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My girlfriend was recently involved in a crash where both parties are claiming it was not their fault.

She took out a policy with an insurance company called GoSkippy whose brokers are Eldon Insurance.
Unbeknown to her is when she took out the insurance, she inadvertently took out a policy that did not cover her during the commute to and from work. This appears very underhand to me, for one they worded the commute clause as different that it should be and for two, she was not actually commuting to work when this actually happened.

The crash happened after she went to see a friend and was on our way to our child's nursery. The insurance company is trying to claim that she was travelling to and from work and will not pay for anything.

I am obviously incensed by this and want to counter their claim.

What are my next steps in being able to challenge their claim?

What should my next steps be to avoid financial annihilation?

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    @quid it's quite common not to commute by car in the UK even if you own one, so it makes sense to offer a discount for that. – Ganesh Sittampalam Jun 21 '17 at 0:07
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    If you buy cheap insurance, you never get more than you paid for. As you just learned the hard way, often you get less. The bottom line is that it's up to the customer to disclose all the relevant information to the insurer, and you didn't do that. The bad news is that you don't have much of a legal case, IMO. And if you look at reviews.co.uk/company-reviews/store/gc-goskippy, the company doesn't have much of a reputation - even their "1.5 out of 5 stars" average contains a lot of people who posted bad reviews but gave them 5 stars (presumably) by mistake! – alephzero Jun 21 '17 at 0:56
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    If she ever commuted while under that policy, and made the insurance company aware of that, then they can null and void the policy under typical terms and conditions - it doesn't have to be that specific trip they are talking about, just any commuting done. Insurance companies can and will void policies if you commit any illegal act with the vehicle while under th policy, and driving without insurance counts... – Moo Jun 21 '17 at 8:32
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    "The crash happened after she went to see a friend and was on our way to our child's nursery". Thats not communuting. Don't let your girlfriend be bullied. Point this out to the insurance and if they don#t pay quickly, go get a lawyer. And cancel your insurance and get a real one, not such an almost fraudulent one. – Polygnome Jun 21 '17 at 8:54
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    I agree with @Polygnome - visiting her friend and taking the child to nursery fall under "Social, Domestic and Pleasure" (SPD) which is the most basic form of insurance one can get in the UK (in my experience). Though companies like GoSkippy often offer the cheapest prices, it usually isn't much more per month/year for a reputable insurance supplier who is less likely to cause problems for you in your circumstance. No insurer will just hand over money without doing due-diligence, but less reputable companies will use this as a "Get out of jail free" card whenever they think they can. – Kallum Tanton Jun 21 '17 at 9:19
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Having worked in insurance, I can give you a few pointers.

Firstly, state that you "may have to complain". Insurers hate complaints because they really complicate matters, are loads of work and must be tracked. I would advise not actually escalating it to a complaint until later as this may cause a delay as the actual process is quite convoluted. Mentioning the possibility of complaint sometimes makes people a bit more active. Try and resolve the issue, and if you aren't getting anywhere then make a complaint.

Maintain a friendly, assertive, polite demeanor. If you get angry and aggressive you'll not likely get far. Remember that the people on the end of the phone are both human and more knowledgeable about insurance than you. You want them on your side, not against you.

Make copious notes. If you can, record calls. If you are recording calls you will likely legally need to give them the option of not being recorded, so make sure you mention that you're recording each individual call as soon as you start speaking to the handler.

Refer to your notes and make sure you carry out actions you say you will. If you spend a few days sending something you said you'd email over that day, and you then chase them a few days after that they may not have had the document through their workflow yet. It also engenders urgency if you're acting promptly, and suggests that you don't really care if you're taking your time.

Get Names. This is an important step, as this gives the handler someone to talk to who may be familiar with your case. You may end up speaking to the same people more than once, so try and build a rapport if you do. "I like this guy" may lead to a bit more effort being put in, and a potentially better outcome.

In my experience, GoSkippy can be a bit slow to respond to things, so you'll likely have to chase them up. If you chase them up and say "I called on X date, discussing Y with Z and Z said they would do A, B and C. Has this been done yet?" it looks better than saying "I called about a week ago and spoke to one of your colleagues who said he'd do something for me. He's not done it, what's going on?",

As to a plan of action, I would split this into two points: Mis-sold policy and definition of commuting.

  • Mis-sold policy - If they truly gave your wife two options, then they messed up. The standard 3 offered by goskippy are Social Domestic and Pleasure (SDP), SDP+Commuting, and SDP+C and Business use. Other companies sometimes roll commuting into SDP as standard. On the comparison sites however, there are usually the three separate options, and if you used one to set the policy up and clicked "SDP Only" then you may be in trouble.

  • Social domestic and pleasure only DOES NOT include commuting. Whilst it is your responsibility to thoroughly check any documentation that comes through, it could be argued that if given two options between Business Use and SDP, then a reasonable person could be considered to assume that Goskippies definition of SDP did include commuting. Therefore, they need to prove to you that there were three options offered and that your wife specifically excluded commuting. IF they can't, then you should be able to argue that only two were offered and that commuting could have reasonably been assumed to be included. Use that term "reasonable person" btw, it's used in a lot of internal literature - at least at the insurer, I worked at.

