Posts Tagged ‘insurance’
One avid Bitterwallet reader’s girlfriend (yes, there are BW readers who aren’t crushingly lonely) received a letter from those nice folks at Churchill Car Insurance (oh yes), and on the face of it, it seemed they’d send a boring blank letter.
However, you could argue that Churchill just wanted to acknowledge a customer’s existence while telling them everything they needed to know about car insurance, ie, absolutely nothing.
Data obtained under a Freedom of Information request showed a 79% increase in compensation claims in the last financial year from people who have had their vehicles borked by potholes. Cyclists will be rolling their eyes at the news too, as Britain’s cycle lanes are like Screwball Scramble.
Britannia Rescue, which conducted the research, said potholes take up a total area of 295 square miles on these shores – that’s twice the size of the Isle of Wight.
With that, nearly 1 in 10 people have suffered car damage as a result of our dreadful roads in the past 12 months, and the company added other stats:
- Local authorities have paid out £2.5m in compensation to motorists in the past financial year.
- UK councils have received 32,600 compensation claims over the same period – a 79% increase over the previous year.
- The most common problems are tyre damage (43%), damaged suspension (34%) and damaged wheel rims (26%).
Britannia Rescue said: “Short-term fixes are often chosen over longer term solutions, with close to a quarter of councils admitting they usually temporarily fix potholes rather than resurface the area. The average cost of repairing a pothole is around £50, meaning the amount paid out by councils in compensation could have been used to repair more than 50,000 potholes.”
The company’s managing director, Peter Horton, said: “Britain’s pothole epidemic has resulted from years of under-investment … we now have around 200,000 potholes on UK roads. Motorists should protect themselves and their vehicles by reducing their speed on potholed roads, and also reporting damaged roads to their local council.”
The recently reformed So Solid Crew are clearly short of a few bob, hence being ‘recently reformed’. And, to further the point, SSC’s Romeo has re-recorded ’21 Seconds’ for a commercial, flogging insurance with a robot.
Here’s the video.
“It was a strange thing to do as I’m so used to performing the normal verses,” Romeo told Digital Spy. “I had fun with it though, that was the main thing. We got to chill with Brian the Robot as well. I was actually fascinated by the thing. I’ve never actually seen a robot in my life! I wanted to play with the controls and stuff but they wouldn’t let me. I’d probably crash it or something.”
“It’s more accessible for teenagers to buy cars these days,” Romeo continued and, without any hint of irony, added: “But whether they can afford to actually insure the car is another thing. That’s what we’re trying to raise awareness of.”
7 million customers could be due up to £300 compensation each for the scandalous mis-selling of credit card insurance cover by Britain’s biggest banks. 13 banks have signed up to the compensation scheme, which amounts to £1.3bn.
The banks referred customers to insurance company CPP, which sold them pointless policies – like ID theft cover – that the city regulator says aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. The big banks – Santander, Barclays, RBS, HSBC, Tesco and MBNA – managed to co-erce 4.4 million suckers into buying the ID protection policy, which was already covered in the terms of conditions of the credit card.
Customers who took out the cover, dating as far back as 2000, will be entitled to the amount they paid for their policy since January 14 2005, plus 8% interest on any sum they owe.
Barclays are the worst culprit, which is a bit embarrassing for its new chief exec Anthony Jenkins, who appears to have merrily stood by in his previous role as CEO of Barclaycard and let it all happen.
As for CPP, they’ve already been fined £10.5 million by the Financial Conduct Authority, and this latest bout of compensation could put it out of business.
FCA’s chief exec Martin Wheatley said: ‘We believe this will be a good outcome for customers who may have been mis-sold the card and identity protection policies. Subject to CPP’s customers approving the scheme, these policy holders will be able to claim a full refund of premiums with interest.’
HA. HA. HA.
Many things cause car crashes – stupidity, texting, not paying attention, – but it would appear that the worst offender of all is…flip flops.
Yes, not only are flip flops are vile, but they’ve been proved to reduce braking times, and could be responsible for over 1.4 million accidents in the UK alone. In a poll carried out by Sheila’s Wheels, 1 in 3 people said they had driven wearing flip flops, and 27% of drivers admitted they’d got their foot caught under pedals or had near misses as a result.
More than half the 1055 motorists who took part in the survey also said they’d like to see tougher guidelines about the kind of footwear that’s suitable to drive in. And the worst driving shoes were (in order of danger): Flip flops, bare feet, wedge heels, espadrilles and sandals.
