For those that have seen my twitter feed, I fell victim (sadly) to having my phone stolen, right out of my hands this last week, outside Farringdon Train station in London. This is my primary to and from station for work for the last 10+ years and I know it well, and all the building, with the upcoming cross rail. I have always considered it a safe place, and still do.

Unfortunately, with the ongoing Thameslink train cancellations, I was going to have to wait for almost an hour to grab a train home so decided to call a cab. It was 22:00 in the evening and I had been in town since early am.

Whilst waiting for the car to arrive, I left the station and stood just outside on the main road. I felt the phone vibrate and took it out of my pocket to check the cars whereabouts; it was just arriving. Then in a flash, two cyclists came past me on either side of me and the one on the right snatched the phone (and battery charger) clean right out of my hand and cycled down Farringdon road. I gave chase, and was shouting out at them - others could see and hear, but to no avail.

I ran back to the car which had since arrived, the driver was super helpful and let me use his phone. We tried to track it but within about 3 mins the phone was off and hasn't been switched on since. Annoyingly that morning, I had just replaced the screen at a cost of almost £300!. Ouch (I wrote about this before here and the impact for Insurers).

  • I called our network provider EE - they were great, phone barred immediately. It was useless to the average user.
  • I called the non emergency police number who recommend I register the theft online which I did. I had a call back the following day to confirm a few parts, get my crime reference number and all done and closed. Super efficient. They could see the phone had been barred already by the network.
  • I called my work to report and it was blocked and zapped immediately.

I guess I'm of the generation that doesn't claim on insurance as we don't want the premium to go up unnecessarily unless it's a major expense. The cost of replacing this would have been about £1,300 which is considerable, so I discussed with my wife what we should do.

I called our insurer and went to register the claim, I went through the FNOL process and have since been all sorted. Some observations from this are as follows:

  • On the first call, I noted, the call-handler introduced themselves but didn't ask my name, just my policy number first - a pet hate of mine.
  • When I gave my details, the call-handler took down all the circumstance etc, advised me of my excess and told me quite quickly that I was covered.
  • The IMEI number I gave them wasn't recognised, which was odd as it was the same as the Network and Police number I gave. I had the box to the phone in my office, so said I would call back the next day when in. I then said I wanted to proceed with the claim. The call-handler advised that this may affect my Terms and Conditions as well as my premium. It was almost read out as if they didn't want me to claim, almost fearful.
  • Whilst waiting to re-confirm the IMEI number, I also ran two quotes on a PCW with both no claim and the phone claim to find the difference in premium. I was still happy to proceed.
  • I called back the next day with the same IMEI number and on first attempt it didn't go through but on the second it was all fine. Phew!
  • We then went on to my options; it was either a cash settlement and go buy my own or they would replace it for me. If I opted for the cash settlement, it would be discounted based on what they pay for the replacement, about 12% - a good discount, but useless to me if I wanted to go pick up another phone on the day. In the end I opted for the replacement as the easiest way to get solved. For this, it would be passed to their fulfilment services provider the next working day; typically this was Friday so I would wait until Monday!
  • Surprisingly, I had a call today (Saturday) from their team - great news. Unfortunately, when they passed the claim across - they only passed my wife's name (we hold a joint policy) and not mine, so I wasn't able to deal with my own claim. Luck again, Mrs W just walked through the door, passed security and gave the phone back to me.
  • Annoyingly, the handler then went on to ask all the same questions I had already answered to the insurance company previously. I am now getting frustrated, all of this should have been passed across. This is fulfilment, not FNOL. He offered to go get the info on Monday, but this would just add further delay to it. I pressed ahead and re-answered all the questions, it was painless but frustrating. Paid my excess and it was done.
  • He advised the new like for like replacement would be delivered in 5 working days, but likely sooner. For the battery pack, it was available on Amazon and they issued a gift voucher that was emailed & SMS'ed to me whilst on the call. Immediate fulfilment.

So all in all, it's done and dusted - the phone network, the police were all excellent. I'd give the insurance FNOL call a good 8/10. It went a little off track on the lack of passing through the full case history, but it got solved. This part got 6/10 - ultimately the outcome was positive and I'm thankful for having insurance.

I've been back and through the same spot every day since the incident, and as I look around, 80% of folks have their phones out. It has certainly made me think twice. Looking at the news from the day, Michael McIntyre was attacked for his watch while in the car with his kids. Apparently there are 60+ of these a day right now. Today a 14 year old has been charged after stealing 13 phones alone today. This is definitely a problem.

Stay safe everyone, be vigilant!

Nigel Walsh | @nigelwalsh