/ Home & Energy, Money, Motoring

Stop ‘rip-off’ home and car insurance charges

Pick-pocket stealing money

When I moved house recently, my bank account and credit card provider changed my details without a charge or fuss. So why won’t car and home insurance companies do the same?

Insurers are fighting a fierce battle to appear at the top of comparison site listings and win car and home insurance business.

But while headline prices appear low, if you make any minor changes to your details (such as getting married or moving house), choose to pay monthly or even cancel your policy, you could find yourself hit with hefty charges later on.

Big household names such as AA Insurance and Hastings Insurance are among the worst offenders, but they’re not the only ones.

Policies chock-full of charges

Consider a few examples from a variety of insurers:

  • If you want to pay by instalments, you could be charged an APR of over 30%. Some providers even charge a credit set-up fee.
  • Some providers will charge you a policy set-up fee, followed by a renewal fee a year later.
  • Make changes to your insurance policy and you could be charged up to £35. That’s not including changes to your premium based on your changed risk profile.
  • If you need a duplicate copy of your policy, you could have to pay up to £35 for it.
  • And if you want to cancel, one insurer we looked at will charge you a whopping £75. Others charge as much as £55.
  • Some providers will then work out your refund on a ‘short-term’ basis if you cancel. This could mean that you won’t get a pro-rata refund, but a lower amount. For example, cancel in month three and you might only get half your premium back.

It’s inevitable that many customers’ circumstances will change, and the costs of updating their details on an insurer’s system shouldn’t be an opportunity for the company to extract further profit from you.

Who should take charge of charges?

If you change address or vehicle and your new circumstances mean you pose an increased risk to the insurer, it’s only fair you should pay extra to cover the revised premium.

However, fees should be proportionate to the cost incurred by the insurer. And, at the very least, all fees should be clear at the outset and available on the insurer’s website, not just when documents are sent out.

All too often it’s a lose-lose situation for the customer. Update your personal circumstances and chances are you’ll be charged for it, but don’t update them and your policy can become invalid. Cancel the policy instead and you could be hit with even bigger charges.

Car and home insurance costs enough without insurers and brokers squeezing every last penny out of customers making common changes to their policy or paying by instalments.

What’s the biggest insurance charge you’ve been hit with? And who do you think should pay for common changes to car and home insurance policies?


I had to add business class to my car policy so that I could take a colleague to work with me. My employers told me that I had to have it!!!! SWINTON insurance will Not be getting my business in future as they charged me £52 for this change. Rip off or what!!!!


im moving house,and just rang my car insurance company. to change address,and havin different postcode,is costing me a extra 143 pound.con.

andrew durham says:
2 years 5 months ago

i want to know how and were do i go to have a insurance company investagated on the busness practice, i have been payng by pre auth payments but they no longer wanted it done that way so i started paying them in full starting 2011 2012 now 2013. I have notice they have been taking monthly installments that i never noticed till now so i know how companys work hold u up then wait till u are tired and they know most people cant afford a lawer so they play the waiting game so if this is what they want to do to me then i want their practice investigated because i strongly beleave i,m not the only one with issues with this company.
Which by the way is CO OPERATORS, they also switch there name a little each time they move around so whom and were do i go for my right and protection.


We have just moved house & have been charged £350 by alan & alan to change the address they say its because of the postcode .we weren’t leaving to go to a different insurer we are staying with the same insurance company so why have they charged us they should be greatful we are staying with them.it takes 2minutes to change an adddress on a computer & print it off not £350 its ridiculous.


Could you of got a new business quote with another company and compared before agreeing to the new terms? Then if it was cheaper take out the new policy, forget about your current policy if already paid for and then at the end of the old policy life claim back the money for being duel insured? You would have proof of the pudding….Don’t think having your home dual insured is illegal… just a thought


Hi bingo sorry its the car insurance that charged us for moving house they said we had moved to a higher risk area.we have moved a few times due to personal matters.the first time we moved we were charged £195 which was apparently because our post code went from ch1 to ch2 then we moved again after 8 months to an area with a ch65 post code & we didnt have to pay that time because they said it was a lower risk area.this is our last move now because we are now settled.this area is still a ch65 area but the car insurance charged us £350.every time we have moved they have said they have charged us because of the first part of our post code which went from ch1 to ch2 so thats the 1-2 then nothing for the ch65 4aw but now they are saying its because of the ch65 9ea so it because weve gone from 4aw to 9ea.

