Tuesday, 15 May 2012

A small victory for underdogs and for cover for life

Yesterday I got a call from the head of media relations at Lloyds and Halifax. It reminded me of the last time they called up - which was the day before I went on BBC Radio 4 Moneybox or possibly You and Yours to moan about what they were doing.
Coincidentally (!), the day before this latest call, the lovely guys from BBC1 Rip Off Britain had phoned up to ask if I'd be interviewed for their item on the banks' shameful abandonment of their cover-for-life pet insurance customers.
And the latest twist - how they were still letting down their customers as they hadn't written to everyone yet to say they would be leaving them in the lurch.
Consequently, I took their latest press statement with a good pinch of salt.
The last time I was about to face the national media they'd tried to diffuse me with empty promises, too. They said they were going to write to everyone affected with an offer in two to three weeks. Never happened.
But it seems everyone else trusts them and thinks the war is over - and that we won. The Telegraph even say it's mostly down to us!
They say: "Most insurance policies won't cover an animal that already has an existing health problem. Dogs Today, which has spearheaded a campaign against the bank, said it knew of at least one case where the owner was forced to put a pet down because they couldn’t pay for the vet’s fees"
Click here to read the whole article.
Martin Lewis is of course modestly claiming the victory for himself although he's sadly been very quiet since he had his five minutes on BBC Watchdog a few months back where the show all made it sound like they'd sorted it (they hadn't) and before that ITV Daybreak.
Sadly despite us asking him, he's never mentioned on air about our 'no win no fee' class action or our action group. But our growing band of 84 members found us somehow. And the steady churn of the good folk at our wonderful lawyers Sheridan Law writing letters on behalf of those increasingly pissed-off disaffected people will have made it clear to Lloyds and Halifax that this story wasn't going to go away even if the general media lost interest.
I remain a cynic.
We are not having the street party just yet.
Lloyds and Halifax say only 4,000 of their customers are getting their insurance reinstated. Why?
What about the rest?
And how much will this insurance cost and what will be the deal? What will be covered? What will be the excess? Will it be comparable to what was lost? What about the bills that have piled up while they were gone? What about the poor dog that was put to sleep? What if people don't trust Lloyds and Halifax to behave after the media averts their gaze?
And what about all the other heartache and worry generally. Nine months of attempting to abandonof these thousands of customers must count for something?

Don't forget about Holly, the dog featured in my editorial this month - the dog that enlivened Rip Off Britain's interest in the story that Watchdog had earlier gazumped them on.
Holly was diagnosed with lymphoma many months after Lloyds and Halifax decided that pet insurance wasn't profitable enough for them so they were going to get out of it and just leave everyone stranded.
(Once you've made claims new insurance companies won't cover you - and many people had dogs with very, very expensive on-going conditions.)
Even though Lloyds and Halifax told the insurance industry and the press they were stopping they still didn't bother to tell their own customers they were going to pull the plug on their insurance.
If Holly's owner had known back in September he'd have jumped to another more reliable cover-for-life insurer and she'd not have been diagnosed with cancer back then and would have been free to move.
Holly's owner has had many weeks of worry that he'd never be able to afford her chemo and have to say goodbye to her. Look into that face. Could you give her up without a fight?
Plus, what about the PetGuard customers who have also been abandoned?
There's still many battles to win and I think until everyone let down by their cover-for-life insurance being either misold or wrongly withdrawn is fairly treated we'll fight on.
Our 'no win no fee' class action is still active, no one will be left behind.
If you're affected and you've not yet joined, email me beverley@dogstodaymagazine.co.uk
This isn't just about patting one another on the back and celebrating a win - making the mighty Lloyds and Halifax back down - this has to be about the bigger issue.
Saving cover-for-life pet insurance for the future.
Making sure this NEVER happens again with another flakey fair-weather pet insurer who does their sums wrong.
But do pour yourself a small glass of Champagne as it's true, there does appear to have been at least a small victory for the underdogs of this world... I will concede that much!
Well done everyone who made a fuss, it does work doesn't it!
We got John Lewis to take that dreadful advert off and I seem to remember someone in the financial consumer sector saying we stood not a hope in hell of embarrassing these banks into behaving...
These corporate folk don't know how passionate us dog people are and how we do stick together when the chips are down - but don't get me going on microchips....!


Anonymous said...

Another article on pet Insurance.


Anonymous said...

Only just noticed this update on the Halifax website.

Anonymous said...

Halifax pet Insurance website update announcement.