European Escapades

Insurance and the Art of War




Well it felt like war when I was trying to get insurance for our new motor home. A simple task in my mind when I first started out looking turned into a nightmare by the kind of people and organisations I made a lot of money out of when I was an IT Consultant. Why did I make money? Well it seems that these companies love to put people and products in boxes and if you don’t fit in the box, well tough shit. My forte in consultancy was to ignore boxes and get the job or task done for a customer, no matter what it took. From driving down to a tool shop and buying a specific tool for the engineer rather than wait for him to make the request via the torturous internal company process, to employing specific couriers for deliveries at specific times, with the right delivery equipment, rather than rely on the standard couriers the company used to deliver the computer, sometime that day or even week in some cases.

Anyway’s Insurance, The phone conversations with the insurance Bod usually started something like this.

Me – “I would like some insurance for my new motor home I’m picking up this week please. The wife and I are taking a sabbatical to do some travelling.”

Bod – “I’m sure we can help you Sir”

Me – “That’s what all the other companies said…sigh”

Bod – “Oh, you’re an unusual case then eh? well let’s get started with the basic questions. Has the van been modified in any way from manufacture?”

Me- “What, Oh yes it has”

Bod- “Well that maybe your problem, what have you had done to the motor home?”

Me- “Well the previous owner had an awning put on, a reversing camera and a solar panel, and I had a top box, ladder and bike rack fitted by Brownhills who I bought it off. That’s not too unusual is it? ”

Bod- “Ah but that maybe the problem your having getting insurance. I may need to check on them items, Insurance companies don’t like modifications you see. Let’s move on whilst I check that out with a colleague for you. So where will your Motor home be stored? Will it be on a driveway?”

Me – “Well, on campsites I guess, but sometimes on the road, depends on where we are at the time and what was available in the area we’re in”

Bod – “No No, when you’re at home, where will it be stored? On your drive or on the road”

Me – “Oh I see, well as I’ve already told you we are going travelling for a year or two as a sabbatical so we won’t actually be at home to park it. It will be on the drive for a week until our house sale goes through, if that’s any help?”

Bod- “I see, so you won’t have an address to speak of? And where were you hoping to travel to on your sabbatical?”

Me- “The EU mainly at the start, and then maybe further afield”

Bod- “And how long are you going to be travelling within the EU?”

Me- “As I said a year or two depending on our cat and how she handles the travelling”

Bod – “Oh dear, that’s going to be a problem, we can only insure you for travel in the EU for Eight months maximum”

Me – “That’s not too much of an issue we could go to Switzerland or Turkey maybe? They’re not in the EU. We could travel around those regions for a while I guess. We wanted to visit those countries as well anyway”

Bod – “No, no you have to come back to the UK”

Me – “But that’s in the EU isn’t it, I’m confused,

Bod – “And you cannot go to Turkey anyway, it’s not covered by our policy”

Me – “But your website says your company would also be able to provide a green card for travel to Europe? I presumed that would mean any European country that has signed up to the green card system, no?”

Bod – “Oh, we can give you green card but that only covers the EU countries”

Me- “ But as far as I aware you don’t need a green card for any of the EU member states, they should already be covered by any European insurance policy anyway. I really wanted to go to Switzerland and Turkey as well…sighs”

Bod – “Oh you can go to Switzerland that’s covered but not Turkey I’m afraid”

Me- “But Switzerland is not in the EU either so I’m getting very confused and frustrated, so where else can I go that’s not in the EU”

From here it just seemed to go from bad to worse with the insurance companies.

If it’s not parked securely on a driveway, we cannot help. No additional modifications to your van from new. What are they on; this is a motor home policy I want? European cover available but not 365 days a year and when it was, not to all of the 45 countries signed up to the green card system. Must have a home to park it at, even if you’re not going to be there for the year the insurance is running. I also went to the Insurance brokers association who put me in touch with a few insurance companies that dealt with special cases, “I’m a special case? OK maybe Frances would agree to that one. At one point one of the insurance Bods suggested I go to a specific insurer if I was having all these problems, I politely explained that the specific insurer named had actually given me his number as they couldn’t help. It got so farcical I almost gave up. But as with all these stories the sun finally came out and started shining through the dark clouds of despair. This little chink of sunlight was called Swinton insurance and their subsidiary Safeguard. I finally found a company who could provide me with the policy I wanted. It seems that they are an actual insurer and not an intermediary or broker. Because of this they spoke about the insurance policy as if they actually knew their product and not like most companies I had spoken to, who seemed to just read it off of a computer screen or crib sheet. A blessed sigh of relief for me as I was picking the new motor home up the next day. A telephone conversation whilst on the train to Newark to arrange for a cover note to be sent via E-mail that morning to Brownhills to enable them to obtain the road tax for the motor home ready for me to pick up the same day.

Well done and Thank you Swinton and Safeguard…

The Moral :-

  • Make sure you tell them everything.
  • If you plan to leave the UK for an extended visit, remember what countries you are going to visit and make sure you’re covered for the duration.
  • Just because it says European cover, it may not cover all the European countries you may expect it to.
  • Make sure you understand all their caveats.
  • Don’t get fobbed off with a Policy that does not suit you, someone out there will be able to help you.

This entry was posted on Thursday, January 21st, 2010 at 5:52 pm and is filed under The Rant. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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