This time last year, I was planning on going to a friend’s wedding over in Madeira, and bought some travel insurance along the way.
Obviously it didn’t work out, because of Covid and the like, and the insurance didn’t get used for any other trips, for similar reasons. Thankfully, I’d had a good deal on it, so wasn’t too upset. Them’s the breaks, and all that.
This week, I got the renewal letter from the company, telling me what I’d pay this year.
Now OK, there’s been a lot going on in the world this year, and I assume insurance has taken a kicking (although I wouldn’t have thought it was a huge one, in comparison to travel companies, credit cards and the like) but still, the increase from last year to this is a 50% rise. And bear in mind, there’s no way I’d be using it ’til at least May/June, so it would cost me more to able to use it for less time.
Needless to say, they’ve been told to fuck off. I’ll buy travel insurance again as and when I need it – but that’s still not going to be any time soon.
The world of Car Insurance is very, very strange. I truly don’t understand how it all works.
My car insurance is due for renewal in October, so I recently received the renewal gubbins from my current insurer. They’ve put my insurance up by £60 for the year. Bear in mind, I’ve not even spoken to them all year, let alone made a claim, and I’ve now got another year’s no claims discount as well. And yet it’s gone up.
So I shopped around, doing the usual comparison website thing (Meerkats rather than opera singers) and got one that’s actually £120 cheaper than what I was being offered by the current insurer – and with slightly better cover.
Brilliant, I’ll sign up and do that. Job done. And this is where it all gets weird(er)
My new insurer is actually one I used a couple of years ago. So when I log in to their ‘self-service portal’ to see my new policy, all I can see is the details of the old one. Fuck sake. (It looks like the policy is actually tied to a combination of my username and password – so I can change password, and now view the new details instead – but I didn’t know that at the time)
So first things first, I call my current insurer to tell them I won’t be renewing with them. It’s the usual automatic phone gubbins, and gives the name of the insurance provider – let’s call them ABC Insurers, for the sake of argument. I give the correct information, go through, tell them I won’t be renewing, explain why, and it’s as easy as that.
Then I call the new insurers. Who are also using ABC Insurers. So I go through the correct information for the new insurance, get things sorted, get the documents emailed to me, and it’s as easy as that.
But it’s weird – I’ve used two different companies (well, two different front-ends) and given them the same information (obviously) but one faction is offering me a significantly better deal than both the one I’m on, and the renewal quote from the one I’m on. But they’re both the same company underneath!
How the fuck does that make sense? Offering the same person two completely different prices (and slightly different packages/benefits) Why not allow my current insurer to offer the same price as my new one? It’s all just a bit bizarre.
Somehow, it’s already nearly a year since I got the latest car. Which, of course, means it’s also time for my insurance renewal to come through.
As usual, the current company have massively taken the piss, nearly doubling my premium this time round. For some reason, rather than having a number of different under-writers, they’ve recently decided to stick with just the one – and that one happens to be nothing short of extortionate.
Still, that’s fine, they can fuck off.
As a result, I’ve already sorted out a new policy with a different company. It’s got all the cover and options I wanted, and is cheaper than what I’ve paid this year, let alone the ridiculous renewal price.
I truly don’t understand the business model of the insurance industry, this attitude of “keep on charging more ’til people leave”. Surely if someone’s been with a company for [x] years, and established a record of being safe, not claiming etc., then it should be easier/cheaper/better to keep them, rather than letting them sod off somewhere else?
I suppose it might be the law of diminshing returns, an expectation the customers will claim eventually. Using that it kind-of makes sense, if all the customers are paying up, and if we can get rid of them before they cost us, then we’ve made money out of it, and it’s cost “some other company”.
But it all seems pretty flawed to me, and pretty bloody dumb. Hey ho. Their loss, not mine.
So far, it’s felt like a very long – and really quite unproductive – week in many ways.
