/ Money

Are you overpaying for insurance?

An estimated six million car and home insurance policyholders may be paying too much. Are you one of them?

The FCA has confirmed what many insurance customers have experienced for years: loyal customers get a worse deal compared with those who switch or haggle.

At Which? Money Helpline we regularly talk to people who are angry that the cost of their car or house insurance has increased dramatically over a number of years.

Instead of being rewarded for their loyalty many people feel that they are being taken advantage of.

Shop around

I shop around for my home insurance every year. When my current insurer LV increased my insurance by almost 25% this year, I contacted it for an explanation.

LV told me that it was the best price it could give me and it was not able to justify the increase. However, after shopping around for alternative cover, I decided to stay with LV for another year.

I will of course shop around when I get my renewal letter next year.

Switching home

Mr March from London has insured his house with Prudential for more than 30 years and was surprised when his renewal price for his buildings and contents insurance had actually gone down from £819 to £655 this year.

Worried that he may not have sufficient cover, he phoned the Which? Money Helpline.

After speaking to us, Mr March contacted two of the Which? Recommended home insurers. Mr March decided to switch to John Lewis as it quoted him just £340 for what looks like more comprehensive cover.

He also saved money on his car insurance after haggling with RAC over the cost of his breakdown cover. He was given a discount of £20 and an additional three months of cover for free.

Mr March told us:

‘”I have become increasingly annoyed about being ripped off by my home insurer, car insurer and breakdown provider. Premiums seem to go up every year without any change in my circumstances and any claims.

I was very surprised that I could save so much money so quickly and easily on my house insurance. I would strongly urge everyone not to put up with the seemingly endless increases and switch.

It was very helpful talking to the Money Helpline to discuss the level of cover I need and it gave me the confidence to look for an alternative insurer”

What do you think?

Are insurers taking advantage of customer loyalty and ripping people off who don’t switch?

Or should we share some of the blame for not shopping around and switching insurer, especially given that it’s relatively easy to move to a new insurer?

Will any changes, and a possible ban on companies charging loyal customers more for insurance, mean that people who already switch insurer will end up paying more?

Helping our members

Did you know about our Money Helpline? It’s staffed by financial experts with more than 100 years’ experience in the financial services industry between them.

Members can ask us questions about a range of personal finance subjects, and there are no limits to the number of calls you and your family can make, or the length of time you can spend talking to us.

What we can help you with:
  • Banking
  • Borrowing – credit cards and loans
  • Car, home and travel insurance
  • Equity release
  • Investments
  • Long-term care
  • Mortgages
  • Pensions
  • Protection insurance
  • Savings and Isas
  • Tax
  • Wills/probate/trusts

(We do not offer regulated financial advice).

Which? members can call the helpline on 029 2267 0001. The Helpline is open Monday – Friday, 9am – 5pm.

Comments

Shopping around is all very well – until you run out of options!

I was insured with LV= for many years and enjoyed excellent service and good claims handling in 2006, when a faulty lithium battery exploded, burning a hole an expensive, custom-made Ryalux fitted carpet. LV= offered to replace 30 m2 of carpet throughout the living and dining room, new-for-old (even though that was not a selected policy option), after we rejected various standard options from their preferred supplier CarpetRight, that would have required seams and was simply not of the same quality.

We still have our cars insured with LV= and have been very happy with the premiums and a couple of past claims for minor bodywork repairs.

However, about 6 years ago, LV= hiked our buildings and contents premiums. I shopped around and went with John Lewis, who were offering a 20% discount on first year premiums. Next years, premiums increased by about 10% + loss of initial discount. The year after, premiums increased by an eye-watering 25% and they could not offer a satisfactory explanation, other than to say it was “inflation”.

I moved to Churchill just over 2 years ago. Same story. Low initial premium, then 20% increases for the last two years.

Shopping around again, NFU Mutual have refused to quote. M&S Bank are ridiculously expensive compared to Churchill’s current permium. Because of a minor flood 20 years ago, to an extension still under construction which has since been rectified, LV= are now refusing to quote, even though they acknowledge I was insured with them previously and the flood was not covered by their insurance at the time.

