In November 2019, I lodged a complaint to the NFU Mutual because I suspected that work being carried out on our home was incorrect. I also stated that I thought the work to be illegal because it appeared to be in breach of listed building conditions. I said that surely my home was uninsurable because it was structurally unsound. I asked them to investigate.
Businesses are supposed to give a reply within 8 weeks.
One year and two months later, (that’s about 62 weeks – almost eight times as long as instructed), we finally received a response from the Group Chief executive. Here’s what he had to say:
I write further to my letter of 22 June 2020, again I would like to thank you for your continued patience whilst we have fully assessed your complaint. I am in a position to address matters now that the extent of your claim has been fully assessed with the assistance of our Claims Department.
I understand you initially raised a complaint in November 2019 in respect of works carried out to your home which you felt were illegal and structurally unsafe. Following your request that our appointed Contractors *** and ****** & ******* no longer attend the site, the claim has only recently reached a point where settlement can be offered.
I believe the background to this complaint is well documented following your correspondence with my colleague **** *****, therefore I do not propose to reiterate all the details here. I must advise that the extent of my response only relates to matters in relation to the second complaint you raised. I will therefore not consider the period beforehand, as this was previously addressed under a separate complaint and subsequently adjudicated upon by the Financial Ombudsman Service.
We Were Wrong
It is clear from the professional advice of your appointed expert that the works carried out to your property by our appointed Contractors were unacceptable. I am very sorry for the consequential inconvenience and upset that this matter has caused you.
I recognise that the structural works to your home were not completed in line with listed buildings consent, which is clearly unacceptable. Besides potentially causing issues when moving back into the property, we have to consider the legal implications this could present, should you decide to sell the property in the future. I also acknowledge that aspects of repair works carried out inside your property were not completed sufficiently.
I accept that our Contractors did not follow the correct guidelines. However, they do hold the contractual liability to address and rectify any of the issues identified. I was therefore disappointed to learn that they were not given the opportunity to do this, as you wanted NFU Mutual to consider a cash settlement instead. However, in order to reach a fair and reasonable settlement, we required you to fully evidence and cost the extent of work required via your own preferred private Contractors.
You Were Warned
Our records confirm that Claims Senior Technician, **** ****, sent an email to you on 24 April 2020, advising that a cash settlement was possible. However, **** also advised that the impact of coronavirus could potentially delays matters further, as time could be lost whilst a handover takes place with new parties involved.
I feel it is fair to recognise that from this point on the dynamic of the claim changed, as we then relied on you to verify the extent of the settlement required. Naturally any costs submitted would be subject to our validation process and would need to be verified and consulted on by our Claims Department and experts before a decision could be made. I understand the current settlement is in dispute, however our Claims Department will continue to discuss this with you to reach agreement in line with the terms of your policy.
Not Our Fault – Some of it’s Yours
In view of the above, I recognise that we were responsible for the poor level of work carried out to your home. However, I am unable to agree that we are consequently responsible for all the delays that took place afterwards. As advised previously we were within our rights to allow our Contractors to return to site but, on this occasion, we agreed with your request to seek private intervention instead.
Here’s an Insulting Offer
In recognition of the inconvenience and upset caused as a result of our service, I would like to award you £2000 compensation, together with my sincere apologies as closure to your complaint. Should you wish to accept our compensation award, please contact **** via email, who will liaise with you to arrange payment.
I understand you have already brought details of your complaint to the attention of the Financial Ombudsman Service. However, I am obliged by our regulators to advise you of the following:
Should you remain dissatisfied with the outcome, you have the right to refer your complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service, free of charge, but you must do so within six months of the date of this letter. If you do not refer your complaint in time, the Ombudsman will not have our permission to consider your complaint and so will only be able to do so in very limited circumstances. For example, if the Ombudsman believes that the delay was as a result of exceptional circumstances. For more information on the Ombudsman visit www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
So, there it is!
£2,000 for three years worth of stress and worry. I have plenty to say, in my follow up post Apology and Compensation: What Would You Do?
In 2020, when NFU Mutual won insurance brand of the year, the same man said:
“Our commitment to customer service underpins everything that we do at NFU Mutual and we are extremely proud to have been recognised by Which? and our customers as Insurance Brand of the Year. This status recognises the everyday dedication of our employees and agency network, who make sure we are there for our customers when they need us most.”www.nfumutual.com
I would love to hear from anyone experiencing the same or similar situation. Or anyone who knows about insurance, listed buildings, conservation or the legal issues.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org