FEARGAL Sharkey might have had it easier if he’d stopped searching for hearts. A good driver, these days, is relatively easy to find.
Especially if you work in the murky world of motoring insurance – you just look at your records and charge the ones who total a Peugeot 208 every other year and have nine points on their licence a bit more than the ones who don’t, surely?
Equally, I’m not going to use valuable column inches of The Champion to claim I’m exceptionally gifted behind the wheel – certainly, I’m not particularly well versed in lift-off oversteer and the dark arts of getting the perfect racing lines – but I’m sufficiently into premature middle age to have earned a polite nod from the powers-that-be.
During the week I drive a boring Japanese saloon, and on Sundays take an old classic car out for a couple of hours. I’ve passed an advanced driving test. Oh, and although I’ll admit that I spun a small sports car on a Cumbrian switchback years ago, I’ve since racked up ten years of protected No Claims Bonus.
So obviously, when the renewal letter landed the other day, the insurers wanted to charge me £100 more. Exactly the same car, the same mileage, the same address and the same me behind the wheel – in fact, the only thing that’d changed is the amount of No Claims Bonus.
A quick check online proved that, no, some freak statistical anomaly hadn’t turned me into a cross between Richard Hammond and Evel Knievel; in fact, the going rate across insurers from across the UK was that I should, logically, be paying a bit less than the heady, pre-COVID days of driving back in 2019. Including a quote, weirdly, from the very insurer who’d wanted to charge me so much extra in the first place.
A few minutes of badly recorded Vivaldi later – thanks for holding, your call IS important to us – and I put it to the insurer. Amazingly, they agreed that being charged £100 more is outrageous and agreed to lower the renewal quote. By £20. At which point, after five years of sticking with them, we politely agreed to go our separate ways, I got some cheaper cover elsewhere, and they lost the business.
This sorry story is being repeated in insurance letters right across the land, but what really irritates me is the way it’s set up to automatically renew unless you challenge it, because there must be a fair chunk of drivers who are either too busy, too forgetful or – sorry, anyone who falls into this category – a bit too vacant between the ears to do so.
It’s easier than ever before to shop around for car insurance, but I still think the current system is designed to prey on the stupid and the vulnerable.
So if you want cheaper car insurance, don’t just accept the first quote they give you. Oh, and it probably helps not to total a Peugeot 208 every other year and not to have nine points on your licence, come to think of it…
David Simister is the editor of Classic Car Weekly