So if you are with a good insurer, it may be best to stick with it, as the OP, Mike Naylor, has done.

Perhaps I should keep quiet. Buildings and contents insurance on our property has been as follows –

2018 . . . £134.76 [renewal]
2019 . . . £149.21 [quotation]
2019 . . . £125.14 [renewal after renegotiating and amending cover]
2020 . . . £132.41 [quotation and probable renewal]

This is with Nationwide for a four-bedroom detached house of standard construction. The 2020 quotation includes £44.14 NCD.The latest increase is 5.8% which, although considerably above the rate of inflation, seems reasonable given the higher claims experience of the last two years due to extreme weather events.

The insurance on one of my cars has been requoted 10% less than last year, and one of my son’s has a car with NFU that has been renewed at more than 10% lower than last year, without any change in circumstance and without negotiation. My house insurance has not changed either.

I insure with NFU Mutual to avoid premium hikes. I have breakdown insurance with NFU too, so that I don’t have to deal with disreputable breakdown insurance companies that reward a claim-free year with a price hike.

Before then I did not haggle for a price reduction but switched companies and made a courtesy call to explain why had gone elsewhere.

I insure a car with NFU also and am very satisfied with the price but have not, yet, fortunately had to test their claims service.

RAC basic cover is included – extra cost for a higher level – but cannot be extended to cover more than one vehicle. I want other cars included. RAC service has not been well rated by Which? and others whereas the AA are. I have had extremely good service from them over many years. However, each year they send me a renewal at an excessive premium and each year a brief phone call results in a much lower, and recently the new customer price, without argument. Whilst I do not condone the practice I easily achieve a good deal with a good provider.

Oh dear! I hope you never experience the misfortune of claiming from NFU!

Based on Which? ratings I insured my car with NFU and was quite happy with the annual premiums, due mainly to a clean driving licence and 8 years NCB, until I had the misfortune of being hit by another car, causing superfluous but repairable damage to the right front offside wing of my vehicle.

“The incident,” (as is commonly referred to by the Insurance Industry) occurred in a car park and as there were no obvious security cameras and no witnesses present I was treated with the utmost contempt by NFU’s claims dept. with threats to take my car, with genuine very low mileage, and sell it for scrap as they considered it a write off, and after deducting excess charges, would leave me with no car, precious little compensation with very little hope of claiming back excess from the third party involved, who failed to report the accident, who disappeared without trace for about 2 months and decided it was in his best interests not to make a claim from his insurance company.

I refused to concede to their ruthless demands and decided to keep my car and pay for the damage caused myself. It was restored as new by an independent competent and recommended bodywork repairer who did a fantastic job.

Some new security evidence has since come to light with video footage that witnessed the whole unfortunate incident and has the capacity to prove I was the victim of negligence by the driver of the other car.

NFU are now telling me they have been unable to make contact with the security company who could settle this dispute once and for all, and to compensate have increased their payment to me, also admitting my car was not, in fact, a write off, but here’s the rub, they have also doubled the amount of my next premium, saying the claim is still ongoing, leaving me with no other option than to pay the inflated premium, thereby preventing me from switching to another provider until they finalise this whole unfortunate circumstance.

Which? need to investigate more fully the bully boy tactics and procedures implemented by insurance companies and not rate them on false declarations used to gain ‘brownie points’ as the reality is often quite different from their inflated proclamations.

It is my intention to report NFU to the ombudsman.

Oh dear, that is not good.Had you thought of speaking to Which? Legal about pursuing your claim for your car and for your expenses and distress. I’d have thought a half decent solicitor would make mincemeat of NFU from your account of your treatment.

My son’s car was side swiped by a Polish lorry driver – accidentally, as they normally drive on the wrong side of the road 🙂 – requiring the replacement of much of the side of the car. NFU dealt with it very well indeed.

You do not know how good your insurer is until they have to part with money.

