It’s that time of year when my car insurance is up for renewal. Once again I wonder why I play this game every year.
I probably don’t need to add any more here for you to begin vigorously nodding your head in agreement, but bear with me. I want to get this rant out of my system.
Car insurance, unlike home insurance, is a legal requirement in order to tax your car in the UK. You can’t avoid insurance if you wish to own and run a car. There is no get-out clause—unless you are a criminal and have no conscience.
Now, having held a clean full UK driving licence since 1982, I have had to endure the annual chase-the-best-quote game for three decades. Frankly, I have had enough of it.
I don’t have issue with legally requiring someone to be insured. The idea is sound. What I do have an issue with is the fact that my premiums keep going up every year, even though I haven’t made a claim for nearly 15 years. I’ve even got a bit of paper to prove it.
(I know there’ll be comments from younger drivers who are penalised these days purely on their age and lack of experience behind the wheel. I certainly wouldn’t be driving today if I was 18 and needed to find a four-figure sum from somewhere just so I could be legal in my pimped 206. That’s not my beef, or my problem, frankly, so while I sympathise you must forgive my moment to rant.)
Surely, if I don’t make a claim, I should see flat or lower premiums every year. Why does it go up? Even allowing for inflation, a rise of over £50 on last year’s premium is extortion!
So, having got my latest renewal papers in, I girded my loins, hefted my bootstraps, tightened my belt and headed for the interwebz to do battle with the many-headed monster that is the UK Car Insurance Market.
I tried the usual suspects. You know who they are, so I won’t name them here. I tend to head for the same one, as experience tells me they all come back with the same figures anyway. That annoying opera singer and the fleabitten residents of the Kalahari don’t figure highly in my quest, which leaves the cartoon woman with the dodgy hair-do.
The best quote came back, and it was a good £60 lower than my renewal quote. It also included breakdown cover, which was a bonus as I’ve just given my usual and long-time provider the elbow because they too got greedy. (Sshh! It’s actually the same company, but don’t tell anyone!)
Armed with this information, I called my current insurer and tried haggling. I named my price. To give them their due, they did their best. They shaved a creditable £45 off my renewal.
Not good enough, though. It was still £23 too high. I wanted it to be closer to the price I gave them. They couldn’t match it, but they’re sending new documents out with the changed premium on it, which is something I suppose.
Next, I tried a local broker, since they’ve been bombarding me with literature for weeks now. They are currently offering some sort of cash-back, so I went through the routine with them. By some chicanery that I don’t quite follow, the quote (which was £140 more than my renewal) actually ends up being £75 lower, because I would get something north of £200 back in cash. I still don’t understand the maths which, from what I see, would confuse Barclays’ finest.
Next, I tried the big names via their web sites. They claim, after all, to be able to provide competitive quotes because they don’t use the comparison sites. The Big Red Telephone one made me laugh out loud with their figure, which is at least more than their television adverts manage. The other one lived up to their name by again quoting More Than my renewal. Allegedly, this also included a 50 per cent discount for my No Claims Discount, so the original quote must have been over four hundred quid! I don’t believe they intentionally named the company because they quote consistently more than everyone else.
I tweeted my disgust, and to their credit the latter actually asked if they could help. I gave them information. I am still awaiting the results. I don’t hold out any hope.
I have a few days to play this game. My renewal is not for a couple of weeks. I will await various bits of paper with the workings out, and will probably end up going with the lowest quote on the comparison site. Or the next quote down, which didn’t include free breakdown cover. I can get breakdown cover elsewhere anyway.
Oh, and if you inhabit the Twitterverse, I’ve started using a hashtag: #ihatecarinsurance. Keep an eye out. It might start to trend.