Renewing your car insurance? You’ll get there in the end, but call centre staff might lead you down a long and winding road first.
Think of a number. Double it and add four. Now say: ‘Hmm. Let me see what I can do.’ Congratulations! You are qualified to work in an insurance call centre.
Why is it so hard to renew car insurance?
I write this fresh from a conversation with my car insurer, in which my need to renew the policy and apply it to a new car led me down a tortuous path through the company’s inner workings and inexplicable rules. Random fees wafted in and out of the conversation. And every so often, someone would interject: ‘Can I interest you in multi-car?’
Here’s how it happened. My wife bought a new car, so I called our insurer, Admiral, armed with quotes from Sheilas’ Wheels and Esure (both £187), Diamond (£219), and Elephant (£221). Admiral quoted more than £260. Perhaps they thought I was a sitting duck?
The call handler then said: ‘If you got [a quote from] Diamond or Elephant, they are the same as us, so we can match that quote.’ If I hadn’t mentioned the other quotes, I’m sure I would have ended up paying over the odds.
Random rules and fickle fees
Having navigated the first pitfall, I then proceeded to tackle the issue of the month still to run on my wife’s previous car, a Mini. A new policy would mean forfeiting the no-claims bonus attached to the old one. Cancelling the Mini’s policy would incur a £45 fee (for what?).
Help was at hand. ‘I can get you an introductory five-years’ no-claims discount for one month, then you can transfer the old no-claims discount.’
I cancelled the Mini’s policy, because Admiral randomly waived the £45 anyway. In the end I paid £219, which is a fair price, but it had taken a 45-minute phone call to get there. And having first called Renewals, I then had to call New Business.
I strongly suspect that companies all use the same call centre, that numbers are plucked out of the air and that agents can waive whatever they like.
Why can’t car insurance be fair?
My message to the industry is simple: be fair and transparent with your quotes and your fees. And don’t ever make a ‘courtesy call’ to ask if I want multi-car. I don’t.
Have you ever had an experience similar to mine? What kind of random fees and costs were you subjected to?