It’s supposed to be one of those run-of-the-mill tasks we all plod through each year, but insuring your home, car or holiday seems to be turning into a hideous game of heads they win, tails you lose.
On one hand, as Money Mail’s investigation in Saturday’s paper revealed, you have firms spying on your shopping habits and social media posts to hike prices if they think you are less likely to switch providers.
And on the other, as we reveal today on pages 38 and 43, insurers are finding sneaky ways to wriggle out of paying claims in your hour of need.
Dan Hyde says insuring your home, car or holiday ‘seems to be turning into a hideous game of heads they win, tails you lose’
Any major exclusion — such as burglaries where the thief picked your lock or an accident on holiday after one glass of wine — needs to be spelt out when you buy cover. Yet insurers are hiding these stings in 40,000 words of small print.
As they love to remind us, the statistics show insurers do pay the vast majority of claims. And, as Aviva has shown with the case of Steven Huddleston — who was denied a critical illness payout when his heart ‘attack’ was found to be a cardiac arrest — they can use common sense to override exceptions and offer help (although Money Mail had to go to the top to secure it).
But the greediest insurers must realise that it only takes one unfair decision to ruin someone’s life — and destroy everyone’s trust. Insurance is so important that no company can afford the glaring mistakes we reveal today.
It’s time these firms stopped treating us like cash cows, charged loyal customers fair premiums and closed the loopholes they use to fob off legitimate claims. Anything less simply will not do.
Dan says any major insurance exclusion – such as burglaries where the thief picked your lock or an accident on holiday after one glass of wine – needs to be spelt out when you buy cover
The more Money Mail investigates, the more suspicious I am of the cheap funeral plans being peddled to the over 50s. Some unscrupulous firms are guilt-tripping the elderly into taking out policies so they ‘won’t be a burden on their relatives’. Yet the plans can be riddled with catches that can leave bereaved families footing funeral bills anyway.
The Treasury is so concerned that it’s preparing a crackdown on the £3.3 billion market. The City watchdog is expected to be given new powers to tackle rogue firms, which is excellent news for anyone yet to buy a funeral plan. But what about those who have already been flogged dud deals?
If dodgy firms are forced to shut down, will there be any money left for the families who need to claim in future?
I can see thousands being left with worthless plans that cost more than £3,000.
It is vital that the Treasury finds a way to protect them. If you’re buying a funeral plan stick to familiar names such as Dignity, Co-op or Golden Charter.
Last week I suggested that homeowners being bullied into getting a smart meter could get their own back by returning any unsolicited mail to energy firms — without a stamp. So the company has to foot the postage bill. P.E., a reader from Bognor Regis in West Sussex, wrote in to say he’s been using this tactic for years, adding: ‘I cut out the address, put it on a cheap A4 envelope and send it all back. Unfortunately, I always seem to forget to put a stamp on the envelope.
‘It’s surprising how the amount of junk mail has decreased.’
For years, we have ranted at the mess former chancellor George Osborne made of savings taxes. We now have more types of Isa than you can count on one hand. And by introducing the £1,000 savings allowance (£500 for higher rate taxpayers), Mr Osborne made it so tricky to work out if you owe tax on other accounts that HMRC’s own computer software ‘has sometimes failed to get it right’.
That’s the verdict in a damning report from the Office of Tax Simplification, which advises the Government on tax rules.
The good news is that one of its solutions is scrapping all tax on savings interest for basic-rate taxpayers and pensioners. Take note, Philip Hammond, and put this in your autumn Budget.