My rear windscreen was shattered by a stone on a Friday afternoon. I contacted my insurer, Saga, and was given details for its chosen windscreen firms.
Both said they would not be able to replace the window until the following week.
It was after 5pm, but I was lucky to get through to a local company that could replace the screen first thing the next morning for £542.40.
Short changed: A Saga customer spent £542 fixing a cracked windscreen but the insurer only offered him £100
I emailed Saga a copy of the paid invoice, explaining that, had I used one of its firms, the car would have been unsecured and vulnerable to theft for three or four days.
Saga’s insurance schedule says that a vehicle left unsecured would not be covered for theft.
In reply I received a cheque for £100 with no explanation! When I questioned this, I was told it is policy to pay only £100 if one of its preferred firms is not used.
R. R., Norfolk.
Your letter raises an important point: what are we supposed to do if an insurance firm insists we use its preferred windscreen companies, but the firms say they are too busy?
Like you, I would not want to leave my car unsecured. And it’s not only thieves I’d be worried about — what if heavy rain left the interior flooded?
I think I would have phoned Saga again to demand it provide a firm to sort it out.
And, having made two phone calls, I might also ask it to speak directly to the glass repairers, rather than making me do the legwork.
Saga contacted you to apologise for the disappointing service and agreed to reimburse the full amount.
It is also working with its appointed glass replacement company to discuss how the claim could have been handled better, to ensure a similar situation does not occur in the future.
You have YOUR say – inheritance tax
Every week, Money Mail receives hundreds of your letters and emails. Here are some about our story on how to avoid your children paying too much inheritance tax:
This is one of the most abhorrent and immoral taxes. You work all your life and pay your taxes, only to be taxed again when you die.
D. P., Preston.
Just give your children and grandchildren every penny you don’t need and put some cash into a trust. We take big family holidays. You earned it, so spend it before the Government gets it.
R. G., Torquay.
We’ve already put everything in our son’s name. I’ve paid more tax than the average person, so my family have the right to enjoy my money while I’m alive.
O. N., Verona, Italy.
Before my 60th birthday, I sold my house and moved to an ex-council flat. I gave my children their inheritance and kept a little for myself. I’ve never looked back.
B. R., Nottinghamshire.
Most taxes were never meant to impact the working classes, but because the super-rich can afford top accountants, the burden ends up falling on the less wealthy.
M. D., Watford.
I am concerned that a claim for the additional residence allowance available on inheritance tax (IHT) might fail because of my unusual circumstances.
I gave birth to my son in 1961 and he was adopted six weeks later. More than 20 years on, I was reunited with him, welcomed into his lovely family and introduced to his parents.
I will be 80 next year and my estate, including my modest two-bedroom maisonette, exceeds the current single inheritance tax threshold.
I am worried my son might not be considered eligible for the additional residence allowance.
Incidentally, his mother, now widowed, lives in rented sheltered accommodation, so would not qualify for the additional residence allowance.
M. K., Surrey.
What a fascinating and heart-warming story. You tell me that you now also have grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Well, I have some more good news for you. I took your problem to accountant Deloitte, where tax director Patricia Mock examined the issues.
First, some background. The individual IHT allowance is £325,000 — also known as the nil-rate band. Above this, the tax rate is a flat 40 per cent.
Married couples and civil partners can combine the allowance to make a joint £650,000.
On top of this is a residence allowance of £150,000 per person, which applies when a home is left to a direct descendent. This will increase to £175,000 from April 6, 2020.
Ms Mock says: ‘The legislation specifies a child is a direct descendant and does not include any limitations to affect this rule if the child is subsequently adopted, so her estate should be eligible for the additional allowance if she leaves her residence to her son.’
There are some other points to consider. The residence allowance is tapered away at a rate of £1 for every £2 if the overall estate is more than £2 million.
For example, if the estate is worth £2.2 million, then £100,000 (i.e. half the £200,000 excess) is taken away.
Also, if you are widowed and your husband left any part of his nil-rate band and residence allowance unused — for example, if all his estate was left to you — you may be able to claim the unused proportion against your own taxable estate.
Ms Mock adds a word of warning: ‘These are complex matters and the reader should take detailed, professional advice before finalising their affairs as this is only a general summary.’
Straight to the point
Why has Scottish Power hiked my direct debit for electricity from £38 to £65? I live on my own in a flat — this increase is obscene.
P. J., Bootle, Merseyside.
The bill was based on estimated meter readings, rather than the amount of power you had actually used.
Once Scottish Power took actual readings, it worked out you owed £13.98, which it has wiped as a goodwill gesture. Your direct debit has been reset at £39.50.
I had a washing machine fitted by Domestic & General six weeks ago. When I opened it to remove my washing, smoke came billowing out. I was told I would have to wait five days for an engineer. I am very worried.
H. M., by email.
After Money Mail contacted Domestic & General, an engineer was sent to fit a replacement washing machine within two days. You also received a £52.98 refund.
My wife called TUI to book a holiday, but made it clear it was a provisional booking only. In the end, we decided against the trip and were assured no money had been taken.
But we’ve been charged a £400 cancellation fee.
J. F., by email.
TUI says it confirmed the booking by email and you did not cancel until two-and-a-half weeks later. It adds that its cancellation charges are clearly stated in its booking conditions.
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