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GRACE ON THE CASE: My insurer is taking away my hire car after a crash

In August, I was driving on the dual carriageway when another car came the wrong way and crashed into me. My car was a write off and I suffered severe injuries. 

A test undertaken at the scene found the other driver to be over the alcohol limit with the motorist admitting liability. However, the third party insurer refused to offer a hire car.

My insurer, Aviva, gave me a rental but are taking it back as of this week and will not extend it. 

My policy also said it covers new vehicle replacement but Aviva says there is none available for 16 to 20 weeks due to industry issues. What can I do to get some sort of transportation? L.C., via email

A driver was in a crash that wasn't her fault but the third party insurer didn't give her a hire car

Grace Gausden, consumer expert at This is Money, replies: I am sorry to hear about the crash you were in. It must have been a terrifying experience. 

Unfortunately, you sustained injuries and are still receiving physiotherapy, months on, to help with the pain.

After the crash, when it was found the other driver was at fault, you were sure that you would receive a hire car from the third party insurer. 

However, it advised it would not be offering you a hire car. 

Aviva said this is because if the driver is over the alcohol limit for driving, the motorist's insurer would not cover the hire of a vehicle as they would not be liable for the hire nor the car. 

You have made an official complaint that is still being processed, which unfortunately means that when you contacted the Ombudsman to also file a complaint, it advised it could not yet do anything to help.

Fortunately, however, you were able to claim a hire car through your own insurer, Aviva, which provided you with a Lexus NX - the same make as your car that was written off, a Lexus UX.  

GRACE ON THE CASE

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This was subsequently changed to an automatic Vauxhall Corsa as you and your husband struggled to get in and out of the Lexus. 

While it was not the same as having your own car, which you had purchased earlier this year for £40,000, you were happy to at least be able to drive yourself around.  

You have now been informed by Aviva that as of 29 October, your hire car will be taken away and neither it nor the third party insurer will be offering a rental vehicle. 

It said this is because your policy says you are only entitled to one for a maximum of 21 days - which has already long since been surpassed.  

Having no car would prove incredibly problematic for you, you say, as you are 75 years old and your husband, who is 76 and a blue badge holder, has stage 4 COPD which means he has frequent medical appointments.

While you could get alternative transport, you add it would not be comfortable and your Lexus UX was specifically bought to ensure you were able to travel easily.

You have also hired a solicitor for a personal injury claim who advised that if you hire a car yourself, it is unlikely you could reclaim the cost of the rental through your insurer. 

To add to your woes, your policy states you are entitled to new vehicle replacement but you have been told by Aviva there are none available for 16 to 20 weeks. 

A customer service agent also advised you the firm dealing with the order had still not placed it - weeks after you originally made the claim. 

An Aviva customer was told it could take between 16 and 20 weeks to get a new vehicle

Now you are stuck in a position of not being able to make any further complaints until the ones you have already made are processed while also facing being without a car for the foreseeable future.

This seemed incredibly unfair, especially as it was deemed immediately that the accident was not your fault - and you believed you had extensive cover in place to help you should an incident like this occur. 

Therefore, I contacted Aviva to find out if there was anything it could do to help you during this difficult time.

An Aviva spokesperson said: 'By way of context, unfortunately the shortage of new vehicles is being felt across the insurance industry.

'The policy in question had a "new vehicle replacement" option, which is designed to be a benefit on our policies, meaning that the customer can get a new car, rather than being paid the "total loss" valuation of the vehicle to purchase a replacement.

'This means the customer is able to get a brand new car, whereas a total loss valuation would take into account the fact that vehicles depreciate in value.

'However, in the current environment, market forces mean there is a severe shortage of new vehicles. This is UK-wide and not something specific to this particular vehicle manufacturer, or specific to Aviva.

'In addition, on this particular policy, the customer had not taken out courtesy car cover in the event of a total loss to their vehicle. So any courtesy car provision would be in excess of the policy conditions.

'However, we do recognise the very specific circumstances surrounding this particular claim, including the health considerations of the customers and the current market forces with regard to new vehicles.

'As such, we have spoken to our hire provider, and the customer, and have agreed to extend the vehicle until such time as the new vehicle is available. 

'We are also working with the hire provider to provide a more comfortable vehicle, recognising the concerns raised regarding the current vehicle.' 

Luckily, the insurer has reversed its decision to your favour and you confirm you have been told you will be supplied with a hire vehicle that suits your needs until your new car is ready. I wish you a speedy recovery and hope you get your brand new car soon.

An Edreams customer was frustrated after his flight was cancelled and no refund was given

Hit and miss: This week's naughty and nice list

Each week, I look at some of the companies that have fallen short of expected standards as well as those that have gone that extra mile for customers.

Miss: Holiday company, Edreams, were in the hot seat this week from reader, Duncan after waiting more than a year for his £1,189.82 refund.

He said: 'My wife and I booked a trip via Edreams to visit her family in Brazil in July last year. Unfortunately the airline, Swissair, that Edreams booked the flight with cancelled the trip a few weeks later due to the escalating pandemic.

'We called Edreams for a refund on 24 September last year and were told it could take three to six months to receive.

'During the next six to eight months, I made 27 calls to Edreams. They are not disputing that I am entitled to the refund but are blaming Swissair for the delays.

'I have spoken to Swissair which advised it is not able to discuss this and told me to go through Edreams. It's been over a year and there is still no refund.'

I could understand your frustration as it is a sizeable sum you are waiting for - with Edreams not able to tell you when you would be likely to receive your money. 

I contacted the firm to find out the cause of the hold up and when you could expect to get your funds.  

An Edreams spokesperson said: 'We sympathise with the customer's frustrations regarding their refund as our teams initially requested this from the airline last year. 

'Unfortunately, by the time the refund was authorised by the airline the customer's card had expired.

'As such, when we attempted to process this, the transfer failed. 

'Usually in these circumstances we would reach out to the customer and request their updated details in order to complete the refund, however due to a system error this unfortunately didn't happen in this instance.

'We have now processed a full refund alongside a £200 voucher and apologise for the part Opodo played in the inconvenience caused.'

The service was far from dreamy but finally you have a refund – and an extra £200 to spend next time you want to travel.

Hit: In better news, reader Alison praised salt and pepper mill makers, Cole & Mason.

She said: 'A few weeks ago our Cole & Mason electronic pepper mill stopped grinding pepper. I went to order a new one when I noticed that it came with a lifetime guarantee.

'I wondered if our one had as well. I contacted the Cole & Mason UK customer service team. They sent a simple explanation to see if we were eligible which included downloading a few photos etc.

'To my delight they agreed that I was covered and this morning a bright new shiny pair of salt and pepper grinders arrived. Thank you. Brilliant service.'

Luckily, Cole & Mason's great service is not grinding to a halt and you were very happy with your new products.