Yes Malcolm, I did contact Which? Legal at the time who were only able to advise on obtaining alternate estimates for my cars value but seemed reluctant to become involved further.

Without witnesses at a vehicle accident you are deemed guilty until proven innocent by insurance companies. Something, to date, NFU are claiming they are unable to do, despite providing them with potential evidence to prove who was responsible for the accident.

I am assuming your son was able to obtain witness statements at the time of the incident.

He also had a video camera in his car, Beryl. That reminds me, i have one but have not yet got round to fitting it…. life has been so busy.

I’m sorry to hear of all your hassle; it must have been time consuming and distressing to have to deal with unhelpful people; not what you would expect.

In early February I hit a dog when ran across the road when it was getting dark. It seemed OK but died after being taken to the PDSA. I rang NFU the following morning (Saturday) and they arranged for someone to collect the car for repair and a car hire company to deliver a loan car. So far I cannot fault NFU but I wonder what will happen to my premium at renewal time. Even though the dog had escaped and a lady was trying to recapture it, it’s my fault for hitting the dog.

I hope you get this sorted out, Beryl. We all know people who have been let down by insurance companies. As a motorcyclist an insurer wanted to settle a claim on a knock for knock basis despite the other party having admitted to causing the accident.

Depending upon the circumstances, if the dog was not on a lead – as it presumably was not – the owner could be held liable for the accident and compensated you or your insurance company. Sad maybe, but dog owners do have responsibilities and should have 3rd party insurance – possibly as part of their household cover if not specific to the animal.

The sorry story is somewhere in The Lobby, Malcolm. The dog had belonged to an old bloke, who passed it on to the RSPCA to put into foster care. The foster carers had promptly let it escape. The old chap’s stepdaughter and someone else had been trying to recapture the dog most of the day. I understand the RSPCA were the owners and I’m not going to take action, though in other circumstances I would.

That’s very interesting to know Malcolm as the potential video evidence I supplied to NFU was also a camera in a security car parked directly behind the scene of the incident.

I will certainly invest in one of these cameras when my car is up and running again and I would hope you will soon find time to install yours.

The most irksome part of this whole ghastly business is the fact that the other party is not accepting any responsibility for the damage and hassle it has caused me.

That is what you pay your insurance company to do of course – act professionally on your behalf.

I hope you have success with the ombudsman and I’m sure you’ll keep us informed. Can Which? help in any way?

Out of interest, was the repair cost more or less than your insurance excess?

If you did not go ahead with the claim, what is the justification for doubling your premium, Beryl? I had assumed that a protected no-claims discount – a common feature – would offer protection, at least against one claim.

A protected NCD does just that – preserves your discount but does not stop your base premium being increased.

Reporting an incident, even if you do not make a claim, can make you more of an insurance risk and, hence, affect your premium.

You have to be careful in not reporting an incident in case the other party decides to.

Malcolm and Wavechange

I got so fed up with NFUs pitiful compensatory offers and being left without a car and nowhere near enough to buy even a used car, it worked out much cheaper to pay for the repairs myself and keep the car.

I did however, enjoy some interesting conversations with the guy who took very great care of me as well as my car by transporting me to and from the train station to his workshop and who also agreed with me insurance companies will try it on when they happen to come across a classic low mileage vehicle. Their engineers have contacts in the vehicle repair business who will carry out the necessary repairs at an agreed price and sell them on at auction at a nice profit.

They doubled my premium Wavechange because when I reported the incident, (as one is supposed to do) I claimed I was not responsible, and as my premium was coming up for renewal and there were no witnesses I was considered suspect, so I had no choice, I had to pay it otherwise I couldn’t drive my car to be repaired without insurance.

It was when I remembered a security vehicle was parked opposite the incident they decided to increase their payment and so, to answer your question Malcolm, until I am In a position to claim the excess charges from the other driver I am still out-of-pocket, until this is settled, but at least I do still have a car to drive. Unfortunately, making a claim against another insurance company’s client is considered justification for doubling ones premium.

