Sunday, April 17, 2011


It's around this time every year that I brace myself for a scrotum-tightening assault on my finances. Not because I throw caution to the wind and decide to buy myself a new spring wardrobe (let's face it, I do that all year round not just seasonally), but because it's when my car insurance is up for renewal.

I won't go into my entire insurance history, but the Cliff Notes version is this:

• First car (old, slightly trampy Fiesta) + inexperienced driver = EXPENSIVE
• First car + a couple of years experience = REASONABLE
• Second car (Mini Cooper) + experience + four years no-claims bonus = EXPENSIVE
• Second car (Mini Cooper) + more experience + more no-claims bonus = REASONABLE
• Third car (Mini Cooper S - more vroom vroom) + MORE no-claims bonus = ACCEPTABLE
• Fourth car (Mini Cooper Clubman, less vroom vroom) + EVEN MORE no-claims bonus: WIN

Seriously, going from a Cooper S to a Cooper Clubman sliced something like 100-odd quid off my insurance costs, and it's more frugal at the pumps, so all in all buying Clubbie was a total financial win.

Anyway, last year I was a smidgeon distressed to find that my insurance premium had actually gone up by 100-odd quid to just above the level I had been paying for my Cooper S, which quite frankly was ridiculous. So I phoned up the insurance company, told them this, and they activated a little-known loyalty clause that dropped it back down to the previous year's level. Why they didn't just do this in the first place I do not know, but, like, WHATEVS.

And so let's fast-forward back to the present day; well, not necessarily the present day, because the following event happened on Wednesday, but you get the idea. Anyway, I get home from a delightful evening out to find a letter on my doormat: my insurance renewal documents. I tear the envelope open - which wasn't terribly difficult bearing in mind it had barely been stuck down (obviously spittle is being rationed in the fast-paced world of high-finance) - to find that…


I shit you not. They wanted over £800 for me to renew my insurance! I remember when it used to drop every year - not go up! Anyway, I was straight on a price comparison website ( if you were wondering; proof that the whole 'price the meerkat' thing did nothing except introduce the word "simples" done in a Russian accent to the nation) where I found that basically everyone would offer me cover for around £4-500.

It is around about here that I should point out that I've been with the same insurance company for 10 years, and have exclusively insured every Mini I've owned with them. I have 14+ no-claims bonus, a clean driver's licence, and have never (touch wood) been involved in an accident where I was at fault. And let's not forget Clubbie is a Cooper-spec car, which means it's peppy but hardly a Ferrari. Basically, the way I see it, I am awesome insurance customer numero uno.

So, anyway, I decided I'd give them a call about this. Rather than screaming down the phone at them like a lunatic, I decided my best approach was to play dumb, which if you've been unfortunate enough to meet me you'll appreciate as something that comes quite easily to me.

That being the case, my opening line was something like "well, I got my renewal documents and there simply *must* be a mistake because it's, like, TOTALLY DOUBLED!"

It was so convincing that the man on the end of the line, like, totally agreed with me and put me through to the customer loyalty team to "see what they could do" for me.

The answer was: NOT VERY MUCH. Basically I was put through to some bored-sounding jobsworth who gave the impression that he was doing me an immense favour by knocking it down to £790. It was at that point that I dispensed with the dumb act, told him it was ridiculous, and said there was no way in hell I'd be renewing my insurance with them. Which I feel is a great shame because this particular company have been nothing but great in the past, to the point I've even gone so far as to pay a little bit extra to them when I could've got insurance cheaper elsewhere. I won't stoop so low as to name and shame them, but if you're interested they are Mini Cover.

Any-hoo, INCENSED, I decided to have another play around on the interwebz and ended up on the website of More Th>n (yes, the '>' thing is a bit wanky, but that's how they spell it so who am I to argue), the company who Big Bro insures his car with, and who he speaks vey vey highly off. So I got a quote - a good one - and then decided that as I was at work I probably should, y'know, do some work.

Ten minutes later, though, my phone rings. I answer it and find myself talking to … well, we'll call her Debbie. Because her name was Debbie.

In contrast to the feckless jobsworth at Mini Cover, Debbie was an utter delight to speak with. She made me laugh, I made her laugh; she gave me a great quote, and then when she couldn't get it down any further threw in a personal representative thingy worth £25 that means I deal exclusively with the same person whenever I need to call them (except, I expect, if that one person is ill, on holiday, or gets another job - these are questions I will have to ask). All in all, then, Debbie was brilliant, and while I haven't accepted the cover yet, I will be calling her back at some point in the coming week to ask her out take it out.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to write a sternly-worded letter to Mini Cover explaining exactly why I'm leaving them. It'll probably go straight in the bin, but the mere act of writing it will doubtless prove extremely therapeutic.


And as I'm writing this, I come across this blog on the Autocar website where the writer discusses the very same thing I've been harping on about, even going so far as to say "…the whole system is skewed against us. I have a 28 year plus record without blemish so really I should be paying 9p. But apparently not." It's an interesting read.


CyberPete said...

Debbie does insurance huh.

I'd probably call Mini Cover at casually mention the new quote and that you are leaving them. I did this with a mobile phone company and they kept throwing things and cheaper rates at me until I caved and stayed.

Wv: CrownMe

Tim said...

WELL. I've just happened to run my details through Mini Cover's website and WHAT'S THAT? £300 cheaper?


Someone's up to some naughty tricks.

I've written a sternly-worded letter.

CyberPete said...

What's £300 between friends

Tim said...

A weekend away?

Brian said...

I had the same thing earlier this year, was quoted over £1000. Whereas my insurance was only £280 the year before. Thieving Bastards! err sorry excuse my french. So I can understand your outrage.

Tim said...

Brian - Oh, French certainly allowed - it's all a massive scam! I discovered this for certain on Sunday afternoon when I put my exact same details into Mini Cover's website and was given a quote over £300 cheaper than the one they offered me by post.


Tara said...

I'm still recovering from just paying half of my car insurance bill. I pay the other half later this year. The dollar store has become a close friend of mine when it comes to groceries.

Walter said...

It sucks balls that companies offer better deals to hook newbies than they do for their longterm customers... Glad you found a way around it. Fight the system! Stick it to the man! Etc

Tim said...

Tara - It's outrageous the prices they get away with. The insurance industry is clearly run by similar people to the banks - BASTARDS!

Walter - Shocking, isn't it? You think they'd be making efforts to hold on to the customers they have, wouldn't you? Bastards! Grrrrr!!