Insurance, far from a premium experience

By Andy Russell - Archant Anglia motoring editor -

My motoring year never starts off as a happy one because, after all the expense of Christmas, a few days into January it is the dreaded insurance renewal time.

I say ‘dreaded’ because it is not only time to renew the policy on mine and my wife’s car but, having had a multi-car policy in the past, our two sons also have to stump up for their new policies at the same time.

So, with two young male drivers in the family, when the renewal reminders come it is always a good time to sit down just in case you feel faint when you see the prices.

Little wonder so many young drivers have the misguided belief that insurance is optional.

Rather naively, I can cast my mind back 30-odd years to when I was their age – yes boys I was young once – and I actually quite looked forward to paying for my next year’s insurance if only to see how much it had come down – and it was usually quite a considerable chunk – as my no claims discount built up nicely.

It was a sort of coming of age thing that showed you were considered to be reasonably responsible for most of the time, but especially when you were driving.

Over the course of a few years, from late teens to early 20s, if you were careful and did not have a claim you could expect your insurance premium to halve in a few years.

That doesn’t seem to happen any more. This year the cover for my wife and I went up a few quid – about the same amount as my 22-year-old younger son’s premium came down despite him having another year’s no claims discount which had effectively wiped out his annual increase.

But my elder son, who is now 24, saw his policy go up by almost £500 – around a 50% increase – despite another blemish-free year of driving. It was purely down to his postcode in the North-West city where he lives but it is so annoying that careful drivers are also penalised for others’ mistakes. Just over three years ago his car was written off by an elderly driver who hit him while he was stationary at a zebra crossing. The other driver’s insurance paid out but my son’s insurance went up considerably the following year. When we queried it we were told by the insurer that, in their experience, when a driver had a non-fault claim they often then had an accident which was their fault within a year. Yes, it baffled me too but at least the insurance company recoups its payout quicker! Surely you should only be penalised if you have a ‘blame claim’ rather than for a potential accident that, as it is, has still not happened thankfully!

Fortunately this year we managed to get £300 off his premium by switching to another reputable insurance company which does multi-car policies for families rather than having to have all the cars at the same address… and a lot of haggling by my wife.

The lesson is not to accept your insurance renewal price and be prepared to spend an hour on the phone or online. My younger son and my wife and I ended up paying a few quid more but gained personal injury cover, which was also discounted, and added an extra named driver to each of our policies while elder son’s bill came down around £300.

Our original renewals price for the three policies totalled £2269 but we got it down to £2028 – a saving of £241. That’s a little bit over the annual 10% no claims discount I used to get when I was their age!

Twitter @andyrussellauto

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