VHI deadlines and claiming on someone else's behalf
Pricewatch: Consumer queries answered by Conor Pope
Making claims on someone else’s behalf is not always easy with VHI. Photograph: Hugh Macknight/ PA Wire
A reader called Sally Ann got in touch with two issues connected to VHI. “I am no longer able to claim online for my father who is 92 years old as he does not have an email address nor mobile,” she write.
She says she can’t make the claims online even though she pays his VHI through her salary. Not only that, she says, but she can’t even contact VHI to discuss the account “as I am not the policy holder; it is the same policy number for both of us”.
She is also concerned about what she says is a change in how the company handles refunds. “I used to be able to claim going back at least two years as long as I separated the years out,” she writes. “I will now be out of pocket to the tune of €320 as I should have made all claims three months before the end of the claim year.”
She says this rule is “written in the small print at the end of the day-to-day expense claim forms” and adds that she does not remember “being written to about this and having it explained. The cost of VHI is enough and I do not wish to lose any more. However, my father did spend over nine weeks in hospital, coming out just before Christmas, so claiming my VHI receipts three months before the end of the year was not at the top of my agenda unfortunately.”
We got in touch with VHI to find out more about the difficulties our reader has been having in making claims online because her 92-year-old dad doesn’t have an email address and to see if there was anything that could be done about the money lost as a result of the deadline rules connected to making claims.
VHI put consent in place so our reader can act on her father’s behalf for past claims. “However, we explained the process we have in place for vulnerable customers and that if at any point it was determined that her father was not in a position to deal with his own affairs she could send us in a letter from his GP outlining the situation and, once received, then she can look after his medical claims,” a spokesman said.
“Because of GDPR legislation we have to have this because medical claims are specifically called out in the legislation where we need to deal with the individual directly themselves, where there is an exception to this we need specific permission to deal with someone other than the person who is claiming.”
The spokeswoman added that VHI had “reassessed her father’s outpatients claims and, on an exceptional basis, benefit will be paid on those”.
“I expect you have received a few emails about this already,” starts a mail from David Lane. Before Christmas he bought two tickets to Bob Dylan and Neil Young’s double header in Kilkenny this summer.
“After paying the insane Ticketmaster prices to listen to two utter legends probably destroy their back catalogue, a pop-up appeared for Complete Savings,” his mail continues. “This seemed to be part of the process to complete my ticket purchase – all they wanted was my email address to email me offers on pigsback.com I thought.
“That’s all I gave them,” he says. “This week I noticed in my account they have been taking money – €15 – a few times. Two friends of mine have also been caught by this pack. Even if they refund everything, they’re making money all the time my money has been in their accounts.”
He wants to know how Ticketmaster “can they get away with allowing this to occur”.
Well, David was right on the money when he said he expected we had received a few mails about this in the past. In fact, we have received many, many mails about Complete Savings and about its relationship with Ticketmaster, Debenhams and Irish Rail, to name just three.
Complete Savings is a self-styled web loyalty scheme whose name frequently appears unbidden on people’s computer screens after they make purchases on a whole host of sites. Although Complete Savings has partnered with those companies, it is entirely unrelated and that fact allows the companies wash their hands of complaints.
What Complete Savings promises is cash back to members if they shop on certain sites. And that is all well and good if members, firstly, know they have signed up for the site and, secondly, are happy to have done so. The difficulty arises when people sign up for the service without being entirely up to speed with what is going on. That appears to be the case in this situation.
David says he did not enter his financial details when prompted. That is at odds with our experience of the site and at odds with what the company has repeatedly told us. To sign up, customers must enter their name, email address, postal address and their credit or debit card details on the online sign-up page.
At no point is data transferred to the Complete Savings sign-up form from their previous purchase made on the sites of its partner companies.
Despite all its assurances, it is clear that the way it operates is confusing, and many people – people like David – sign up inadvertently. In our experience, Complete Savings tends to be pretty good at issuing refunds. So he will get his money back once he asks for it.