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Wednesday, 30 March 2011


In January, my beloved and I went back to the UK to see friends and family.  My son  (he of the pierced earlobe and tattooed forearm showing a delightfully rendered image of the Mexican Day of the Dead with the addition of a Chinese script which he was told meant "May the Lord Bless You" but which really says "I've got a Bastard of a Cold") went back as well, but because of other commitments (Not Guilty Your Honour) had to take another flight. 

Almost as cute as my son

We flew Air New Zealand via Auckland and LA, he flew Qantas via Melbourne and Hong Kong.  It was the first time he had flown so far on his own, and he was a bit nervous.  He doesn't sleep well on flights, and as we were planning to start family visits the day after her arrived, he was concerned he would be too jet-lagged to really enjoy all the festivities.  So he asked his doctor for some sleeping pills, and his kindly doctor complied.

He had a 3 hour layover in Melbourne, so he sat in the waiting lounge listening to his favourite music on his iPod.  An hour before his plane was called, he took a pill.  Then his plane was delayed and he had another 2 hour wait.  He (not surprisingly) fell asleep, waking up just as they announced his flight for the last time.  He grabbed his bags and ran for the gate, making it in the nick of time.  But he had forgotten his iPod and his very expensive earphones ($450 for earphones.  Is he mad?)

After we got back to NZ, he managed to contact Melbourne Airport to enquire after his lost possessions, but after raising his hopes, they decided that the iPod and earphones they had in their lost property was not his.  Seemingly the iPod they had was full of classical music.  Definitely not my son's then.

Every holiday, I take out Holiday Insurance, just to feel safe. In all our 35 years of foreign travel, to the Far East, Russia, most of Europe, Pacific Islands and Australia, we have only made one claim on our insurance.

  • I lost a pair of spectacles off of a boat in Singapore Harbour, when I leaned over the side to be sick.  (Let me make it entirely clear that I WAS NOT DRUNK, merely sea-sick)
 My insurers paid up without too much trouble.

So, being covered by our holiday insurance, and after being constantly reminded by me, my son put in a claim to my insurers.  I gave him a hand with the forms and it seemed reasonably straightforward. He even had the receipts (and the empty boxes) for the lost goods.

They turned him down,saying that it was his fault, as he had left his property unsupervised in a public place.  The total value of the claim was about $700, and my son was counting on getting the cash so he could replace the items.

I stepped in, and sent a letter to the insurers, and we heard yesterday that "After due consideration, the company has decided to reverse their original decision, and will pay for the replacement of the items lost."  A victory for common sense.

Here's a copy of the letter I sent.


L*****n C******i

Case manager

M*****l Assistance

Dear Ms C******i

Thank you for your letter of 3 March, declining the claim of my son, travelling on the above referenced policy, but bought by me.
I understand that you have declined the claim for the iPod and earphones which my son lost at Melbourne airport.
Your rationale seems to depend solely on the definition of the phrases“leaving it in a position where it can be taken without your knowledge”
“leaving it as such a distance from you that you are unable to prevent it being taken”

In both cases I believe that the leaving denotes a desire or a plan to return to the object, in other words an amount of lack of care about the object(s) concerned.

In this case as my son honestly and accurately described, he woke suddenly from a sleep, grabbed his luggage and hurried to get to the departure gate before he missed his flight.

He had no intention of returning to that spot, so he was not being careless with his possessions, but just accidentally forgot to pick them up.
The only reason we buy holiday insurance is to protect ourselves and our possessions when we are in unfamiliar surroundings and in often stressful situations.  I have bought holiday insurance from ****** for many years now. My family take at least two international holidays each year, all covered through yourselves.

We pride ourselves on being scrupulously honest, and we have never made a claim on our holiday insurance with you.

In fact I believe we have made one claim on holiday insurance in the past 30 years, when I lost a pair of glasses from a boat in Singapore in the 1980s.

If your attitude is such that an honest error, in the confusion of travelling alone and being in fear of missing a flight is considered as not covered, then I ask whether I should ever consider using your company ever again. Seeing as my wife and I will be purchasing at least another 30 travel covers in the next 15 years, you could be putting a lot of business at risk.

I would ask that you reconsider your decision.

Robert Douglas Robb

MSc, BSc (Hons)

I think it was the MSc that frightened them to pay up. 


  1. Probably surprised the hell out of them that you knew their name. Most likely thought you had their home address as well.

    What a crap attitude to take by an insurance company anyway. After all it's pretty much money for old rope isn't it?

    Glad it worked out. Now he'll probably get another tattoo and ask you for an ipod and headphones for his birthday........

  2. I have been the unwilling recipient of your treatises on my previous blogs so I understand why Mrs C*****i decided that it was preferable to pay up and get rid of the old b*****d.

  3. Alistair: Probably yes to the tattoo. I just hope the poor little sod doesn't get الله هو لوطي
    which translates as "Allah is a poof".
    COuld give hm trouble if he ever goes to Saudi Arabia.

    Second Fiddle: Anything that works. I like your eyeshadow. Very becoming.

  4. Well done you. It's getting to the stage that people who NEED insurance won't be able to get it because they are no longer covered for the sort of things that you need insurance for. Yanno?


  5. Ali X: That statement has so much convoluted logic that it gives me a headache. I think I understand what you mean, but if I tried explaining it, the physical reality that is the Universe we currently inhabit (except for Ringo who is an escapee from the Dungeon Dimensions)would collapse into a singularity. And I'm not insured for that.


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