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personal finance

I felt I was blamed by an insurer after my car was stolen

My locked car was stolen from my driveway after thieves disassembled the steering wheel shroud, broke the ignition barrel and drove off. Unfortunately, the car did not survive. The culprits were never caught and police closed the case.

When I reported it to my insurer, Halifax, it cancelled my policy, cut my nine-year no-claims bonus (the maximum they allow) to three years and insisted on calling this an “at-fault” incident. I had driven this car for 13 years without any incident.

This will have a significant impact on the cost and availability of future motor insurance and it looks to me as if I’m being punished for being the victim of a crime. I only received £250 for my old car and don’t have the funds to buy another.

OM, Southampton

“At fault” is a blunt instrument used equally by insurers to describe a policyholder who jumps a red light and ploughs into another vehicle, and a policyholder whose car is damaged by a reckless third party.

You fall into the latter category. As Halifax explains: “When an insurer is unable to reclaim their losses, for example from another insurer, it is described as a ‘fault’ claim. It doesn’t necessarily mean the customer was to blame, but that the claim has been paid out from the customer’s insurance. We are looking to see how we can improve the way claims are recorded.”

So far, so frustrating. Your no-claims discount was reduced because of the claim and the policy cancelled a month before it was due for renewal because there was no longer a vehicle to insure. Halifax insists you do not have to declare this on future insurance applications.

Payments for written-off vehicles reflect the market value rather than the cost of a replacement. You are appealing to the Financial Ombudsman Service about the valuation.

If you need help email Anna Tims at or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions


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