A consumer under difficult circumstances complains after insurer sends correspondence to incorrect address

Insurance Distress and inconvenience Up to £5,000

Selina relocated with her son and away from her abusive ex-husband. But an error made by her insurer meant her new address was revealed to her ex-husband, who tracked Selina and their son down, terrorising them for three more months. We didn't think the insurer fully realised the situation's impact on Selina.

What happened

Selina was separated from her abusive ex-husband and had an injunction preventing him from contacting her or her son due to his past violent behaviour. She moved into a secret location unknown to her ex-husband.

Selina still owned her former marital home jointly with her ex-husband, but she insured this property under her sole name and was responsible for paying the premiums herself. Once Selina moved out to the secret location, she told her insurer of her difficult circumstances and updated her correspondence address. The insurer agreed to send all correspondence to Selina at her new address. However, due to a mix-up, the insurer accidentally sent the updated policy documents to Selina’s former address where her ex-husband still lived.

As a result, the ex-husband discovered Selina’s whereabouts. And despite the injunction he turned up at Selina’s new home on several occasions, making violent threats and trying to break in. This left Selina petrified and trapped in her own home for around three months until eventually her ex-husband was arrested. As a result, Selina had to re-locate with her son to another address and change his school for a second time so that her ex-husband couldn’t contact them.

Selina complained to the insurer that its mistake had affected her mental health and provided evidence from her doctor. As a result of the trauma and extreme distress she was diagnosed with PTSD. Her son was particularly affected because he wasn’t coping well with the relocation – and this had had a knock-on impact on her own wellbeing. The insurer didn’t think it should be held responsible for the actions of Selina’s ex-husband, but accepted it hadn’t kept her information safe and offered £200 compensation.

What we said

We agreed that the actions of Selina’s ex-husband were his own, but we felt the insurer should accept greater responsibility for the impact of its error. The insurer was fully aware of Selina’s situation beforehand and knew that a mistake of this kind could have life changing consequences. Importantly, if it had kept her information safe then what happened would likely have been avoided.

We accepted that the insurer’s actions had left Selina in a state of panic about her and her son’s safety for three months. Having to relocate again meant a huge amount of upheaval, including changing her son’s school – both inconvenient and extremely distressing. We were persuaded by what Selina provided to show us her health had really suffered as a result of the mistake – and that having to relive the trauma of her abuse would have a lasting effect on her and her son.  We recognised that she was receiving ongoing treatment and that would likely continue.

We thought carefully about this and recommended the insurer cover the costs of Selina’s second relocation, as well as £5,000 compensation. Although no amount of money would take away Selina’s terrible experience, we felt this sum of compensation recognised the severity of the impact of the insurer’s error on her.