Another insurance company will be reluctant to take you on whilst a claim is still ongoing and those who may will probably charge you a higher premium than the present one. As long as you want to continue to keep your car on the road, they know you have to pay up or shut up.

There is a urgent need to address the fraudulent practices carried out by the insurance industry to stop people being ripped off and I hope Which? will take on board some of the concerns reported on this forum, including carrying out more thorough and extensive research when rating them.

Thanks for the update, Beryl. Let’s hope that you have more luck with the ombudsman.

I recall that you asked how a friend fared over a burglary earlier this year. The case is still ongoing because jewellery receipts were mislaid during a house move. She might know soon and I’m surprised that NFU has not wanted to close the case.

When you are ready to buy a camera it might be worth reviving one of these Convos in the hope that you can get some advice: https://conversation.which.co.uk/?s=dashcam&cat=0 If I was in the market, I would want a camera that continues to record when the car is parked.

Malcolm – I appreciate that a claim can lead to a future increase in premium but I’m surprised that Beryl was asked to pay double. If you don’t report an accident and the other party does you have no-one to blame but yourself and I assume that insurance companies are still allowed to share information despite GDPR.

Thanks for the link Wavechange. It didnt occur to me until sometime after the incident that security vehicles will leave their dash-cams switched on when leaving their cars parked, but on reflection it is probably more important particularly when they are collecting cash takings from retail and supermarket outlets.

I hope your friend received better treatment than I and she will receive a fair settlement for her missing jewellery, although nothing really compensates for items of sentimental value from loved ones passed.

I would advise anyone to install a camera in their car to protect themselves if and when they are unfortunate enough to become involved in a no witness accident.

For the record, the main reason for the huge hike in premiums is, insurers claim following a car accident you are more likely to be involved in another fairly soon
afterwards.

Most of the jewellery belonged to her mother and had not been valued recently, adding to the uncertainty. Using photos and the old valuations a jeweller was able to produce an up to date valuation.

I suspect that the ‘robust’ behaviour of insurance companies towards claims is culturally ingrained, not based on reason or rational appraisal of the situation. Psychologically, it could also be a subconscious reaction to the prevalence of unjustified, exaggerated and fraudulent claims cultivated by greed and the attitude that everything has its compensation and it must be claimed at an inflated level to offset the likelihood of being beaten back.

I am somewhat surprised at Beryl’s experience of NFU Mutual because I had always assumed that, while not the most economical insurer, they were one of the fairest. I have never used them myself as I have always been content with my existing motor insurance company, but I have never put them to the test with a claim.

I think you are right, John, and it’s hard for honest to be treated in the same way as those who exaggerate claims. The usual advice is not to accept an insurance company’s offer if a car is written off.

Normal (market value) car insurance will not enable you to buy an equivalent car in the event of theft or if it is written off. We may be offered a good trade for an old car, but that is offset by a higher cost for a new one. The alternative is to pay more for an agreed value policy.

The general principle of insurance was to put the policyholder back in the position they were in before the event that led to a claim. That does not seem to apply in the case of motor insurance and ‘new for old’ is not an option either. Trying to keep insurance cover affordable means that companies require their policyholders to make compromises – whether or not to claim, how much excess to carry, and how much to haggle over premiums and over claims offers. The customer is always on the back foot because they do not have access to all the information needed to make the market work fairly. That is a fact of life and we have had to learn to put up with it.

I have occasionally wondered how many write-offs actually get scrapped. Those that are ‘totalled’ obviously do, but they still have a scrap value. Others get sold down the trade, depending on their condition and type, for rebuilding/repairing or for parts recovery. Insurance companies like their customers to understand that they make absolutely nothing out of a write-off and that they are doing them a favour by taking it off their hands and disposing of it safely for them. How much of this is official and on the books is difficult to judge; it is not unheard of for people whose car has been badly damaged to be chased by companies peddling compensation claims and there is the suspicion that such leads come from inside the insurance industry.

