When Sylvia's £4k engagement ring lost its diamond, insurers refused to pay out.

Sylvia Jarrett recalls feeling her engagement ring snag while she was in a carpet shop. She looked down and everything seemed fine.

But, on the drive home, she was horrified to discover the diamond centre stone was missing. Sylvia and her husband William, both 74, rushed back to the shop to search for the missing gem — but it was gone.

The Jarretts were devastated at losing the stone last April, but consoled themselves with the fact that the ring was at least covered on their home insurance policy with the Co-op.

Since April, some 800 complaints have been made to the Financial Ombudsman regarding home contents insurance. Around one in four were upheld in favour of the policyholder

After tracking down the jeweller, she was delighted to find they still had a record of her ring. In an email, they said: ‘Our jewellers remove the centre stone of engagement rings prior to sizing them in order to prevent any damage. 

The ring shank is put through a variety of different manipulations (heated, soldered, plated, etc) to reach the right size. While our jewellers are masters at what they do, they may leave evidence of their work on the claws of the ring.’

With this new evidence, Sylvia was sure the Co-op would see that she wasn’t lying. But the insurer refused to change its mind — and she had missed the 30-day deadline for appealing the Ombudsman’s decision.

Consumer expert James Daley, of Fairer Finance, says it isn’t right that the Co-op has taken a stance of guilty until proven innocent. 

‘There is no way of categorically proving the stone was removed deliberately to make a fraudulent claim,’ he says. ‘Rings are cleaned and claws opened up all the time.’

Martyn James, from the complaints website Resolver, says it is yet another example of insurers looking for reasons not to pay out for claims of loss or theft. He adds: ‘This is a real David and Goliath fight. 

‘Insurers can afford to pay professionals for detailed reports. Customers don’t have this type of money or access to experts.’

Since April, customers have made some 800 complaints to the Financial Ombudsman regarding home contents insurance. Around one in four were upheld in favour of the policyholder.

A Co-op Insurance spokesman says: ‘We only ever refuse claims when there is clear evidence to suggest the basis of the claim is not valid. 

‘This helps to ensure that all our customers pay a fair amount for their insurance.’ 

A Financial Ombudsman spokesman says: ‘If consumers feel they’ve been treated unfairly by their insurance company, they should get in touch with us — our service is free and easy to use.’

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