Stop ‘rip-off’ home and car insurance charges

by , Principal Policy Adviser Money 15 April 2012
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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?

Pick-pocket stealing money

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?

59 comments

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Jakki

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!!!!

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karen

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.

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andrew durham

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.

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Sarah

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.

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bingo

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

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Sarah

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.

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Lockhart

RIAS HOME INSURANCE. RIP OFF.
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.

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Graham Hill

Hastings Direct
What a bunch of a********…..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******* when it comes to a situation like this. I am totally p***** off and they will be getting both barrells on monday morning.

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