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16 Sep 2021
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As the festive season approaches, a time typically filled with joy and family gatherings, one Auckland family's holiday spirit is being significantly dampened by a series of miscommunications and delays involving their vehicle's insurance claims and repairs.

On 15 October 2023, Andy Saputra's day took an unexpected turn when he discovered his family's vehicle had been damaged while parked and unused. The incident came to light not through immediate notice but via a note left by a bystander, detailing the unfortunate hit-and-run event they had witnessed.

Armed with the witness's note, Saputra lodged a claim with TOWER Insurance, anticipating a direct and fair process. The situation, however, quickly became entangled when TOWER Insurance requested the claim to be split and a police report filed, placing an additional burden on the family.

The ordeal escalated when, following what the Saputras believed to be approval for their claim, they took their vehicle to Whangaparāoa Collision Repairs. Upon collection, they were met with the stark reality that only the back bumper had been fixed, and a $500 excess fee was demanded for the work done — contrary to the no-excess assurance given the incident's no-fault nature.

Now, the Saputras are embroiled in a standoff, with their partially repaired vehicle held until the unexpected excess is settled. This demand flies in the face of their understanding with TOWER Insurance, which had not informed them of any unresolved claim issues or excess requirements. The family is left without their primary mode of transportation, and their holiday plans hang in the balance.

With the Christmas holiday period rapidly approaching, the Saputras are urgently calling upon TOWER Insurance and Whangaparāoa Collision Repairs to rectify the miscommunication, expedite the unresolved claim, and honour the initial understanding of no excess fee.

The family's plight not only disrupts their personal lives but also casts a light on the broader issues of service and communication within the insurance and automotive repair sectors. They are now seeking the assistance of the Insurance & Financial Services Ombudsman and are considering outreach to consumer rights groups, in hopes of not just a resolution to their own issue but to spur an industry-wide reflection on the values of transparency and customer care.

This distressing experience serves as a poignant reminder of the profound impact that business processes can have on consumers. The Saputras' story stands as a call to action for the insurance industry to uphold ethical standards and ensure effective communication, especially during times that should be marked by celebration, not frustration.
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