Newest Review: ... the 28/10/2013 there claims line is an 0845 and takes at least 10 minutes to get through, so it cost you a small fortune just to be kept u... more
Tale of woe and crushed metal
Member Name: MagdaDH
Advantages: cheapish premius
Disadvantages: shoddy admin, counterfactual letters, ages to get through, don't want to pay what car is worth
We tend to change car insurance companies every year as the renewal quote is invariably higher than the previous year's one. When Swinton almost doubled our premium despite no claims, we chose Churchill, mostly on the basis of price. There were in fact cheaper providers, but we put - stupidly as it turned out to be - trust in the well recognised brand which we thought had a reputation to protect.
The quote was, thus, very reasonable, and the initial documents arrived promptly. And this is where the Good Stuff ended.
We received a letter demanding a proof of the no-claims bonus. We never had to provide one before, as the previous insurers seemed to be able to get this information from insurance databases. As we were in the process of moving houses, and the Christmas was nearing we misplaced the original previous insurer's renewal quote and delayed sending the required proof. We assumed that, if the worst comes to worse, Churchill would simply charge us a higher premium, taking the money from the card used for the original payment.
Even in the wildest dreams we did not think that they would actually cancel the policy WITHOUT LETTING US KNOW. We only found out by noticing a refund on a bank statement that we were actually not insured anymore. Luckily it was only a few days and I am not even sure if we used the car during the period, but still, not actually informing us that the policy had been cancelled was the first warning sign. As the following events proved, we should have immediately got a policy with a different insurer. But we didn't and a few months later, for the first time in our life, we made a claim on our comprehensive policy.
This was an undisputed fault claim and at first things didn't look too bad. I managed to get through to Churchill from the scene of the accident and apart from having to listen to a long and stern warning about making fraudulent claims (not quite the content you want to listen to when being in a totally shaken state immediately following a crash) things progressed somewhat. The car was recovered to our home address, collected by Churchill's preferred garage and I was able to make a claim over the phone.
Far from bringing a quick resolution, it was a beginning of a nightmare. The car was declared a category C write-off. In our eyes, it was based on a combination of an inflated cost of potential repair and an undervaluation of the vehicle. Churchill offered us an amount well below anything that would buy an equivalent replacement car (that is taking into account both the mileage and pre-existing cosmetic damage to the bodywork). In fact, the initially offered an amount below any of the online estimates for a retail or private sale price (taking into account mileage and previous damage), and even below the ''trade in''. This was upped by about 5% after literally hours spent on the phone. When we said that we would like to pay the salvage price and buy back the car, they quoted us (unofficially) 25% of the value - so much for the write-off!
All this was bad enough and rather shocking for somebody who has never claimed anything from any car insurance. On the surface of it, it's a simple if contentious case of disputed valuation, which we are taking to the FSA Ombudsman as I am writing this. But what needs to be added to the woe is the appalling levels of customer service Churchill offer.
-- There is no single point of contact for a claim. In the process of dealing with it, we phoned different numbers for the Claims, Customer Relations, Engineers, Total Loss and god knows what else. Each of these has a different 0845 number, and each takes on average 15 minutes (sometimes more like 25) to get through, at something like 4p/minute. When I requested call-back on finally getting through, I was told that it might not even be on the day I called.
-- Churchill are very reluctant to initiate contact. Most of the contact was initiated by us, and often required staying on hold for aforementioned long periods. Sometimes I was promised a transfer or put on hold and simply disconnected. I wouldn't be surprised if the company wasn't actually making some money from those calls.
-- Written correspondence has been erratic and substandard. We were sent printouts of lists of parts with bits torn off. Our reference number has been mistyped. We received notes referring to ''settlement letter'' and ''cheques'' which we have never received (clearly either lack of communication between various people or shoddy use of form letters). We were given - in two different letters, despite complaining - a number and name of a person in Bodily Injury section as a contact for our claim despite the fact that I never made a bodily injury claim.
All in all, it was a dreadful experience which is still going on. I will update this review with any resolution, but in all honesty whatever happens I don't think it could change my opinion of Churchill as what I see is not one or two slips but a whole system either designed to mess people around or designed without any thought for managing the claims process well. Add to it a money-grabbing attitude underlying all this and we have an insurer worthy indeed of its parent company - surprise, surprise, RBS.
Summary: don't even think of getting anything above 3rd party with them
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