We are all told that what defines FinTech and InsurTech and any other @tech that we associate with financial services is its focus on the customer. Banks do financial technology. New entrants do FinTech – because everything is created with the customer experience and journey in mind. So, for the sake of research and validation, I know offer up to you my family’s ‘Insurance Customer Experience’. In the hopes that InsurTech will save others from our fate.
We arrived home late Sunday afternoon, after a weekend visiting friends in Poole. Not a major holiday, just an excuse for us oldie types to drink too much and yell at Alexa in the kitchen while our teenage children play Grand Theft Auto in the conservatory. (go ahead, call social services now).
As we navigated several trains and rail replacement buses between Dorset and Kent, we arrived home to find our boiler spurting out water all over our kitchen. In a panic, I Googled ’emergency plumber’ and dialed the first number that looked closest. An hour later, a young chap arrived.
‘Hmmm…not sure what is going on here? I don’t have the parts right now (it being 6:30 pm on a Sunday night).’
Our emergency plumber turned off our water at the mains and our electricity and suggested we call in the morning to see if he could get ‘the parts’ (‘The parts’ is a technical term that all tradesmen use).
That call out cost £157.
Faced with a possible 24 hours without water (no toilets or shower) electricity (so no WiFi) and a 13-year-old son for whom no WiFi is a fate worse than death – I went on Hotels.com. My husband was hiding in the garage trying to smoke a cigarette without my finding out. I booked us all into the Holiday Inn Express at Dartford Crossing. They had clean sheets, WiFi, a usable toilet, a fully stacked bar and a breakfast buffet. The Lumleys packed themselves in a cab, fed the cats, and we were off.
£49 for a family room (bargain, amiright??) plus food, snack and wine, natch.
Panic over for the time being, It was then we thought, ‘shit, maybe we should have called our insurer?’
The following scenario only ended about an hour before I finished this blog. That is Wednesday, April 11, 13:30.
My husband got on the phone to Hastings Premier as I bought a bottle of, not too bad, Rioja from the bar at the Holiday Inn.
“What do you mean you don’t have a record of our policy? I am looking at it right now, you take a direct debit every month!”
Two hours later, it emerged that since our policy was taken out before August 2017 our policy now belonged to another company. This company’s ’24 hour emergency helpline’ opened at 9:00 am Monday morning. And then my husband was hung up on, twice.
I called Hastings Premier at 8:15 am on Monday the next morning. I read the nice women who answered the phone our policy number. She answered ‘No, it should have an H in it.’ Ummm, no, ours doesn’t.
After re-telling the above story to the customer service woman from Hastings, I was told our policy was held by another company and she would transfer me. I was transferred and the line went dead. Hung up on, again.
I called back.
This time a nice young man answered. ‘Your policy number should have an H in it’
I told the story ALL OVER AGAIN. This time, he said he would make sure I wasn’t hung up on. We finally got a person, who worked for this new company that held our Hastings Premier policy, which we took out and had been paying for since May 2017.
She said she would call me back.
We waited until the last possible moment to check out of the Holiday Inn Express in Dartford (really, if you are going to go budget hotel off the motorway, this is the hotel to do it in) to make sure we had taken advantage of all the free WiFi and flushing toilets we could manage.
I got a call back.
An engineer would be coming by between 11:00 and 13:30. And we needed to show proof that our boiler had been serviced in the past 12 months.
Oh shit – where the fuck was that information? It had been serviced in the past 12 months – that was when ‘the part’ that exploded was installed.
The engineer came on Monday. He turned the water back on, removed ‘the part’, but advised us not to turn the boiler back on until an electrician had looked at the kitchen. So water and electricity, but no hot water. We’d live.
Exactly one hour ago, on Wednesday, an electrician came by and turned everything back on. I had a hot shower.
Now, why am I telling you all this story? Because it is a customer story. I am a customer – a paying customer, who had an emergency. And our insurers should have done better.
InsurTechs, your move!