Business Personal Finance

Saturday 20 October 2018

'My dog recently ran out in front of a car, causing a crash. How do I pay for the damages?'

 

'Some claims might need the input of several people before they can be agreed.' (stock image)
'Some claims might need the input of several people before they can be agreed.' (stock image)

Aine O'Carroll

All your finance questions answered.

Question:

My dog recently ran out in front of a car - causing the car to crash. There was considerable damage to the car and the driver has now sent me a bill for that damage. The bill runs to couple of thousand euro and I don't have the money to cover it. What can I do? Karen, Co Wicklow

Answer:

If you feel that your dog was directly responsible for the damage and you have insurance, you could start by checking your policies to see what cover you have.

Some home insurance policies provide cover if your pet damages another person's property or injures someone. However, there can be exclusions to the cover. For example, if your dog is listed as a dangerous breed, it may be automatically excluded or in order to be covered, your dog may be required to be muzzled, under control and easily identifiable. You will need to check with your insurer to see what is and it is not covered. If you have pet insurance you may also be able to claim, but there may be exclusions - such as damage to another person's car or the contents of a vehicle.

If you find you are covered through your insurance, it's a good idea to take photographs and videos as evidence of the damage. There is no definite length of time to settle an insurance claim - it tends to depend on the type of claim. Some claims might need the input of several people before they can be agreed. Your insurance company will consider the claim and decide whether your policy covers you for the damage. If your claim is successful, this will more than likely lead to an increase in your premium when you renew your policy - though this may be considerably cheaper than the actual cost of the damage caused by your dog.

Oven row heating up

Question:

I bought an oven just over a year ago and have had a series of problems with it. It has been repaired numerous times under warranty but the warranty has now expired and the retailer is telling me I will have to pay for any further repairs. What rights do I have in this situation? Aisling, Tullamore, Co Offaly

Answer:

In general, if you buy something and it has a fault, you have consumer rights. You are entitled to a repair, replacement or refund of the price you paid.

As your oven has had a number of recurring faults that should probably not have occurred within a year of buying it, you are entitled to return it to the place you bought it from and seek redress under your statutory consumer rights.

If you are unhappy with the response the retailer offers you at that point, I would suggest that you send a complaint to the store in writing, outlining the above, and tell them how you would like the issue to be resolved.

Following this, if you are still unhappy you can consider the Small Claims procedure, as long as the claim does not exceed €2,000. There is a small application fee of €25 and the service is provided in your local district court. You can find template complaint letters and more information on the Small Claims procedure on our website (ccpc.ie).

PCP to fund car purchase?

Question:

My son has just started his first job and is keen to buy a car to travel to and from work. He is thinking about buying a brand-new car using a Personal Contract Plan (PCP) as he has enough for the initial deposit and the repayments look affordable. From doing a bit of research myself, PCPs seem to come with a lot of restrictions. I wonder would he be better off to go with a traditional personal loan and buy an older car? Ger,
Clondalkin, Dublin 22

Answer:

Your son may find PCP a tempting choice to drive a new car as this type of finance is quick and easy to arrange and you can get a new car for what seem to be a low monthly repayment. You may only need a relatively small deposit (maybe 10pc of the cost of the car) in order to take out a PCP and you make monthly repayments.

A large part of the cost is deferred to the end of the agreement. At that stage, your son would have the option to return the car and owe nothing more - or if he wanted to become to owner of the car, he could pay the large deferred cost (called the Guaranteed Minimum Future Value). Another option open to him at this stage would be to trade in the first car and enter into a new PCP. So PCP is a lot more complicated than taking out a personal loan.

As with most contracts, the devil is in the detail with PCP. As you already spotted, there can be mileage restrictions which can affect the value of the car at the end - and therefore affect the amount of equity your son would have in the car. You agree to these restrictions as part of your contract and if you exceed them, it will affect the value of the car at the end of the contract.

Other things to think about with a PCP are that you don't own the car until you make this final payment, so if your circumstances change and you need to sell the car you will need permission from the owner - which is the finance company - to sell.

The advantage of a personal loan is that you own the car as soon as you buy it and have complete control over when, or if, you decide to sell it later on. Also, aside from your monthly repayments, there are no other payments involved with a personal loan and you are not bound my mileage restrictions.

Your son should weigh up the pros and cons of all his options before he makes his final decision on what type of car finance is best for him.

No deal on deal site break

Question:

I recently bought a voucher for a weekend away from a popular deal website. When I rang to book for the St Patrick's weekend, the hotel refused to accept the voucher and said it was not valid on bank holiday weekends. I disputed this as the hotel still had availability on its website. Can the hotel place these restrictions on my booking? Tom, Rathfarnham, Dublin 14

Answer:

Deal sites which provide discounts on hotels, restaurants and so on are still a popular way of getting a hotel room or a meal at a reduced price. The downside is that they normally come with terms and conditions which restrict when you can use them. The rules on the use of these vouchers vary according to the deal website you use and the business that is selling the deal.

You normally have to agree to these before you buy the voucher so it is really important to read and understand the terms and conditions first. It is also a good idea to check out the website of the business the deal applies to.

As a next step, check back and see what the voucher says regarding when you can use it. For example, does it flag any restrictions around St Patrick's Day? It wouldn't be unusual for a hotel to limit the use of vouchers at weekends or during holiday time.

You could try contacting the hotel again and asking if it would allow you to use the voucher if there is a late cancellation.

However, the hotel doesn't have to let you use the voucher for the St Patrick's weekend if it clearly stated in the voucher's original terms and conditions that it was excluded from the deal.

Aine O'Carroll is director of communications and market insights with the CCPC (ccpc.ie).

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