  • not commuting - Firstly, clarify their definition of "commuting". If your wife was on her way to work afterwards, then they may well consider she was commuting. For instance, at present, I drive from my house to my son's childminders, then to my wife's work and finally to mine. My commute could be argued to be 1 minute (my workplace is probably a minutes drive from my wife's, but I can't park in her car-park), but if I were to have an accident between my house and my son's childminder (~15 mins drive) the insurers would probably consider that commuting.

  • If she was not on her way to work afterwards, and assuming your wife arranged her visit via text (or whatsapp, fb messenger or similar) you should easily be able to show that your wife had driven from a friends house to the childminder. If she was on a holiday day or was not working on that day, then that's also something you should be able to prove either with proof of her working pattern or proof of her holiday. If she doesn't have a job at all, then again, that's something that's provable.

Proof reigns king in claims, so if you can prove certain key facts then you should be on to a winner.

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    The same comment applies here as on the other answer - if she EVER uses the car for commuting she has likely invalidated the policy regardless of whether this specific journey was a commute or not. – Vicky Jun 21 '17 at 11:35
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    @Vicky : You are correct, but it is probably going to be easier to get the insurer to pay out on an ex gratia basis if she wasn't commuting than if she was. Also, don't forget that financial institutions in the UK are required to "treat their customers fairly" - they can no longer refuse to pay out entirely if there was an innocent (and irrelevant) mistake when filling out the application. – Martin Bonner Jun 21 '17 at 12:15
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    Martin - I completely forgot about TCF! OP should definitely mention terms like "I don't see how its fair"... – Miller86 Jun 21 '17 at 14:33
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    I would also stress that regardless of whether she currently uses the policy for commuting and whether the claim is valid rests therefore on if she was commuting or not, the op believes that they were sold it inclusive of commuting, therefore the insurance is not as sold, and therefore the OP has been missold insurance. Whether this misselling was an accident on the part of the OP or the insurers will decide whether this claim is dealt with or not. If they've used a comparison site, they may be in trouble as most have the three options... – Miller86 Jun 21 '17 at 14:51
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    "reasonable person" is actually a legal term. Specifically it is a "Legal Fiction" which is used as a "Legal Test". So yes, it would be used in a lot of literature... – Aron Jun 22 '17 at 9:55
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You should start by making a written complaint to the insurance company itself. You have two angles of attack:

  • What was discussed when she was sold the policy. Make sure you set out exactly what you believe you were told and highlight that they didn't ask about commuting (assuming that's the case). Ask them to preserve any recordings they have of the call and to send you a copy.

  • The nature of the journey where the accident happened. From the description - unless it was part of a journey to and from work - there's no good reason for them to classify it as commuting.

Make sure you make good written notes now of anything that happened verbally - phone calls etc, and keep doing this as the process goes along.

If that written complaint doesn't work, your next step is to go to the Financial Ombudsman, who are a neutral adjudication service.

If the Ombudsman doesn't support your case, you could go to court directly, but it'll be expensive and a lot of effort, and by this stage it'd be unlikely you would win. The Ombudsman's rejection wouldn't count against you directly, but it'd be a strong indication that your case is weak.

See https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/making-a-complaint-about-an-insurance-company for a more detailed walk-through.

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    Good response - but I'm not sure I'd use the first point; it reads like you're accepting that she was commuting but it wasn't clear that was excluded. I would go only with the second point - she wasn't commuting, full stop. You're giving ground if you accept she was commuting - arguing that the T&Cs weren't clear enough won't wash. Stick to the main point that the journey was not a commute and therefore the exclusion doesn't apply. – Oscar Bravo Jun 21 '17 at 9:12
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    Worth noting that if the insured car is used for commuting, even if this specific journey wasn't commuting, the insurance company can refuse or reduce cover (because using the vehicle for commuting will change the overall risk profile, in their eyes). If that applies, it's best to be honest up front about it and negotiate reduced cover or challenge on the basis of what was sold, rather than try to cover up as insurers will likely be find out if it is. – rolinger Jun 21 '17 at 9:12
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    Downvoted because a written complaint may well take longer to deal with. Insurers have IIRC 8 days to respond to a complaint and 8 Weeks to resolve them. Some insurers will refuse to comment on ongoing complaints until resolution. Exhaust the insurers internal systems first THEN complain – Miller86 Jun 21 '17 at 11:10
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    In many countries calls taped are null as proof, and even organizations have the obligation to inform you you are being taped. – Rui F Ribeiro Jun 21 '17 at 11:15
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    @Miller86: what's the difference between exhausting their internal systems and complaining? And if you'll end up going to the Financial Ombudsman it's best to get the clock ticking on a formal complaint as soon as possible. – Ganesh Sittampalam Jun 21 '17 at 11:35

protected by Ganesh Sittampalam Jun 22 '17 at 9:17

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