Insuring with Aviva – Update

13 10 2009

In fairness to Aviva I think I should update things for those that have read my previous blog post here.

Today I have been on the phone to the company that deals with the actual replacement of the items stolen, iVal (site under construction). They have asked for receipts, proofs of ownership and anything else that shows that I owned the items that I was claiming for, despite the fact that original receipts etc were sent along with the original claim to Aviva it appeared that they actually didn’t have them, I’m kind of thinking that this is Aviva’s communication problem raising its head again as dealing with iVal has been fairly pain free.

After I sent them photographs of receipts, copies of invoices etc they handled the claim very well, replacing my expensive lenses and other items without any problems. There was a slight issue when they were trying to replace my Cowon D2 media player as their suppliers didn’t supply that model. I was offered at first a Samsung MP3 player which upon investigation was for sale at half the price of the Cowon and didn’t have the expandability, when I questioned this I was offered a Creative Zen XFi-2 which does fit the bill in the main, however, I have owned 2 Creative Zen players and both have had to be sent back due to malfunction so I wasn’t prepared to take the risk again. This was an issue and I had to really stand my ground as they were offering a ‘cash settlement’ of £104 which wouldn’t allow me to replace ‘like for like’ which my policy states. Eventually they gave in and gave me a full cash settlement for this item……..result #1.

With this issue I was expecting further problems with the replacement of my main laptop which I got for a bargain price two years ago, 17″ screen, separate graphics card and dual processor performance all for £450. I was expecting problems as  I couldn’t find one with similar features for the same price, they had already offered an Advent model with a 15″ screen and onboard graphics, nowhere near what was stolen.

My first call resulted in them asking for the receipt, which I had already sent with the original claim (Aviva communications again?) I also sent the specifications of the stolen laptop and made it clear that these were key in my original buying decision and that any replacement would need these features (17″ screen etc etc). My expectation of problems was soon put to bed when they called back and offered a replacement that had the features that I needed. Checking it out further I found that the replacement was at a higher price than I originally paid, but no problem because of the specification match that I was insisting on. Shows what a good deal I had when I first bought it. Better still, they then offered vouchers for the two replacement laptops at full retail value, this means that I will be able to go into PCWorld/Currys/Dixons whatever and buy what I want……..anything up to the value of the vouchers………result #2.

The only thing that slightly annoys me is that we had a number of ‘older’ mobile phones stolen which they are replacing directly. We don’t really need these but as they were stolen we decided that we should claim for them anyway. They won’t give us a cash settlement for these so we will have 4 new mobile phones that we don’t need……..never mind.

So, in summary, the dealing with Aviva was at times  a bit of a nightmare but when that was eventually sorted and I was dealing with iVal things improved significantly. Well done them for the time being as we still have to sort the stolen jewellery out, I’m leaving that to Lorna!


‘Wild Camping’ at Lake Vyrnwy.

12 10 2009

Saturday 3rd & Sunday 4th October 2009 – 310 kms

After a week of decorating we decided that we should get away for the weekend and make our first attempt at ‘wild camping’ to get us used to the idea of parking the motorhome in a fairly remote place and spending the night there. After numerous searches to find a suitable place not to far away we decided on Lake Vyrnwy, a large Severn Trent reservoir which is about 60 miles away from where we live. Not too far away, recommended by many as a perfect ‘wild camping’ spot and beautifully picturesque……..seemed like a great place for our first experience.

We packed the motorhome up (now lovingly called Heidi as we have seen various references to this name in the owners handbook from the previous owner) and made our way there, ignoring the weather which was extremely windy with bouts of rain. I had been to the lake previously on a Shropshire Community Flickr meet and knew of a decent sized, flat car park at the top end of the lake which is close to a massive waterfall. Having only been once before, and on that occasion I was a passenger, I turned up the road which I thought led to the car park, however, I was wrong and was happily proceeding up a single track road signposted ‘Not Suitable For Heavy Vehicles or Trailers’ which got more narrow the further we went. With Lorna getting more jittery the further we went I admitted defeat and made a perfect three point turn in a small passing place (requiring Lorna to watch the back of the motor home so I didn’t reverse off the road and down a hill) and then carried on along the main road to the place where I initially thought I was going.

After navigating a tighter than comfortable entrance which provided a little entertainment for some people just returning to their cars, we parked up and took a short walk with Jack up to the waterfall before returning and waiting for dark to fall.

We had seen a chap in a white transit van enter and leave the car park that we were on a couple of times and really thought nothing of it until he pulled in again and parked up close to our motorhome, obviously a walker (to me anyway, Lorna was picturing axe murderer, or pervert) we later had a chat with him initially asking if he was stopping the night as well, which he was. A bit of comfort for us on our first ‘wild camping’ exercise. No shared drinks or wine on this occasion, I’m sure we’ll get used to it.

Parked up at Lake Vyrnwy as the sun sets.

Parked up at Lake Vyrnwy as the sun sets.

