damned if they don't.https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/decisions-case-studies/ombudsman-decisions





  • AdrianCAdrianC Forumite
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    However, as fascinating as all this is, I digress. I think we need to cut to the chase. The long and short of this is this:
    • The insurers declined to renew and they informed the OP by e-mail.
    • That e-mail was not read. This meant the OP had no confirmation (a) that his policy had been renewed and (b) how much he might have paid for it.
    The OP would not have known about this until either (a) he was stopped by the police; (b) he had an accident (c) he received a notice from the DVLA under the Continuous Insurance legislation or (d) his vehicle was stolen.
    Most people's first warning would be...
    (e) the premium was not taken from their bank account.
    Aretnap said:
    Found a couple of Financial Ombudsman Service decisions which may assist the OP.

    As a general policy the FOS says "Our approach in these circumstances is that an insurer should take significant steps to highlight that it had changed from auto-renewing a policy to expecting a customer to contact it to renew."
    But that's describing a completely different set of circumstances.

    That's describing an insurer who were happy to continue cover, but had changed the onus of renewal from auto- to DIY.
    This is an insurer who were NOT continuing to offer cover, because the car was outwith their underwriting criteria.

    In an uninsured claim under your circumstances, the insurer simply pay out, but withhold the premium that would have been due.
    In the OP's circumstances, there is no premium due. You would be forcing them to extend cover they were unwilling to extend.
  • moneysavermoneysaver Forumite
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    Aretnap said:
    Found a couple of Financial Ombudsman Service decisions which may assist the OP.

    As a general policy the FOS says "Our approach in these circumstances is that an insurer should take significant steps to highlight that it had changed from auto-renewing a policy to expecting a customer to contact it to renew."

    In one case, Churchill sent the customer a letter which invited him to renew, but didn't highlight the fact that the policy would not automatically renew, as it had done in the past. It then sent two further letters, which the customer didn't open, assuming that they were just the usual paperwork that comes every year after you renew. The Ombudsman ruled that Churchill had not done enough to alert the customer to the fact that his policy would not auto-renew - and ordered them to retrospectively reinstate his policy and cover him for the accident that he had after his insurance had lapsed. Details here - https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/files/127290/DRN5016304.pdf

    In a similar case Direct Line were told to compensate a customer who had been convicted of driving without insurance after their renewal letter did not include a prominent enough warning that it would not auto-renew as normal. https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/files/167728/DRN6778330.pdf

    OTOH when Eldon sent this fellow a total of six letters and Emails warning him that his insurance was about to expire, or had expired, the Ombudsman ruled that they had done all they reasonably could to ensure he knew that his policy was not renewing, and they did not uphold his complaint. https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/files/227739/DRN9715117.pdf

    The OP's case isn't exactly like the cases above - it's essentially about the subject line of an Email rather than the contents of a letter, and it involves an insurer who no longer wanted to cover the risk at all, rather than one that just wanted him to contact them to renew. But still, based on the principles in the cases above and on what he's told us here, I don't think it's beyond the bounds of possibility that they would uphold a complaint from him. Certainly he has nothing to lose by making one.

    You can search for further cases here. I'm sure there are some more, but most complaints about auto-renewal are from people complaining that their policies renewed when they didn't want them to, so I guess to an extent insurance companies are damned if they do, damned if they don't.https://www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk/decisions-case-studies/ombudsman-decisions






    A few people on here had the OP dead and buried. It seems the insurance co have more responsibility than first thought.

    Good homework Aretnap, the OP has nothing to loose on the complaint.

    Moneysaver
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