Direct Line NEW claim handler tools Libel, Slander and Malice?

After a policyholder complained that two Direct Line nominated contractors proposed potentially dangerous protocols to remediate an agreed and accepted water damage event, she asked loss adjusters Sedgwick, if she could have an independent Indoor Environmental Hygienist to assess the property. Sedgewick’s asked for a cost, and this was approved.

Within 2 hours of getting approval to proceed, the policyholder was bombarded with emails and phone calls from Direct Line claims department providing the following unfounded statements:

X       Don’t use Building Forensics,

X        We have advised we feel Building Forensics business practices are dubious and we do not trust them.

X       They are known in the industry for bad practice

X        Building Forensics exaggerate damage, to get more work

X        Direct Line then followed up with phone calls to reinforce their intention to discredit Building Forensics (suggested by solicitors as malice)

Of course, untrue, and more to the point unfounded not least as Building Forensics don’t do remediation.

Building Forensics sent these emails to Carter Ruck a leading libel law firm who initially stated they couldn’t believe a public listed company would make this form of allegation without evidence.

After reviewing emails from Direct Line to the policyholder, Carter Ruck wrote to Direct line and simply asked for supporting evidence of their claims regarding slander, libel with malice or a written apology and compensation.

The response from Direct line after three months was,

X        You will be unlikely to prove harm

X        Can you quantify harm in monetary terms?

X        We will fight any claim against us

Carter Ruck (solicitors) unusually said,

We can’t believe Direct line are standing behind their statements and haven’t even tried to justify their words. They advised me that Direct Line have deep pockets and would run me out of money if I took legal action. So surprised in fact, they discounted the Building Forensics (agreed) costs for works they completed.

Of course, a cynic might say why would a major PLC company single out a one-man operator, but I don’t think for one minute I have been singled out, I think this practice might be widespread. More importantly Carter Ruck wondered what the motive might be, and simply asked “How much a fog under the floor by Direct Line nominated contractors (estimated £700) and How much if Direct Line had to remediate in line with Building Forensics findings of whole house secondary damage? (Possibly in excess of £20,000)

Carter Ruck also recommended ADR but Direct Line declined or ignored.

So there we have it, Direct Line   “Nice people to do business with”

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