Tuesday, February 12, 2013
My classic car insurance nightmare
I've written before about the mental mindfield that is insuring your motor. I moaned about how a company refused to accept two claim-free policies held consecutively over 24 months as being a legit two years' no claims. I've pondered why it is premiums only ever seem to go up, and I've reported that even the Government have probed the murky workings of this strange industry.
So I wasn't surprised when I discovered the renewal quote for the classic car policy covering my MGB GT had gone up. Again.
Even though I'd been tootling to and from car shows for the best part of two years without so much as a scratch the cost of a year's cover had gone up by £30 from last year, which was itself £30 more than the year before that. I know full well that classic policies don't accrue a No Claims Bonus in the same way as your run-of-the-mill policy would - that's part of the reason why it's so much cheaper - and £200 a year's hardly a deal breaker, but in the interests of getting even a slightly better deal I thought I'd do a bit of shopping around.
First call was to my insurer's chief rival, who said they were sure they'd be able to find me a better deal and immediately fired off the questionnaire you always get when phoning for cover. A quick blast of Fleetwood Mac after being put on hold later and they had the answer; it was £150 dearer. Not surprisingly, I politely declined.
But here's the interesting bit - rather than sound apologetic and let me get on with my Saturday afternoon, they put me through to another insurance company, who gave me the standard insurance questionnaire a second time, and when they couldn't find me a quote, they put me through to another insurance company. It was like a bizarre game of Pass The Parcel, where someone racking up a huge phone bill has to be passed around before the music - Fleetwood Mac, which seems to be the soft rock band of choice for people putting you on hold - stopped playing.
After 35 minutes on the phone, I was getting just a little bit annoyed. So you can imagine how I felt when insurance salesman number four offered me "a competitive quote" of just £520. I'll say that again - a "competitive" quote of just £320 more than I'd started with. I was furious, particularly when I pointed to him out my renewal quote was less than half the price of what he was offering.
"Is it really?," he replied sarcastically.
Don't get me wrong. I've nothing against the principle of car insurance - it's a legal requirement and you can, after all, never be too careful - but the way the industry operates makes little to no sense. These are the same people who refused to acknowledge my better half's six years of faultless driving because it wasn't British enough, and the same ones who upped the price of covering a mate's souped-up Mini from £600 to an eye-watering four grand because they'd changed their underwriter. They're the same people who once asked another pal for £8,500 to insure a Ford Capri worth less than £500 when he bought it, so it shouldn't really surprise me that, in their eyes at least, a £520 quote is "competitive" to someone who's been offered exactly the same thing for £200.
I couldn't help but conclude the UK's car insurance industry isn't a group of people or companies but just a single mysterious machine, bereft of common sense. It made no difference to them that I'm a member of the Institute of Advanced Motorists, have four years of No Claims Bonus on my everyday motor and only ever use the MGB for smoking to shows and back. As far as they were concerned I was a journalist (one of the highest risk professions there is), a twentysomething (one of the most dangerous ages to be) and a male (which used to mean I was the most dangerous gender, until a European court ruling forced them to think otherwise).
It finally came to a head last night, when yet another insurance company rang me up, didn't even give me enough time to tell them I was in work and would they mind calling me later on, and immediately put me on hold for another helping of Fleetwood Mac's finest.
I hung up.
Incidentally I'm a huge fan of Fleetwood Mac - Rumours is one of my favourite albums. I just resent the car insurance world using Don't Stop and Dreams as their phone holding tunes of choice...