I was away over the weekend, and while driving back on Sunday, the car died on me near Leeds. No power-steering, idiot-lights galore – and all while travelling at 80-ish in the outside lane of the M1. That definitely focusses the mind somewhat.
I got over to the hard shoulder immediately, and stopped. Called my insurance company – who also do the recovery part – and got it organised. I knew it was 99.9% likely to need recovery, so they sorted it out and that all went really smoothly. They’d predicted up to 90 minutes before the recovery got there, and they turned up within half an hour.
Apparently, I got lucky – my recovery part includes “Get me home”, rather than the more standard “nearest garage, and then pay through the nose for anything else” policy. So I got one truck that took me back to Milton Keynes in one go (no Relay crap either, thankfully) and dropped the car off at the Saab garage locally, and then I got a cab home. Not cheap, but could’ve been so much worse. According to the recovery driver, if it’d been the normal policy, it would’ve cost me around £500 to get the car home… I broke down at 1.30, and was back in Milton Keynes at 6.00, and home by 7.00. Not at all bad, all things considered.
While I was waiting to be picked up, I’d also organised a replacement hire car – which also reminds me yet again how great smartphones and apps can be, sat by the side of a motorway booking a hire car – that I collected on Monday before heading off to Chesham to be on-site again. All fine. Hassle-filled, but fine.
After doing a bundle of driving and so on, I got home about 9pm, and parked up.
And on the Tuesday, by 7am the battery was completely flat and the hire car wouldn’t start at all. Cue a three-hour farce with the AA not sending anyone when they said they would, and making an utter bollock of the entire process. Not helped by using the hire-firm as an intermediary (although they handled it fine, it was just the AA being useless) but still. I finally got sorted at mid-day.
So yes, it took the AA three hours to find a known address and fix the problem (Epically flat battery, although we don’t yet know why – apparently Fiat couldn’t find any issues with it) where it only took four-and-a-half for another company to find me on a motorway, and drive 180-ish miles. Safe to say, I won’t be putting any money in the AA’s direction any time soon.
Along the way, the Saab was fixed on the Monday – the power-steering belt, which also powers a number of other bits, had snapped, and it was just that part which required replacement. So, a bill of £85 all-in, including VAT, labour and parts. Could’ve been *so* much worse…
The rest of the week has just been busy and ridiculous, and doesn’t really feel like it’s stopped at all. With luck it’ll ease up now for the weekend – but then, this is me, so what’re the chances? Low-to-sod-all , I’d say…
F0llowing on from Friday’s car issues, it’s been a semi-eventful weekend.
When I got home on Friday, my first job was sorting out a hire car for the coming week (possibly two) as I’m all over the place. That got sorted relatively easily – one place was closed, and I’d have had to call their Glasgow office to try and find out what was available (a ridiculous state of affairs, and frankly, fuck that) and the second one, while closed, enabled me to book a car to be collected the following morning, in a dead easy process.
And then it was a small case of hunting for the necessary identity documents. Driving licence (and the new necessary code from DVLA for the online driving record – needed since the paper part of the licence is now outdated) was OK, as was passport – but finding documents to prove address were somewhat more difficult, as I now do all my bills online, so rarely get anything “official” through the post. (As an aside, I wonder how that will change things over the next couple of years, as more and more paper-based stuff is removed/reduced/made into a cost) I did find the necessary bits in the end, but it’s getting to be more hassle than it should be.
Collecting the car (a new Vauxhall Insignia, which is not at all bad, as Vauxhall’s go) was an absolute doddle. The place is quite new, but was really a case of walk in, do the paperwork, check the car, bugger off. All told it was less than 30 minutes – fairly impressive. Because I’d used the same company before (when the Mondeo died on me) I had a lot less ID-checking to do – which seemed odd, as that was two-and-a-half years ago, and lots could’ve changed since then – but it was a nicely painless experience all round.
I’ve plonked about with it a fair bit over the weekend, and yeah, not bad at all.