It is extremely frustrating that I am stuck with this rogue insurer indefinitely with an inflated annual premium until they finalise this claim. This anticompetitive stance means I am unable to switch to another provider due to their suspicious and dubious claims they have contacted the security company holding potential evidence that could exonerate me from any liability, by phone, email and letter but have received no response from them and, furthermore, they are not hopeful of receiving any but the case is still ongoing???

They also refused to disclose the insurer of the other driver and so I paid a fee to obtain this from the online auto data base.

This is not what one expects from a Which? top rated
Insurance Company.

I recall seeing a posting on another website from a woman whose insurer claimed her car was a write off and she let them take it away. Unbelievably a couple of months later she was driving around and came across someone else driving around in her old car!

PS: John we don’t have to put up with it, especially when you are are an innocent victim of a negligent driver who fails to report an accident and goes missing without trace for 2 months afterwards. Nothing will change if these fraudulent tactics are allowed to continue unabated.

Beryl, I’m sure you will have done this but just in case……….. You could contact the chief executive of NFU Mutual insurance. CEOemail.com is invaluable in finding such contacts but is not always up to date. Currently they show Lindsay.Sinclair@nfumutual.co.uk.

My commiserations Beryl.

When someone scraped my car when it was parked, I managed to get some security footage. Luckily the loss adjuster took my side as my car was in otherwise excellent condition and the other driver had his very tatty car repaired where it scraped mine. Do you know who has the security footage and can you get them to give you a copy. You would need to tell them the date and time it took place.

An internet search says you don’t have to stay with an insurance company mid-claim. Have you tried talking to a broker like the AA or A-Plan for a quote? A-Plan are usually very helpful. If NFU are going to double your premium, it might be worth switching now rather than stay with them.

Your discussion with your repairer is probably what was behind when I had car stolen and crashed many years ago. The loss adjuster refused to discuss it with me but wanted my permission to have it taken to a scrap yard. It was my company car that I had just paid around £5000 for and they wanted to give me £1200 for the write-off. After much wrangling, the car was repaired and kept for many years.

I agree entirely with what you are saying, Beryl, and deprecate the way you are being treated.

What I said we have had to learn to put up with is not such appalling treatment by your insurance company or by the perpetrator of the damage to your car, but the overall situation where the car owner is always at a disadvantage. The insurance market is neither fair nor transparent because the companies have a monopoly of the relevant information which they share amongst themselves for mutual protection but will not disclose to the affected party. It is an unfortunate characteristic of a market that does not serve consumers’ interests properly and seems to be impervious to reform. It takes unfair and monopolistic advantage of the essential legal obligation for people to insure their motor cars.

I wish you well with your claim and endorse Malcolm’s advice to escalate this within NFU Mutual. It would make a good ‘brief case’ article in a consumer magazine.

alfa, the security company is a well known large international that operates on a world wide scale.

I naively thought a large top rated insurer acting presumably in my interest could use their corporate influence to secure the info that would absolve me from any liability in this case. Isn’t that what we pay them to do?

Until this case is wrapped up other insurers will feel obliged to keep the premiums high until my insurer confirms I am not responsible for the accident. NFU are aware of this and as long as they insist on keeping this case ongoing without providing evidence of pursuing it further, which in turn, could provide evidence as to who was liable in this case, this will keep me tied to them and prevent me from claiming excess charges from the other driver who has now seemingly become invisible!

Malcolm before taking a complaint to the ombudsman one has to first put your complaint to the insurers complaints dept which I have already done but I am not satisfied with their reply so I hesitate to approach the CEO at this stage in the procedure.

I just want this over with so I can get on with the rest of my life and exercise my right to switch to another provider who will act in my interest rather than that of the other party.

One little-used car is insured through a broker who survey providers each year and make a recommendation; for the last couple of years this has been Sabre. Another is insured with LV. I have not had to use their services but LV (who took on Nationwide’s motor insurance) get a thumbs up from Which?.

I received my motor insurance renewal invitation from NFU yesterday. I had wondered what impact my accident involving a dog would have on my premium which is protected by the maximum NCD. I will be paying an extra 19% this year and decided to stay with the company, which I cannot fault for the way they handled my claim. I did ring the local office and spoke to a member of staff who was working at home, which he was enjoying. Apparently the accident was recorded as ‘no blame’ as had been indicated earlier.

