I thought extortion was illegal! Wrong! It’s alive and well and actually thriving. It’s called motor insurance.
Yesterday I phoned my insurance brokers because my renewal was due in just five days time and I had yet to receive the annual reminder and request for the new renewal premium. Perhaps the delay was due to industrial action by postal workers. My insurers were proposing to charge me £237 Sterling, a substantial increase on previous years, to renew the third party, fire and theft insurance on the basis of the following facts:
Car: 21 year old BMW 318, 1800cc, value £200 if I’m lucky.
Sole driver: Born 1940, full licence 47 years, no accidents, claims or convictions, never refused insurance.
Annual mileage under 600 (yes, less than 50 per month but this is essential mileage for which there is no alternative).
In view of my record I cannot see any justification for paying a premium higher than the value of the car and especially as there is also an excess of £120 (this is the amount of any claim that I would have to pay before the insurers contributed). Also, I have the maximum available no claims bonus. They asked me whether I wanted to include no claims bonus protection, at extra cost of course. This would enable me to keep my bonus in the event of a claim. I call it downright impertinence (I could put this more strongly but some of my readers are polite young ladies of a sensitive disposition). I pointed out that I have protected my no claims bonus perfectly adequately all by myself for 47 years without their paid-for assistance.
There must be thousands of drivers with my sort of record. Isn’t it time that the insurance industry offered us a better deal, especially as we are the age group who are probably best placed to use our cars less and public transport more?
Yesterday, after discussing the above, I asked the lady on the phone whether there was anything I, or they, could do to reduce this premium. She offered to transfer me to the renewals department. I then got that irritating choice of options to be reached by pressing various buttons, all of which were for various parts of the CLAIMS department except for the last one “All other enquiries”. I had no choice but to press the last one and was then given several more options including the renewals department, which I duly chose. After a total silence of several seconds a recorded message informed me that the claims department had closed five minutes earlier, at 8pm. This was despite the fact that on the insurer’s paperwork it clearly stated that closing time for the renewals department was 9pm.
Suitably disgusted I hung up and phoned again today. I explained to the man who took my call what had happened the previous day and that that phone call had not resulted in an opportunity to review the proposed premium – but there wasn’t as much as a hint of an apology from him. Instead he asked whether I had sent my cheque! I reminded him that I didn’t yet know what premium would apply since there had been no opportunity to see whether the stated premium of £237 could be reduced. I then asked him what effect it would have on my insurance if the postal strikes caused my cheque to arrive after the renewal date. He told me that I would be uninsured until they received my cheque and asked me again whether I had sent my cheque! I was getting fed up with this conversation by this point and asked him, quite sharply, whether he was listening to me or what? The conversation ended shortly afterwards.
If I need to continue my motor insurance next year I will be arranging it some weeks in advance (especially if renewal falls due immediately after a holiday) and it won’t be the same insurers. To support such appalling service is to encourage it – not a good idea in any context if it can be avoided.