Sheilas’ Wheels hiked cover by £900 after deer ran into my car
A WEEK before Christmas, a deer ran into the path of my car.
Fortunately, I was doing 30mph in a 60mph zone — it was the first bout of icy weather and I was driving with extra care.
The animal ran out of a field, hit the corner passenger side then bounded off into a nearby field.
The only damage to my car that I could see immediately was to one of the headlamps, which had popped. But in the end, the wing and the bonnet also needed repairing.
I had been with my insurer, Sheilas’ Wheels, for ten years, with no claims made. I also had 19 years’ protected no claims, giving me a 47 pc discount, meaning my insurance cost £395 last year.
The repair work was all carried out by the insurer’s repairer.
All seemed fine, until I recently received my renewal premium and it quoted me £1,291. I was incredulous.
The incident was the result of an unpredictable animal, not a lack of concentration or judgment on my part, and I know that I was driving perfectly well in relation to the conditions.
We have also moved house, but not that far, and to what I would consider a lowerrisk area — in fact, our home insurance premium has fallen.
When I phoned to complain about the increase, Sheilas’ Wheels did not provide a satisfactory reason other than that I had made a claim. I was simply offered a £50 discount.
YOUR complaint about the extortionate increase in your motor premium this year is one among the avalanche Money Mail has received in the past few weeks from readers who are angry at what they deem highway robbery by Britain’s insurers.
Herd-like, these firms are pushing up premiums like there’s no tomorrow, with average prices rising by 30 pc.
But few of those readers who wrote to us have seen a hike quite as ‘deer’ as yours.
How can a premium increase of nearly £900 be justifiable? You don’t drive a Lamborghini (you own a four-year-old Audi AS); you are 48, not a teenager; and you hadn’t made a claim with Sheilas’ Wheels until this one.
The incident was the result of a freak accident with an animal that was nigh on impossible to avoid.
Your complaint to Sheilas’ Wheels, using these arguments, resulted in a paltry £50 discount. How insulting to a customer of ten years’ standing. No wonder you were forced to come to me for help.
I locked horns with the insurer on your behalf, asking it to re-examine your quote and explain in detail why it had gone through the roof.
A few days later, it got back to you directly with an explanation which might mystify readers.
One reason for the leap in your premium, other than making the claim itself, is because the costs (about £5,000 in repairs) could not be recovered from another insurer.
This was inevitable since the incident involved a wild animal, with no owner to pursue for costs. In industry jargon, this is an ‘unrecoverable claim’.
The insurer also blamed inflation for pushing up the costs of claims generally, which has fed through to higher premiums.
Your home move, although in your eyes to a less busy area, could have contributed to the higher price.
So far so (almost) understandable. But a threefold increase couldn’t be right.
After my intervention, and on reviewing the policy, it came to light that there had been a glitch when uploading data at the time of issuing your renewal quote. This meant certain information was missed.
Sheilas’ Wheels didn’t elaborate on what this was, but it caused the premium to increase by far more than it should have done. The firm told you directly that the issue had now been resolved, with a new quote offered of £859.
But this is still more than double last year’s bill. The insurer separately offered you £50 as an apology, which it says you can keep even if you transfer to another insurer.
Still unimpressed, you decided to vote with your wheels and switch insurer.
After shopping around you selected a policy from Admiral, offering similar cover, for £563.
This year, more than ever, it is vital to compare deals before accepting crazy renewal prices.
You can do this using insurance comparison websites or a broker who can search the market for you.
Find one via the British Insurance Brokers’ Association’s ‘ Find Insurance’ service (0370 950 1790 or biba.org.uk).
While the incident you faced seemed freakish, collisions with deer are not uncommon. The Deer Aware campaign says there are up to 75,000 deer- related traffic accidents in the UK each year, resulting in several hundred injuries to people, as well as a number of human fatalities.
October to December is a particularly high- risk period because of poorer driving conditions and fewer daylight hours coinciding with the rutting season for certain breeds, when the creatures tend to sprint into the road. May and June can also be risky, as this is when young deer start to leave the breeding areas.
I MADE a £126 takeaway order from one of my local curry houses via Deliveroo. After ordering, I saw an update on the app that it would be delivered in two parts. I thought this was odd but put it down to it being a busy Friday night.
The first delivery never turned up, and the app told me that the driver could not find my property.
This wasn’t credible as I live a few minutes’ walk from the restaurant in a clearly numbered house on a residential street.
A little while later a driver arrived. He asked me for my twodigit Deliveroo delivery code to prove I was the customer.
Once I told him, he said that he didn’t have my food but had come to tell me that the other driver couldn’t find my address and he was going back to the restaurant to get my order.
This was the last I saw of any driver — and no food was delivered.
Deliveroo refused to look into my complaint and said that because I had handed over the code, I must have received my order. Please help.
R.W., Balham, South London.
THIS all smelled a bit fishy. What were the drivers up to?
What’s more, the non-arrival of your order meant you had to feed yourself and three hungry guests with leftovers from the fridge. Not quite the Friday night fare they were expecting.
Frustrating as this was, you felt sure Deliveroo would step in and remedy your complaint. But it left a seriously bad taste in your mouth when it rejected your claim for a refund.
I asked the company to investigate. Deliveroo did so and within a couple of days came back to you directly to apologise.
It said it took your complaint seriously but offered no explanation either to you or me as to why your original order had been arranged so curiously.
Nevertheless, you are pleased to have your £126 back, plus £30 credit to your account against future orders — a delivery which arrived as promised.
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