Questions Of Cash: Blameless but left with excess stress after crash

Q. A white van crashed into me in January this year on a slip road – and quickly drove off. I wrote down the name of the company and the van's registration number. I reported this to the police, who confirmed the company owned the van and gave me an accident number, but told me they wouldn't do anything else and to pursue it through my insurer.

I reported this to my insurer, Admiral, which authorised my car to be repaired. But I had to pay the excess until this was recovered from the other driver's insurer, Zurich. I have phoned Admiral repeatedly to recover my £160 excess. I am still waiting for this. I regard the service from Admiral as appalling and have moved both my home and car insurance to other insurers. I told Admiral twice that I would refer the matter to you: the first time I was talked out of it by their claim handler, but now I have had enough! MB, Billingham.

A. Unfortunately there is little we can do and we sympathise with Admiral in trying to resolve this – though it sounds as if its customer relations need to improve. Admiral accepts you are not at fault. But your insurance policy clearly states that you can only recover the excess after the other party's insurer accepts liability. It does not. Not only did the other driver not provide you with any identification, but he or she did not report the incident to their employer or insurer. Without a third party accepting liability, Admiral has no one from whom to recover your excess.

Admiral referred the matter to Albany Insurance, which provides legal cover as part of your policy, and it has sought to recover the excess. As far as Albany and Admiral are concerned, this is an uninsured loss. Albany is now taking legal action against the van owner, which, if successful, will recover your excess. "We sympathise with [the reader's] position in this instance, but regret the case has been unavoidably delayed due to the third party," says Admiral.

Q. Banks are endlessly encouraging customers to do our banking online, so I find it strange that when I transfer money online from one of my accounts to another – from HSBC to Leeds Building Society – it takes at least two days for the transfer to be completed. I transferred £500 from my HSBC account on 2 December, which did not arrive at my Leeds BS account until 4 December. I would expect electronic transfers to be instantaneous. Surely the banks and building societies should be told to get a move on and make electronic online transfer of money instantaneous. GJ, by email.

A. A new central payments system – the Faster Payments Service, or FPS – is in the process of being rolled-out, which provides instant electronic transfers. Some 73 per cent of internet and phone banking transfers now use FPS. The system began operation in May last year. While the large banks and building societies are now members of the scheme, some smaller financial institutions are not. There are also limits to the size of the financial transfer that can be made using FPS, which vary according to the bank or building society. HSBC is a member of the scheme and will process payments up to a limit of £10,000 using FPS. Leeds Building Society is not currently a member. A full list of scheme members, and the financial limits on their FPS transfers, is published at

An alternative means of checking whether a payment will be made using FPS is to check via the sort codes of the sending and recipient account – this can be accessed at UK Payments Administration operates FPS and says that one of its benefits is that payments can be made electronically and instantly 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Where payments are going to an account that is not part of FPS, or where the payment exceeds a bank or building society's value limit for using FPS, the transfer still uses the old BACS system, which will usually take two or three days. BACS is also used to process large volumes of direct debit and standing order payments.

However, the banks and building societies are now getting ready to process payments much faster – and will be required by law to do so. The European Union's Payment Services Directive was recently agreed and requires that from January 2012 all banks and building societies must apply a credit to a customer's account no later than the end of the day after receipt of a deposit.

Q. I booked a seat on an Air Canada flight from Calgary to London on 17 September. The flight was first delayed by three hours because of a fault, so we were all given a CA$12 [£7] food voucher. A replacement plane arrived, which at 3am was also found to have a fault. A few of us, including myself, were given hotel rooms for the rest of the night and the flight was rescheduled for 4pm. All passengers were issued with CA$100 [£58] for use on future flights. I returned late for work and lost half a day's pay. I also made several phone calls from my mobile to the UK and allowed some elderly passengers to use my phone. But Air Canada has refused my claim for loss of earnings and use of the phone. KM, Berkshire.

A. Airlines will not normally provide compensation for any consequential loss from a flight delay, including loss of earnings. Air Canada says it expects passengers to take out travel insurance – which you did not have. However, not all travel insurance policies will pay out for consequential loss of earnings, either. Air Canada says it will meet costs of phone calls that result from a flight delay, providing these are properly receipted. We suggest you promptly send Air Canada a copy of your mobile phone bill.

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at:

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