Lockhart says:
1 year 8 months ago

Unfair charges RIAS home insurance policy of £43-69 when I cancelled my direct debit.
Failure to pay outstanding amount in full has been passed to a collection debt agency and you will incur additional fees of £15-00 administration charge.

Graham Hill says:
1 year 7 months ago

Hastings Direct
What a bunch of a*******s…..I have six months left on my Motor policy which is a VW Passat, my change of circumstances is that I have changed the vehicle to another Passat, same model same year the only difference is the registration plate. Its even the same colour same Engine size. Because the Engine is goosed I thought it would be cheaper to replace the Car. So I rang them this morning explaining the situation, that I wish to cancel the existing policy on my old Car and renew the Vehicle details with the new Car. Remembering there is only six months left to run…how much do you think they wanted….£96….Unbelievable…they surely have you by the b******s when it comes to a situation like this. I am totally p****d off and they will be getting both barrells on monday morning.

Michael Bowers says:
1 year 4 months ago

I contacted AA insurance to notify a change of address and also to change the date of direct debit payments. I had too many direct debits falling in the same week of the month – this is a problem when DDs account for 89% of one’s monthly income (I have only a state pension). The AA refused to change the payment date, and added an administration charge to the next payment. I now have to juggle with other direct debits in order to get through the month.

Profile photo of Dean Sobers

Thanks for your comment. I’m currently doing some work on insurance administration fees and would like to contact you, if that’s okay.


Hi Dean
I am with Kwikfit Insurance i have max no claims bonus, mywife i on the policy but does not dive my car, my wife had a very minor accident nodamage but a claim was made against her insurer LV I was advised byKwikfit that my insurance woulld go up by £150 pa i said i would take my wife of mypolicy, Kf said it would not make any difference i then change my car and they charged £30 for changing the number, i have a MW 520D my old car was aBMW 320d 2 ltr same as the 520d they increased myinsurance by 250 pa, i have since had quotes for half the price, but kf say if i cancell they will charge £50 cancellation.

Kind Regards

Kim Gray says:
1 year 4 months ago

I had this happen to me today. Went to make a claim and found my policy was under my old address. I get regular correspondence about my premiums each year to my new address, so clearly they have been notified at some stage. It has cost me £25, but if I had been a new customer, there would have been no charge. This is just plain wrong and smacks of mis-selling. This has the potential to be another PPI scandal. If every supplier did this, it could cost a homeowner thousands to notify all them of a change if address. I pity those that rent and find they need to move through no fault of their own. It’s a scandalous practice and should be stamped on heavily by the Ombudsman.


The Insurance companies are a Law unto themselves.


Yesterday I tried to change my address on my RAC insurance. They wanted to charge me £25 for the pleasure. They then said that my current underwriter would no longer cover me and that I would have to restart a brand new policy with them for £150 a year more than i was paying before with Allianz. I did a quick search on compare the market (the company BGL Ltd supplies RAC’s insurance also own compare the market). At which point i was not happy, and to cancel they would charge Me £50 to that pleasure. So I had a choice, pay £150 more for my insurance, or pay £50 to cancel and go elsewhere. This felt like extortion!

Stop rip off Car Insurance! says:
1 year 2 months ago

So, plenty of people unhappy with their current or previous provider….thing is…they will continue to rip us of as long as you’re with them.

Insurance company (especially car insurance) all price theirs on a “risk” basis so, don’t hesitate to compare before you end your Car insurance. One thing i do not understand is why they charge so much for an “admin” fee just to change anything? I think the relevant regulatory body should look into this.

Profile photo of Patrick Steen

We’ve just launched a campaign to Stop Sneaky Fees & Charges, including on car insurance. You can sign our petition here: http://www.which.co.uk/campaigns/insurance-bank-card-fees/car-insurance-admin-fees

The mac says:
1 year 2 months ago

Done….shared…abd spread!

Profile photo of Patrick Steen

Excellent, thank you The mac!

maureen brown says:
1 year 2 months ago

I am being charged £75 just for changing my insurance company to a cheaper monthly
instalment, I tried to stay with Equity Insurance but they would not insure my car because
it was over 3years old.

So I have paid £84 which is my total instalments, £159.95 cost of time on cover, £25 for
Optional extras (whatever they are) fees £10.50 (no idea)
cancellation fee £30, (b——s!

