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We have been careful drivers for many years, and when our policy was up for renewal with our previous company, a friend was working for Pearl and as their benefits were seen on paper were excellent, we decided to insure our home and both of our vehicles with them. Along with our custom came a full no claims bonus, as neither my husband nor I have had any accidents or needed to claim on any of our previous policies. This wonderful package sounded just too good to be true, and in essence it was. It included recovery of your ailing vehicle to your home or to a garage of your choice, as well as several other benefits.
Over the next 10 years, we continued our cover with them whenever we changed our vehicles. We have and had always paid our insurance premiums in full and always on time.
Early last year we were fortunate to have been able to acquire a tax-exempt 25-year-old diesel Landrover Safari, paying £3000 for the privilege. This was my husbands dream machine, not only could it seat all of the children and still have spare seats in the very back, he had all the space that he needed to transport his tools and equipment the 8 miles to Cornwall each day. As it is 4 wheel drive he was able to do the work on the farm that needed to be done, simply by adding a tow bar and winch. He bought both of these and continued to enjoy his equivalent of a Porsche. Just before we bought it, it had been thoroughly overhauled, a replacement engine fitted, had an extremely long MOT and a good service history. This was probably the only vehicle that we all enjoyed being out in. He took that thing everywhere he should, and several places he shouldn’t, but all terrain driving was his thing. In short, we loved that little, (well big) car.
In july last year my husband was unfortunate enough to have had to swerve and ditched our Landrover head first down a steep embankment, embedding the front end into a ravine. Luckily, he was unhurt apart from his pride, and so was the dog that he had swerved to avoid.
My husband immediately contacted Pearls emergency number, and very shortly a breakdown truck arrived to assist. However due to position of the vehicle, the breakdown driver was reluctant to attempt to retrieve it. A neighbouring farm worker was on the scene and when asked to recover the vehicle by the breakdown driver, agreed and un-ceremonially dragged it back out, causing more damage than the actual accident, now making it beyond economical repair, as unlike the front, there was no rear bull bar to protect the back end. Two months later and after huge disagreements over who owned the quality winch that my husband had fitted at great expense, we were still not in the least satisfied. We had had enough of their excuses, by now they had sold our vehicle complete with all contents, for a pittance of what it was worth. Some of the contents did not belong to us, including sentimental belongings (His mothers St Christopher and our friends heavy duty battery and ground anchors)
Determined not to be beaten by the insurance company, we forwarded all of our gripes and complaints to the Ombudsman direct, and were promised that the matter would be resolved in due course.
Finally we received some extremely interesting correspondence from the Ombudsman, regarding Pearls mismanagement of our claim. After careful scrutiny, the Ombudsman agreed with our claim, and subsequently fined Pearl for their”lapse” in service, and awarded us an undisclosable amount in view of our case. Not only were we undeniably treated badly by Pearl after being a customer for 10 years, I feel quite disgusted that this is standard procedure, and in order to receive any reasonable settlement we have had to wait nearly 16 months, and had to go to the governing body. The main points that the Ombusman pointed out were the facts as follows;- 1. We had been lied to about the value of our vehicle, they had stated that the price in parkers buyers guide was £2200, however our vehicle is NOT listed in any buyer’s guides. 2.Courtesy car, keeping the £50 deposit paid by myself based on the car being dirty (Don’t forget we are farmers) was deemed illegal. 3.Disposing of our personal equipment and property without our consent was also illegal and deemed as theft. 4.Failing to reimburse the farm hand that had actually removed the Landrover from the accident site, for his time and effort, which contravened the verbal contract between himself and the recovery driver. 5.We had been lied to regarding the cheque being sent, or not as the case may be.” The cheque is in the post”, and the delay in awarding us a hire car, breached the contract that we had with Pearl. The cheque is in the post proved to be yet another lie, as it finally arrived some 28 days later. They didn’t even have the intelligence to post date it.
We are Goldwise Policy customers which is the highest standard of insurance that Pearl offer their customers, I dread to think of the quality of service that other policy holders would receive in our predicament.
Anyone wishing to view the actual paperwork is quite welcome to do so by emailing me.
With hindsight, now knowing how badly this company treat their long term clients we would have left the Landrover in situ, and never attempted to recover any of our losses.
I cannot fault the Ombudsman for their meticulous investigation of this matter, but I would like to point out now that we are still waiting to be in receipt of their cheque. I hope that this matter will be resolved soon, otherwise I feel a court case impending.
Please take our experience to heart when considering purchasing Pearl's insurance. I would never knowingly recommend Pearl for any insurance needs, as their policy is obviously profit before people.
In due course We reieved a letter from the insurance company, they have agreed to pay on reciept of detailed description of our stereo.
After a short wait one of the cheques arrived, they decided to settle for the stereo and recovery seperately. Along with the cheque, was a very nice apology letter, stating
<snip> I am sorry for the problems you have had regarding this claim and I am concerned that you have not recieved the level of service that you deserve. It is clear we need to put tighter controls in place to make sure that similar mistakes do not happen again. As agreed with the Insurance Ombudsman please enclosed a cheque for .........., which is in respect of the following. Contents of vehicle, excluding stereo but including interest ......... Returned deposit......... Compensation............. Salvage costs..............
Yours sincerely ...........<snip>
So the moral of the story is...... Fight for what you are entiltlied to, the Ombudsman procedure may look daunting, but it is worth the time and effort.
This claim has now taken over 17 months to settle, but I feel that the end definitely justified the means.
Currently I am still insured with Pearl, (the breakdown service is handy), but I feel that they may treat us with kid gloves should we ever have the misfortune to need to claim again.(Heaven forbid)
On 22nd November 2000, we finally recieved payment for the stereo and speakers(+ agreed intrest). In our acceptance letter in order to encourage them not to argue regarding the stereo, we gently reminded them that we had not claimed the excise duty that was outstanding on the vehicle. To my amazement they sent us a cheque for that too!!!!. They have even sent the cheque to the farmer.
First time I've come across you "over here". A very big welcome. You'll do wonderfully well. (kenjohn)
steve.toplis 05.03.2001 11:51
Just goes to show that if your prepared to fight then you can achieve satisfaction. It also goes to show that these companies try to pull the wool over our eyes hoping that we're ignorant of our rights.