I hope that Beryl has some better news.

Unfortunately no Wavechange. As my car hasn’t moved since before lockdown and will stay that way for the foreseeable future and I have another 7 months premium left before my 50% increase since the accident renewal is due.

I requested a refund which was ignored. I also requested evidence of their attempts to contact the security company present at the scene of the incident, which was also ignored. I just received a curt reply to say they had decided a 50/50 split was all they were prepared to offer.

I phoned to discuss this decision but the person who wrote the letter was not available. I requested a call back the same day but that was also ignored. I am still waiting.

I have since followed up with the Which? Letter of Deadlock. They have 14 days to respond after which I will be contacting the Ombudsman.

My advice to anyone who is involved in a suspect no witness incident without personal injury is: Don’t bother to report it, just disappear without trace for 2 months and pay for your own repairs. The insurance company will be non the wiser, your annual premium will stay the same and likewise your No Claims Bonus.

My biggest problem in this ongoing saga is; it’s not about the money, it’s the frustration of being cajoled into accepting that I was 50% responsible for the accident when I am 100% certain I wasn’t!

Thanks for the update, Beryl. I have spoken to various friends who are insured through NFU but the only one who has made a claim is the one who lost vintage jewellery. That is still ongoing, though it’s not the insurance company that is delaying progress.

It’s not good to leave a car standing for months. I had to sort out a car for a neighbour who has been away since February. The other neighbour had driven it up and down the drive once a month, and that is not enough.

Beryl, I can’t remember if this was discussed but have you asked Which? Legal for help? Have you written to the CEO of NFU?

If it wasn’t for your video evidence, if it has been kept, 50/50 is probably the best that can be achieved with no witnesses. The danger of not reporting an accident is if the other person does, of course. Insurers don’t like that.

There is always that risk Malcolm, but in this circumstance it would have paid off, given my annual premium was doubled after I reported the accident, that extra amount would have helped towards the cost of repairs to my car and I would have kept my NCB and my annual premium would have stayed the same, or nearly, allowing for small annual inflationary increases.

The young guy that hit me however, having failed to report the incident to his insurance company (Direct Line) conveniently went missing without trace for a period of 2 months, leaving me to pick up the pieces of his negligence.

I have provided potential video evidence. NFU are refusing to provide evidence that they have, in fact, followed through with this. In cases were there are no witnesses, most insurance companies will do everything possible to persuade you to accept a 50/50 settlement which is understandable, but nevertheless, unfortunate for the innocent victim, but failing to follow through on potential evidence is another matter entirely.

About 2 years ago, my brother was involved in a motor traffic accident without witnesses. The driver that hit him at a roundabout refused to accept a 50/50 split and it ended up in court. The other driver claimed he cut across without indicating and eventually won the case. However, my brother did actually indicate but unfortunately, as so often happens when you turn the steering wheel after doing so, the indicator automatically switched off and be lost the case.

I haven’t written to the NFU CEO. I complained to their Complaints Dept, a necessary protocol before contacting the Ombudsman, but I was not happy with their response. I
have been in touch with Which? Legal and am taking this case to The Ombudsman.

Beryl – According to Which? you should report an accident even if you don’t intend to claim:

“Should you tell your insurer about an accident?

Yes – if you’ve been in an accident, you do have to tell your insurer. You should send your insurer a letter telling them what’s happened.
But make it crystal clear that this is for ‘information only’ and you don’t wish to make a claim.
This should ensure your insurer doesn’t settle with the other party’s insurer without your knowledge.

This has not changed since I first learned to drive. The fact that the other driver failed to report the accident must be in your favour when the ombudsman sees the case. I do not understand why NFU has not helped in the circumstances.

Thank you Wavechange. I did question this with NFU as I was aware you should always report an accident, which I did. I was told quite categorically “It is a requirement to report an accident but it is not illegal not to do so.” Everything I have tried so far has been met with a brick wall. It’s as if they are representing the TP instead of me.