Also a threatening if I dont pay within 7 days they will just take it from my bank ( without my

Does anybody care these days, or look into us being ripped off.———–NO

Tricia says:
1 month 7 days ago

Done and shared!!!

Steve flatters says:
1 year 1 month ago

Called Swindon insurance today to change address for my car insurance,instead of £270 the new policy will be £760! And another deposit,this is the second time they have found reason to renew policy ,what a con,can this be legal.


Called Hastings to cancel my policy and they wanted £35, I said thats ridiculous, I’ll let it expire then as I’m getting rid of the bike it was purchased for and only had until Dec left on it. They said I couldn’t do this. Is there any legal reason why you can’t let a policy to expire rather than pay the cancellation charges? I understand the police check a database to see if a vehicle has valid insurance/mot so is this the reason? If I wrote to cancel the policy could they still try to charge the ‘cancellation fee’? They wouldn’t refund the 3+ months left on the policy either so what ever you do its lose lose.


I have exactly the same issue as you, sold bike, not getting another one and have 5 months insurance left. Phone to cancel and they want to charge me £35. I can’t believe it. Have you found out anything further??


I’ve rung to change the address on my driving licence. I’m moving within the same cm16 postcode. £34- what a ripoff. My policy is on-line so they don’t even have to send me an updated copy.


RAC insurance are threatening to cancel my policy if i dont pay £65 to change my address, even though i am moving out of London to Luton.

What thieving bar stewards they are…never insure with the RAC !!!


The whole vehicle insurance industry in the UK must be brought down for the fraud that it is, please people- campaign highlight, complain and do everything possible in every legal way possible until the cancer – which is the vehicle insurance industry in the UK is brought to Justice.


Kwick fit insurance won’t change my car insurance policy for my new car ! They say I have to keep the premium until my old policy runs out at the same cost keeping key cover curtesy car and other things I no longer need what a rip off and a £30 pound charge to change ? This is a total con can’t belive they get away with it


AA insurance charged me £109 to change vehicle with lesser insurance category. I’m not going to cancel – because of cancellation fees – paid up front in policy

[This comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, mods]


i cancelled my home insurance in july but they kept taking money they said I had not called back after a week to cancel after initial cancellation call, but last week they cancelled it and didnt ask me to ring after a week,what a rip off!!Totally annoyed is there anyway I can recover my money, it was santander home insurance and as i result am so p****d am closing my bank account with them, what a bunch of thieves holding onto to technicality of not ringing back, whatever the logic is it was meant to make you forget,am totally annoyed!!What do I DO


My house insurance (building and contents) has just come up for renewal. I have been with Abby for many years ,through their various transformations to what is now Santander and they advised my latest premium would be £1,159.02 for 12 months from December this year.
I have not checked for along time so I went to Gocompare.com and received about 30 quotes ranging from £113.01 at Budget to £342.38 at Churchill. Santander quoted £146.62.
I challenged them and after due consideration they offered to reduce my revised premium by £163.05 !!!!
How long they have been overcharging me I don’t know but I just shows the rewards loyal custom.
Needless to say I’m not renewing and will be transferring my bank accounts also.


Funny you mention that, this very thing got highlighted on watchdog last week. Stupid banks

A.vieira says:
9 months 14 days ago

AXA Insurance. AXA Insurance.

Please read this one.

AXA insurance.
I’ve found this one on gocompare.com site and it came as the better cheaper price so I did my car insurance by installments £43 a month.
Within 8 months time I made 3 changes because I bought different cars and the Insurance start going up every time but I couldn’t do nothing and have to accept and pay the insurance ever single month. On the 3rd change (7 months of insurance I was paying £ 125.00 a month). On the 8 th month I sold the car and bought another car, same model, same year. I tried use the site to change the car online and the quote came to £270 a month.
I rang them to cancel the Insurance and they ask me £75.42 fees.
I complained, it wasn’t fair.
Next day I agreed to pay the fee £75.42. 2 days after saw a email telling me that in 2 days time the insurance installment will be due and exactly yesterday checked my bank account and is said £125.00. Be careful with that people

[This comment has been edited to align with our community guidelines. Thanks, mods]



I rang today to cancel a policy for a vehicle I’ve literally just sold.
They said i’d have to pay £79! £45 cancelation fee, £20 failed payment charge (I cancelled the DD with my bank on sunday so that they couldn’t take Jan’s instalment out ) and the remainder was for 6 days off insurance Jan 1st-Jan 6th.