I’ve also been looking at replacement vehicles – I suspect the Saab has blown up significantly, and will be more to repair than it’s worth, so I’m sounding out alternatives – and there’s a couple I’m going to check out this week, once I know more about the state of the Saab.
And then we come to getting the Saab to the garage. I’d thought a lot about this, and decided that the best plan would be to drive it (slowly, and along backroads) to the garage on Sunday, avoiding all the heavy traffic and any potential issues. If it died, well, I’ve got recovery as part of my car insurance. I left it ’til later in the Sunday, rather than trying to do it while people were still going shopping and so on. I did have my doubts about the plan – but figured it was infinitely better than trying to do it on Monday evening, let alone Tuesday morning!
Anyway, set off lateish on Sunday afternoon (about 5.30) and it was all fairly successful. I got most of the way fine, but then it did die out properly, so I had to do the recovery thing. In fairness, even that ended up going really smoothly – the recovery vehicle turned up within half an hour, and took me to drop the car off at the garage. (I was actually really lucky, because one thing I hadn’t taken into consideration was the fact it was the Grand Prix at Silverstone, so traffic and breakdowns were greatly increased later on!)
Then it was just a case of dropping off the keys, and getting a cab home – all told, I was home by 8pm, which wasn’t bad, when everything was taken into consideration.
Last week, when I was driving over for the interview in Cambridge, the windscreen got hit by a stone thrown up by the car in front. It chipped the windscreen pretty seriously, although it didn’t crack or break. It’s been annoying me since – it was right in my viewline – but I didn’t have a chance to get it repaired ’til today, due to doing lots more driving and commuting to office etc.
Getting hit by a stone like that is quite a sobering experience – or at least it is if you think about it a bit. You realise just how piss-poor your reaction time truly is. OK, it’s a closing speed of 140mph-ish (stone coming towards me propelled (I assume) at 70mph-ish from a vehicle travelling at that speed, towards a car travelling towards it at 70mph) but still, you see a blink of something coming towards you – indeed, in this case directly at you – and then the impact. You haven’t even had time to flinch. I assume that when it’s bigger items (you know, a car coming towards you, for example) you’ve had a bit more warning, a bit more time to prepare, but I don’t know. Honestly, I hope I never find out.
Anyway, this glass repair had to be organised through the insurance company this time, rather than the age-old technique of finding a company doing it in supermarket carparks. (It turns out that this used to be fine, but then became a nightmare of companies doing the same, invoicing insurance companies, and generally just all going to cock. Now the industry has entered the world of approved/preferred suppliers, organised through third parties etc. etc.) So all arranged for today.
They’ve tried to just repair the chip, but that hasn’t taken, for whatever reason. (Personally I think Saab glass has some weird coating on it that doesn’t like rubber suction cups. I know my SatNav has always had problems sticking to the glass, and on this occasion the equipment in use with suction cups was also failing to stick.)
So now I’m getting a full replacement windscreen. Bit of a pain in the tits, but at the same time I know there were other (far smaller) chips, so at least with a new screen it’s clean of issues and damage. I suspect it’ll be weird for a couple of days, having a completely clean screen. It won’t last…
This morning, I got three letters from CPP, the
muppets company dealing with the claim for my knackered iPhone.
All three are dated the same day – 27th June! Nearly two weeks to get sent out – and all ‘signed’ by the same person. Combined, they make for a brilliant record of how CPP handle things. Well, it’s hilarious if you’re not receiving them.
- Letter 1 – “We need more information – proof of purchase, and a more detailed description of what happened”
- Letter 2 – “We need a more detailed description of what happened” – guess this means they’ve received the proof of purchase ?
- Letter 3 – “Claim denied”. So they’ve received a more detailed description? Or did the one in the initial phone call suddenly suffice?
And bear in mind, this is all two weeks ago – it’s already been appealed, and complained about.
I wonder what excuse they’ll use for these letters, and the fact it’s taken two weeks to receive them…