Grey and Grumpy

I don’t know whether it is the return to grey weather or the insidious effect of Grey Britain but I seem to be becoming increasingly grumpy.  Seeing as I’m already well established as a Grumpy Old Man increased grumpiness can’t be a good thing.  The photo below seemed to sum it up for me, grey, gloomy background, birds sitting in the top of bare trees looking dejected ……

Grey and gloomy

I have always tried to take a positive view on things, to treat change as an opportunity rather than a threat.  But I’m finding it increasingly difficult.

It has been particularly difficult in the past week.  Coming back from the ice and snow and magnificence of the Rockies to Grey Britain.  Rattling around in the house on my own again after living with Ruth and Tim for a month.  Having to fill in my Income Tax Self Assessment and finding I owed them money.  Trying to sort out a repair to the damaged chimney before more bits fall off and damage the roof again.  And filling in an insurance claim form to try to recover the cost of medical treatment for my damaged knee in Banff.

I was, quite frankly, hacked off with the insurance company anyway.  I had contacted them by phone the day after the accident and provided a mass of information before they then passed over my ‘case’ to an agent in Canada who e-mailed and asked for the same information again.  It went from bad to worse.  They sent me an e-mail with a declaration to sign with no way of entering information or signing it.  To cap it all, the clinic recommended that I should continue with the treatment in Canada, but the insurance company failed to reach a decision so I had to continue paying for it myself with the prospect of trying to claim it back once I was home.

When I got home the company then sent me a 9-page, very poorly set out claim form requiring information to be filled in which they already had either from when I purchased the insurance or provided on the telephone, or in the subsequent e-mail.  In addition I was asked to provide originals of receipts and other documentation including the ‘Schedule of Insurance’ which they had issued in the first place.  The whole process was very cynically designed to put people off making a claim.  The only smile the whole process raised, albeit a very weak, wan smile, was when I came to the page numbered ‘7 of 9’.  But even that was still assimilated, no free-thinking allowed, every scrap of humanity crushed. (you need to be male and a Star Trek ‘Voyager’ fan to appreciate that one).

Much of the claim form was irrelevant or repetitive.  Most of the documentation simply didn’t exist, the booking having been made on-line.  But I filled in the form, despite a natural and almost overpowering aversion to form filling, printed off the documentation, and eventually put the 4mm thick envelope in the post.

Why is it that some insurance companies pile on the charm when selling you their ‘product’ and take such a cynical, obstructive attitude when you try to claim?

Up to a point I can understand it.  It seems to be generally accepted, certainly in the UK, that insurance companies are there to be ripped off.    I know several people who have made fraudulent claims.  One guy wanted a new PC so he banged the old one on the corner of the desk, dropped it on the floor and claimed that his baby had pulled it over.   Another couple hired a canoe, capsized it, and claimed from the hire companies insurance for the loss of all manner of expensive high tech electrical equipment which sank without trace.

It’s not just individuals who play this game.  Garages and builders enquire when you ask for a quote for repairs “is this an insurance job or are you paying for it yourself” and you can routinely get different quotes for both sets of circumstances.  Insurance companies changed their replacement policy to stop people replacing stolen or damaged property themselves or pocketing the money and now have an arrangement with national suppliers to replace them directly.  Some years ago Enfys had a pair of binoculars stolen, replacement value about £110 which a well known camera and optical equipment company acting for the insurance company tried to replace with a pair worth about £140.  We didn’t want them not simply because it was fraudulent but also because they were the wrong specification for bird-watching so we insisted on a replacement of what had been stolen.

This rip-off mentality, a variation of ‘Rip-off Britain’, creates two problems.  First it increases the amount insurance companies pay out and so increases the cost of premiums.  Second, it means that those who have genuine claims get treated as if they are trying to perpetrate a fraud.  I object to it being assumed that I am lying.

Not all insurance companies treat you like criminals once they have sold you the policy.  A few years ago we had a car insurance which, when we had a serious accident and the car was written-off, couldn’t have been more helpful.  I am far more inclined to give that company repeat business than one which is obstructive.  By contrast I will definitely try to avoid the travel insurance company in the future.

Ho Hum!  I ought to try to be less grumpy because I get the feeling that being grumpy just makes me merge into the grey background.

Where did I go?


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