5th December 2012
Well, it has been 25 days since the fire. Aviva paid the agreed settlement into my bank account this morning.
I cannot express adequately how good Aviva have been about this.
My Claims Manager Richard contacted me two days after I got home, giving me his direct dial in number and personal (ie not "claims@...") email address. He told me that his job was to make sure that I got treated fairly and ensure we reached a settlement that was fair for all concerned.
He asked if there was anything he could do immediately. I had just finished washing my riding kit and noticed both the trousers and jacket had burn holes in them (presumably from when I was rescuing the tank bag). He asked me to email him pictures of the damage and a link to the cost of replacing them – he did warn me that with any clothing there would be a reduction in value for wear and tear. I did as he asked and also sent a picture of the tank bag I had left in Spain…
…asking him if he could do anything about that, or whether it should be left to the main settlement. I also told him that the riding gear had been bought way back in 2007, although it was generally in pretty good order since it was winter stuff and not used as often as my hot weather gear.
Richard emailed me within three hours saying that he would pay the maximum allowable for ‘personal items’ (£250) for the tank bag and that he would deduct just 10%
for the wear and tear on the kit. If this was acceptable (and it was!), then he would arrange for a cheque to be sent the next day.
I called him the next day and we spoke at length about the difficulty in reaching a value for the bike. On the face of it, it was a ten year old bike with 160k miles on the clock. But – a little like your Grandfather’s axe (he put on a new blade and your father replaced the handle) - there was very little of the bike that was ten years old or had covered 160k miles.
He told me that, once the damage report had been received from the Spanish engineer, Aviva’s British engineer would assess the value of the bike.
Here’s the interesting bit. Richard told me that the philosophy behind the settlement would be to put me, as far as was possible, in the position I was in five minutes before the fire – rather than to pay me ‘what I could have sold my bike for’.
This was a significant point.
In order to get a fair settlement, he asked me if I could provide evidence, pics etc to back up the modifications I had declared on the original proposal (which I got through Devitt Insurance).
Well, he’d come to the right place
I had half a tea chest full of every receipt for every bit of work done on the bike. I have also photo-journaled most of the refits, modifications etc.
I spent an afternoon and evening with Excel and ‘Paintbrush’ preparing a spreadsheet listing EVERY modification and accessory on the bike at the time of the fire. I was able to provide pics taken a week before the fire showing just about everything on the spreadsheet.
I then produced a load of pictures – here’s an example…
…showing where each item was on the bike. I also listed the new replacement price for these parts and the location where they could be checked on line.
I met up with Richard on Friday lunchtime – it turns out we both work in the same business park…
I showed him the ring binder full of pics, backed up with 25 A4 colour pics of the bike...
...straight after its refit earlier this year...
...(I used an entire set of inkjet cartridges at home
I gave him a box file crammed with the relevant receipts – right back to the one for the original purchase of the bike.
He told me he’d never seen such a well-prepared case (which I think was a polite way of calling me a geek
) and that I had reduced the engineer’s job from a week’s work to an afternoon’s.
He asked me what I wanted as a settlement and I told him, explaining the calculation as follows:
1. I accept that an unmodified 2002 Adv with 160k miles would have a low value (£x
2. I listed the modifications and their total value (£y
3. I accepted that any bike I bought to replace the Adv was going to be:
a. Newer and
b. Have lower mileage - and that I was content to pay for that.
4. I also accepted that any replacement bike would come with some of the stuff I wanted to fit it out with; that some I would have to buy new and some I could source second hand.
I therefore thought that the settlement should be £x + (£y x 0.6) = £z
Richard agreed with my rationale and told me the engineer would be in touch early the following week.
Aviva were swamped (
) by flood claims (a lot of the UK has been hit by severe weather in the past couple of weeks) and this meant things took a little longer than normal, but the engineer, Gary, called me yesterday afternoon.
He started by thanking me for making his job easier
and then described how he had done a similar calculation and ended at a slightly lower figure. We discussed it and we agreed to a compromise and the deal was done.
Richard emailed me today to tell me the BACS payment had gone through. I rang him to express my appreciation for his efforts and then wrote a long letter to his manager explaining that this incident had changed my view of insurance companies.
Like most people, I have always bought insurance on the basis of the lowest premium available. It’s only when you get into a situation like this that you get a measure of the company you are in contract with.
Richard and his team have have made this experience a positive one – something I could not have imagined as I stood in the road watching my motorcycle burn less that four weeks ago...
Personally, I will be contacting Aviva for the first quote on any type of insurance I take out from now on.
But first, I have a bike to pick up…