Posts Tagged ‘insurance’
The Age UK charity have been accused of not playing fairly, when it comes to promoting E.On deals to pensioners, when in fact, there might be cheaper alternatives.
Now, the charity are looking at further criticisms, on this occasion, for selling insurance deals that again, are not necessarily the best for the people they’re serving. Again, The Sun who made the claims about the money Age UK were getting from energy deals, have claimed that they’ve made £21.9m last year from selling insurance.
It is worth pointing out that, just like the claims about the energy deals, Age UK say that they’ve done nothing wrong concerning these insurance products.
The Sun have crunched some numbers, and they have deduced that the insurance deals promoted by the charity didn’t offer the best value. They said that a policy for a woman of 70 driving a 2005 Nissan Micra would cost £544, however, the company offering the actual insurance – Ageas – offer a cheaper deal under its Kwikfit brand, for £371.
Age UK said: ”The proceeds are passed back to the charity, raising valuable funds.”
It has been said that councils should be raising council tax by £15 a year, to pay for flood defences, which of course, were previously reduced by David Cameron. This comes as more flood warnings are issued to parts of the North West, North East and South West.
MP Liz Truss said that the proposals in Somerset, which allowed some local authorities to whack up council tax were a “very good model”, saying: “I think if you look at the structure for the Somerset Rivers Authority that now has the shadow precept so they are raising that funding locally and I think there’s also a role for that as well.”
Of course, a lot of people will think they’ve suffered enough and that the government didn’t do enough to prevent these floods from happening, so this news is going to get some collars hot. Obviously, families are being hammered by insurance companies in this time, with one report telling of a household that saw their insurance premium increasing to £9,000 from £5,000.
With storms imminent, this is more bad news to areas that have already suffered.
This comes from AA Insurance, so say that the average price of insuring a driver for a year has risen by 20%, from £520 at the end of 2014, to £625 at the end of 2015. As if driving wasn’t expensive enough.
The biggest spike in price came in the last three months, with the average quote now standing at £59, which is 10% more expensive than it was this time last Autumn.
There’s another reason it has gone up – you can say thank you to George Osborne’s ”insurance premium tax”, which was introduced in the Emergency budget last summer. The tax went from 6% to 9.5%, and is paid every time an insurance policy is bought in the UK. It adds £13 to the annual cost of running your car.
Michael Lloyd, who is the director of AA Insurance, said personal injury claims are still a huge problem for the car insurance industry. He said: ”It’s this acceptance that it’s OK to defraud insurers that has become endemic. It is stealing and it affects the premiums paid by your friends, your family and your colleagues – those that most wouldn’t dream of defrauding.”
And analysts say that car insurance is going to keep getting more expensive in 2016, but hopefully, at a slower rate. Still, ain’t that a kick in the head?
Insurers have been clamping down on false whiplash claims, and they say they’ll be passing on the savings made from them, to their customers. The Government reckon that this could see annual premiums falling by £50.
Now, hands-up if you trust insurance companies, and politicians for that matter, to make this actually happen.
Either way, officials think that somewhere in the region of £1bn a year could go back into motorists’ bank accounts, and follows the news from the Autumn Statement, which said that there’s going to be an end to the right of cash compensation for minor whiplash injuries.
Soon, we could see the upper limit for personal injury claims which will be dealt with by the small claims court raised from £1,000 to £5,000.
With whiplash claims costing the country billions a year, and adding £90 on your average motor insurance policy, this is something that does need to be looked at.
James Dalton, director of general insurance at the Association of British Insurers, said: “The Government reforms are a significant breakthrough in tackling the UK’s compensation culture and are good news for motorists. Reforms to the Small Claims Track Limit and the end to cash compensation, for low value injuries, will help to bring down unnecessary costs in the motor insurance market and honest motorists should be the beneficiaries.”
Justice Minister Lord Faulks said: “We are determined to crack down on the culture of fraud and exaggerated claims in the motor insurance industry, which means car owners are forced to pay higher premiums to cover the false claims of others.”
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have been worried that you’ve not been shopping around enough when it comes to home and car insurance, so this new rule is meant to help you make an informed decision on whether or not you should stick with the same company or not.
Christopher Woolard, director of strategy and competition at the FCA, said: “We hope the proposals encourage more people to shop around for the best product for them. It is important that insurers give their customers the information they need to do this and ensure they’re treating their customers fairly.”
