Why insurance is something of a cover up

Car insurance also puts a big dent in your wallet.

Car insurance also puts a big dent in your wallet. - Credit: file

I never thought I would say this but I'm kind of glad to be growing old disgracefully and not be in the prime of my youth any more – although prime could be a bit of an exaggeration!

OK, I'd like to have a bit more energy, be able to work tirelessly in the garden and around the house and enjoy a late boozy night without paying the price for the following three days.

But I'm grateful to be of that generation where it was almost accepted you could afford to buy and house and get a mortgage and your car was worth more than it cost to insure.

As parents of two grown-up sons – and that means 'grown-up' insurance premiums – my wife and I do everything we can to help them.

So we got one of these multi-car policies but it means all three premiums now fall at the same time.

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So when the renewals come it is a good time to sit down in case you feel faint when you see the prices.

Little wonder some young drivers have the misguided belief that insurance is optional.

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Rather naively, I can cast my mind back 30-odd years to when I was their age – yes, I was young once – and I actually quite looked forward to paying my next year's insurance if only to see how much it had come down. And it was usually quite a considerable chunk as my no claims discount built up nicely.

It was a sort of coming of age thing that showed you were considered to be reasonably responsible for most of the time, but particularly when you were driving.

Over the course of a few years, from late teens to early 20s, if you were careful and did not have a claim you could expect your insurance premium to halve in a few years.

That doesn't seem to happen any more. This year the cover for my wife and I went up a few quid – about the same amount as my 22-year-old younger son's premium came down despite him having another year's no claims discount so that effectively wiped out his annual increase.

But my elder son, who is now 24, saw his policy go up by almost £500 – around a 50% increase – despite another blemish-free year of driving. It was purely down to his postcode in the city in the north-west of England where he lives but it is also annoying that careful drivers have to be penalised for others' mistakes.

Just over three years ago his car was written off by an elderly driver who hit him while he was stationary at a zebra crossing. The other driver's insurance paid out but my son's insurance went up considerably the following year. When we queried that his insurance company said that, in its experience, when a driver had a non-fault claim they often then had an accident which was their fault within a year. Yes, it baffled me too but at least the insurance company recoups its payout quicker! Surely you should only be penalised if you have a 'blame claim' rather than for a potential accident that, as it is, has still not happened thankfully!

Fortunately this year we managed to get £300 off his premium by switching to another reputable insurance company which does multi-car policies for families rather than having to have all the cars at the same address… and a lot of haggling by my wife.

The lesson is not to automatically accept your insurance renewal price and be prepared to spend some time on the phone where, in our experience, the offers can outweight the online deals.

My younger son and my wife and I ended up paying a few quid more but gained personal injury cover, which was also discounted, and added an extra named driver to each of our policies while elder son's bill came down around £300.

Our original renewals price for the three policies totalled £2,269 but we got it down to £2,028 – a saving of £241.

That's a little more than the annual 10% no claims discount I used to get when I was their age. Result!

Twitter @andyrussellauto

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