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Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Blood Sucking

It's that time of year again. Bills, bills and more bills.

The Council Tax, once a monstrous gobbler up of our hard earned cash, is now quite a little pussy cat - the bill might be large but it no longer grows like Topsy.

The same cannot be said of car insurance.

It's my own fault. I have quite a nice car, not too old and worth a few pounds and I don't drive far. My last MOT recorded 2,400 miles in a year and ever since I went on a speed awareness course - in lieu of 3 points on my licence and a £60 fine, I never travel above the speed limit.

An earlier post charted last year's toil and strife trying to get my car insured without taking the food out of the cats' mouths. If anything this year's search has been even more stressful and, until recently, extremely dispiriting.

The saga  began appropriately with Saga Insurance - my heroes last year - sending me a renewal notice.

The insurance industry's been softening us up over the preceding months with spokesmen  expressing "real sympathy" for the plight of the motorist: but costs have rocketed. Nothing to do with them of course.

Been losing money hand over fist, all because of those staged crashes and bogus injury claims, as well as brainless teenager drivers who, when they crash, tend to wipe out half of Slough's population. Oh, and those who don't bother to insure.

That's the reason why your car insurance will increase by 40% plus this year. Sorry, but that's the way it is!

I don't believe them. I think those bogus claims, mad teenagers and uninsured drivers, whilst a problem, are just so much smoke to hide opportunistic price hikes!

Last year Saga charged me £281 and I was able to pay by monthly instalments at no extra charge. This year they expected me to cough up £397 plus a £44 credit charge.

They bang on about all the great cover you get, except everything over and above basic insurance is extra. And what really gets my goat is, I don't have to do anything because I set up a Direct Debit last year. They'll just take the money out of your baby's mouth. You won't feel a thing - until it's too late.

Sod it!  I'm onto Google and the comparison websites. GoCompare, ComparetheMarket etc., I tried them all. None came up with deals lower than Saga's. I tried individual insurers who don't appear on comparison websites. Nothing was cheaper. This was worrying. And then from one comparison site I received a quote of £309. I couldn't believe it - and rapidly clicked through..

Insurethebox is aimed at teenagers, mums and people like me - old, slow and mileage challenged. Your insurance is based on you doing less than 6,000 a year, and you have a GPS monitor placed in your car. It tells them what your driving's like, when you drive,  how many miles you do, and whether you crap yourself every time you approach a junction.

You can even access all this data from your own "portal". Brilliant or what?

Even better, if your car's stolen they can track it and tell the police.

There's been quite a buzz about this type of insurance, but it's still a niche market. Which I suppose it will always be. The whole point about insurance is that you spread the risk. If all the drivers who rarely claim leave the main pool and paddle away on their own all that'll be left are the poor, dangerous drivers and heavy claimers and then it doesn't work, since risk can't be spread - everyone's as big a risk as the next.

I'm taking a bit of a risk myself but with a saving of around 25% on other quotes, I've taken the plunge. I'll report back on my progress.

I also received my AA Membership renewal this month. Except it's not what it claims to be. It's a complete con. Again they take the money directly from your account, so they don't bother with the pretence of  choice. They send you your new card and tell you how brilliant their service and while you're about why not give us loads of extra money by taking out other services.

Last year I paid £28. That's for fixing the car at the road side. Nothing more, only my car and only if it breaks down while I'm travelling. This year their smiley yellow headed letter informed me that on or around 5th April they'd hit my account for £55.50. That's double as near as damn it. Highway robbery!!

I was onto them in a jiffy.

In reply to my question why I was to be charged double, I was told initially that they have more vehicles on the roads than other organisations. To which I replied that's what I was told last year and that's no explanation. I was then told it was the standard renewal price. Which didn't make sense. The "advisor" - retention expert - asked if I'd be quoted a lower price. After I said I had, he said OK we'll renew you at last year's rate.

He made no attempt to justify the higher figure. I suspect if I'd told him I'd seen the service offered at, say £20, he'd have settled for that.

They are bastards!!!!!

You have to do all the chasing, all the questioning, all the research. If you don't, the rapacious, blood sucking, hyenas will strip you to the bone. Owning a car is an excuse for every leech and leper to cut both your wrists and drain you of every drop of blood.

They make estate agents appear honest for God's sake!


Tenon_Saw said... is where I go now. I left RAC MANY years ago when they failed to reply to my letters. I was with Green Flag for a while but to cut costs I have moved again. I'm praying that I shall not discover why they are cheap when I have to all them out.

Here the TV licence bill has arrived. February is a financially quiet month, then it all kicks in again.

Marginalia said...

It's fun to begin with, hunting down the best deals but it does wear. We've changed our gas and electric four times in the last 10 years; car insurance almost every year, like-wise with house insurance. I've moved my bank account only twice.

Little chance of those long term customer relationship the ads bang on about.

RubberCrutch said...

Here in the USA, around the dawn of Ronald Reagan's "Morning In America," an exciting new business model emerged: the service provider as parasite. There is pretty much no business model now except "generate record profits quarter after quarter through infinity." So the risk management business that insurers practice now is to manage their own risk against a weak fiscal quarter. So if State Farm underestimates the risk of catastrophic damages due to hurricane surges in the Gulf of Mexico, not accounting for 30 years of Republican overlords starving the Army Corps of Engineers of necessary funding for floodwall and levee maintenance, then... oh well. The corporation will "earn" it back by jacking up homeowner insurance rates in the Midwest, auto insurance rates everywhere, and so on. No law of equity or rudimentary fair play appears to prevail any more.

Marginalia said...

Where's my gun! I'm off to join Paul Revere.