Of course, some surveys are dodgier than others, and guess what? Sheila’s Wheels have developed a special shoe cover with extra foot support which you can keep in your glove compartment and attach to the bottom of your flip flop before you drive. They’re calling it ‘the ultimate summer car accessory.’
Hmmm. How about (as it’s nearly autumn, anyway), you just bin your stinky £3 Asda flip flops and wear another pair of shoes that don’t cause you to mow down pedestrians and die?
Just a thought.
(Wealthy) people always say that you should have at least three months income saved in an easily accessible place to cover your backside in case you suddenly lose your income. In the real world, most people do not necessarily have the means to build up that level of savings. But how long could you last if your income disappeared overnight owing to illness, injury or redundancy?
A new calculator tool has been launched which helps you calculate just that, your own personal “deadline to the breadline”. Of course, as there is an insurance company behind it, they are obviously trying to peddle accident, illness or redundancy and life cover. However, their research does show that the average breadline deadline is just 18 days. Scary stuff.
The online calculator can be found here and asks you how much you spend every month, your savings and assumes you lose your income owing to ill health, and will be entitled to State Benefits such as incapacity benefit or employment support allowance (dole) in full once your income stops. Remember though that full and immediate entitlement relies on a minimum level of national insurance contributions- if you normally work and suddenly find yourself out of work this is a fair assumption; if your work history is patchy at best, you may only be entitled to income-dependent benefits which may be lower. You can also input other receipts such as child benefit, insurance policies, work-related benefits or non-earned income.
The calculator then gives you your result, which is presumably designed to terrify you into spending on a new protection policy. But even if you aren’t in the market for insurance, the calculator might help you think about what you would do in that situation, and what protection you may already have.
While many of us can’t afford to put money aside, if you can do so, a small savings pot would go a long way if income was no longer coming in. Although bank deposit rates are tragic at the moment, saving in a tax free cash ISA, even at a low rate, would protect any pitiful interest from the taxman. They say you don’t miss what you don’t have, so directing small income amounts like child benefit to be paid straight into a savings account could save £1,000 a year for one child.
You many already have life insurance that pays out in case of your untimely death. If you have a mortgage, some mortgage companies require an insurance policy to run for the mortgage term to ensure that your mortgage would be paid off. Additionally, many employers offer life cover to their employees as standard, or if not, if you are a member of a company pension scheme, there is normally a life insurance element included there too. Check your employment or pension documents.
Finally, critical illness policies are expensive, but many pay out on diagnosis of a serious illness, not just on terminal cases. If you are diagnosed with a treatable illness, like breast cancer, you could be comfortably off afterwards, while enjoying a normal life health-wise. Alternatively, if it would be important for you to be able to do that bucket list before you die, a critical illness policy, rather than a life insurance policy payable on death, would allow you the freedom to do this.
The FCA said that the insurer’s “aggressive sales strategy” helped them to pocket an extra £92.9m from customers by selling optional monthly extras. However, Swinton didn’t tell customers that the extra cover was optional.
Tracey McDermott, director of enforcement and financial crime at the FCA, said Swinton failed its customers. “When selling monthly add-on policies, Swinton did not place the consumer at the heart of its business. Instead it prioritised profit.”
As such, Swinton have been forced to allocate £11.2m to repay people who were mis-sold.
Which!!!!! executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “It’s good to see the FCA handing out a hefty fine, which sends a very clear message to the insurance industry that mis-selling won’t be tolerated.”
Swinton’s chief Christophe Bardet said: “We apologise for these shortcomings. They were not compatible with the proud history of Swinton.”
Don’t know about you but we’d LOVE to sit through a lecture on ‘the proud of history of Swinton’.
Everyone knows that the best way to get a good renewal price on your insurance is to shop around. Besides the extra cashback you could earn by switching, most insurance companies will offer better deals to new victims customers than to those they have already snagged.
However, a BBC Moneybox programme back in March highlighted that the price differential can be as high as eight times the difference, with some companies refusing to offer existing customers the same deal even when challenged.
However, on Friday, the Chairman of the Commons Treasury Committee Andrew Tyrie confirmed the FCA is investigating the practice by insurers in the UK with a view to protecting the vulnerable.
While you might surmise that the idiots people who don’t bother to shop around might deserve any financial penalties they suffer, Mr Tyrie is more concerned about those who can’t, rather than those who won’t. In a nearlier open letter to the chair of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), he wrote “such practices appear to penalise long-term loyalty and are to the detriment of those less able to access price comparison resources, particularly the elderly.”
The ABI responded by saying “extreme differences” between automatic renewal prices and those charged to new customers were unusual, although “varied pricing aimed at attracting new business was to be expected.”