My query is… Do I have to pay this? or can I just leave my DD cancelled, which I assume will cancel my policy anyway?


A m Duffy says:
9 months 1 day ago

My car insurance is up in 2 weeks I phoned to let them know I had changed address there charging me £49 for a change of address complete joke complete rip off

michael hughes. says:
6 months 9 days ago

hastings phoned them up yesterday to explain I wanted to cancel my insurance on my car as I was in the process of trading it in for another car. They said there would be a £25 charge for this as I was cancelling the contract. fair enough I thought , anyway the deal on the other car didn’t happen so I got back in touch with hastings to explain that I wanted to reinsure the original car.to my astonishment the payments have gone up by £7 per month. absolute rip off


Just moved home 200 meters up the road, the only change to my postcode is the last 2 letters. I also have 2 cars so called each insurance company in turn…

First Chaucer Direct, got straight through not pressing buttons or listening to messages and changed my address and they waived the admin fee as i was moving around the corner… Easy hassle free thank you Chaucer always a please that why i have been with them 4 years.

Second, called Churchill for my other car, got the usual press 1 press 2 etc etc…… Finally spoke to someone to change address and they wanted to charge £26.50 admin fee…. to which i replied sorry my other insurer has waived it as i’m only moving around the corner please can you. To which i got a no, so i said ok thanks i’ll not be changing my address then and hung up. I’ve also wrote an email complaint to them and standing my ground on this. If they say i’m not insured having car at my new address i can leave it outside my old one and walk the distance instead to make a point!


why can insurers increase premiums by £50 to £100 every year with no change in circumstances I have never made a claim in over 40 years my car is kept in a secure compound surrounded by 6 foot walls and gates no points or anything on my record but yet they still manage to increase it do they make it up as they want its about time there was some kind of regulation to stop them charging what they like

Michelle k says:
5 months 24 days ago

I called Budget Insurance to change my vehicle. They said I couldn’t change and would have to take out a new policy.. They quoted me DOUBLE the quotes I had already obtained and refused to budge. I said I’d cancel then and go elsewhere and they said I’d owe them 75 cancellation fee plus over 50 in insurance I’d apparently had but not yet paid for. I agreed for them to take this on my usual direct debit at the end of the month WHICH I have now cancelled with my bank…. They can take a running jump for their money…


my insurance company want to charge me OVER £120 to cancel my car insurance policy. so i looked for another car, found one i liked, 1.4ltr engine so asked about changing vehicle it would DOUBLE my monthly premium

mattreid1983 says:
5 months 3 days ago

autonet car insurance. my premium was £155 for 12 months. I was buying a car that i had to insure to keep on the road overnight, the car was due to be delivered when the offices were closed and it would not let me buy online so to keep legal I insured before the office closed. The car arrived some hours later and was not as described so I didn’t buy it. phoned first thing the next morning and was told they are going to charge me £50 to cancel. equal to about 4 months cover. absolute rip off

marie mccann says:
4 months 16 days ago

i changed cars last year,took out new policy with same insurers they charged me a cancellation fe of over £200 is this legal?

Scott Hadden says:
4 months 4 days ago

Just got off the phone to 1st Central to change my direct debit date. I wanted it changed to the 4th of each month. I currently pay them on the 25th but due to a job change my pay day has changed. The company can change it over 12 days of my current date. I have raised a complaint with them as they cannot set it to my preferred date. They were willing to waive the £10 fee but could only change it to the 2nd. As I am not paid to the 3rd this is clearly not an option. There system only allows a 12 day window change. I find the whole situation ridiculous clearly the computer says No. Will be surprised if I even receive a reply from them.