This is clearly a nod to the oft-criticised auto-renewal that is popular in this sector. Obviously, auto-renewing is handy for some people, but it can also make you stay with a company when you’re perhaps not prepared to.
It has been said that auto-renewals have cost each household an average of £200 per year in needless additional premiums.
While this new rule from the FCA doesn’t stop it, it is a small step in the right direction. It is obvious that they need to do more than this though, as insurance companies aren’t to be trusted – you just watch them stick this newly required information in the small print of letters they send to customers, or bury them in confusing figures.
We need this information to be standardised, so that everyone can understand it easily. We’ll see how it all pans out.
Home insurance is one of those necessary evil type things, but sometimes getting a quote isn’t all the information you need. Our friends over at Which!!! have undertaken an investigative foray into the sneaky admin charges some insurers levy on your policy after you’ve signed on the dotted line.
Which!!! analysed the sneaky fees of 36 major insurers and found that half charge an ‘adjustment fee’ for making changes to your policy, such as updating your address. The smallest of these fees (where charged) was £8.48 with Aviva and went up to £25 with Castle Cover and Rias.
Which!!! gave each insurer marks out of 100, and two companies actually got full marks- both Barclays and Lloyds Banking Group don’t charge any fees and also pay generous switching fees – an amount a provider pays towards any charges you face for switching to it before your current policy ends- and neither levy an interest charge for paying by monthly instalments.
Endsleigh came bottom with a score of 43%, and Admiral followed closely with 44%. Both these insurers charge hefty fees- Endsleigh charges 39.7& APR for monthly payments and £20 for practically everything else- the highest fee for a duplicate document. Admiral is one of only four insurers who charge a fee if you pay for your insurance by credit card; consumer rights regulations state that these fees must be no more than it costs the company to process that payment type, but at a flat rate of £5.95, Which!!! think this is unlikely to be reflective of Admiral’s costs.
Which!!! also found it’s not always easy to check what fees you might be charged in advance. Most insurers include their fees in the policy documents on their websites or in a FAQs section, but Bradford & Bingley, Endsleigh, Nationwide, the Post Office and Prudential all required a full quote before setting out their fees. Which seems a little more than sneaky to us.
The top and bottom ten insurers, as rated by Which!!! are as follows:
3 Age UK
6 M&S Bank
7 NFU Mutual
10 Insure 4 Retirement
5 Bradford and Bingley
6 Co-operative Insurance
8 The AA
9 Post Office Insurance
10 Esure/Sheila’s Wheels
You’d better get your skates on as changes to Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) announced as a surprise in the summer Budget will add £13 to the cost of running a car and £10 for a pet’s medical cover from Sunday, being the 1st of November.
IPT is currently charged at 6.5% but will soon be going up to 9%, an increase which isn’t actually going to hit insurance companies at all, just us poor consumers, as insurers freely admit the additional cost will be directly passed on to customers.
That’s not great news for those insuring the 7.3 million cars, 4.7 million households and 3 million pets who will be affected, according to ABI estimates.
Although the increase will affect most types of insurance, including medical insurance and motorbike insurance, if you ever need to insure your spacecraft or lifeboat equipment, you can breathe easy as these are actually completely exempt from IPT. Travel insurance and insurance of warranties will also escape an IPT rise- but only because these products are already charged at a premium rate of 20%
So is it worth buying your policy now? Well if you buy a policy effective immediately either today or tomorrow you will escape the charge, but the increase will affect any policy starting from 1 November regardless of when a customer bought the policy, so it’s no use trying to buy in advance. If you don’t need insurance until after 1 November, buying now to beat the rise is unlikely to be cheaper than the additional cost of being insured twice for the overlap period. And even if you do beat the deadline now, you will have to pay the increased amount on your next renewal.
So what does the 2.5% price rise look like in cash terms? The average annual car policy will go up to £392 from £379 today, an increase of £13. It’s worse news for younger drivers though, who could see premiums increase by £42 a year, according to the AA, as they already get stung pay the highest premiums of any age group. Their new average premium will now be £1,319, up from £1,278. In fact, some insurers have lobbied the Treasury to exempt younger drivers from insurance premium tax for at least the first year of their first car insurance policy. A mere drop in the ocean perhaps.
