Business Personal Finance

Friday 23 February 2018

Do I need an assessor to make a claim?

your questions answered

Email your questions to lmcbride@independent.ie or write to ‘Your Questions, Sunday Independent Business, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1’. Stock image
Email your questions to lmcbride@independent.ie or write to ‘Your Questions, Sunday Independent Business, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1’. Stock image

Aine Carroll

Q: We had a major flood in my house due to a burst pipe in the attic. A friend of mine who has just settled a claim with her home insurance company has advised me to get an assessor. She said that I would not get enough money from the insurance company to cover the cost of the repairs otherwise. Is she right? Jessie, Dundalk, Co Louth

An assessor works on your behalf and will negotiate with your insurer to settle your claim. This includes negotiating the settlement figure being offered by the insurance company if you feel it will not cover the losses you are insured for.

Having an assessor can take some of the stress out of the claims process as they deal with the insurer directly on your behalf. Assessors' fees are not covered by your insurance policy - so make sure you find out the total cost of this service, as you will have to pay for it yourself. It may be beneficial to hire an assessor for larger claims, such as a buildings claim on your home.

Your insurance company will ask you the reason for the damage, so if you have a report from a professional - such as a plumber - that will help. Take photos of the damage that has been caused. You should also get quotes to find out the cost of the repair work as you will need to provide an estimate for this work in the claim.

There is no definite length of time to settle an insurance claim and it will depend on the type of claim. Some claims may require expert assessment or the input of several people before the claim can be paid. The insurance company may send out a loss adjustor, who works on their behalf, to inspect the damage. Once you have all the evidence to support your claim, send it into the insurance company as soon as you can. Your policy documents may give more information on the timelines for submitting a claim.

Insurers normally settle claims by cheque, payable to you. If you have arranged home insurance through your mortgage lender, the insurance company may pay the money to your lender who will then pass it on to you.

Small print on subscription

Q: I signed up to an online newspaper subscription two years ago. I decided not to renew my subscription but when I went to cancel it, I was told I would have to pay for an extra month's subscription. According to the newspaper, you have to cancel 15 days before the next billing date to avoid this. Can they make me pay for another month? Tom, Clontarf, Dublin 3

When you signed up to the online newspaper two years ago, you would have agreed to terms and conditions which may have stated that you have to cancel within a certain timeframe. If you agreed to these terms and conditions, which you normally have to do to activate the subscription, then you also agreed to these timelines.

Online subscriptions are usually a recurring charge on your debit or credit card rather than a direct debit. In general, you cannot cancel a recurring charge with your card provider (usually your bank) as you can with a direct debit. So, you must contact the company you have the subscription with to cancel the recurring charge. This should be done in such a way so that you have proof that you asked them to cancel your subscription - such as by email. Check your bank or credit card statements to see that the charge is no longer being taken out of your account.

It is a good idea to review all of your subscriptions regularly. Check your monthly bank or credit card statements to work out exactly how much you are paying for regular subscriptions. If you are spending money on a service you never use, see if you can unsubscribe from it.

Caught out by fake link scam

Q: I recently received an email request from a video-on-demand service I am member of to update my membership details. When I clicked the 'update' link, I was brought through to a log-in page where I re-entered all my personal and payment details. I have since learnt that the email was a scam - I didn't know as it had the company's logo and looked legitimate. I am worried now that someone has all my details, in particular my credit card details. What should I do? Aidan, Carlow Town

What you describe is a phishing scam. Phishing is an attempt to get your personal information by pretending to represent a website or company you trust. Phishers will go to great lengths to try and steal your personal information. They may create fake websites that look like a brand you trust - or send professional-looking emails that appear to be from a site you use where they ask you to update your personal information.

If you have been caught by a phishing scam, contact your bank or credit card company immediately so they can tell you what action they need to take. This might include putting a stop on your credit or debit card, cancelling your credit or debit card, or stopping further transactions from going through your account. As you disclosed your personal details willingly, your bank or credit card provider may not provide you with a refund of any money already taken. However, you should discuss the option of a chargeback (a reversal of a transaction on your card with them). Each card issuer has its own processes around chargebacks, and these are set out under the rules of the various credit and debit card schemes. You should also ask your bank or credit card provider to stop further money being taken from your card and contact your local Garda station immediately.

Most businesses and banks will never ask for any personal information to be sent by email. This includes payment information (credit card number, debit card number, PIN, and so on). If you get an email from a company you use asking you to update personal information, examine it closely, as it may link to a phishing website. If you're unsure about a link in an email, check the address bar when you click on the link to see where it has brought you. If still unsure, ring the company and ask them if the email is from them before you give any of your personal details.

No price displayed

Q: I was in my local supermarket recently. I noticed in the fruit section that there was no price displayed for some of the fruit and veg - making it impossible to know what I would be charged at the till. There were prices displayed for most of the other products. Surely the supermarket should be displaying prices for all of its products? Joan, Kimmage, Dublin 12

Shops must display their prices and there are rules on how they must do this. As a consumer, you have the right to clear and accurate information on prices of goods so that you can compare them and make informed choices. 

In Ireland, shops must clearly display their prices in euro, on or near all products on sale. However, goods sold loosely, where the final selling price is determined when the consumer has decided on the quantity (for example with fruit and veg) must have a unit price displayed. The unit price will indicate the price per 1kg for the product and again it must be displayed on or near the product, for example, on a shelf edge label.

Traders are required to ensure that prices are displayed, are accurate and not misleading. Put simply, the price displayed must be the same as the price charged at the till. If you find goods on sale with no price displayed or with the wrong price displayed, you should tell the seller and let the CCPC know. You can contact the CCPC through its website (www.ccpc.ie).

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