When Firdaws arranged car insurance through a broker she was the only person driving her car, so accepted an exclusion from cover for drivers under the age of 25 years. About six years later Firdaws’ daughter, Aqilah, was now 20 and regularly driving Firdaws’ car.
Aqilah was involved in a car accident at an intersection when she stopped suddenly, and a number of cars collided into each other. When Firdaws contacted her broker to put in an insurance claim for the damage, she was advised that Aqilah was not covered by Firdaws’ insurance because Aqilah was under 25 years of age.
At Firdaws and Aqilah’s request the broker contacted the insurer and asked whether it would be prepared to accept the claim on an ex gratia basis. The insurer declined saying the claim was likely to be complicated and expensive.
Firdaws and Aqilah’s view
Firdaws and Aqilah complained to FSCL, saying the broker did not do enough to:
- draw the exclusion for drivers under 25 years to Firdaws’ attention
- persuade the insurer to accept the claim.
Firdaws and Aqilah also referred to a friend in a similar situation where the insurer agreed to cover the loss. They said the insurer did not have to accept liability for the damage caused to the other cars in the accident, it could make an ex gratia payment to them and expect the other drivers to rely on their own insurance.
We reviewed the information provided by the broker and noted that over the last six years the broker had written to Firdaws at renewal time every year, directing her to read the policy summary. The summary clearly stated that drivers under 25 years were excluded from cover. We considered the broker had given Firdaws enough information to allow her to know that Aqilah was not covered by the policy. In our view, the broker was not liable for Firdaws and Aqilah’s loss.
We also explained to Firdaws and Aqilah that the broker could not place any pressure on the insurer to accept the claim. We were not surprised at the insurer’s decision because the claim was likely to be complicated and expensive.
However, we did comment to the broker that we do not consider it best practice to, year in and year out, simply send a renewal letter to its customers and rely on the customer to identify that their needs have changed. While the policy met Firdaws’ needs when it was arranged, it is not surprising that after six years her circumstances had changed. If the broker had contacted Firdaws for a review at some stage in those six years, it may well have learned that Aqilah was now driving the car, and the policy needed updating.
We recommended that Firdaws and Aqilah discontinue their complaint.
We encourage brokers to aspire to best practice in all aspects of customer service, including the ongoing assessment of a customer’s needs. In this case information was clearly available to alert Firdaws to the exclusion of drivers under 25 years of age, however we may approach another complaint, where information was not so easily available, differently.