But still, when it’s a tax on a compulsory insurance, it’s pretty much a compulsory tax rise for all car owners, like it or not. “Millions of people across the country face being hit in the pocket by this rise,” said James Dalton of the Association of British Insurers (ABI).
“Whether it’s a legal requirement or you want to buy extra cover, insurance is a financial safety net, not a luxury,” he finished, folding his arms.
Insurance is big business, with a total of £77m paid out in insurance claims every single day in the UK, according to figures from the Association of British Insurers. But it’s particularly big business here in the UK, as the market in our little country is actually the largest in Europe and the third largest in the world. We clearly like to play it safe.
But while the majority (£27m) of insurance payouts go to motorists, £13m relates to property claims, of which theft is a large proportion. With the advent of dark afternoons on the clocks-going-back horizon, offering handy cover of darkness for would-be thieves, however, you might be surprised at what is the item most frequently stolen from today’s tech-savvy homes. An iPad? An iMac? Some kind of mobile phone or games console? No. It’s the humble bicycle.
New figures from insurer Direct Line say that more insurance claims are made for stolen bicycles than any other item taken by burglars, accounting for almost 1 in five (17%) of all theft claims. Mobile phone are in next at 11% of claims, followed by power tools (10%) and laptops (10%).
Although popular culture might think differently, in fact televisions account for just 3% of claims, as their increasing size (despite the flatness) have made them more difficult to steal, the insurer said. And it’s far easier to ride a bike as a getaway vehicle than a 50″ flatscreen.
“With the nights drawing in, it is perhaps unsurprising that thefts increase, as there are more opportunities for burglars to strike without being seen,” said Kate Lomas, head of Direct Line home insurance.
“Items such as bicycles, gardening tools and golf equipment are amongst the most sought-after items, so if items must be stowed away outside the home, homeowners should make sure they are safe and secure,” he finished, quite unnecessarily.
Top 10 claims
2. Mobile phones
3. Power tools
5. Tablet computers
7. Golf equipment
8. Gardening tools
9. Audio equipment
Esure, out of the goodness of their own black hearts, have warned that they’re going to whack the prices of car insurance premiums this year, which means all the other insurance companies will be following suit, no doubt.
The reason Esure are doing this, is because their half-year profits have taken a hit, thanks to an increase in personal injury claims. The profits have had a fall of 80.7% between January and June, compared to the same period 12 months ago.
Stuart Vann, the CEO of Esure, said: “The claims environment for the motor market continues to deteriorate and as a consequence we will seek to implement further rate increases in the second half of the year.”
Esure, the group who also own Sheila’s Wheels, saw their profit before tax increasing by 84.6% to £105.4m, so they’re obviously bordering on destitute. They also just bought up the 50% stake of GoCompare they didn’t already own.
This follows an AA report about the rise and inflation of claims, where drivers are making more claims and want bigger pay outs for them. The AA’s British Insurance Premium Index reckoned that the cost of a comprehensive motor insurance policy has risen by 5.5% in the space of 12 months.
The days of falling prices in motor insurance are over.
If the Budget last week wasn’t bad enough- with the proposed 3.5% increase in insurance premium tax adding around £68 to every household insurance bill, new figures suggest that dishonest insurance claims are also adding a new high of £90 to every home’s premium.
A new report from the Association of British Insurers and City of London Police’s national fraud unit says that insurers claim they discovered 350 fraudulent claims each day in 2014. This is across insurance types, including car, motor and home. Car insurance was responsible for the largest proportion of fraud- with over half (67,000) of the 130,000 claims made, with these being worth £835m in total. Personal liability claims were second, worth £330m.
However, some suggest that this is a mere fraction of the insurance fraud out there, and that most people are actually getting away with it. Stephen Gaywood, a fraud specialist at the AA, told the Telegraph ” Most insurers believe this is the tip of the iceberg,” adding that “those attempting to defraud their insurers are increasingly likely to get away with it, but the industry’s focus on fraud needs to be stepped up.”
