ABSA building insurance, what a joke!

If you’re like me and just got Absa’s building insurance with your Absa home loan, because, well, it was easy, I’d advise you to think again!

It all started on a windy autumn day when the fascia board on my roof blew off, nearly falling on my poor neighbour’s Uno (which surely would have flattened it :)) On my neighbour’s advice, I decided to claim from my building insurance. So, Tuesday morning 10 AM, I decide to brave the Absa call center and submit my claim…

20 minutes of annoying hold music later and I’m put through to an operator – I submit the claim and they tell me its been forwarded to the Cape Town division, great. Knowing how these things go, I make a note of the Cape Town office’s number and end the call.

By Wednesday afternoon I still hadn’t heard back from those lazy Capetonians, so I decide to do some leg work with my fingers and call them up – “no sir, we’ll submit your claim to a contractor immediately”. “So why haven’t you?” – I wanted to ask.  So I wait in vain with a couple of days of rainy weather threatening to destroy my house even further.

Friday afternoon I get a call from the contractor who assured me in a very Afrikaans accent that Absa takes their insurance very seriousness and he wants to come have a look, right now! After insisting that I’m at work and won’t be able to open up for him, he’s so adamant that I just let him be – hope he has good eyes!

The weekend comes and goes and before I know it, it’s Wednesday again. Give them a call – “No, the person who is dealing with your claim is on leave, I’ll follow up and call you back”. Great.

Friday afternoon arives, and yet again I phone. Now, by this time I’ve had enough of their shoddy service and I was planning on switching to Santam the moment the claim is settled. So to my suprise (or maybe not) they refuse to fix the roof – they claim the workmanship on the fascia board is bad because the builder used nails instead of screws. Hmmm. OK, very irate now. I phone up my good buddy Dann at Santam – apparently they need a specific clause in their policy that specifies that nails used on the facia board is considered bad workmanship, otherwise they have to pay up…

So several phone calls later I’m able to get my hands on the policy wording… I quote from section B: Specific Exceptions: “3. defects in design or construction” – Sounds pretty broad and subjective to me.

So I phone some builders, a structural engineer, the Master Builder’s association and the overwhelming opinion is that nails are more frequently used than screws and doesn’t constitute bad workmanship.

Finally, after several emails, phone calls, and weeks later, the claim is reassessed and a contractor is assigned to fix the roof, success! Of course, not wanting to end up in the same situation again I ask him what they use to attach the Fascia boards… NAILS!! They use F#$%#%@ nails!

In conclusion, it doesn’t pay to be an optimist – insurance companies will and do find any excuse not to pay out a claim leaving it up to the consumer to prove their case. I guess most people just give up and with the amount of trouble I went through with this claim, maybe that would have been the saner option!

I’ll be cancelling my insurance with Absa the moment the roof is fixed and start looking for another bank to finance my home loan.