Directlines’s horrendous treatment of Customer
To provide a back story so that the reader can understand the context of this complaint and what I do as Motorclaimguru.
I was approached by a Customer who was not happy that firstly, Directline forced her into using their approved repairer, that she was advised her vehicle was a total loss, The arrogance of the “Supposed” “Engineer” she spoke to and how rude he was too her. The complete Arrogance of Directline’s abject refusal to listen to any part of her complaint.
When making an insurance claim, your policy advises that it will: Indemnify you up to the market value of your vehicle at the point of loss.( You can insist on your vehicle being repaired UP TO this figure)
Many “insurer approved” repairers have contracts with insurers where they work on something called “Average repair cost”. What this means is that based on the volume of work provided, these repairers agree to obtain an average cost at a set amount. What this does is drive all the wrong behaviours in the repairer, It causes them to “Cherry pick” the jobs for less than the average repair cost, whilst over estimating those above to force them into being either constructive total losses or Total losses.
That was the case in this claim.
To compound this, Directline’s “Engineer” and I use this term “loosely” in this specific situation, On checking this person’s Qualifications as an Engineer, he had no Qualification’s. He only held the “Accreditation” of being a “VDA” Vehicle damage assessor. He was not accredited or recognised by ANY organisation as being a Member. This being Either through the “Institute of Automotive Engineer Assessors”, “The Institute of Road Transport Engineers” ” Society of Operation Engineers” “Institute of the Motor Industry” “Eng Tech”.
My customer was adamant her car was not to be treated as a “Total loss” and she wished for it to be repaired. The Engineer was adamant the vehicle was a total loss, as the repair cost exceeded the market value. However, there were many parts on the estimate that was not required. The Engineer refused to listen, and refused to speak to the customer any further.
I have been in this situation myself as an Engineer, this is down to the ridiculous pressures Engineers get put under as part of being “Performance managed” in having to hit a target of carrying out ” X” amount of jobs a day. This again “Drives the wrong behaviours”. This engineer, rather than “listening” to the customer and having any type of empathy, was more focused on just “Getting rid of the job” rather than doing it correctly.
Not only that, he will actually get “Rewarded” for doing the job wrong, as he does not have to deal with the complaint. He may now hit his target, Achieve his end of year Bonus, But he has thoroughly Pissed of their customer for life, who will tell their friends and family to never insure with ANY Royal Bank of Scotland Brand, Ie Directline, Churchill, RBS Insurance. Where is the Commercial Sense in that Eh?
But this is the endemic miss managed state of the insurance industry. This is no longer “His problem”, it has now been pushed on to the complaints team.
On being told Irrespective of her complaint, this claim would be dealt with on a total loss basis, the customer advised she would be retaining the salvage of the vehicle. The engineer and the claims department agreed this and the customer requested the return of her vehicle. On having the vehicle returned, the customer paid for the repairs herself. The repair cost were less than the market value as a lot of what was on Directline’s Engineers report was not required.
On having the vehicle duly repaired, the customer contacted Directline to ask what she needed to do to have the policy re-instated from third party fire and theft cover to Fully comp.
Directline now advised the vehicle is a CAT B and cannot go back on the road.
I believe the Engineer at this point acted out of “spite” and placed a Categorisation of “B” Breaker just to get one over on the customer. This vehicle IS NOT a total loss and should not have had any categorisation placed on it. Had the repair cost “Exceeded” the market value, then following the process in the salvage code of conduct of conduct, the car would have been a Category “N” non structural total loss.
However, it was THREE MONTHS later the customer was informed it was a CAT B, and that was only because she had contacted them.
How Directline and other insurers handle complaints.
In short, they do not. What they do is compare the handling of a claim compared to their process, It does not matter that their process is “Wrong” or “Flawed”. In fact my Experience in working at Insurers, is that the claims / complaints teams are ALWAYS on the defensive on receipt of the complaint, rather than being “Objective”. This completely defeats the point of having a complaints team,as they ARE the only buffer an Insurer of any other Financial Institution has before it gets escalated to the Financial Ombudsman.
This stance happens on virtually every claim I get involved in on behalf of clients. If I can deal with the Head of claims, or Head of Complaints Cheif exec, ect, I generally get a different response and result at that stage.
What is going wrong?
The claims staff have been indoctrinated by their colleagues, and are doing as they have been trained. This causes them to have the view that what they are doing is “Right” and ” Correct”. If you want to know what this is from a Psychological stand point. This Video perfectly displays it.
Getting back to the complaint
Without having the Objectivity to correctly review the complaint, Directline issued a final response letter and advised that the customer “if still not Happy” could take their complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service”.
To provide a viewpoint of how arrogant and stupid this is/ was. I spoke with the Directline Complaints department, Rather than “LISTEN” than just “HEAR” what I was “STATING” they were so Conditioned to their viewpoint, they refused to discuss with myself. I wrote to the Head of Claims, Head of Engineers, Head of Complaints advising Each one of what had gone wrong, and why it had gone wrong, Along with “possible ” breaches of the Financial Conduct Authority regulations that they must abide by under the 2002 Financial Service and Markets Act.
The complaint was then Escalated to the FOS.
I drafted the complaint to the FOS, Explained what had happened, the possible FCA breaches ( failing to treat the customer fairly) Breaching articles of PRIN https://www.handbook.fca.org.uk/handbook/PRIN/2/?view=chapter
After 5 months in communicating with Directline and myself, the Adjudicator at the Ombudsman found in favour of my client and Informed Directline to change the Categorisation of the vehicle from a CAT B and Change it to a CAT N and to Also pay compensation of £300.
At this point, the FOS would have imposed a Fee of £450 on Directline for handling the complaint.
Directline rejected the findings of the FOS and requested it be reviewed by an Ombudsman.
I continued my communications with the Ombudsman, Chasing them on a weekly and monthly basis whilst Copying my customer into every email to keep them updated.
Finally, 10 Months after the original Incident , and 9 months after accepting the case and raising the complaint, the Ombudsman has finally come back with a decision today.
The FOS finds in favour of your client , request Directline change the Categorisation of the vehicle from a CAT B and amend to a CAT N.
FOS LETTER BELOW!!!!
Decision Letter - 21210580 - Harry against UK Insurance Limited