Major hassle over minor claim
Question: I was driving one day when another car travelling in the opposite direction hit a patch of gravel. It resulted in a stone hitting the windscreen of my car which caused a crack. I reported this to my broker one day later, completed a claim form and submitted a pro forma invoice. Two weeks later, I have got nowhere. The broker says the claim is being reviewed. The insurance company told me that my premium has not being paid. I have a receipt which shows that the premium was paid in full and the certificate on insurance which I received from the broker. My vehicle is now parked. I now have to pay to travel from Kingston where I live to Runaway Bay where I work. Neither the insurer nor the broker is being helpful. Where do I go from here? Can I claim for loss of use?
- DC, Kingston 10.
ANSWER: I am very sorry to learn about the hassles that you are having with what should be a run-of-the-mill claim. The insurer's refusal to settle your claim because of the apparent non-remittance of your premium to them by the broker is against the law.
The Insurance Act became law on December 20, 2001, Section 82, speaks specifically to your case.
It says: "An agent, a broker or sales representative shall, for the purpose of receiving any premium for a contract of insurance, be deemed to be the insurer's agent and, notwithstanding any conditions or stipulations to the contrary, the registered insurer shall be deemed to have received any premium received by the agent, brokers or sales representative."
Subsection 2 extends the argument specifically to claims. "An insurer on whose behalf a broker ... has received a premium or part thereof," it continues, "shall accept liability arising under the policy, notwithstanding that the insurer has not received the premium."
You have evidence in the form of a receipt issued by the broker that the premium was paid. That along with your new-found knowledge about Section 82 ought to be enough to persuade the insurers to stop the dilly-dallying about the payment of your claim.
The issue concerning the payment of expenses for alternative transportation to and from work is more complicated. Some comprehensive motor policies provide this kind of benefit while others do not. Check your policy to see what it says. Find out if you are likely to lose your no-claims discount if you file claims for repairing or replacing your windscreen in addition to loss of use. It may turn out to be more economical in the long run depending on the cost of repairing/replacing the windscreen and the value of your no-claims discount to fund the repairs from your savings instead of making a claim.
Your broker is a wuss. They seem quick to collect premiums but slow and incapable of providing value-added claims service. Fire them at the first opportunity. Replace them another firm or buy insurance directly from an insurer.
Cedric E. Stephens provides independent information and free advice about the management of risks and insurance. firstname.lastname@example.org or SMS/text message to 812-7233