Thursday, 11 January 2007

insurance and sad christmas

Mum rang me this morning, as is always the way, after she had done something. She said, "I woke up this morning and I suddenly thought 'my car insurance needs renewing', so I rang Norwich Union to arrange it and they said that the car needed an immobiliser before they would insure it, so I've arranged for someone to come today to install one".

My heart sank, because Mum is actually insured by "More than" (part of Royal & Sun Alliance), and I happen to know that the insurance is renewed at the end of February, automatically. Also, her car already has an immobiliser fitted. I've handled all this stuff for the last 2 years.

I explained as calmly as I was able that I was going to have to ring and try and undo what she had done. I asked for the number she had rung and she gave me an 0800 number. When I rang it, it was indeed Norwich Union - or an Indian call centre representing them. The operator took a while to understand what I was talking about but we eventually established that Mum's details were nowhere on their system.

I rang Mum back to ask her where she'd got the number from, thinking that it was likely to have been junk mail that had told her that her insurance was up. She couldn't tell me where she'd got the number from. I asked her if she had talked to the Warden today. She told me that she had just seen him after speaking to me. I told her I'd ring him, as she had likely told him a different story and I wanted to see what extra details she had remembered for him.

The Warden told me that she had actually spoken to him an hour or two before and that it was HE who suggested Mum call me, as he was a bit dubious that the car required an immobiliser. He said that he'd asked if she'd checked her insurance documents and she had replied that she couldn't find them.

I rang More Than (another Indian call centre), who wouldn't talk to me without Mum's authority, even though I'm named on the insurance. Eventually, they called me back to say that Mum had rung THEM this morning to renew the insurance, rather earlier than expected, but that they had agreed to continue insuring her and noted that the car may not be fitted with an immobiliser - I corrected that. They had not arranged for anyone to fit one - so I'm hoping that part of the story was all in Mum's head.

I never uncovered just where the Norwich Union number came from.

(I've left out a few steps in this process because narrating them would have prevented me from sleeping tonight).

Every single time she does something on her own initiative she screws up. Every single time I spend a day sorting things out for her she agrees that she'll ring me BEFORE she does anything next time. And then we go through the same process again the next time because she only rings AFTERWARDS. How can I possibly think about travelling or living abroad when I have to intervene like this so often? I've taken over or automated all her responsibilities to try and prevent fiascos like this, but short of bricking up her front door and cutting the phone cable, I can't prevent her from doing something random like today's crap.

However, the Warden told me some new stuff about Mum that she's either mercifully forgotten or has kept from me for fear of embarrassment. It was no surprise to learn that he and most of the other residents view her as completely gaga or that she's continually leaving her key in the outside of her door. However, I the one consolation I had about not going to visit this last Christmas was that I knew the residents were having a party, and that Mum was looking forward to it. Indeed afterwards she had told me what a great time had been had by all. But it turns out that Mum didn't attend. The next day, when he asked her if she'd had a good time, she glowed and said it had been super, but the resident standing next to her had to intervene and say "But, my Dear, you weren't there!". "Oh, was I not?" Mum answered, confused. Apparently she then spent a while outside the Warden's Office door on Boxing Day until someone explained that he wouldn't be coming in. She had no idea what day it was.

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