How to Contest a Refused Car Insurance Claim

 Having an insurance claim contested can be a real punch to the guts. It is bad enough to have suffered an accident or damage to your vehicle without having some bureaucratically-minded bean counter tell you that your claim is invalid even though you filled in the proposal form honestly and accurately and paid your premium.

Thankfully, suffering a refused claim does not mean that the story has to end. There are several possible courses of action that anyone can take when they are faced with this distressing and demoralising situation.

First of all, though, before taking any other action, check the reasons that the insurance company has given for rejecting your claim. There is a chance that you might have omitted something from the claim process, or filled in a form incorrectly. Always ensure that all the details and paperwork are properly completed, as many insurance companies can be frustratingly inflexible when it comes to such matters.

You also need to make sure that the insurance company has worded their documents clearly and precisely. Make a note of the wording in the policy that you feel proves that you are covered. You may well need this later to argue your case.

One driver, for example, had his car stolen after being on a date with woman, who grabbed his car keys while he was in the toilet. Although the insurer initially refused his claim, they had to backtrack when it was clarified that the burden of proving careless or reckless behaviour fell on their shoulders.

As long as you have taken reasonable care in answering all questions to the best of your knowledge when you took out the policy, you were driving within the criteria laid down in your policy and your behaviour prior to the loss was not criminal or negligent, then the rules in the UK state that a company normally cannot reject your claim. If any of these conditions were not met, however, things could get a little tricky.

It is important to check that the insurer did not ask for information which they claim that you should have provided voluntarily, as this could be important in proving your case. If you carefully check all the documents, though, and are still unhappy that their reasons for refusing it are invalid, then you need to contact the insurance company to make a formal complaint.

The best way of doing this is with a formal complaint letter sent by recorded delivery. The letter needs to be correctly dated, with all relevant personal details, policy numbers and your address and telephone number included. Your reasons for contesting the insurer's decision must be clearly stated, as should a clear explanation of the situation which led to the claim being made.

It is vital that this offers as much clarity and honesty as possible, otherwise your complaint may be complicated. If the complaint is still not resolved to your satisfaction, then you need to contact the Financial Ombudsman Service. Having an independent expert assess your claim is also useful. The Citizens Advice Bureau can point you in right direction, should your dispute reach this stage.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that many insurers are being somewhat obstructive when it comes to settling many car insurance claims. The Daily Telegraph reported a case where an individual's BMW 5 Series went missing overnight from their drive. Due to the owner not being able to find his spare key, the insurer insisted that he was somehow involved in the vehicle's disappearance.

Later, the motorist found the key stored away with his car's documents. He then also had to prove that recent problems with the vehicle's locking systems had been fixed. Finally, his neighbour testified that he had heard the sound of a powerful car being driven away in the night, which finally persuaded the insurers that it had, indeed, been stolen. This case shows just how important collecting and keeping safe all relevant data is.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, be persistent. Many companies rely on the fact that aggrieved clients often give up in the face of blank refusals to negotiate but a dogged determination to pursue every legal remedy can often work wonders. Remember that fighting legal cases and spending staff time on fending off claimants can be very expensive for them and bad publicity if they were to lose a court case could be disastrous. They are there to make money not to spend it on lawyers so they may well cut their losses and settle even if they feel your case is shaky.


Copyright Maureen Davey 2014 All Rights Reserved