It would appear they have already done that – settled with the other party’s insurer without my knowledge and have informed me apres tard. They evidently want to avoid taking this to court because of the cost incurred.

I do hope that the ombudsman takes into account that the other driver failed to report the accident. Here is the legislation, which I do not find clear. It would be interesting to know if Which? Legal thinks you have a good chance, but maybe they won’t commit themselves.

Thanks Wavechange I will keep you posted 🙂

Thanks Beryl. It’s always good to hear the outcome of battles and it does not happen often on Convo.

Once, this might have been a good item for “Brief cases” in the mag. Does it still feature?

These stories are now rebranded as ‘Legal Advice’, for example the report by Thomas Holloway on page 61 of the July magazine.

If a supermarket sold the same product to different customers at different prices we would not be impressed, yet well known breakdown recovery companies sell their products to different people at different prices. Several years ago I had about 25 years without a single call out and a company wanted to charge me more than a new customer for renewing my cover. How Which? can make one of the worst offenders a Which? recommended provider makes no sense. I would like to see Which? campaign against these practices in the insurance industry. My solution has been to include breakdown cover in my motor insurance and NFU Mutual has so far not hiked my premium.

Since car and home insurance is customised to suit the individual it is more difficult to see evidence of price hikes for existing customers.

I don’t disagree as I intimated.

The same organisation charging people different prices for the same service is not uncommon among reputable organisations. Which? Legal and magazine subscriptions seem an example.

I renewed my energy contract recently; a good deal offered on Which?Switch was denied me because my existing (expiring) contract was with that particular supplier. No such problem going via USwitch. What was very disturbing was that both the Which? and USwitch offers were not available direct from the energy company and were very substantially cheaper – like 30%. I’m surprised Which? participate in what seems to be a rigged market.

By all means let us try and change what we think are bad practices. But, in the meantime, educate people in dealing with them.

I assume that Which? magazines and subscriptions to Which? legal are on a temporary basis and not annual costs.

I do agree that switching companies should not offer tariffs that cannot be obtained direct from the companies. If your council is running a collective switching scheme, that might be the best value for money and that won’t feature on U-Switch etc. The drawback is that you could end up with a company with poor customer service.

There is a lot more to insurance than just getting the cheapest quote.

Many people would find the standard contents cover is too low for their needs. Do an inventory of every room, garage and outbuildings and an approximate replacement cost and it is surprising how much it all adds up to. Don’t forget to look in every drawer, cupboard and box in the attic.

You have to consider the maximum value items are insured for. Electronics may only be insured for £2000 and yours are worth £3000. What is the maximum for any single item? Do you have to specify valuables, and are you happy to have their details stored on computer systems that might get hacked? What about items taken away from home?

Underestimating can invalidate your insurance.

Then there is how you can be reimbursed for a loss. If you opt for new-for-old and replacements are at the discretion of the insurance company, they can replace your belongings with the cheapest available to them. When we had our shed burgled many years ago, most of the replacements were far poorer quality than the items that were stolen. Luckily we could prove the power tools, but we had not kept receipts for many of the other tools.

It is worth taking photos of everything you own so if the worst comes to the worst you have a record of your belongings. It is also worth scanning or photographing receipts as they can get lost or fade.

Good points, Alfa.

One of the traps with insuring contents is that if you have a claim and the insurer considers that you have not purchased sufficient cover they can either repudiate the claim altogether or, more likely, “average” it so that if, say, they believe you have insured for only 60% of the value of all your contents they will only pay out a maximum of 60% of your claim because it is a condition of the insurance that your sum insured covers the full extent of any potential loss. I wouldn’t replace absolutely everything in the event of a total loss so I don’t see why I should insure it. Like most people we have obsolete things, broken or worn-out products, too much furniture, surplus articles, unfashionable clothes that we wouldn’t be seen dead in, and hundreds of books and ephemera that could not be replaced and would not need to be.

