Letter of the week

Letter of the week

Groundhog day
Here is an idea for a new competition. Can anyone beat this?

I won't give the insurer's name.

The case in point is a simple, comprehensive hire and reward policy covering a London black cab.

The client advises he is no longer a cabbie, but that he is keeping the vehicle and wants social, domestic and pleasure use, an extraordinarily simple change of use that we could all do in our sleep - and more often than not do.

What follows is a précis of the sorry tale of woe.

I phone the insurer - not this office, but it helpfully gives me another telephone number. And it's the wrong office, but it helpfully gives me another number.

Which is again the wrong office, but again I am offered abundant help with another telephone number.

Finally, I reach the right office, which can't help as the policy is no longer commercial but private. So, with an excess of help that makes me blush it offers to give details to the first office I spoke to so that it can do what is necessary.

Then a woman calls me back to give me a reference number and offers to transfer my call, because the office I need to speak to is not allowed to make outgoing calls - presumably as it would only improve its service.

After being on hold for a few minutes another woman answers.

Where am I now? I'm back at the switchboard of the office that was trying to transfer me.

How? Why? Christ knows, I really don't care, but can she transfer me? No, but she kindly offers me the telephone number that I know off by heart.

I give it a call and because of its wonderfully ridiculous new answering service the call is picked up by the Kabul office - to which my reference number means nothing. But it kindly offers to pass me on to yet another office. As sweetly as I can, not very sweetly at all by now, I decline.

Finally, I phone back to hear the insurer's favourite "sorry but all our lines are..."

Groundhog day or what.

Tune in next week to see the next exciting instalment of a broker gifting British Telecom huge amounts of call charges.

My suggestion for the winner is either a bottle of absinthe or a week in a sanatorium of your own choosing... Or both.

As I say, can anyone beat this? You will have no fun whatsoever trying.

Dave Loochin

Belgravia Insurance Consultants,

Certified for kitchen use
Over the years I have observed that many hotels and restaurants publicly display on their premises an employers' liability certificate.

I have never understood why, as, of course, the cover is relevant only to employees injured in the course of their employment.

Surely the insurance industry has something to answer for in failing to ensure that members of the public are made aware that the insurers named on the certificate are not necessarily those that they should turn to if they have the misfortune to be accidentally harmed on the premises?

Indeed there may not be PL cover in force at all. Better still, why not persuade "offenders" to post the certificate where there is no possibility of it misleading customers?

Thus one of my contacts in the industry advises clients that the certificate should go "next to the kettle", that is, in the kitchen of the premises.

Richard A Bain,

Burnetts Solicitors,


Too fast by half
While sharing your concerns about the serious issues raised in your article "Railway roulette" (Insurance Times, 7 January), I was simply amazed to learn that we now have 450mph trains. Given the parlous state of Britain's railways, surely these must be uninsurable?

Thank goodness I'm not a passenger.

Ray Francis

How very unsurprising
The two functions of real life assurance being cover and secure savings I am unsurprised that the Association of British Insurers (ABI) is "unsurprised" by the amount of the Financial Services Competition Scheme levy (Insurance Times, 10 December).

This is becauseof the blurred boundaries that exist between insurance (defined as the ultimate tool of trade in risk management) and investment (defined as risk) within the meaning of section 16 of the Insurance Companies Act 1982, since the Gower Report mistakenly concluded "most life policies were essentially investments".

It would have been more correct to say that most life policies were being used as investments, thus allowing insurers to introduce changes in their policy wordings, which necessitated the inclusion of a warning that prices go down as well as up and hence an end to secure savings.

Maybe insurance would not need to carry the heavy burden of the cost of regulation if the blurred boundaries between insurance and investment were eliminated and maybe the consumer would then receive better value for money?

John Lynch,

Insurance Advisory Service

Unfairly maligned
On behalf of all loss adjusters I would like to thank Insurance Times (20 December) for its proposed Christmas gift of a teddy bear.

This "ideal gift" was suggested as a way of giving "the love and affection needed after delivering a significant adjust".

Since many adjustments are now made upwards and a high proportion of our members now work for the insured we thought a Paddington Bear might be more appropriate, on the basis that this bear can,
at least if the trains are running, go both ways!

Gerald Williams

President,Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters