This post has absolutely nothing to do with canals or boating and is nothing more than my own rant - but many more people might have no idea what is happening in the UK motor insurance industry - they will now. There will be no names mentioned, just facts about my own recent experiences that have cost me dearly.......
Some may have noticed that I have recently down graded my own car to a 20 year old one, see: a new interest to keep me occupied. This replaced my 4X4 truck (Ute) that I had owned from new, and was responsible for my discovery of the legal "scams" that I had been subjected to without my knowledge. To make my story brief, I will try and lay it out into individual facts.
First, let me state that I passed my car driving test, aged 17 in 1971. I also passed a civil service driving test, after a 2 week intensive course, and the equivalent of an Institute of Advanced Motorists Test, in 1989. I have owned my own car every year since, have never had an accident, or claimed against a motor insurance policy, and remarkably, in this age of legalised highway robbery, never had a motoring conviction. As a result, anybody would assume that I would be entitled to a full no claims discount when renewing my insurance, and be the type of client an insurance company would want to keep.
Back in 2002, I changed my car, and insured it with the company, well known in the UK, I had been with for years, with no need to change, as the current marketing trend towards "introductory offers for new customers only" hadn't yet got into full swing. I had a full no claims entitlement. After 3 years ownership I changed it for a new car, and decided to buy the branded insurance deal that was offered with the car. This offered several benefits should a claim need to be made, and the underwriters were another well known national brand of motor insurance.
After another 4 years ownership, staying with the same insurance company that was "branded" to the make of car, but provided by a well known insurer, I decided to change it for the 4X4 truck. What a huge mistake that was! My first hurdle came when I found that, as the vehicle was classed as a commercial vehicle, I could only insure it as a commercial, which included by default, cover for the carriage of goods and business use - neither of which I needed, as I was only using it as a private car. This however had implications. One was obviously cost, but the other was that I would find it difficult transferring my full no claims bonus across, as this was to be a different class of insurance. I did however find a commercial insurer who was willing to transfer my bonus, although the insurance cost doubled from that of the previous car, which was a prestige vehicle - so itself in a high insurance bracket.
The end of the first year's ownership arrived, and after much research I managed to find an insurer who was willing to cover the 4X4 as a private vehicle. Unfortunately I had to undergo the renewal process prior to my renewal notice arriving, as we were due to leave the country for 3 months. I was asked, quite properly, what my no claims bonus was. I fully explained the above circumstances, but could find no reference to my entitlement on my current documents. As the current insurer refused to tell me, or pass on any written information until their renewal notice was published, I referred back to my original 2002 car documents, which stated I was entitled to 7 years no claims bonus, their maximum entitlement. I passed this information on, and it was accepted without any problem. It was while we were away, that my son informed me that my renewal had now arrived from the old company, and it stated my no claims entitlement at 5 years! I then had to conduct my own investigation how this could be, by email, from across the world - not ideal.
It transpired that the very first company I mentioned had a maximum entitlement of 7 years which equated to their "full no claims bonus percentage". The next company's "full no claims" entitlement, the branded insurance, was set at a maximum of 4 years! I stayed with this company for the next 4 years, and unbeknown to me, my entitlement remained at their maximum - 4 years no claims bonus! When I transferred to the commercial policy, they agreed to transfer my entitlement, but only allowed me the 4 years that was stated on my previous policy. After a year with them, they were only willing to pass on my entitlement as 5 years. What a downright rip off scam!
To add insult to injury, because I had stated to the new company my entitlement as 7 years at the outset, because I had no renewal to work from, ( that is also another scam, in that they won't issue information about renewals until 30 days prior, even if requested, so you can't search the markets for too long), they wanted a further £25 off me to amend the already issued new policy to the "correct" entitlement, even though they operated their own "maximum" no claims entitlement level at 5 years. Would you believe the original document stated 5 years no claims entitlement (even though I had stated 7 in ignorance), and when the new document arrived, after the £25 cost to rectify my mistake - it also stated 5 years no claims entitlement! An exact duplicate!
The start of the third year of ownership of the truck (September 2011), resulted in an insurance renewal quote at a 50% annual increase from my present insurer (new customers only introductory offer no longer applies)! The cheapest commercial renewal came through, from the comparison websites at a staggering £1150, fully comprehensive, for a 57 year old driver, with no convictions, no claims, and 40 years experience. This is almost a 100% increase on the 2009 price I paid for commercial vehicle insurance. It has now been sold, and has been replaced with a 20 year old car that has come in at £250 a year to insure, including breakdown recovery. The scams described above still remain in the industry though. I am now with my latest "new" insurance company with a 6 year no claims entitlement stated on my schedule document after 40 years claim free driving, and 1 year's less entitlement on my current documents than stated on the 2002 documents. B***OCKS! At least I am back to what is I suppose, a reasonable price. The cost to buy my current car including its insurance equates to the price I would have paid just to insure the truck for a year. It just needs to be reliable for a year and I will have beaten the system. If I manage a second year, I will have experienced very cheap motoring. Hopefully, the care I put into selecting it will pay off in this respect.
It is high time the motor insurance industry was the subject of investigation into shady practices. For a start, why can't "no claims discounts" be shown as percentages, not years. (Note, they are usually advertised as percentages, but always noted in years on their documents). And why do we have to change insurer every year just to benefit from the "new customers only introductory offer", taking with us whatever no claims allowance, in years, that our previous company's policy dictated. Does loyalty to a safe driver mean nothing any more? I know there is a cost to every driver for the irresponsible actions of a few, but this takes things too far, and is nothing more than a rip off.
It is enough to make you want to give up motoring and go boating! :-)