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Pilgrim's Process - Chapter Two

I explained a couple of weeks ago the circumstances under which I temporarily live in a rented house. It’s rather smaller than the former family home, so we have some stuff stored in a warehouse nearby – just a few bits of furniture, a fair volume of low-value baggage, coursework and memorabilia accumulated by the three students in the family, along with some electronic equipment that I use only occasionally.

Our temporary home is on a hill, and three weeks ago we watched with many others in the UK as the heavens opened. We watched the rain. We saw the road outside turn into a bit of a river. We wondered where all the water was coming from. We wondered where it was all going to. We looked at the television coverage from Gloucestershire and other parts of the UK, and we saw where large quantities of water were going to. And we sympathised with the many folks who had lost everything. And we reflected on the situation of other communities worldwide, where such deluges are not exceptional, but are a routine event.

And what follows does not trivialise any of that, By comparison, we lost nothing. In fact, we didn’t think we had lost anything at all. But then came the call from the warehouse company. Sadly, a percentage of what we had seen flowing down the road outside the house had flowed in under the doors at the warehouse, and into our storage unit.

I visited to review the damage. So did other customers. Some were not insured at all. Much wailing and gnashing of teeth. Not a happy scene. Hoorah, however - we are insured.

‘Just fill in the claim form on the website’, I was told.

I did.

‘Send photographs’, I was told.

I did.

‘Send replacement cost estimates’, I was told.

I did. The internet is a wonderful thing. I got some fair price quotes for replacement items and submitted the links.

This wealth of information transmitted at internet speed to an insurance company in Belgium, from where an acknowledgement sped back.

Fantastic, I thought. A claims system that works on-line.

Wrong.

Next I hear is that a UK insurance assessor wants to meet me at the warehouse to check the value of undamaged property in storage, presumably so that the company can ‘average’ my claim. OK. We’re not under-insured, so no worries.

I met him.

He had no information. He had no damage photographs. He had no replacement cost information. His technology didn’t even allow him to open the Excel spreadsheets I had sent. We inspected the lock-up, and I understood him to agree that we have adequate cover. I went home to print out some documents and to retrieve some of the damaged goods so that he could re-photograph them.

Since then – nothing. Zilch. Zippo. No communication. Checked the website for a status-reporting service. No such service.

Sent an e-mail requesting a status report / settlement date. Still waiting . . . .

Several commentators have reported that the insurance sector badly needs some enhanced technology in several areas, of which claims processing is one. No big surprise that I believe they are absolutely correct.

I hope that our small claim will receive attention soon, but I’m not sure about that. I hope it’s the case that customers who have lost everything are getting priority service and rapid assistance. Sadly, I’m not sure about that either.

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