Thursday, 6 February 2014

Prime time !

Reading earlier the reported prediction from LV= that car insurance premia will soon rise, even after Grayling has kicked the stuffing out of the personal injury claims industry and slashed costs for his insurer chums, reminded me of another display of efficiency and integrity I enjoyed last month.

It’s home insurance renewal time and I noticed that my current provider is now inviting a premium that adds nearly 50% to the figure at which I signed up with them three years ago, despite having had no claims and no significant change in circumstances. Odd, huh?

So, I head for the comparison websites and labour through the task of completing all the detail required by three of the top names. Amidst the results I am looking for a competitive price from a provider I am reasonably sure will not go bust. There are plenty of them offering the same cover for far less than I am invited to pay by my current insurer - and quite a few quoting less than I paid three years ago.

All good so far and one of the offers I think I will check out is from Admiral in Cardiff. I’m inclined to forgive them the ridiculous adverts on Dave that so annoy me. At least they are in a position to advertise hour upon hour, night after night.

Apparently I have to telephone them. That’s disappointing when I appear to have in front of me a “Quote” – “Platinum quote”, in fact - based on the detailed information that I have entered. Nevertheless...

My first telephone conversation is with a helpful young chap called Lee. I didn’t think it too surprising that he would want to check a few further details.

After no less than 40 minutes on the telephone, going through exactly the same stuff that I had entered on the website, I asked him how much longer it’s going to take. He thought about 10 minutes. I explained that I had never expected to have to spend so long on the telephone after all the time I had spent on the internet the day before and I had an appointment to go to.

No problem. Lee would ring me back the following day. We agreed a time. In my rush, I didn’t get a surname to accompany my "quote" reference.

When, towards the end of the following day, I hadn’t heard from Lee I telephoned Admiral again. Chloe, another chirpy young lady, couldn’t begin to tell me which “Lee” I might have spoken to yesterday because they have so many. Maybe she could help…

Sadly, she also couldn’t begin to tell me where we had got to within the proposal because there was apparently no record of anything I had talked to Lee about for nearly three quarters of an hour the previous day.

Understanding my reluctance to waste another 40 minutes of my life on the telephone, Chloe took me through all the detail again as quickly as she could and then told me that one area of cover required for portable items slightly exceeded normal criteria and she would need to refer to underwriters for approval. She would ring me back. Hmm – heard that one before somewhere..

I am guessing that after nearly a month, neither she nor Lee will be ringing back. I resolved in the meantime to have a look at some of the other prices obtained during my research the weekend before.

Following the link to the site of another reputable provider quoting slightly more, I was able to read and approve that company’s bespoke proposal form already populated with virtually all the information I had entered on the comparison website. One or two assumptions needed correcting but otherwise it was as I had already indicated – no more, no less. 

At the end of that process I had an emailed quotation (a real one) good for a month for me to accept at any time, simply by clicking and paying by my chosen method. No more telephone calls. The cover is as I requested, not limited or subject to any further enquiries.

During the long conversations with the people at Admiral I was asked which site I had used to generate my “quote” from them. In this particular case it was Compare the Market. 

I was told twice that the problem with that particular site is that they do not pass on as much information to insurers as the others and so they have to ask all these further questions. I was of course also warned that at the end of the process they might ‘quote’ me a higher price.

I never got to the end so can’t actually confirm what seems to me was inevitable.

What I did do was to look back and check the online proposal of which I saved my own static copy to satisfy myself that it had all the information that I was asked for on the telephone, including the detail within the category that reportedly exceeded criteria. All of this had been used to generate a “quote” which was of course the main reason why I then went on to contact that particular provider.

So, the bottom line appears to be that I am lured in by a price that they say that they are then going to vary for no obvious good reason and in the meantime the Meerkats get blamed – it seems unfairly. They can’t even be bothered to call me back and try to complete the dubious exercise.

I’m not sure about the adverts...... but the service is rubbish

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