In a statement released on Friday, Mr Tyrie said: “The previous regulatory regime failed to protect consumers. It must do better this time around…The FCA…can do a lot to help consumers, especially vulnerable consumers,” adding “If people are given a more meaningful choice, they are less likely to be ripped off.”
He does know he’s dealing with insurance companies, right?
Everyone knows the insurance industry is the worst kind of old boys club. Well, perhaps not the worst kind. Still, the fact that financial advisers can be sunning themselves on a cruise paid for on the back of advice given 20 years ago is why the whole financial services regime is currently undergoing a ‘reform’ to make it more transparent for everyone involved, with such ‘trail commission’ payments expected to be banned from 2014.
Now, HMRC have decided to get in on the act, with a new ruling that any such commissions that are thrown back to consumers will, from April onwards, be taxable. Earlier years’ bonuses will not be taxed. The insurance industry are perturbed by this new announcement, but are trying to spread the bad news by insinuating they are merely the first step on an HMRC cashback rampage.
The payments in question are basically repeat commission paid annually on longer term insurance-type investments. If you purchased the product with the help of a financial adviser, you can rest assured that he has been enjoying the benefit of the annual charge-back ever since you took it out. However, if you did not have an adviser, or in certain other circumstances, the investment product provider or broker will get the bung instead. Such firms are under no obligation to show you a penny of this free commission, but some do, notably Hargreaves Lansdowne who repay 16% of any commission received to its investors as a ‘bonus’. It is this cash payment returned to customers, either by way of an account credit or set off against management fees that HMRC have now ruled as chargeable. As far as they are concerned, it is an income generated by your investment, so unless it’s in a tax-free wrapper like a Stocks ISA or a SIPP, it’s fair game.
Hargreaves Lansdown, who is the largest bonus re-bunger, is understandably unimpressed. “It seems the Government is now seeking to tax small savers and investors. This is effectively a second tax on their income,” grumbled chief executive Ian Gorham.
However, he didn’t stop there, complaining to the Telegraph that it wasn’t just sour grapes, he was merely concerned that “the government may have set a precedent in taxing such loyalty schemes and savvy shoppers could well be next with Multi-buys, cashback credit cards and cashback websites all possible targets in the future.”
So should we all be worried about our clubcard balances? Is the taxman going to be making honey out of your Nectar card? Should you start declaring your Quidco and TopCashback earnings on your tax return? Apparently not. HMRC are reported to have dismissed these claims as “complete rubbish”, and the taxing of additional income on an investment product (i.e. designed to make the holder money) does seem to be entirely different from earning 20p from buying a kettle at Argos.
Still, you can never say never with HMRC, and perhaps the good folks at Hargreaves Lansdown have just given them a great idea for next year’s Budget…
Those incredibly exciting people at the Transport Committee are calling for evidence to see how much whiplash is costing us all. It has been reported that whiplash claims are adding around £90 to every motor premium, so what can be done to reduce that?
Basically, they want to find out how many whiplash claims are bogus and which costs are hiked-up as a result. This will invariably mean that claimants will have to undergo an independent medical examination, which is something insurers have been calling out for.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) wants to see all whiplash claims seen by medical professionals in a bid to stem the flow of claims, after seeing whiplash cases rising by nearly a quarter in the past four years. The UK is already considered to be the ‘whiplash capital of the world’ and the figures that estimate 70% of road accident personal injury claims are for whiplash in the UK is indeed, much higher than Germany’s 47%, Spain’s 32% and France’s frankly pointless 3%.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) isn’t convinced by all this, and said that this may put off people with genuine claims. “The real issue should be about getting the right level of compensation for genuinely injured people,” said APIL President Karl Tonks.
Louise Ellman, Transport Committee chair, said: “It is vitally important for policymakers to understand the reasons for the very high cost of motor insurance, especially for young drivers, and to take steps to bring that cost down. Whiplash claims undoubtedly play a part in driving up the cost of motor insurance, but access to justice for injured people must be preserved.”
“We want to hear the arguments on these points and will publish a report in the summer about the best way forward on this difficult issue.”
Either way, chances of your premiums going down in price remain at nil.
According to statistics, one in three cars have been damaged by potholes on Britain’s dreadful roads. The cost of fixing that is around the £10bn mark.
A study has deduced that the number of potholes has gone up by nearly a third to more than 2.2 million, or, one in five of all roads. This has resulted in compensation pay-outs reaching an eye-watering £32million.
