Saturday, October 20

Claims, Stains and Octogenarians

On my first day in my new job, I handled this claim.

'My husband was in the bathroom when he fell and banged his head on the cistern, which cracked, pouring water over the floor. I rushed to help him, and stepped on some cracked porcelain. I did not notice this until I had walked into the bedroom, and my foot had bled on the hall and bedroom carpet. '

Now despite what this blog may make you believe, with its sparkling, acerbic wit and Oscar Winning mood swings, I’m actually quite sensitive. Really! Try tickling me!

When I read the claim I felt like I was in that bathroom. It was my boyfriend on the floor, me in shock, trying to stop the water, trying to help him, running to the bedroom for the phone, my heart racing, the blood spurting from my foot unnoticed as a hero ignores his mortal wound until his damsel is saved.

And besides, they were old, sweet people. They needed my help. They wouldn’t lie to me.

My senior looked over my shoulder. 'Yeah right.' he said, 'like you wouldn't notice you had a bloody big piece of porcelain in your foot.'

Now you may think the odds of someone faking this are somewhat slim.

'Forsooth Roger, I find myself rather tired of one's bedroom carpet.'
'Tis true Maria. I believe, also, that the lavatory be naff.’
‘Rather naff indeed.'
‘You know, one believes we can purge of the twain with one stone.'
'Mercy, no?'
'Verily, with naught but a head-shaped hammer and a vile of blood. Hurry now, bring me forth a knife and one's Home Policy Booklet.'
But the more claims I've handled the more I can imagine it. In the last month I’ve had people claim their stolen 18 year old Television was HD ready, their burnt down council flat was full of priceless artworks, and their defrosted freezer was stocked with Caviar and Salmon. Every day someone is trying to screw the company out of money. And my job isn’t to help people as you may expect. My job is to work out who is lying.

After all, who knows how many people sit at home every night, plotting to commit insurance fraud.
'Geeze Brian, what we going to do tonight then?'
'The same thing we do every night Peaches, try to defraud our Insurance.'
But maybe you think that I'm being too cynical about this. Maybe you think that deep down Human Beings are honest, kind people.

Well my naive friends (who I must come 'visit' one day) let me give you one more example.

A few days ago I was called up by a lovely, old Gentleman, the kind who hands out sweets in the bus queue. With a wonderful chortle he told me that his wife had been saving up £2 coins. But the purse she was saving them in had 'gone missing.' This sounded perfectly reasonable. Old people often save up change at home, it keeps the queues in the bank short, and the glass jars market afloat. They are also famous for losing things: normally their memory.

Then I asked how much money was in the purse.
‘About £800,’ he said.

For those who don't know, a £2 coin is roughly the size of a quarter, 1 1/8" in diameter and 1/8" in height. It is the largest coin in the English currency. Yet his wife apparently had 400 of them in her purse. Call me cynical if you must (in fact I rather enjoy it) but I find that hard to believe.

To give some idea of scale, a pile of 300 £2 coins would reach up past my waist. Any purse containing them would have a volume of over 40 cubic inches and weigh over 8lb. It’s not the kind of thing you take with you when you go go to Waitrose to buy a new glass jar. Losing something like that would take a highly concentrated effort, detailed planning and, at their age, a forklift truck.

And so he's cheating us, claiming for more than he lost just like everyone else who ever made an insurance claim, including me.

And yet, knowing that he has cheated us, I’ll pay him the money. I'll sign the cheque and move onto the next liar, cheater or master criminal.

Because that, after all, is my job.


Linda said...

Perhaps the poor old blighter remembered incorrectly and what he really meant to say was 80 and not 800? Just to give the crafty old codger some credit, that is!

If I may ask, how many of these sorts of claims does your company actually pay out? And when you don't pay them out how do you go about explaining to that what is sure to be irate customers?

The Freelance Cynic said...

Naturally, as we're an insurance firm we pay out as few claims as possible, and we are somewhat prone to demanding enough evidence for a case in the High Court before taking out our cheque books. The problem is that a lot of people who have claims turned down go the FSO to complain, which makes it more effort than it's worth.

In regards to saying no to customers, we have lots of wonderful policy wording we can hide behind, or failing that we just smile, speak politely and keep saying 'no' till they hang up.

Melanie said...

I would be no good at this job. I'd assume everyone is honest like I am and I'd feel bad for everyone and want to give them their money.

Ps said...

Gosh--what a job! I wouldnt survive more than 2 days in it, I guess.

The Rock Chick said...

I work for an insurance company, too. It never ceases to amaze me at the things people claim to have in their houses...or purses...that unbelievably always seem to disappear. For things like cash, though, we have limits on our policies of $200.

I've noticed in our office that the majority of claims where I feel there may be some exaggeration involved is with homeowners claims after a storm. People will have existing or not-covered damage to their homes and then use a storm to say it happened at that time.

I've been doing this for 8 years and I still have to say that I believe the majority of people I deal with are basically honest.

What I really dislike doing is telling someone with a lot of damage that they are not covered for something. We recently had some pretty serious flooding in the area, which is very unusual and most people do not have flood insurance. We make that clear when they buy the policy, but most people just don't want the flood coverage because it's expensive. We had a lot of people lose a lot of stuff.

Needless to say, they weren't happy. I got yelled at for an entire month.

Glad you're back posting!

Thinking aloud said...

god, that's some job....i get conned very easily:)

Angelika said...

I stepped on a small nail once.

I didn't notice until I wondered why there was blood all over the linoleum in the kitchen.

The nail was still embedded in my foot.

Of course, my legs were numb at the time.

But anyway, maybe she really didn't feel it. You never know what conditions people have...

Dale said...

If we ever get the chance to 'visit', we'll have lots of stories to compare. People, nothing better, worse, more hilarious, evil and annoying.

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