But it could simply be the case that policyholders don’t realise they are committing fraud, for example by failing to provide the correct information when they sign up for car cover. For example, many people will include people, primarily teenagers for example, as a named driver on a vehicle when they are actually the main driver of that vehicle. This is actually classed as insurance fraud, as it is often used to generate a lower premium than the expensive driver would get if they insured in their own name, and is known as “fronting”. Other ‘misdemeanor’ type insurance frauds commonly seen include using incorrect job titles or saying a car is kept in a garage, when generally you can’t be bothered to actually open the door and it stays on the driveway.
However, in view of the increasing number of fraudulent claims, the insurance industry is apparently determined to begin clamping down on all types of fraud. A spokesman from the ABI said that from now on, regardless of whether people are ” are making a dishonest claim or lying when applying for cover to get a cheaper premium, insurance cheats are more likely to get caught than ever before.”
It’s a fact of life, like death or taxes, that your insurer will try and diddle you at insurance renewal time, saving all their best deals for new customers, and those who can be bothered to shop around. Every year. However, one insurer has recently announced a ground-breaking new policy that might make comparisons a little easier for consumers- they will tell you how much you paid last year.
Axa Insurance have announced the “welcome” and “overdue” change in policy, becoming the first insurer to tell customers how much they have spent on their previous year’s motor cover when issuing new quotes for renewal. The insurer will now display the previous year’s premium on all home, car and small business renewals; Axa piloted the publication of existing premiums on car renewal quotes in its direct motor business in March and will now continue. Renewal letters for home cover will include last year’s comparisons from next month and all direct business customers from July. The changes will also apply to customers of Swiftcover, an Axa subsidiary.
Now, while this might seem a little basic, it is interesting to note that insurers don’t routinely do this already. And while you might know how much you paid last year, particularly if you pay monthly, you might not remember without checking a bank statement from last year. Which is just more faffing around.
What providing you with last year’s figure will do, of course, is enable you to directly compare last year’s price with the current offering, and see precisely how much the cost has gone up by, which may help in gauging whether this year’s premium is totally laughable or not. A 10% increase is a far different prospect than a 70% increase, of course. Alternatively, you might wonder aloud that those people who do not routinely compare premiums with last year are the very mugs that allow your premiums to be kept down…
Yves Masson at Axa said that the car insurance pilot received a positive response, adding: “We believe that being more transparent with the information we provide will help customers make the right purchasing decisions. It’s a key factor in building trust, which has been all too sadly lacking in our industry in the past.”
Matt Oliver, car insurance spokesman at Gocompare.com, said that insurers putting last year’s premium on renewal documents was “good news for drivers” and “a positive step towards making the insurance industry more transparent and competitive”.
He said: “We’ve been saying for years that loyalty doesn’t pay when it comes to insurance, with the best deals typically offered to new customers, not those who renew. If insurers choose to display last year’s premium at renewal it doesn’t change the fact that, regardless of what premium you’re offered, getting online and comparing prices and policy details from other insurers should be your first thought when you see your renewal letter.”
It remains to be seen whether other insurers will follow suit, or whether they will wait to see whether Axa impales itself on its owns word first-historically, around two thirds of AXA’s motor customers renew with the insurer each year…
The Financial Ombudsman Service says that they’ve seen a spike in complaints about policies being stopped without any warning and that, in the worst instances, motorists only find out about it when they’ve been pulled over for driving with no insurance.
The Ombudsman says that those who allow their insurer to renew their policies automatically, but don’t realise that they must declare any change in circumstances since first purchasing the cover, are the people most at risk.
Basically, if your insurer thinks that things are different, they may cancel your policy and there’s a chance they won’t tell you. It seems that motorists who have benefited from reduced premiums for having a no-claims discount are also at risk from getting their policy cancelled without being told.
And this is not to be sniffed at, as the penalty for driving without insurance is six points on your licence and a £300 fine. The Financial Ombudsman says: “These types of communication breakdowns can have very serious consequences for the people affected.”
So if your car insurance automatically renews, it is worth contacting your insurer and seeing if you can change that option or, indeed, ask them to provide you with clear correspondence of any changes in your policy.
The UK’s financial watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, are not happy with the insurers and price-comparison sites. They’ve said that the genuine costs of buying insurance online have been obscured by “failings and poor practices”.
This, of course, prevents people from getting a true picture when comparing prices and when weighing up the final costs of the variety of options.
The FCA said that they found insurance and price comparison sites “do not always provide clear and understandable information about the overall cost of paying for insurance” which results in consumers in a situation where they could “struggle to compare the difference” between policies.
