The insured contacted her broker to ask whether she had cover to lease a truck when her truck was written off after an accident. The broker told her she had lease cover, however it later transpired she did not.
The insured owned a trucking company. In mid-April 2016 one of the company’s trucks was involved in an accident and was written off. She immediately called her insurance broker to ask whether her company’s insurance policy provided cover to lease another truck, while the claim for replacement of the damaged truck was being finalised, and until she actually received a replacement truck.
Her usual contact at the broking firm was not available, and another staff member told her there was lease cover and to go ahead and lease another truck. She immediately hired a truck to enable completion of jobs the next day.
The claim for the truck
The broker submitted the insured’s truck replacement claim and on May 6, 2016, the insurance company paid her $58,000. She had arranged a truck to purchase, but it would be a few more weeks until she was going to receive the new truck from the vendor.
The claim for the lease costs
After she received the new truck, she decided to have the truck painted (which took a week). On June 13, 2016, the painting was completed and the truck was ready to go on the road. The total lease costs for the eight-week period were $6181.89. She said she was willing to cover the lease cost for the week the truck was being painted.
However, when she submitted the details of the lease costs to her broker she was told there was never any cover for lease costs, being an error on the broker’s part.
The broker’s offer to resolve the complaint
The broker apologised for the error, and said it would put her back in the position she would have been in had she had the lease cover in place. If she had had cover in place, she would have had the benefit of lease cover until the $58,000 payment was made on May 6, 2016. This amounted to a sum of $1303. The broker said the insured could reasonably have known that the lease cover would end on May 6, 2016, being the day the truck claim was paid.
Marge’s view on the offer
The insured was not satisfied with the offer and said ideally, she should have been told in April, when she first contacted the broker after the accident, that she had no lease cover. However, she said that at the very least she should have been told on May 6 that the lease cover would cease that day (both the broker and she still being under the mistaken impression on that date that she had the lease cover).
If she had been told earlier that there was no lease cover, or that the cover would end on May 6, she would have looked into other options (such as borrowing a truck from an acquaintance), instead of leasing the truck for as long as she did.
She also said that when she was speaking with her usual contact about the lease cover issue, she said because she had been able to secure the $10,000 in cover she was not technically insured for, this subsumed the alleged $6,181.89 lease costs in any event.
Overall, the insured was disappointed with the broking firm’s service, especially as she had been a customer for 20 years. In particular, she felt the broking firm should have had a better understanding of the cover she held, and advised her correctly when she contacted it in April following the accident.
Marge complained to FSCL.
We reviewed the file and it was clear there was a discrepancy between the parties about exactly when the client was told the lease cover would cease. There were also discrepancies about the advice given by the broker and Marge’s instructions to the broker, as to the type of cover required for the truck at both the February 2015 and February 2016 renewal meetings.
We spoke to the broking firm about whether it might consider increasing its offer, taking into account the following factors.
The broking firm reconsidered its offer, and said it would pay 65% of the lease costs, being an offer of $4,018.23. She accepted there was a “he said, she said” situation in relation to when the broker gave her certain information, and decided to accept the $4018.23 offer in full and final settlement of the complaint.
In this case, there was a human error by the broking firm in providing incorrect information to the insured about the lease cover, at the time of the accident. However, the broker’s service following that error then exacerbated the issue; in particular, when it did not outline explicitly to the insured that the lease cover was ceasing on May 6.
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