Glasses reflected in glass tabletopI was an idiot, but it was an accident. I put my glasses down on a table while I did some stretching after a run. The glasses slipped off the mosaic coaster, and the sharp edge of the coaster scored a deep scratch in the right varifocal lens.

I knew it would be an expensive mistake, and my optometrist confirmed that – a £160 mistake to be precise.

I had a quick look at our home insurance policy and it seemed clear – Personal Belongings In and Away From Home carry a £50 excess. Fair enough.

Not so fair, as it turned out. It appears, according to the small print to which I was directed by the insurer’s representative when I phoned, that my glasses don’t become Personal Belongings In and Away From Home until they actually leave the home. If I’d put them down on my neighbour’s table, the excess would indeed have been £50. As it was my own table at home, my glasses were not Personal Belongings In and Away From Home, but Contents, and liable to an excess of £100.

Oh well, I thought. A bit of a bugger, but £60 quid would be better than nothing.

But I wasn’t reckoning on Dolland and Aicheson. No, they’re not my optometrists. They’re my insurer’s. They, having spoken to me and got all the details of my glasses prescription, wrote to the insurer to say that yes, the retail price for one lens would be £165. But they can offer the insurer a massive discount, so for the insurer, the price would, conveniently, be £95, and therefore under the price of my contracted excess.

Fortunately, despite his supervisor’s insistence that the rules are the rules, the insurer’s representative eventually understood that my barely controlled anger had some basis. He worked out that I would still be going to my own optometrist and shouldering the £160 cost, not least because the nearest Dolland and Aicheson is in Honiton, and my scratched glasses would be dangerous for me to wear to drive the 16.8 miles there, whereas my own optometrist is three minutes’ walk from my home. And also because if his valuation is less than my excess, there’d be no point in going to Honiton anyway.

Displaying the very best in customer service, with a whiff of smugness I think, he took the wind out of my sails completely by authorising the cheque for £60 then and there, told me that for £60 it wasn’t even worth bothering with a receipt from the optometrist and closed off the claim. Thank you mate, you’re a star.

Obviously my biggest mistake was putting the glasses on the mosaic coaster in the first place. But next time I do something daft with Personal Belongings In and Away From Home, I’ll try and make sure that I’m out when I do it.

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