I want to make Pet Insurance Review members aware of extremely deceptive and borderline fraudulent(-seeming) behaviour by seemingly reputable insurer Equine & Livestock Insurance Co. Ltd.
I set up insurance with E&L in July 2013 and in July 2014 I received my 1-year renewal. I was surprised that the cover letter made no mention of the renewal cost, but digging within the 15-page policy document I was able to find confirmation of the £75.99 premium on page 7. This price was also confirmed on page 8, which detailed the payment schedule for my credit card charges.
I assume all was OK until about a month later I received a call from HSBC fraud prevention which queried the charge by E&L of £106.99. They advised that I call E&L to investigate.
The E&L operator stated that £106.99 was the correct charge. He asked me to look at some tiny print on page 7 of my policy document which said “the premium (…) excludes Optional Benefit charges (…) and an additional premium collection charge”. He then asked me to look at tiny print on page 8 which stated that “Optional Benefits” of up to £75 per year may be added to my premium. Finally he asked me to look at page 18, which stated that I had been given free access to an “exclusive” additional service (which I hadn’t requested) and I would be charged £25 per year for it from my next renewal.
So despite the fact that even following the confusing trail of small print implied that they would’t charge the additional fees until the next renewal, they had still charged me an additional £31 of fees.
I immediately cancelled my policy and am hoping to have a full refund (it hasn't yet arrived), however I am sure many of their customers do not notice these hidden charges. I am also reporting this to the Financial Ombudsman Service and the Financial Conduct Authority.
This is terrible behaviour by an insurer. How on earth are they allowed to do this?