Questions of Cash: July 2014

Q. I insure my car, fully comprehensive, through Volkswagen, with the policy underwritten by Allianz. In January, I wanted to add my 26 year old daughter as a named extra driver to the policy, either temporarily or for a limited period while she was home from South Africa. My husband was seriously ill at the time and she needed transport to visit him in hospital and at a hospice. I was surprised to be told that this was not possible because she had not resided in the UK for the previous six months, even though she is a UK citizen, was born and educated here, lived and worked here until three years ago, passed her driving test here, holds a full UK driving licence, has a full no claims bonus, a clean driving licence and has owned and insured two cars in her own right in the UK. After that she went to South Arica to work on a volunteer project and she lives there for the moment.  Previously, we had arranged two periods of cover for two weeks on the same policy. For some reason, this facility was withdrawn. Allianz was unable to tell me whether or not their refusal to cover what they called ‘non-residents’ was industry-wide or just their own policy. When my daughter went on to a website for expatriates, there were many comments and suggestions about the same issue.  The website named two other large insurers who, when we approached them, were prepared to cover my daughter as a named driver, but only if I switched my policy to them. As I had only renewed my policy less than two months before, I stood to lose out quite heavily by cancelling and taking out another policy with a different insurer. In the event, Allianz took the matter to its underwriters and agreed to cover my daughter, but for a swingeing extra premium of £300 – almost double my original premium.  This was on condition that the cover was for the remaining period of my policy until November 2014, even though I explained that she would be in the UK for two months at the very most.  I removed my husband from the policy because of his illness, yet I have had to pay more than £600 to cover just myself and my daughter for a reason that seems to me to be a technicality. VP, Stirlingshire.

A. Allianz has agreed that your daughter be placed on your policy on a temporary basis only. As she has now returned to South Africa, Allianz has refunded the additional premium cost for the rest of the period of the policy. A spokeswoman for Allianz explains: “As part of our standard motor policy, we do not provide permanent cover for non-residents, but will refer extenuating circumstances to our underwriters for consideration. This was done with [the reader’s] first request and we agreed to provide temporary cover.  The additional premium charged for [the reader’s] second request to provide cover for her daughter was based on adding her as a permanently named driver. This is because the period for which we offer temporary cover is up to 14 days and the daughter’s cover was needed for an undetermined amount of time. [The reader] did not make us aware at the time cover was only required for two months. A driver can be removed from the policy when it is no longer needed and providing there have been no claims or any potential claims, we will provide a pro rata refund. We have been in touch with [the reader] regarding her concerns and are pleased we’ve been able to resolve them with her. Her daughter has been removed from the policy following her return to South Africa and the appropriate refund issued.”  Allianz apologises for the “further distress that the issue of providing insurance cover to her daughter may have caused at such a difficult time”.

Q. Ladbrokes has withdrawn £6,136.28 from my account with Danske Bank without my authorisation. This was a fraudulent transaction. I am convinced that my card was skimmed.  The fraud has left my bank account without any funds.  I have never had dealings with Ladbrokes and when I contacted Ladbrokes they had an incorrect date of birth recorded for me.  When I reported the fraud to Danske Bank I was promised the funds would be returned to my account within a day.  This did not happen and Danske Bank now denies making this promise.  My debit card is now blocked and I am in desperate need of money.  AN, Belfast.

A. Danske Bank has declined to comment on this matter, saying the matter is in the hands of its legal team. It would seem that you have not persuaded Danske Bank that your version of events is accurate. On this basis, there is nothing more we can do.  It is worth adding that Ladbrokes holding the wrong date of birth for you does not, in itself, prove that someone else opened the account with them.  If you are adamant that your version of events is correct you will need to take legal advice.

Q. My daughter and her husband have recently gone to Africa as volunteer humanitarian relief workers in refugee camps, near where there have recently been mass killings. They have a mortgage on their flat, but now their lender wants to increase their rate of interest by 1 per cent and charge them fees for changing the terms of their mortgage!  The bank says that there is increased risk from having tenants. This seems immoral to me. DM, by email.

A. Increasing the interest rate on a mortgage when a property is let out is common lending practice. The Co-operative Bank increases its lending rate by 1 per cent and the Nationwide Building Society by 1.5 per cent. Some lenders, in some circumstances, will allow mortgage borrowers to rent properties out for short periods without increasing rates or imposing charges, but some may require borrowers to move loans onto more expensive buy-to-let mortgage terms.

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