Up on the roof

Up on the roof

An insurance inspection by video call? How in the name of all that's good and holy is that going to work?

Peter Edgerton /

Friday, 28 April 2023, 18:53


Someone I know who is abroad has a leaky roof on a property here in Spain and I've agreed to help them sort it out.

The first step is for the insurance company to take a look in case it's covered by the policy.

They call me.

"Hello, when can we inspect the property?"

"I'll be up there Tuesday morning."

"OK, we'll do it then."


"By video call."

"Eh? An insurance inspection by video call? How in the name of all that's good and holy is that going to work?"

"Well, we send you a link to our Acme video link service and then you prance about like an idiot assuming a variety of ridiculous postures and poses trying to film the offending points on the roof terrace and then the same with the interior."

Actually, she said something about it all going swimmingly and a straightforward diagnosis would be a piece of Bakewell tart.

She'd clearly never made a call to a family member of mine on Skype. Thanks to their somewhat dubious services, I am, by now, worryingly familiar with every subtlety and nuance of my sister's hairline while her actual face has become nothing but a distant memory. Video calls don't work well enough to wish your grandmother a dignified happy birthday, let alone reach a decision on whether rooftop damages are the result of the owner throwing one-too-many wild parties or natural causes. I expressed my concern.

"That's not going to work, now is it?"

She insisted again though and so, on Tuesday, against my better judgement, I found myself clicking on a link on my phone.

"ERROR!" it screamed in capital letters normally associated with hormonal teenagers, immediately calming to lower case to inform me, "You must have your location, microphone and video activated." I'm one of those dinosaurs who just uses their phone for phoning people. I was flummoxed. I called my nemesis.

"I can't do this. It's too complicated. Just send someone round like you should have done in the first place."

At this point, she let out a sigh that had me thinking there'd been a gas leak on a national level.

"I'll come on Thursday."

"Sorry, it'll have to be next Tuesday, I'm afraid, it's my only morning off."

"It's not convenient for me."

At this point I did a little enraged dance in the manner of Yosemite Sam and let her have it, both barrels.

"Madam, you've been receiving monthly payments from this customer for years without a single claim being made. Yours is one of the most important names in the world of insurance and you're saying you don't want to do your job because it's not convenient? I'll be here all Tuesday morning. What time can you come?"

"About eleven."

"Very well, see you then. Good day."

The chances of a favourable outcome to all of this are, I would say, around about the zero mark.

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