Questions Of Cash: Pensioner perplexed by £3,000 tree demand


Q. My mother's house is suffering from subsidence. In 2008 her insurers, Lloyds TSB, surveyed the property, deemed the movement "historic" and dismissed her claim. The cracks in the brickwork grew wider and in 2010 she commissioned a chartered surveyor to examine the property. He advised that the only solution was underpinning.

The insurers agreed to re-open the claim and their surveyor then reported that, upon re-examination, there was fresh movement due to shrinkage in the clay soil being exacerbated by the roots of a large oak tree at the end of the garden. They want this removed before any remedial work is undertaken, but insist my mother foots the £3,000 bill for its removal. There is no mention of this being an "exclusion" in the policy.

Lloyds TSB remains adamant that an 86-year-old widow living on a state pension has to pay for tree surgery that is not guaranteed to solve the problem and is in contradiction of the findings of her own chartered surveyor. KH, Reigate.

A. At our request, you referred back to the surveyor your mother engaged, who expressed "surprise" at Lloyds' expectation that your mother should have the tree removed and pay for this herself. He also confirmed his opinion that the tree is not the cause of the subsidence. Lloyds has now appointed a consultant to review the claim and the insurer's response. We are promised that this will happen quickly.

Q. I won £25 on a premium bond in June. The cheque from National Savings and Investments was paid into my NatWest account on 17 June. On 22 June, NatWest wrote to say the cheque had not been cleared – it had bounced. I was promised it would be represented. After 10 days I phoned and was told it would be represented immediately. After another 10 days I phoned again and was told the cheque had again bounced. I phoned NS&I, which said it had cleared their system. SG, Hampshire.

A. As you probably guessed, the error was with NatWest, which failed to clear the cheque properly. Our national finances are not yet in a situation where a £25 cheque drawn on the Exchequer should bounce. A spokeswoman for NatWest says: "We're sorry for the delay in [the reader] receiving cleared funds on this occasion. This was due to an error while processing one of his cheques." NatWest has credited your account with the missing £25, plus £50 compensation.

Q. My daughter has had her car insurance premium almost double on renewal to £800. She is a mature driver with 20 years' experience. She was the owner of a BMW 1.8D Sport, bought in 2007 from a main dealer when just a year old. It has been regularly serviced by them. In August last year in the early morning her car gave out an exploding noise and caught fire while parked outside her flat, and was destroyed. My daughter had to find the money for a new car and her premiums have jumped. She seems to have been shabbily treated. BG, High Wycombe.

A. It remains unclear what caused your daughter's car to spontaneously ignite, despite it being taken away for examination. BMW says it is normal procedure in such cases for a car to be investigated initially by the insurers, before passing it over to the manufacturer if the insurer believes there might have been a fault.

A BMW spokeswoman says: "The fact the insurance company never contacted BMW means they did not think the fire was caused by a manufacturing fault. If they did, they would not have agreed to pay the claim and would have insisted BMW take the cost." BMW subsequently agreed, at your daughter's request, to examine the car, but because it had been stored by the insurer outside, its condition had deteriorated and a proper examination was not possible.

A spokeswoman for your insurer, Elephant, says: "Due to the extent of the damage, neither ourselves or BMW were able to confirm the fire was caused by a manufacturer's fault." She added that the insurer had contacted BMW "on a number of occasions" over the incident.

Elephant says the premium rose from £621.85 to £878.34 at renewal – an increase of just over 40 per cent – because of a change in vehicle and address, as well as your daughter's loss of no claims bonus. While Elephant accepts she was not responsible for the fire, such incidents are still recorded as "fault" claims.

The insurer says its claims handler followed correct procedures, but accepts it could have "communicated better" and dealt with the claim quicker. On this basis, it will reinstate your daughter's two years' no claims bonus and reduce her premium for this year to £756.44.

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: questionsofcash@ independent.co.uk.

News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
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

    Programme Director - Conduct Risk - London

    £850 - £950 per day: Orgtel: Programme Director - Conduct Risk - Banking - £85...

    Business Analyst (Agile, SDLC, software)

    £45000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

    Finance Manager - Bank - Leeds - £300/day

    £250 - £300 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Finance Manager - Accountant - Bank...

    Compliance Officer - CF10, CF11, Compliance Oversight, AML, FX

    £100000 - £120000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading fi...

    Day In a Page

    Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

    The 'scroungers’ fight back

    The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
    Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

    Fireballs in space

    Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
    A Bible for billionaires

    A Bible for billionaires

    Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
    Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

    Paranoid parenting is on the rise

    And our children are suffering because of it
    For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

    Magna Carta Island goes on sale

    Yours for a cool £4m
    Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

    Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

    Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

    For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

    Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
    Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

    Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

    They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
    The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

    20 best days out for the summer holidays

    From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
    Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

    All the wood’s a stage

    Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
    Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

    Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

    Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
    Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

    Self-preservation society

    Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
    Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

    Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

    We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor