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SALLY SORTS IT: Why is LV quibbling over crash that killed my parents?

Earlier this year both my parents were killed in a horrific car crash. I have viewed both post-mortem examinations and spoken with the police.

It was made clear the oncoming driver was at fault and the police have stated that, in their eyes, my mother, who was driving my father’s car at the time, was blameless.

My parents were insured with LV= on the same policy for both of their cars. They had each paid an additional premium of £16 for extended personal accident cover of £100,000 each.

Callous: LV is refusing to pay the full amount on a personal accident policy after two of its customers were killed in a car crash

We have been informed that rather than two payments of £100,000, only one will be made — and that this will only be made after probate.

The executor of my parents’ will is a solicitor who has instructed the insurer to pay the money into a client account, which is part of his firm’s business account.

There are only two equal beneficiaries, myself and my brother. I feel both my queries — the paying of only one sum rather than two and the insistence on probate being agreed first — fall into a grey area.

We very much need this money to aid the payment of inheritance tax so we can settle my parents’ estates and then finally have time to grieve. Can you help shed some light on this problem?

Anon.

The sudden death of both parents in a car crash is a tragedy hard to contemplate. I spoke to your husband, who told me the shock has taken its toll on all of you.

He said that on a car journey into Central London recently for a concert, you burst into tears every time you happened upon a minor motor accident or when an ambulance appeared. Your feelings are clearly still very raw; dealing with your parents’ insurer has added to this turmoil.

I could not tell from the policy terms you sent me why the payment was restricted to a single £100,000, so asked LV= to look again at your case. I asked specifically why, if two premiums had been paid for the enhanced cover, two sums could not be issued.

A few days later, LV= came back with an explanation. It said that while you were right that your parents both had £100,000 extended personal accident benefit on their multi-car policy, the insurer’s claims handler was correct to say it would normally make only one payment.

A spokesman says: ‘This is because the policy stipulates a limit of £100,000 per accident, irrespective of the number of people involved. While we understand the couple had paid separate fees for the increased benefit, this is so both cars had the benefit in the event of each car having an accident.’

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But the good news is LV= made an about-turn on its original decision and agreed to issue the double payment after all — and it will send it straight away rather than wait for probate to be settled on your parents’ estates.

A spokesman adds: ‘Due to the circumstances and the fact we are reviewing how we treat claims of this nature where we insure multiple people in one accident, as a gesture of goodwill we are happy paying £200,000 to her and her family, and ahead of probate being received.’

LV= explains that probate is normally required — in line with guidance from HM Revenue & Customs — to help protect everyone involved. However, an exception is being made in your case as your parents’ executor is a solicitor. He will not only receive the money into a client account, but has the legal and professional duty to distribute funds appropriately and everyone involved will also be protected under the firm’s indemnity insurance.

You were overwhelmed to hear this and told me ‘it will help enormously to reduce the financial anxieties that have been keeping us awake, and also to reduce the awful bitterness that has crept in’.

A spokesman for LV= says: ‘We would like to offer our sincere condolences to [the daughter] and her family following the tragic loss of her parents. We appreciate this is a difficult time and would like to apologise for any further distress that has been caused as a result of this claim.’

There is also a claim under way against the other driver involved in the accident, who survived the crash. This is being pursued via the motor legal expenses insurance purchased with their car policy.

Another option in such circumstances is to make a claim via a no-win, no-fee lawyer. Fees can be high for successful claims, though they are capped at 25 pc of any redress.

The success of any claim usually depends on whether survivors are dependants of the deceased.

Sometimes payment for reasonable funeral and headstone costs might be the only outcome. In England and Wales, a statutory bereavement award of just over £15,000 is available following fatal accidents, but usually only to the surviving spouse or civil partner or to the parents of a child under 18.

The system in Scotland allows for a variable amount and can be more generous.

British Gas is billing me for property I sold years ago 

A few months ago, I received a letter from British Gas regarding a tariff being set up for a property I’d sold eight years earlier.

I am not sure how the company got hold of my current private address or my email, but the letters persisted and an account was set up online without my involvement. I wrote to British Gas with supporting evidence to show I had sold the property and have no affiliation with it, and asked it to close the account.

The company wrote back to apologise — but still I received emails about an unpaid quarterly bill for this year of £145.

I refuse to sign into its website and close an account that I didn’t set up. Now I have been contacted by a debt recovery company.

I don’t have access to the internet at home or on my phone. Please help.

S. F., Surrey.

Your letter is one of many I receive, where energy providers’ mistakes with addresses trigger erroneous bills.

Most readers have an innate fear of debt collectors, or worse, bailiffs, and can end up expending a lot of energy — as you have — trying to resolve such blunders.

I asked British Gas to investigate. A few days later it came back to apologise and a spokesman said an adviser had made an error when closing down the rogue account after you complained.

The mistake has now been corrected and you should no longer receive any bills or other correspondence — or a knock at the door from a debt collector.

Straight to the point 

I bought a £207 rowing machine from Aldi which broke. I called the supermarket to ask for a refund, then received an email from a firm called Sertronics, asking for personal details. Is this a scam?

C. Z., Huddersfield.

It is quite common for firms such as Sertronics to underwrite warranties and process refunds rather than retailers themselves. However, Aldi accepts someone should have explained this when you called. You have now been refunded in full.

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In June, I transferred €8,498 from my Revolut account, but the payment was rejected by the recipient’s bank. 

Revolut said it would take ten days to process a refund, but I’m still waiting. I have had to take out a loan to pay back the people I borrowed money from.

L. A., via email.

Revolut has now retrieved the money and refunded you in full. It has also paid a €400 gesture of goodwill to cover the interest charged on your loan.

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I am 76 and in receipt of pension credit. But despite telling the TV Licensing agency in May that I qualify for a free licence, I still haven’t received it.

J. S., Worcester.

Your free licence has been issued and you should get it in a few days. TV Licensing has also refunded you for the time you were paying for a licence while eligible for a free one.

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After accidentally leaving my Kobo e-reader at the Luton Airport’s Premier Inn last month, I have called, emailed and even driven back to the hotel to find it. But no one seems to know where it is.

L. L., Bridgend.

Premier Inn has returned the e-reader and apologises for the delay, which they say was caused by a miscommunication at the hotel.

  • Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email sally@dailymail.co.uk — include phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Sally Hamilton. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given. 

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