Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

God is in the detail when it comes to private healthcare

Question: I have had an AXA PPP Cash Back Healthcare policy for about 10 years. I made a claim in May 2009 for a Wellman health check at my private GP practice.

AXA PPP paid half the cost in accordance with its policy. But after I had an identical Wellman health check at the same GP practice with the same doctor last month, AXA rejected it because the Wellman health check had not taken place at a hospital. The cost of the Wellman health check was £443.00 so they owe me £221.50. I am on an ill-health retirement pension of £690.00 a month and only use the private clinic because I have this policy. VG

Answer: Under the terms of your policy, you are entitled to a payment of £150 a year towards the cost of a health check at a screening facility in a registered hospital. But AXA previously met a claim that did not conform to its own policy conditions. On this latest occasion it was correct in terms of the policy wording to turn down your claim. But it is clear that you reasonably expected the claim to be met on the basis of the insurer's previous actions. AXA has therefore agreed to pay £150 towards the cost of your latest health check. AXA apologises for the confusion, but warns that the policy conditions will be properly imposed in future.

Question: The AA has cancelled my motor bike insurance policy that I took out in March 2011. This was a one-year policy for third party, fire and theft, costing £127.15, which I paid in full. Later in March I received a letter from AA European Breakdown Cover, which was of no interest as the cover was included with the bike. A further four letters arrived, which I mistakenly believed were further marketing letters. I now find out that my insurance policy was cancelled. I have been driving motorbikes for 14 years with no breaks in insurance cover and with a nine-year no claims discount. It turns out that I have been driving my current bike without insurance since April. I admit that the error that has occurred has been mainly due to my circumstances: I work long hours which led me to not fully acknowledge mail and I travelled abroad for much of April and May, which meant that on my return I was greeted with a huge amount of mail, much of it junk, which I did not open. This included the demands from the AA for details regarding my no-claims bonus. I want the AA to reinstate my policy, to put me back in the position that I was in March 2011. I am willing to pay the administration costs associated with this. EP

Answer: You must be joking. No insurer is going to reinstate a policy that was cancelled earlier this year because you failed repeatedly to reply to letters about the policy. That especially applies when you have had your motorbike, valued at £7,500, stolen in the meantime. Our sympathy is with the AA on this occasion. A spokesman for the AA says: "We have no case to answer ... As with any insurance policy that offers a no claims bonus, the insurer requires proof in order to give the discount. We wrote to [the reader] three times - last time sent by recorded delivery - requesting the proof of no claims and stating that the policy would be cancelled unless we received the required documentation. We then sent a fourth letter, dated 5 May, stating that his policy had been cancelled and requesting the return of his insurance certificate. [The reader has] admitted that he hadn't opened any of these letters." The AA says that you only asked for the policy to be reinstated after your motorbike was stolen. As we say, you have to be joking.

Question: I am a Vodafone customer on a £20 a month, SIM-only, iPhone contract. My wife also has a Vodafone contract and the bill for the two of us is usually £50. On 1 October - unknown to me - my phone made a five-hour-plus call to an overseas number, to P-amp;O Ferries in France. I can only presume I initiated the call by accident when I was deleting one of P-amp;O's regular marketing emails. The first I knew of this was a text a couple of days later informing me of "unusual activity" on the account. This one call added £280, plus VAT, to our bill. When I spoke to Vodafone, it said we would have to wait to see the cost added to my account before they could do anything about it. I then visited a Vodafone shop, where I was told the issue would be logged and someone would phone me within three working days - no one phoned or emailed me. After two weeks, I visited the shop again and was given a reference number and told I would be phoned within three days - again I wasn't. Whilst I accept the call came from my handset, I am shocked that the network should have permitted a phone on a £20-a-month contract to make such a long and expensive call. Had I not thankfully turned off the handset later on the Saturday evening, the bill could have run up overnight to £1,000 or more. I was not aware that my phone could make overseas calls when it was on its home network in the UK. I don't think this was something I had requested. I have now blocked overseas access on both phones. RH

Answer: Vodafone has taken pity on you. A spokeswoman says: "While there is no doubt that this call was made from this customer's handset, it was clearly made in error. On this occasion we have decided to cancel the charges as a gesture of goodwill. We have also put a bar on international calls at his request."

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