Newest Review: ... run company they are, thank god I did not need to make a claim. If you are listening Elephant.co.uk - my contract with you was for 12 mon... more
A warning to anyone considering buying from Elephant, especially with breakdown cover.
Author Name: Alan
Advantages: Cheap, answer the phone quickly, UK call centre (at least Monday-Saturday PM)
Disadvantages: Poor internal communications. Their breakdown agent set my car on fire
I've used Elephant twice, the first time with no problems, and the second (and current) time with significant difficulty.
First off, Elephant's prices are reasonable compared to other insurers on the market. The first time I used them I had no problems, but I think that was largely because I did not have to use them beyond organising cover.
This time I again took breakdown cover, which is where the problem started. Elephant outsource breakdown cover to a third party - Call Assist, who in turn use local garages and recovery companies.
One morning in August, my car (a Mercedes 190E in generally good condition, which are typically pretty much bullet proof) refused to start. I organised for a mechanic to come and take a look via Elephant, and was advised that the ignition coil, distributor cap and rotor arm all needed replacing.
No problem - the mechanic (from Beeches Recovery in Great Barr, Birmingham) had a coil, which although was not the standard Mercedes part, he advised was a suitable replacement. I sourced the correct rotor arm and distributor cap from my local German, Sweedish and French specialist motor factors based on the vehicle specification for the car, and fitted them.
Unfortunately, the replacement coil turned out not to be suitable and caused a short circuit in the ignition system, burning out the wires through the fuse box and the wiring loom. All while travelling northbound on the M6 in rush hour.
The car was recovered back to my own mechanic and Elephant were called to record a claim for fire damage. The sent an independant assessor who declared the car a total loss, stating that the fire was almost certainly caused by the fitment of an inappropriate ignition coil.
The garage concerned denied responsibility (having been allowed by Elephant to inspect the vehicle before the independant assessor!), Elephant refused to pay for further investigation by an auto-electrician making the chances of a recovery of costs from the garage an impossibility, offered me £900 less the outstanding balance of my policy for my car and cancelled my insurance without letting me swap it over to another vehicle.
Unfortunately, the assessor, Elephant's storage company and Elephant didn't talk to each other. The following day I was contacted by my mechanic asking if he should release the car to a third party. Not having any idea who this was, I said no and called Elephant. They didn't know anything about it. Luckily my mechanic called - otherwise I'd have reported Elephant to the police for stealing my car.
Several heated phone calls ensued, and finally they agreed to reinstate my policy and change the vehicle. As I sourced another 190E of the same spec. and colour I decided to keep the salvage, reducing my payout by £90.
I agreed that I would cover any storage costs beyond those already incurred and currently assume that all that is in order. However, Elephant then proceeded to:
* Log a claim on my policy, increasing my risk despite it being their own service provider damaging my car beyond economical repair
* Classify the car as a Cat-B (breakers only) write-off, despite being an electrical problem not affecting the safety of the vehicle in any way
* Charge me the excess on my policy, having advised that they would not pay for further investigation to ascertain blame due to the size of the claim
* Refused to lower their offer on the vehicle by my excess and log the claim as a non-fault claim with full costs recovered, increasing my insurance risk further (though they did at least agree not to penalise my no claims bonus)
* Deny any responsibility for the incident, despite my contract for breakdown cover being with them
* Overlook that they'd reinstated my policy and continued to take payment via Direct Debit when they paid the amount due, leaving the payment short by over £400 (I'm still waiting for that cash as I write this, and more than 2 months have gone by since the incident)
To cap it all off, I got a phone call from their recoveries department yesterday asking to organise for the assessor to look over the car again to see if they could find anything new. That'd be ok, but as they'd declared the vehicle Cat-B they wouldn't pay out until I'd provided them withe Certificate of Destruction. "Hi, can I come and have a look at your crushed car please?" DOH!
Overall, I've probably spent in excess of 4 hours on the phone trying to get this resolved, had to buy a new car (without having had the money for the old one), had to take out a new policy to get my new car home (which thankfully they refunded in full, though after 4 or 5 phone calls) and the claim still isn't resolved.
In summary: I'd recommend anyone considering Elephant to think carefully. Yes they're pretty cheap, yes they're online which makes things a bit easier, yes they answer the phone fairly quickly. But in the event of a claim, the lack of internal communication, unwillingness to take responsibility for the actions of the 3rd parties they subcontract out to deliver your services to you in the event of a problem, the automatic reaction to a total loss to be to cancel your policy rather than allow you to change the vehicle and the outright lack of care in handling financial transactions correctly may well outweigh the cost benefit.
Summary: Bad internal comms and failure to take responsibility for contractors = poor claims handling
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