I favour insurers that set a high inclusive value [e.g. £1 million] for contents but nonetheless treat a claim in a reasonable and sympathetic way without the need for an argument over the value of individual items. I would not want insurance where the company specified or provided the replacement products but this has been a recent trend.

Many years ago I suffered a burglary and had to deal with a loss adjuster employed by the insurance company; it was a most exhausting and stressful experience that left me extremely dissatisfied.

Pricing insurance cover is an arcane but profitable technique and, as Wavechange says, it is almost impossible to make proper comparisons of value for money as purchasers do not have the perfect knowledge required to make the market work properly.

Do you have to engage with a “Loss Adjuster” ? – after all, you contract is with the insurer.

Some years ago a work collegue was burgled and he too had a dreadful experience with a loss adjuster, whose job clearly was to reduce the insurers payment to him. A few months later he was burgled again, which I believe can be a common experience as the burgler rightly assumes you will have replaced most of your “goodies” by then. However, this time he itemised his claim and refused to deal with a loss adjuster. He simply explained that his claim represented his losses and that his contract with the insurer required them to pay. It worked!

Graham – Some insurance companies are probably more reasonable over handling claims and will see the value in quickly settling a well-itemised claim, but others send in a loss adjuster straight away – as you say., to mitigate the company’s losses [and they are probably paid a results-related commission to incentivise their efforts]. The only defence against this is to for the claimant to instruct their own ‘loss assessor’ whose job is to maximise their client’s recovery. That comes at a price but could be worth it if there is a significantly better settlement than would otherwise be achieved.

Having had subsidence twice, I would not get insurance from another provider

Do you have a Certificate of Structural Adequacy, Rosemary? My subsidence claim was small but I managed to switch companies without any problem thanks to having a certificate.

Bob Pearce says:
12 May 2020

When renewing my home insurance , I trawled the net for a better deal and found that Admiral was slightly better than my old insurer and as they were offering a discount for a car insurance when you take out the home insurance . I therefore opted for Admiral . Lo and behold when my car insurance was due they quoted a figure that was TWICE the quote from previous insurer and other insurers. I tried to contact Admiral but suprise suprise they didn’t respond to E mails . A very dubious practice.

Pay annually: It’s always cheaper to pay annually for car insurance, as monthly payments include interest, which was 25% on average when we last surveyed insurers.”

Read more: https://www.which.co.uk/news/2020/05/coronavirus-car-insurance-premiums-falling/ – Which?

Not so. I would normally assume this to be the case but my car insurance with NFU ( bless them, Beryl 🙂 ) and my house insurance with Nationwide (a very good institution in my experience) costs exactly the same in 12 monthly instalments as in an up-front annual payment. Cynics might say they give no reduction, I suppose. So I pay the by monthly direct debit – why not.

These are main stream insurers. Which? need to look more closely at this.

I was going to file my new insurance documents and noticed that I have paid £17.39 for breakdown recovery for the coming year. Even adding insurance premium tax, this seems remarkable value for money for me. It has long annoyed me that none of the popular breakdown recovery companies offer no-claims discount.

NFU provide basic cover through the RAC (not well rated by Which?); roadside assistance and national recovery to a garage within 10 miles (I think). Until the end of August they include home assist and full national recovery, prompted by COVID. A good deal. Subsidised by ordinary RAC customers of course. Heavily, it seems.

I have their National Assist, which is why I pay the premium (the basic cover is included as standard). This covers taking the car to a garage within 20 miles and ‘the option of hire car, alternative travel or overnight accommodation for drivers and passengers should the vehicle need a longer fix.’ I’ve never required assistance at home and my neighbours have learned that I have a jump-start pack to deal with their flat batteries, which I last did less than 48 hours ago. My last breakdown was in 1989, though several years ago I had to call NFU to summon the RAC to change a wheel when I had a problem with the jack.

Yes it must be subsidised. I would prefer that customers payed a fee per call-out. I’ve always paid for breakdown cover because anyone can have an accident or break down on a motorway.

According to Which? figures, 37% of breakdowns are at home. I presume most of these are for flat batteries and punctures.