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JESSICA BEARD: Scottish Widows fails the people it named itself after

Scottish Widows has inflicted lasting damage to its venerable former brand by forcing families to wait months for insurance and pension payments

JESSICA BEARD: The painful irony of watching Scottish widows drop the very people she named herself

What a painful irony to see Scottish widows drop the people they so proudly named themselves in the early 19th century.

I was surprised how badly the insurer treated dozens of loyal customers in their hour of need.

And the cases reported to Money Mail are just the tip of a mountainous backlog of families Scottish Widows expects – 6,000 in total at the start of the year.

Scottish Widows has inflicted lasting damage to its venerable former brand by forcing families to wait months for insurance and pension payments

Scottish Widows has inflicted lasting damage to its venerable former brand by forcing families to wait months for insurance and pension payments

Readers have told us about struggles to claim money after the death of a loved one. Many cried on the phone. I can’t understand how Scottish Widows bereavement teams could treat them so coldly.

Companies are pushing us desperately online, but that’s no excuse for forgetting how important it is to provide a human touch when you need it most.

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Laconic appeal handlers and thoughtless letters have rubbed salt on the wounds inflicted by long appeal wait times and delays of up to nine months in receiving insurance and pension payments.

It took weeks of Money Mail requests for Scottish Widows to come up with a senior executive to explain what was wrong.

Finally, Donald MacKechnie spoke to me and spat out an apology. He looked genuinely sorry. And absolutely right too

The group hired more staff and promised to work on the long list of waiting families, paying compensation plus interest.

In fact, they’ve worked on 1,300 cases in the past four weeks alone. It’s a good start. But I fear Scottish Widows has inflicted lasting damage to its venerable old brand.

Certainly, in the eyes of the customers he has disappointed, there is no going back. Now the rest of the country can also read how insensitive Scottish widows acted.

Bounty Greed

Complaints to Money Mail about insurance renewal hikes continue to pile up.

Emails and letters poured in from those who saw car and house cover quotes in some cases more than double – as our Premium League report shows today. Often, insurers cannot explain what drove prices up and simply hide behind the cloak of high headline inflation figures.

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Consumer price index inflation is running at 10.5%, but many of the insurance premium increases you reported to Money Mail go well beyond that.

The vast majority are being asked to pay 40-50% more than they paid last year.

It’s almost as if the insurance giants are simply expecting customers to regard these astonishing hikes as another blow to the cost of living and shrug their shoulders. No, which really comes down to greed.

What’s worse is that most of the biggest premium increases have been sought from the elderly. Insurers have found an easy target in vulnerable households that lack internet access and are unable to find the cheapest deals.

Insurers are trying to make more money to bloat their balance sheets by treating us like cash cows that they can rip off at will. And again, the regulator sleeps at the wheel.

Free the money!

Every month hundreds of cash machines across Britain are ripped off. That familiar mad rush to find a working ATM when you need to pay for something with physical cash is getting harder and harder, especially with the disappearance of bank branches.

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We’ve all been there when we realized the taxi driver doesn’t accept card payments or the store we’re in has a card machine problem.

Every High Street should have a hole in the wall, according to leading provider Link.

Its managing director, John Howells, has challenged Money Mail to dig up a cash desert where physical money cannot be withdrawn for free. If we can find one, he’ll try to do something.

So, has it become impossible to withdraw cash in your area? Contact us – we would be happy to have an ATM installed for you.

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