They stated that, in far too many instances, websites are failing to explain the price difference between paying for a policy upfront, and spreading the cost over instalments which usually charges interest.
The FCA said their researchers found “a number of cases” where info about fees and APR was not provided, which “limited a customer’s ability to make an informed choice about how to pay”. The researchers also spotted that a “wide range” of APRs were being charged when people opted to pay in instalments, which just shows how important it is for consumers to be able to look at the true price of different offers and policies.
“Consumers should expect clear information about the payment options available to them,” said Linda Woodall, acting director of supervision at the FCA. “Regardless of whether people choose to pay upfront or in instalments, it’s important that they can see exactly what they are signing up for and how much it costs so they can decide whether they are getting a fair deal.”
The FCA will be following all this up, saying that they’re going after businesses where they found “specific examples of failings and poor practice” and, in addition to that, they will “consider the findings of the review and take action where necessary.”
Everyone knows that you have to disclose an accident or motoring conviction when buying car insurance, and if you’ve made a claim, then your insurer is going to know about it anyway. But what about the situation where there has been an ‘incident’ that was not your fault and you haven’t made a claim? Well, not only are you required to tell your insurer, but they might bump up your premium as a consequence…
If you have been at fault in an accident, it is perhaps reasonable to assume that your premiums will go up, although this might depend on any protected no claim bonus arrangements. Some insurers will also penalise you for a no-fault claim- and while this might seem unfair, from the insurer’s point of view you are a higher risk. Admiral, for example, increase premiums after a single no-fault accident, such as someone driving into your parked car. They claim it’s just risk assessment:
“We use many years of claims data from millions of claims in order to accurately calculate the risk of a customer going on to make a claim,’ a spokesperson said.
“Our claims statistics show customers who have had a non-fault claim are more likely to make a claim in the future, compared with customers who have not had a non-fault claim. By having a non-fault claim our customers fall into a category that we see as a higher risk to insure.”
And while a no-fault accident for which you have made a claim might seem fair game, some insurers will also uprate your premium if you don’t even make a claim:
“We rate on the fact an incident has occurred, whether they have claimed or not,” finished Admiral, haughtily.
Insurers argue that someone who has had an accident is more likely to claim again for many reasons. It could reflect on the types of places that they are driving, or it could also say something about where the car is parked. Insurers might also think that it is a reflection of the motorist’s driving habits; perhaps they drive in ways that are more likely to result in an accident even if they didn’t directly cause it.
But if you don’t make a claim, how will your insurer know, right? Wrong. All insurers will state in their terms and conditions that customers must report incidents regardless of whether they make a claim.
The Association of British Insurers admits that this is partly so that insurers can adjust premiums accordingly, but is also to alert your insurer to the possibility that there could be a claim made against you at some point in the future, for example where an injury becomes apparent or symptoms alleged sometime after the original incident. Yeah, right.
All this information is stored on the Claims and Underwriting Exchange (CUE), a massive database containing 32 million claims records that is shared by all insurance companies. And it means that once one insurer knows something, they all do.
But what can you do about it? It sounds simple, but you need to shop around- as not all insurers treat this information in the same way. The financial ombudsman says that “some insurers do rate on notification only incidents where no claim has been made, but it usually won’t increase the premium as much as a non-fault claim, which in turn does not increase it as much as a fault claim would.”
Some examples of insurers that don’t increase premiums for no-fault claims include the Co-operative insurance and Direct Line, but there’s no guarantee this would make them the most competitive, nor that they wouldn’t increase premiums for some other, unconnected reason.
So, what if you do not report a non-fault incident? While this is a very tempting option, if you do not report an incident and your insurer later finds out, they may claim that your policy is invalid and refuse to pay out on future claims.
However, in this situation, it would be up to the insurance company to prove that it would not have covered you, would have charged you more or would have offered a lower level of cover had it known about the incident.
The financial ombudsman (to whom an insurance dispute like this might be referred if you and the insurer can’t agree) also said that “ the way insurers calculate their premiums is their own commercial decision, provided they treat everyone in the same situation in the same way, and if consumers are asked about incidents and losses then they should disclose them whether they’re recorded on the insurance central database or not.” So you have been warned.