Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Insurance Companies

Dear Diary

Rik's blog about insurance company rip-offs prompted me to write this tome. Here in the US, I have a very nice insurance policy which although will not allow Rik or his sister to lead a life of leisure, will ensure that when the day of departure comes, there will be sufficient funds for a good send-off. The rules about no wooden casket still apply naturally. Why burn a perfectly good piece of wood when a couple of large boxes duct-taped together will have the same end result? Ashes-to-ashes is the same if it's wood or cardboard, after all they are both made from the same material. This policy costs a less than $3 a month. There is however, no value if I choose to cancel it. I'm happy with this arrangement.

Upon my impending departure back to the Olde Worlde, I enquired about a similar policy from my UK bank. My original email requesting information asked me to call one of their Insurance Advisers who are certified to answer my questions which cannot be done by email 'for legal reasons'. These legal reasons are never explained. I called. You've guessed it, Gupta from Bangalore did his best but there's a 'problem'. I've been banking with this bank since Adam was a lad, but due to some 'glitch' back in the days when computers allegedly made mistakes, my date of birth on the records has moved from the original 1944 to 1958. So glad that I'm only 49. Of course, I can't change my date of birth. The proffered copy of my birth certificate (in both Welsh and English) was declined, as was my request for a life policy.

I have spent several hours asking other insurance companies for quotes. This usually extracts a sharp intake of breath through clenched teeth due to my 'pre-condition'. This pre-condition was established after answering 194 questions about my health (including the one that asked if I had ever died), and they have all established that I have asthma, and therefore am 'unclean'. A quote from one insurance company was the equivalent of $100 a month for the same cover as I get for $3 here.

To add to my woes, after my return, I decided it would be smart to get travel insurance. In fact a trip to Canada and the US next September has been planned but the airlines need proof of travel insurance. Back to Gupta. He couldn't deal with this request, so he passed my call to their Insurance Financial Adviser in the UK. Seeing as I'd called a UK number in the first place, I was a little surprised to find that my call to the UK was routed to India, back to the UK, and then I spoke to Brenda in Bradford. People who live 'oop' North in the UK are not known for their Shakespearean skills when it comes to spoekn English. Combine this with a telephone line that had the quality of two cans on a piece of string and you can imagine the conversation. I finally got a quote for just over $100 (this blog site don't do the pound sterling sign) for two weeks. But, and of course, there was a BIG BUT, that only applies if I am a UK resident. I explained that I will return in February next year. I was advised by the Learned Adviser that I should apply after I return, and am a registered resident in my chosen domicile. Big word that. I then explained that I need this travel insurance before the ticket can be issued, and that as prices are about to go up, I need to get it now. Deaf ears come to mind.

I haven't given up, but by now Skype love me as I'm spending a small fortune on phone calls. All I can say, is watch this space.

Here endeth today's lesson.