/ Money

If you don’t ask, you won’t get

Bargains just ahead on road sign

Recently I saved £80 on my car insurance just by asking my insurer to match a cheaper quote from a price comparison site. You could look at this another way; if I hadn’t haggled, my insurer would be overcharging.

Our investigations into insurance have uncovered many instances where drivers have faced steep rises in their premium for no obvious reason – for some, well over 50% extra. Spending 10 minutes on a couple of price comparison sites will give you the ammunition to get a substantial saving, even if you want to stick with your existing provider, as many of us do.

Which? and our other magazines have published a series of articles to promote the joys – and rewards – of haggling with your existing provider. This has included broadband and pay-TV bundles (average saving £157 a year) home insurance (£78 a year), car insurance and, in our latest issue, mobile phone contracts (£106 a year).

A break from tradition

Since haggling is not a traditional British sport, many of you have told us it feels a little daunting. However, you may be pleasantly surprised if you try, since companies seem increasingly willing to play.

It’s not just insurers and telecoms companies who are cutting prices for those who ask, either – it’s also high street electrical shops. Research we carried out last year found that almost two thirds of those who’ve asked a high street electrical shop to match an online price were successful – with an average saving of £52.

If all this isn’t enough to persuade the non-hagglers among you, here’s a recent quote from a Which? Conversation contributor, called Ed:

‘My neighbour (who works for one of the top UK insurers) once told me that only idiots accept a renewal quote without challenging the prices. I was quoted £210 this year for my car insurance and one simple phone call to the insurer brought it down to £182.’

By my reckoning, if you don’t haggle – at least for the basics such as your insurance and phone contract – you’re throwing away the best part of £200 a year. We want to make 2014 the year of better deals, so we’ll be publishing plenty more haggling tips.

Have you had luck haggling on your insurance, phone contract, broadband or even electricals?


Peter, good for you! It makes a change to see a positive attitude towards negotiating, instead of the continual moaning about how no one should have to make any effort to achieve better deals. Like it or not, in a competitive society, we won’t get handed things on a plate.

Which? is the Consumer Champion, which I take it means it looks after the interests of all consumers, not just the ones who follow Which? articles and campaigns. If everyone were to switch rather than haggle then eventually the insurance companies (and the other who follow their lead) would get the message that to profiteer at the expense of the vulnerable is bad business, and stop it.

I think Which? is seriously wrong in this Haggling campaign. It should campaign for everyone to switch and dump the profiteering firms.

willowe, I agree with your conclusion in one sense – if we all switch to best deals then this will force more suppliers to be more competitive. However, switching is a form of haggling – just as searching out the best discount on your new domestic appliance or new car is. Which? is simply, I believe, waking people up to the fact that negotiating a deal does work, and we should be encouraged to do it. Gone are the days of resale price maintenance!

You have to be wary of cheaper deals. The excess can be much higher, the permitted period out of the country can be different as can be the service of course. The latter is hard to judge but usually I find that the excess is much higher on a cheaper policy – so you are insuring yourself really. I do not like any excess but is it is hard to avoid a compulsory one nowadays ,I find.

Car insurers have allows dropped a renewal quote to match that of a new customer, makes you wonder why they don;t bother to give me a good quote to start with. But they then refuse to drop it by the amount of cashback a new customer would get if buying it through a cashback site. And as in many cases this can be another £70 I’ve always ended up having to swap insurers.

Nick Simpson says:
22 November 2013

Insurance companies charge anything they can get away with and have no scruples. Last year our fleet policy rose by 50% because our insurers kept the renewal price so close to the renewal date we had no time to go anywhere else.

This year we farmed it out to others too and we re-insured getting the 50% knocked back off.
Bear in mind we are a fleet policy for 6 vehicles so that adds up to many thousands of pounds!

September 2012 our RIAS home insurance renewal came through for £381, at which point I decided it was too much. Called RIAS, who didn’t offer anything different, so I went to another company. Received call from RIAS about not renewing policy and had an apology with a revised cost. Cancelled policy with new company – it hadn’t started yet – and went back to RIAS. They offered a £200 discount, plus £10 for my inconvenience. I took this but they explained that I would have to call again the following year. This September, same experience, same resistance with the first person spoken to. Called again and was offered policy for £209, instead of £385. Not bad, I think! I always haggle, always ask for compensation when I ask and 99% of the time I get what I ask for.

David Crocker says:
14 January 2014

I apologise if this has already been mentioned – haven’t had time to read all the comments but there is one practice which is common in the industry and is quite unethical. That is to bump up renewal premiums. To get the quote back down to where it should be, one simple solution is to apply for a new policy but this generally means filling out the tedious application again. However it does seem to work. When I have done this and then rang the Insurers to ask why they do this and whether my renewal can be revised back to the new quote, I have been offered some reduction but not the full amount. I simply don’t understand this.

However I must say that my current insurer LV didn’t do this to me this time around and my renewal was significantly lower than the previous year. Needles to say I signed up (wonder what the quote would have been if I had applied online for a new policy !). I shall never know.

The obvious solution, sadly never advocated by Which, is that everyone should check their renewal quote by accessing a price comparison website. They have done more than anyone else to keep insurance companies honest. It’s a shame Which doesn’t recognise this.

Phil Dennis says:
25 February 2014

Re haggling for car insurance,my renewal quote from castle cover was £325, after ringing it was brought down to £304. I looked on comparison site and found they quoted £254 ,on castle cover-I then rang them back and queried why the huge difference and after they went away to check came back with a premium of £248. which I was happy with ,this was with the same firm they were using for the original quote, so it does pay to take the time to haggle.