We slept soundly that night with no disturbances at all, we did however wake quite early and were sat at 8.30am the next day on a different car park looking over the lake…… bacon sandwiches and drinking nice hot milky coffee. Fed and watered we went for a stroll around the sculpture park which is close to the dam before deciding what we were going to do that day. In the end we decided that a nice steady drive up to Bala was in order so we set off and made our way through the countryside, up and over Bala mountain itself and then around the lake, navigating a few tight lanes along the way, something I seem to gravitate toward when I’m driving the wider than normal motorhome.

I had read about a pub just outside of Corwen called The Goat Inn which welcomes people in motorhomes and allows them to stay overnight on their car park if they have a drink or a meal there. We needed to eat so I phoned ahead and confirmed they were serving and that we would be able to stay if we wanted. Unfortunately the car park there is not exactly ideal for stopping overnight as it is on a very steep hill with maybe only one place that was level so we decided that stopping was not the best idea, great of the owners to allow this sort of thing and something that more pubs that have large car parks should do in my opinion. At the pub I had the biggest mixed grill I have ever seen and we finished the day off with a nice walk around the surrounds with Jack before heading back home.

Job done, our first experience with ‘wild camping’ though I feel a bit daft using that expression as it’s hardly wild with a fridge, gas hob, toilet, shower, TV and heating now is it!

Insuring with Aviva – Were we robbed?

5 10 2009

I have had  a number of dealings with our insurer Aviva over the past few months. First of all our shower leaked and soaked our living room ceiling to the point that it bowed. One phone call to a UK based call centre and all was sorted out quickly and efficiently, new ceiling, new floor in the bathroom and a repainted living room, all professionally carried out by their agents, Home Serve.

A similar story could be told when we were broken into whilst away on holiday. Home Serve again being the agents carried out the replacement of the broken window and replacing of all the locks. Home Serve it seems are the heroes here as my dealings with Aviva themselves in respect of replacing the contents that were actually stolen have been far from satisfactory…… fact, dealing with the company that took over from Norwich Union has been more stressful than having to come back off holiday early to deal with the initial break in.

Having compiled a full list of things that were stolen this was posted to them on 3rd September, recorded delivery, first class. Now this is probably due to the postal strike but it took ages for the letter to be confirmed as delivered, in fact I posted a duplicate without the ‘recorded’ bit to see if that worked more effectively. It all seemed so easy, let them know what items were stolen, provide serial numbers etc and they would get them replaced…..not exactly difficult now is it?

We received a phone call from them on the 22nd September and the caller said that it was all in hand and a list was being forwarded to the people who replace the items, Ival, and we would receive a call from then within ’48 hours’ (an expression I would get very used to over the coming weeks). When that call never came I phoned the number I had been provided with only to be told that they had not received the list of items. I was on the phone straight away to Aviva themselves to find out what had happened……..this is where it starts getting repetitive i’m afraid.

According to the person on the end of the phone the list had been sent but apparently not received so there must be ‘technical problems’ (another term I would get used to) but, she would send the list again and I would receive a call within 48 hours. The time passed and no call was received so I called again to find out what was going on. Again I was told that there had been a ‘technical problem’ but I was assured that the list would be forwarded to Ival and I would get a call within, you guessed it, 48 hours.

This period of time passed again, and now getting a bit fed up with the total lack of communication I phoned again to see how the claim was progressing……..apparently a ‘technical problem’ had occurred and Ival had still not had the list. The lady was very apologetic and again I was assured that the list would be immediately sent and I would get a call……..within 48 hours!

Giving up on the usual route I decided to phone the Aviva head office in the UK and speak to the complaints department. Getting the number from ‘‘ I spoke with them and begged them not to transfer me to India but to answer my questions about how my claim was progressing…..all details taken I was told that someone would ring me back ………within 48 hours! To be fair, I was phoned back later the same day, from India, and the promise was made that the details had been sent to Ival and I should hear something………within 48 hours.

When I received no call I decided that I should fill in a form on the Aviva website to register a complaint about their inability to communicate effectively with their customers through their ‘foreign operation’

Today came, no reply to the complaint form and no phone call despite their assurances that I would be contacted. Not at all happy I phoned their call centre again determined to get this sorted once and for all, after all I had now been told four times that it would be and I was no further forward, nor was my claim. Speaking to India again wasn’t ideal as I was quickly losing patience with the stock answers, stock phone manner and rehearsed ‘banter’. Again I was told that a communication problem had occurred and that Ival still had not received my details……….what a complete joke!! After expressing my opinions in a fairly cut manner the chap on the other end of the phone was in no doubt as to the level of my frustration and ended up giving me the email address of Ival so I could sent the details myself, apparently they are unable to email things from India and their fax machines don’t work properly.

So, after filling out yet another complaint form on the Aviva website I emailed my claim details myself, we will see what happens next, though I doubt that this is the end of it. I’ll probably update this………..within 48 hours! but at the moment I am totally unimpressed with the shoddy service offered by such a large company with absolutely disastrous levels of communication offered to their customers who really should be treated so much better.

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