I just got stung by Go Skippy. After being kept on hold for over 30 mins yesterday, then redirected to the “correct department2 only to be put right back to where I started, and put on hold again for another 30 mins, I finally spoke to an advisor about changing my address. When I renewed my policy a few weeks ago, I added my fiance to the policy free of charge and made several updates to my circumstances, free of charge. I mentioned at that point that I would be moving in a few weeks and the guy said that if I’d been moving at that point, he’d have changed the address whilst updating everything else, which made me believe he’d have done it for free. So, when I spoke to the advisor yesterday, and she mentioned the £50 admin fee, I told her that the previous advisor had said he’d have done it for free. I told her that I wasn’t happy to pay the admin fee, as I chose to renew my policy with them and they should be rewarding customers for staying with them, not charging ridiculous fees. She agreed to waive the fee, but said I would still have to pay £75 extra premium increase, owing to our new postcode. Fair enough, I was happy to pay that and duly did so. I then received two missed calls from them later in the afternoon, and a further call this morning, which I answered. They looked out my previous phone-call, listened to it, and decided that the advisor didn’t expressly state that he’d have changed my address for free, thus I had mislead the advisor yesterday and I must now pay the £50 admin fee! She said I could either pay it over the phone then and there, or they will send a letter out. I was so shocked that I said to just send the letter out. I feel hounded and cannot believe how poor their customer service is. For a return customer to be treated like this is shocking.

Profile photo of John Ward

Dreadful customer service. It must have cost them at least £50 to trace the previous call and replay it. What an attitude. It’s a sting alright because you are in a trap; without your correct address, and it must also match the address held by DVLA for your vehicle and your licence, your cover could be void and you could be committing a serious offence.

I should be interested to know whether the new Consumer Rights Act might have any bearing on these outrageous charges when it comes into force.


Due to a change in circumstances since effecting my new car insurance policy in March, I needed to add a named driver to my policy. My current provider (Saga) do not add named drivers for commuting so I had no alternative than to cancel the policy. They now want to charge me £63.33 for something that was necessary, not out of choice. I appreciate they said the cancellation fee ‘is in their Terms & Conditions’. I don’t have a crystal ball to confirm circumstances will not change for 12 months!!


I began driving this year and managed to get reasonable insurance with RAC for my mazda mx5 track car, as times change sadly so does my car. I’ve recently been looking to change from a 1.6 1991 mazda mx5 to a 1.8 2002 audi a3 as I need something a bit bigger and more practical. I have taken into account the type of car and engine size thus expecting a slight increase in my premium. I’ve looked around to find that some insurers would actually be cheaper than what i’m currently paying if not the same. I got a new quote from RAC as, ideally, i’d like to stay with them and build up a NCB but I was shocked when I found that they would charge me an extra £1500 a year.

I have only been driving for 5 months, I am 23 and do have previous driving experience so I know not to expect miracles with affordable car insurance but I still don’t think it’s right that RAC try to get that much more a year. I may have to bite the bullet, pay the £55 cancellation fee, and change insurers.

(I could go for something like a ford fiesta 1.4 etc etc but the audi would be a straight swap for my mx5 as i don’t have the money to buy a car outright at the moment)

knowlsey says:
2 months 23 days ago

sinsurance wanted £140 pound plus there fee for changing black box in sons car apparently they dont change over just fit a new one. so what do i do with the old 1 ???????

Emma Waters says:
2 months 20 days ago

I’m with Zenith car insurance, I rang them to tell them i’m moving from Bristol to Manchester I already pay £93 a month, they said the new payments would be £285 per month for the last 2 months of the policy this is because of a change of address and there is a claim from another drivingwho I had a accident with is still be being dealt with, surely they can’t just up my policy until the current policy ends ? and I said to them I need to cancel my policy as I can no longer afford to run my car and they told me I would have to pay £450 to cancel my ploicy does this sound correct

Emma Waters


A friend recently changed her car. For some reason, the insurance company still showed she’d owned the new car for “5 years or more”. She pointed this out at renewal and was charged an extra £100 on the Sheila’s Wheels premium [so, not an admin charge] “because drivers are unfamiliar with a different car”. Do other companies do this? I’ve not noticed anything similar before. As it happens, she still couldn’t beat the price. I’m changing my car shortly and it will be interesting to see how Direct Line [my insurer] compare …

Jennifer says:
10 days 8 hours ago

SAGA charge cancellation fees on Car Insurance if you switch my policy went up £50+ on renewal with them so I cancelled. Why does government allow them to do this ? Also why should they be allowed to use your card details and take money to renew anyway this is all so wrong!!SAGA had my money and I did not claim.Now I am penalized for using their services.


I have changed my adress and when I called my insurance company said that they d9on’t cover that area(even if it is 2km from my previous adress)and they canceled my policy and now I have to pay the rest of ammount till I pay the rest of money(£800) what should I do?????

Profile photo of wavechange

Hi Adi – I suggest you contact Citizens Advice. This must be a common problem. Best of luck.