Meet Jay Jay, the dog barking mad at her bank

NatWest’s decision to scrap its pet insurance has hurt customers who feel loyal to the firm.

Personal finance editor

Jay Jay is a cavalier King Charles spaniel. She lives with daughter Mary Lou in Greenford, Middlesex. The pair have been insured with NatWest for years but last week their owner, Annie Heffernan, was told that the bank is stopping cover.

In a letter, the bank said “alternative arrangements have been made to ensure that you have the option of continued cover”, but it added: “The terms of your new policy will not be identical to your existing one.”

That worried Ms Heffernan. She wants to know that her dogs have the insurance they need so that if either of them ever needs medical help, she can afford it. So she rang Direct Line, the company which NatWest said would be taking over the policy, to find out what would be different. What she was told sent the pensioner into a panic.

“I telephoned Direct Line and was told that under no circumstances would transfers from NatWest Pet Insurance include cover for animals aged over 10-and-a-half. [Jay Jay is 12, while Mary Lou is eight.]

“The operator told me that only one of my dogs would be insured and that the premium for her would be the same price as what I currently pay for both. I was shocked,” she said. “I’ve been with NatWest for more than 20 years and didn’t expect them to suddenly desert me.”

To add insult to injury, the letter suggested that Ms Heffernan call an 0870 premium number if she didn’t want to go ahead with the new quote. “They simply don’t seem to care about their customers. The bank is shutting branches and withdrawing services, and then making extra money if we need to ring up and do something about it,” she said.

She believes the problem could affect hit a lot of pet owners who insure with NatWest. “The Direct Line operator told me she is having to refuse seven out of 10 transfers for NatWest customers due to the age of their animals.”

A spokesperson for NatWest said the issue affected a very small number of people, adding: “Our focus is determined by where our customers need us and where we can serve their needs better than anyone else. Applications for these products have been very small in recent years, so we are transferring ownership of existing customer policies to Direct Line Group. Any other products these customers hold with RBS and NatWest are unaffected.”

That was no comfort to Ms Heffernan, so she contacted i for help. We asked Direct Line to explain and it said that what the pensioner had been told was wrong, that while the firm doesn’t normally offer cover for older pets, it will for the customers transferring from NatWest. It said: “We apologise for any confusion. Ms Heffernan was provided with incorrect information and should have been directed to the letter she received.”

 The letter said that a quote from Direct Line would be issued automatically. “The quote will give continued cover for her pets, irrespective of their age,” the insurer explained. It was a pleasing result for Annie but the story raises fears that older pets will find it hard to obtain cover.

But not all insurers turn down pets because of age. Ben Wilson, a pet expert at Go Compare, said: “Most insurers have no age restrictions on cover, so it should not be too difficult to track down a decent policy. However, elderly dogs do carry more of a risk, so switching to a new insurer may mean a considerable hike in premiums.”

The comparison site yielded several insurers which may offer cover for Jay Jay, including Animal Friends, More Than, AA, John Lewis, L&G and M&S. John Ellenger, head of pet insurance at More Than, said: “We have no upper age limits on our policies but it is important to remember that if a pet has had a previous illness or treatment, that condition won’t be covered by a new insurance policy.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Front-Office Developer (C#, .NET, Java,Artificial Intelligence)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Front-Of...

    C++ Quant Developer

    £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Quantitative Developer C++, Python, STL, R, PD...

    Java/Calypso Developer

    £700 per day: Harrington Starr: Java/Calypso Developer Java, Calypso, J2EE, J...

    SQL Developer

    £500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer SQL, C#, Stored Procedures, MDX...

    Day In a Page

    Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

    The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

    Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    9 best steam generator irons

    9 best steam generator irons

    To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
    England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

    New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
    ‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

    ‘We knew he was something special’

    Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York