After an uninsured driver drove into his vehicle, Paul reported the incident to his insurance company with whom he had a commercial vehicle insurance policy.
Speaking to a customer service agent at the insurer, he verified that his no claims bonus would not be affected. He also contacted the Motor Insurance Bureau of Ireland to ensure this would be the case.
However, when Paul's policy came up for renewal, his no claims bonus had been reduced from six years to two. This affected his private car insurance policy, which rose from €600 to €1,000.
He was unable to get a quote from another provider as his case had not been closed by the insurance company and so was forced to pay the higher premium.
When he came to renew his commercial vehicle insurance policy, the quote had jumped from €600 to €2,600. He spoke with the same insurance agent as before but the agent claimed not to deal with renewals or new claims bonuses and would not accept that what he was telling Paul contradicted earlier comments.
Paul then rang the MIBI, which confirmed that it had written to the insurance company telling it that since Paul carried no liability, his no claims bonus would not be affected.
When he called back, the agent still failed to accept this and Paul was directed elsewhere with the company. He eventually spoke to an agent who told him his NCB had been reinstated to six years, but that the insurer could only issue only NCB certificate.
The Ombudsman found that the reduction to Paul's NCB was erroneous and resulted in a potentially significant increase in the cost of his insurance. He also found that the service and information given to Paul "fell far short of what a consumer is entitled to".
The Ombudsman upheld this aspect of the complaint, highlighting the "annoyance, frustration and distress" caused.
He also noted that the complaint went beyond NCB and poor customer services issues. After the incident, Paul's vehicle was valued at €2,200 with a salvage value of €200 which Paul was willing to pay so as to use it for parts.
He understood this would be possible after talking with the agent, who told him he could keep the vehicle if he wanted. However, the vehicle was later picked up and the agent told Paul the company was obligated to take the vehicle.
The Ombudsman also upheld this aspect of the complaint and directed the insurer to pay €3,000 in compensation to Paul.