Error puts the handbrake on claim

You don’t always expect to get a nasty surprise when you go shopping, except for the bill, of course.

But that’s what Bev Haywood got. When the Sanddrift resident finished doing what she had to at the Colosseum, Canal Walk, she found that a car owned by Julia Belim of Century City had hit her Toyota Tazz causing considerable damage.

What made it worse is that Ms Belim’s insurance company, Auto & General (A&G) Insurance, reportedly refused to help Ms Haywood.

“The incident occurred outside Woolworths. Our cars were parked back to back, a considerable distance from each other. When I finished shopping I saw that Ms Belim’s car, a Hyundai, had rolled backwards into mine.

“It could have been worse as my son was in the car. Ms Belim had apparently forgotten to put on the handbrake,” said Ms Haywood who noted the relevant details, took photographs and got a case number from the police.

“I sent Ms Belim several emails and SMSes as well as the documents and two quotes by snail mail but I didn’t hear from her because she works shifts. Eventually she made contact and told me that Natasha Isaacs from A&G would call me. She didn’t and when I phoned her I was put through to Thabiso but nothing transpired,” Ms Haywood said.

She wrote to A&G: “Can someone from your legal department please call me urgently. One of your clients, Julia Belim, had an accident when her car rolled into mine at a parking lot in Century City. I assume her handbrake was off while she was shopping. No one was injured even though my son was in my car. After struggling to get hold of her because I believe she works shifts, I was finally able to make contact. She said Natasha Isaacs will be in touch with me. I have made one attempt to get hold of her and I was put through to Thabiso. But nothing has transpired. I would appreciate it if you could follow up urgently as I do not plan to leave this matter unattended.”

And when Ms Haywood hit another brick wall she came to me.

“Admittedly my car is old and hers new, but this is not the point. She is reneging on her responsibility as the erring party. I do not want to claim through my insurance company, as I don’t want to lose my no-claim bonus. In any event, it was her fault not mine. Can you help?”

A&G acted promptly after they received my email about the accident.

Spokesman Martin van Wyk confirmed that their customer (Ms Belim) reported that she had parked her comprehensively insured car at the Colosseum and when she returned she found that it had rolled backwards and collided with another car.

“After discovering the incident Ms Belim exchanged contact details with Ms Haywood.

“We proceeded to process our customer’s claim for the damages to her vehicle and our customer’s claim was settled on January 6. Ms Haywood contacted our legal department on January 6 to claim for her damages against our customer’s policy.

“Due to an internal communication error her third party claim was never processed.

“When we received your email we immediately contacted Ms Haywood and arranged for her claim to be processed without further delay. A booking was made to assess the damages to her vehicle on January 20 at her premises. Thereafter, her claim will be finalised,” Mr Van Wyk said.

And so it was. The claim for R3 325.95 was paid on January 26.

“Thanks again for your help – I could not have achieved this without you,” Ms Haywood said.

Many, many emailed, handwritten messages are scanned and sent to Off My Trolley from internet cafes and the like. They are barely legible and often unsigned. PDFs, scanned images of PDFs and scanned images of letters are not accepted. If you want us to investigate an issue, send the details in the body of the email or as a Word document, as text only. You must include your full name, home address details and phone number, the nature of your complaint and the details of the business.