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Home Insurance - Emergency Assistance Services

Most policies now provide a 24 hour helpline that is intended to provide a contractor in an emergency. Some go further and will provide a contractor for most domestic problems but some or all of the cost will have to be paid for by you.Check your policy wording carefully! This is an excellent idea but how well does it work in practice?

I will set out below my own experiences of contacting these help lines when I have had a problem or someone I know has asked me to assist them. If you have any stories to tell, please let me know!

My first encounter was on behalf of my mother in law a few years ago. She had a minor emergency that required urgent assistance - hence called on me. She needed the services of a plumber. I rang the help line number she had been provided. They were rude, unhelpful and could not provide the contractor we asked for. They suggested we call the insurance company.

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The second experience involved removal of a wasps nest. Yes, some of the better policies provide for this at the expense of the assistance service provider. I had great difficulty getting through to the right person. The number provided was for car breakdowns! I had to wait to be transferred several times.When I was finally put through to the correct person, she did not believe the cover was there and I had to spell this out by reading from the policy booklet. She finally conceded and confirmed the service would be provided. From there on it was excellent. Within 24 hours, a pest controller arrived, decked out in the appropriate protective gear and successfully removed the nest from my loft.The message is, that this assistance provider worked well once they accepted the claim but I had to persevere in order to make it happen.

The third experience involved a gas cooker. It developed a fault but there were no gas leaks. Having called the help line number, it turned out the insurer had changed the assistance service company but had not properly notified it's customers! The lady who took the call was unable to provide the new number and suggested calling the insurer - fat lot of good that is at 8am on a Sunday morning! So I have to revert to Yellow Pages to find a suitable engineer myself. That is yet another story!

 

"We had completed the turn and had just straightened the car when
Miss X put her foot down hard and headed for the ladies' loo."
Extracts taken from actual claim forms submitted to
a number of UK car insurance companies