£113million was spent last year filling in the potholes and this year is worse, thanks to heavy rainfall, floods and cold-snaps. The investigation by Annual Local Authority Road Maintenance (ALARM) concludes that there’s “a crumbling road crisis of increasing concern”, signing off with a delightfully hysterical notion that this is a “ticking time-bomb”.
The report thinks it is time to “stop the rot” and for politicians to start making some money available to sort all this out, moving on from a policy of “patch and mend” in favour of a “planned, preventative maintenance programme.”
The report said: “The cost of filling the estimated 2.2 million potholes across England and Wales came to £113million, while £32million was paid out in compensation claims and the cost of staff time spent on claims amounted to over £13million. Councils have paid out 50 per cent more last year than the previous year in compensation claims from road users for damage or injury due to poor road condition.”
The AA added, in their own report, that they’ve had to double the size of the team who deals with pothole damage and that: “As spring arrives our patrols are reporting potholes appearing faster than daffodils,” and after polling their members, found that a third have rated the overall surface condition of their local roads as ‘poor, very poor or terrible.’
What do you reckon?
Aviva have published a report which, unsurprisingly, has a pop at those who like to make a claim or two. They reckon that personal claims arising from ‘compensation culture’ are adding £118 to every motor insurance premium.
So, all those people who made claims made for whiplash, have made premiums rise rapidly. Not the insurance companies themselves you understand, as they wouldn’t do such a thing, especially when they’re looking at figures that obviously include genuine claims.
Apparently, there’s also been a surge in fraudulent activity, which means that people are staging car-crashes and passengers involved in these collisions are making false claims, which is remarkable. The dedication for getting a quick-buck is almost impressive.
Aviva’s report – ‘Road to Reform: Reducing Motor Premiums by Reforming the Claims Process’ – will be launched before March and hopes to improve the PI claims system.
Dominic Clayden, claims director at Aviva said: “Our primary concerns are that injured parties receive care and compensation as quickly as possible and that all motorists benefit from a reduction in excessive costs that have built up from claims over the last few years.”
Uh oh – the Go Compare man is STILL alive, in spite of recently being shot to bits by a rocket-wielding Sue Barker. But he’s still a target for angry minor celebrities – this time it’s mediocre ‘soccer’ coach Stuart Pearce who is out to get the singing hate-figure.
If the idea of this campaign is for us all to feel sorry for him, then it isn’t working. In fact, it’s only making us hate Go Compare more. We just spent the afternoon on the phone to the insurer’s main competitors, taking out expensive cover on cars, home and fancy items, none of which actually exist, all in an attempt to drive Go Compare out of business. Try it – you’ll feel better!
Car insurance is, for the most part, dreadfully unfair. And so, Aviva are trying to give a little fairness by offering a trial with a service that tracks your driving via your smartphone. They reckon it’ll adjust your premiums.
Aviva has previous with this sort of thing, trialling black box telematics technology, but this new phone app is a lot less hassle and does the same job.
So, if you fancy letting a bit of technology monitor your driving in the name of (hopefully) cheaper insurance, policy holders can download the Aviva RateMyDrive app which will track your first 200 miles, collecting data on your acceleration, braking and cornering.
Then, you’ll get a score and that will determine your insurance premium.
Aviva have tested it on their own staff, but now they need 5,000 drivers to volunteer to help. “We need a wide range of motorists to test the proposition and help us develop the final product and customer experience before we bring it fully to market,” said Steve Treloar, Aviva’s retail director. ”We believe that by using smartphone technology in this innovative way, Aviva will be able to tailor premiums further to individual drivers – basically the premium will be for you, not people like you.”
Things are looking pretty bleak at Aviva after they reported a loss after tax of more than £680m in the first half of the year. The insurer has not been doing well for a while, accidentally firing over a thousand members of staff, handing out unbelievably awful quotes and indulging in a publicity stunt that woefully backfired.
But losing £680m in six months is something else.
Aviva are looking at a radical shake-up as it tries to get its house in order, planning to sell or close more than a quarter of its businesses in a bid to save £400m. The insurer has appointed investment banks to help them get through this like Daniel Bedingfield.
It appears that they’ll be getting rid of their US division (AmerUs) which was bought for £1.8bn in 2006 and they’ve written down £876m of goodwill with Pat Regan, Aviva’s finance chief, saying: “It’s a test of recoverability of goodwill. It’s no more than that.”
Not in preparation of trying to flog the business to someone else then?
This £681m loss is particularly spectacular if you look at the fact that, earlier in the year, Aviva made a profit of £465m. If you’re an Aviva customer, it might be time to start shopping around elsewhere.