I have used a few home insurance companys over the years but resorted to abbey 3 years ago as they were one of the few companys out there willing to offer me home insurance at a very good rate concidering 2 previous claims in 5 years.
Abbey charge me £151 a year to insure £45000 worth of contents and accidental damage cover which in 3 years i havent found a company to beat that.
Abbey also allow me to pay my insurance monthly at no extra cost unlike some companys and i had no problems with them when i had to put a claim in either.
For my claim abbey asked me for a crime number, what had been taken, how and when and within 5 days i recieved a cheque for the value of goods stolen minus the £200 excess.
Abbey home insurance also has a lot of little added extras one of which i think is great is that my belongings are covered for 30 days at a time wholst out of my house which is ideal for us when we go away on holiday as anything we take with us is covered.
The only thing i have found that they dont cover is damage caused by pets which i wouldnt think any insurance company does.
Banks are one of those institutions that we love to moan about and to be honest in the PR stakes they do not do themselves any favors with high charges on their accounts whilst at the same time announcing record profits. Also because the industry is so competitive they only have to mess up on a customers account once and it is relatively easy to move to another provider for pretty much the same product and often at a lower cost.
This review is a bit different because I will actually praise the product and also the claims process but at the same time find it hard to recommend the product due to the one instance of bad service that I received which has seen me take my business to another provider.
The reason I had my home insurance with the Abbey was because like many people it was where I had my mortgage. Unlike many people the reason I had my mortgage with the Abbey was that for 16 years I worked for them and got a rather nice staff rate on my loan which meant I did not have to worry about the fluctuations of interest rates just the greedy chancellor and his benefits in kind tax.
Applying for Home Insurance
Similar to most providers Abbey offer a number of ways to purchase their products. You can visit one of the hundreds of branches they have doted around the country where you will be dealt with face to face usually at one of the desks in the banking hall or in a private interview office. Alternatively the insurance can be arranged over the phone through one of the companies call centers that are based in Bradford, Glasgow, Belfast or Bournemouth. Finally you can apply online through the website.
Unless you are arranging a mortgage at the same time you will need to know some details about the property such as the rebuild cost and the current market value of the property, the former will be on the original survey you had when purchasing the property whilst the latter will depend on how long you have lived in the property and the movement in house prices since you purchased it. You will also need to have to hand details of any claims you have made in the past and also any security features the property has and whether you are in a neighborhood watch area.
Whatever method of purchase you choose the adviser or website will advise you of their status and your rights to cancel the policy within 14 days of receiving your policy document. You will also be advised that the policy is underwritten by Commercial General Union. You will be given a quotation and a key features document and the application form will be completed using the information you have provided.
The Combined Buildings and Contents policy is a very flexible plan and you can choose those features that you need. Obviously you can just choose to take out either buildings or contents on their own as well.
The basic Buildings policy and the basic Contents policy will cover the rebuilding cost of your home and the replacement of your possessions in the event of all major risks happening such as fire flood and theft in the case of contents. What I particularly like is the fact that in the case of contents cover it is for an unlimited amount. You do not have to state the insurable value of your possessions in advance.
This feature is particularly attractive as most insurers will only cover you for the amount of your possessions and you have to provide this upon application. If the amount of possessions increases you have to go back to the insurer to increase your cover however more importantly if you under estimate the cover you need than any claim you make will be reduced accordingly. For example if you take out £40k worth of cover and suffer a loss through fire to the possessions in one room. If an assessor believes that in fact you have £80k worth of possessions you are effectively under insured by half the value of your actual possessions and thus a claim could be reduced accordingly. It s very easy for people to under estimate the amount of cover they need therefore unlimited cover is a useful feature. In addition there is owners liability cover on the buildings policy of £1m.
You can also choose the level of excess you want to apply to the policy, the bigger the excess the lower the premiums. When I applied you could choose from a zero, £50, £100 or £250 excess however on the buildings insurance there is a compulsory £1000 excess for subsidence claims.
You can then choose additional options to add to your basic insurance to tailor the policy to your needs.
For the buildings insurance you can add in accidental damage cover to your building for all of those DIY mishaps. You can also add accidental damage cover to your contents as well which is very useful if you have small children. For this cover there is a limit of £10k to valuable items and any item over £1k in value must be listed separately with a valuation provided in some cases such as for jewelry.
You can also protect your possessions away from the home and this is particularly useful for those who travel frequently and can reduce the cost of your travel insurance as the cover extends to anywhere in the world provided no stay is longer than 30 days. There is a limit of £3,500 to items that have not been specified and again any item of £1,000 in value must be specified.
The final add on is Family legal protection which provides up to £50k worth of cover should you pursue or defend a claim in the courts.
Overall I found the policy to be competitive on price but certainly not the cheapest and that took into account the fact that I received a staff discount.
Insurance is there to provide peace of mind and protect you against any financial risks however it is only any good if it actually pays out when you need it. Not only do you want it to pay out you also want it to be as little hassle as possible and certainly Abbey score well on this point.
When I spilt paint on the living room carpet the claims process was quick and efficient. It only took one phone call to the claims number and my details were passed straight to an assessor who specialized in carpet replacement, he agreed my claim on the spot and came armed with samples from which I could choose. Inside of an hour he had ordered the replacement carpet and a week later I was contacted to arrange a fitting time at my convenience. A further week later the carpet was professionally installed and the old one removed.
After quite a bit of praise you might wonder why I am no longer with the Abbey even though my mortgage is. Well quite simply a very basic request to change my direct debit was messed up to such a degree that my policy ended up being cancelled by the company. It is the administrative weaknesses that let the Abbey down and these have only got worse since the bank was taken over by the Spanish Bank Santander. Redundancies have seen the workforce cut and added to the fact that the home insurance administration has been outsourced to a third party provider for the last few years the level of service provided is poor.
For something that was not my fault and had been successfully managed by such companies as NTL and npower (neither of whom are noted for their efficiency) successfully Abbey showed a total lack of interest in their customers and after three phone calls where I failed to get a consistent or polite answer from three different people I took my business elsewhere as saved about £80 off my annual premium. They have not even been able to send a holding letter to my complaint I lodged with them over three weeks ago. If they fail to respond within the eight week time limit then the case will go straight to the Ombudsman
Still if you are looking for a comprehensive policy with a good claims process then Abbey should be considered hence an average rating, however it is not for me, you only get one chance when it comes to dealing with my money, mess up and I walk.
Thanks for reading and rating my review.
We have been with the Abbey National for house and contents insurance since buying our house in 1994. To start out with it was tied to the mortgage, so we had no choice but to use them. However it is no longer tied, we are free to change, but choose to stay with them they are so good. When I first started shopping around for prices, surprisingly none of the big names could come close to Abbey National for price. The last couple of years, Prudential has been slightly more competitive, but we have stuck with the Abbey National because of the service. We have claimed on our insurance twice now - once when a power surge damaged the computer, and once when our chest freezer broke - right before chrismas, very expensive! Both times they have paid up quickly and easily. When ever you have to phone they are very efficient and helpful. I really cant fault them.