Not all insurance companies are bad, but the ones I have dealt with recently represent the industry.
I’ve insured my van with the same insurer (broker and underwriter) for the last four years. No claims, no convictions and not even an enquiry which could be classed as an unclaimed loss, yet the premium went from £580 (approx) in year one, to £660 in YR2; £820 in YR3 and year four made me a £999.00 fool for being a loyal customer. This year they wanted more or less the same so I had a moan about the whole thing whilst reminding them that the SAME vehicle is now worth considerably less now than when they first insured it, or getting insurance even for other type of vehicles such as boats, which many people have now a days, and some even get the right supplies for their boat at sites like www.merrittsupply.com.
At first I got the expected, ‘insurance premium tax’ patter. I resisted and was subsequently offered the ‘fraudulent claims’ explanation; the chap – Iain – concurred that us honest types are getting shafted for the pleasure. Furthermore, insurance companies shafting each other when they can made for quite a depressing conversation which ended with me giving my now former insurer the elbow as I head for all that I could find on the internet. I found a few attractive quotes; the best one was less than half of what I was paying (or was invited to pay if I remained a loyal customer).
I opted to go with the cheapest option simply because I was familiar with the underwriter having had direct experience with them dealing with windscreen claims for customers, and also the issuing broker is well known in motoring circles. However, as I navigated my way through the questions I gathered a few of my own along the way:
1. The proposal included a replacement vehicle in the event of being without mine while it was being repaired. But when I got to the checkout stage to pay, a list of bolt-ons appeared on the same page, such as: cover for tools; breakdown recovery; key care; mis-fuel cover and… replacement vehicle cover. I clicked on the ‘more’ link and this additional product offered exactly what the policy included as standard. How many people would have clicked on this and “for just an additional £17.00” added the extra cover which is included in the proposal?
2. Throughout the whole proposal stage, I couldn’t find anything which told me more about the policy itself. In fact, I had to go through quite a bit of jargon to (eventually) find who the underwriter was in this instance. There was, however, no mention of who the approved repairer(s) was/were; no mention of what would happen in the event of a windscreen claim other than the words: you are covered (the point being, if there are restrictions on what parts will be used; who you can – or cannot – use to have them fitted or if there was a capping on the settlement if I basically didn’t adhere to the agreement (which I was struggling to understand).
3. After (reluctantly) accepting the terms I was sent a confirmation of policy inception. However no documents could be sent until a couple of points had been verified. The first was my occupation. I selected ‘windscreen fitter’ from the available categories and stated that I am employed by a company which I am also Director of. 24 hours into this new cover, a conversation with the insurance representative took place so that she could clear up some confusion over this. The other was that she had the vehicle down as a 4Motion. There may be a (very slim) chance that I entered this information incorrectly but I am 99.9% certain I didn’t (it was indexed from the VRN as a Highline T5 so flux knows where they got the 4 Motion bit from). The result of this meant that because of “these ammendments to the policy” there is a supplement to pay. A demand for and additional £46.00 is to be paid in the next SEVEN DAYS if cover is to continue.
4. A question of an old SP30 came up (out of nowhere as I didn’t mention it at any stage; a spent conviction dated 2012) and I said it shouldn’t be considered. She said they will take my word for it. The issue here is, if there is a doubt now, it might be a factor in the event of a claim, so if we are about to enter into an agreement why not put it beyond doubt? Hire companies do it before you rent a car from them (chuck ’em you NI number and they’ll run a check) so why be so flippant about it? Yes, the onus is on me to disclose but I didn’t mention it anywhere at any stage (on the basis that I am not required to after seven years although I’m sure it is ‘spent’ after four/five).
Half of me says I got a good quote to begin with so just let them have the 46-quid. The other half is saying no, b*ll*cks.
How the flux can tweaking my occupation AND/OR confirming the van as a slightly lesser spec than they thought initially result in a higher premium?
What’s tipped me over the edge with all this is that I received not one but TWO calls about the SAME proposal 12 hours into the cover stating that I had qualified for an INTRODUCTORY DISCOUNT if I gave them the business.
Will someone get hold of the insurance industry and give it a good shake, please?