Insurance capers

January 26
Dear Sir
I am writing to you in the hope that you may be able to assist.
At the beginning of December we had driven to the UK via Brittany Ferries and were on the M4 motorway heading West towards Bristol, when at about 12.30 shortly after passing the junction for Royal Wootton Bassett we had a tyre blowout.
We stopped the car on the hard shoulder, put on the warning light, got the other side of the barrier and phoned our motor insurers in Spain. Our car does not have a spare tyre so we needed a recovery vehicle.
I gave as much detail as I could about where we were, about 3 miles West of Royal Wootton Bassett on the Westbound carriage way. I was told that they would get their agents in the UK to come. We waited. The temperature was about 3 degrees Celsius. We put on additional layers of clothing and also wrapped an eiderdown round us.
After an hour I rang again. I was told it might take a couple of hours, and they might have difficulty finding us. I repeated where we were; any recovery vehicle coming onto the motorway at Royal Wootton Bassett would have had to drive past us so we could not be missed.
Still no one came. I called again and stressed that we were very cold and it was becoming urgent. They said they would pass this information on. Eventually a police car stopped; by then we were both shivering and shaking uncontrollably.
The police took my wife in their car to the next service station and stayed with her till she had warmed up a little. They told me that despite the usual advice not to stay in the car, I should get in the car with the engine running, and sit in the passenger seat with the seatbelt on.
I waited. Another police car stopped to ask if I needed help. I said I was waiting for a recovery vehicle. They wanted to know if I was sure that someone was coming. I rang the insurance company again and told them the police had taken my wife to the next service station which was about 5 miles further down the motorway. I was told they were having some trouble finding us, which I could not understand as we could not be missed.
A third police car stopped. By then it was getting dark and they were concerned that we were a hazard on the motorway. I said we were still waiting. The second police car returned about half an hour later.
The officer said that it looked like I had been let down by the insurers, and he gave me details of a recovery firm locally. The officer spoke to this firm and gave details of what tyre I needed.
After about an hour the recovery firm organised by the police came. He put on a temporary wheel and tyre, and escorted me off the motorway to the service station where he fitted the tyre properly.
By then it was after 19.00, six-and-a-half hours after reporting the incident, without seeing anyone from the insurance company. I should stress that all the police officers we saw, and the recovery man, were extremely helpful.
We were able to continue our journey, and the next day I reported what had happened to our agents in Jávea.
I had a phone call from a woman from the insurers to say they had come to the scene and we had gone. When I asked what time that was she said it was after 19.00. I said that of course we had gone, that was 6-and-a-half hours after I reported it, and the police had helped us with the recovery vehicle which the insurance company had failed to send.
My phone records showed that I had phoned them seven times that afternoon.
Since then I have had no explanation from the insurance company or from Roadside Assistance who I understand are their UK agents, and no apology.
The Jávea brokers have been helpful, and have passed on to the insurance company our regular requests to know what is going on.
The company is matching its total absence of service with total absence of dealing with the complaint.
Tomorrow it will be eight weeks since it happened. I am concerned about their lack of customer care, and the contemptuous way they are acting.
I write this in the hope that you may be able to ask them to comment, and to get them to deal with the matter. If you need any further information, please let me know.
Tony Lawton

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