Car insurance claim: it’s a Saga

Today for the first time in over 20 years I made a car insurance claim. A great big 4×4 rear-ended my wee town car while I was stationary at traffic lights. Things looked a bit twisted at the rear of my car and it looked a bit down on the left side, as though something was amiss in the suspension.

Coincidentally, the bump happened just down the road from the garage where I bought my car, so after getting the other driver’s details I drove slowly to that garage and phoned my insurance company, hoping to ask them if the garage I was at could check the car over to see if it was roadworthy.

Silly, naive me.

I now realise that anyone with any experience whatsoever of car insurance claims will laugh at my assumption the process could be anywhere near rational. Not only is it not rational, it’s also immensely time-consuming, and absolutely not designed – whatever they say in the adverts – for the ease of the customer.

I was on the phone – mobile phone mind you – for an hour and twenty minutes; first to Saga (Niall) who took all the details at great length and then said that since it was almost certainly a ‘no-fault’ claim they would transfer me to ClaimFast (a claims management company) (Josh) to organise the recovery of my vehicle and the provision of the hire car as per my policy.

I only had to repeat a portion of what I’d already said to Niall to Josh. Sigh.

What  I now know is that the claims management company’s role is to sign me up for another insurance policy that will pay them if the third party insurer doesn’t pay up. Let me repeat that: instead of Saga dealing with all that sort of thing as a back room function, I have to sign up to another consumer credit agreement – the paperwork will be coming in the post soon. [But Saga, I thought I paid you all that money for fully comprehensive insurance so that I’d be covered if the unfortunate event happened.]

And there’s more: the replacement car that I paid extra for in my premium turns out to involve an agreement with yet another company, Enterprise, and I was to be collected by one of their staff, taken back to their depot, sign documents there and swipe my credit card before I could have the car. Un-be-lieveable!

Poor Josh. I began to lose patience with him at that point: “I need to go home,” I wailed, “I have responsibilities.” The Enterprise depot is 10 miles in the opposite direction from my home, where I was already an hour and a half overdue as a result of being rear-ended and talking on the phone to Niall and Josh.

I suggested to Josh that the car hire guy could come and get me at my home tomorrow, and he checked with his supervisor and they decided that was OK. Finally, I was able to get off the phone, call my husband with the news and ask him to come and pick me up and take me home.

I always like to identify the lesson in things that happen to me in life, and the lesson I have learned today is that come renewal time I won’t use Saga and, whichever company I choose,  I’ll be taking out just third party, fire and theft cover plus a nice big RAC membership. That way, in the unlikely event of another accident I’ll be able to get home promptly and choose the contractors I want to do the repairs.

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