Whether it’s home, life or car insurance, we always hear from consumers struggling to find an insurer they can trust. Is there any way to cut down the potential problems, or is it impossible to find trustworthy insurance?
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I am of the view that wherever possible a rational consumer should consider the option of self-insurance. This comes with some risk, but a consumer who is operating at the adult level needs to accept a reasonable amount of risk. This is especially true in an environment where insurance companies charge like wounded bulls while seeking to evade their obligations.
Word of mouth, taking the time to conduct research and that includes talking to other people such as those found on this site can ensure a fairly smooth experience. Trusting to advertising however is not a good way to find out if a product is worth purchasing, at best it is good to let you know of others in the market to look into.
Self insuring is a good way but only if you can truly afford to do so. I don’t think many people currently have that ability, but as you said wherever possible and what is reasonable risk to one is not to another again based on a person’s situation.
The only way is to sample a LARGE number of consumers to see if they have had good or bad experiences with their insurers.
I have been with the same insurer for over 44 years I was told last week. They do cost more, but I have never had an issue or any hesitation from them with any claim or request for assistance. Yet surprisingly, I have heard from other people who have had the diametrically opposite experience. So you never know.
It is only when a statistically significant number of people who have made claims are surveyed that a meaningful result appears. That is the only way to find which insurer(s) can be trusted.
There are ways to cut down potential problems. The easiest is to read the product disclosure statement (PSD) attached to the relevant insurance policies.
It seems also that some insurance companies hesitate in accepting claims under some policies when information was not provided to them at the time that the policy was initially taken out. This could be things about
activities which occur (using private car for work purposes or carrying out a business from home)
policy holders or residents (convictions or details of the people insurance covers etc)
information about what is covered (including details of personal effects/proof that one owns the items insured or modifications to a standard product - e.g car)
People also seem to get themselves in trouble by claiming for things which may not be covered or they may not have owned. Example may be trying to claim items which would otherwise be covered by a home contents policy when they only have building insurance, or thinking they can claim a new TV audio system even though they never owned one.
Like any business relationships, insurance companies at the end of the day are about staying in business and where possible, making money. They factor risks into the insurance they provide and if these risks are not known, then this can cause a breach of trust between the insurer or the one being insured.
If one is open and tried to communicate as much information to the insurer when taking out a policy, then it is likely that the level of trust will be higher than if known information is knowingly held back from the insurer. For example, some insurers require infringement/demerit notices, such as speeding, to be disclosed to the insurer. If such notices are not willingly disclosed, this could affect the level of coverage provided when a claim is made and the insurer finds that such information has not been disclosed.
It is impossible to fully trust an insurance company, but is is possible to respect them and allow them to do their job to the best of their ability.
It is also very important, to understand what is covered by insurance, what affects/invalidates coverage and also what some of the specific terms and conditions are which may ultimately affect a claim you may have to make. This is why taking the time to understand the policy terms and conditions/PDS is very important.
Also, if you have any questions, contact the insurer directly. Ensure that you record the name of the person you spoke to and also a summary of the information provided. This may assist supporting claims you may make.
I’ve been with RACWA for many years now… they may not be the cheapest but when we were burgled they did not quibble over our claim and were extremely helpful. On another occasion one of our outdoor chairs was stolen, leaving us with a table and five chairs (rather than the six) and they reimbursed us for the entire set since we could not buy a single chair… Fantastic service!!
Re household insurance. . .
Something for those people who bought an existing dwelling to think about -
I discovered that the previous owner had not supplied/passed on the original certificate of occupancy.
Colour me paranoid but given the terrible stories about insurance companies, I had a building survey done as you cannot get a certificate of occupancy done retrospectively.
This is the next best thing and should ensure any future house claims are honoured. . .
Thanks for sharing your solutions everyone. The PDF sets out what you can and can’t claim and the details here account for a large part of our scoring when we review these products. However, CHOICE also uses other methods to help generate a more complete picture of the insurers, such as complaints data from the Financial Ombudsman Service along with our own consumer surveys.
An article regarding the victim of a vehicle accident getting the runaround by Allianz.
The statement by Col Fullagar that he wants to see an online ratings tool for insurance companies is certainly a step in the right direction.
It would help sort out the grubs from the bottom-feeders.