Which is scarier: spooky movie monsters or insurance claims that go frighteningly wrong? We know which one sends chills down our spines...
There are few things more terrifying – and frustrating – than a rejected insurance claim, especially when you know the whole horrible mess could've been avoided in the first place. Here are some insurance horror stories that'll scare even the bravest of souls, along with some pointers on how to avoid the same happening to you.
A woman known to the Ombudsman for Short-term Insurance (OSTI) as Mrs N placed her cellphone inside her handbag and left it courtside, unattended, before playing a spirited game of netball. She returned to find that – cue the scary music – her phone was missing! She filed an insurance claim, only to have it denied because (in the words of the insurer) she had left it "exposed in a public place".
The insurer argued that no one was watching the cellphone, and it was left abandoned and vulnerable to any villainous passer-by who could easily reach inside her bag and snatch it from safety.
Mrs N referred the case to OSTI, who reversed the rejection on the basis that the phone was not "exposed", but rather hidden inside her bag. She was also legitimately unable to watch it all the time as she was playing netball. The insurer settled the claim.
Moral of the story? If you're at the gym or playing sports, stash your belongings in a locker or invite a friend or family member to watch you play (and to guard your phone). Failing that, leave your phone at home... unless going without it is simply too terrifying to contemplate.
Either way, you'll want to make sure you're getting the best deal on your insurance cover. Use our Cellphone Insurance comparison tool to compare quotes side by side.
Here's a tale to chill the blood. Mr F laid an insurance claim for the costs of repairing the cracked fibreglass shell of his swimming pool. To his shock and horror, the claim was rejected based on the findings of a building assessor and a pool specialist, who both concluded that the damage had occurred due to "gradual deterioration" – something that was specifically excluded in the insurance policy.
The specialists determined that the deterioration had happened due to a combination of the age of the pool shell, drought and a build-up of soil pressure, exacerbated by the pool having been left uncovered. Mr F approached OSTI arguing that the damage had actually been caused by protruding tree roots, which were not a policy exclusion. While the matter was being deliberated, the entire side of his pool collapsed, further adding to the mounting repair bill.
OSTI found in favour of the insurer, as even if the roots story had held up, it still would have caused gradual deterioration.
The lesson? There are a few here. One, always read the small print and your policy Ts&Cs so that you're crystal clear on what is and isn't covered. Two, compare Building Insurance quotes using our tool to make sure you're getting the best deal. And three, if you have a swimming pool, be sure to guard against wear and tear – otherwise, you may land up... wait for it... in the deep end.
Over a few months, Mr S observed massive damage to his property which engineers claimed was caused by subsidence (the downward movement of the ground) due to a burst pipe. This allegedly led to water flowing beneath the house for about 10 months, eroding its foundations and causing cracked floors, walls and ceilings. Mr S's claim appeared to be legitimate, as his policy explicitly covered loss or damage to buildings caused by burst water pipes or water tanks.
Yet his insurers disagreed. Their engineers claimed the damage was the result of the gradual movement of clay subsoil (an insurance exclusion) and not of the burst pipe. OSTI was called in and had to consider which expert report was the more reliable. They ultimately found in favour of the team hired by Mr S. The insurer settled the claim.
Regardless of the outcome, Mr S could've saved himself a lot of hassle simply by being proactive. When your house literally begins to crack up, act immediately to avoid extensive damage, drama and debt – the three core ingredients of all insurance horror stories.
Scared off by these insurance horror stories? Don't be. Your insurer will take good care of you if you hold up your end of the bargain. Use our online tools to compare Cellphone Insurance quotes and compare Home Contents Insurance quotes, and turn those horror stories into happy endings.
This article is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal or medical advice.