MORE TH>N You Thought You'd Pay

7 November 2008

I moved house recently. Nothing perverted about that, we all do it from time to time. Of course, one of the most laborious parts of the process is ringing up all of the relevant companies and changing your address. Given the cack-handed levels of customer service you can expect over the phone, this wasn’t easy, but it got done eventually, even if it did take up the best part of a day.

We’re a two-car family. Nothing perverted about that, lots of people are in the same situation. So when I rang MORE TH>N (their ridiculous spelling, not mine), my car insurance provider, did I expect that changing my address with them would cost me £30? Maybe – I thought it might cost me a little extra if my premium was increased as a result of the move.

But no – my premium stayed exactly the same. MORE TH>N did however duly slap on a total ‘administration charge’ of £30 – that’s £15 per car. For what exactly? The time and labour incurred as a specially-trained calligrapher adjusted their official ledger with an ink-filled quill? Hardly. Inputting a new address into their computer system, something that took all of half a minute? Yep.

Why do I feel as though I’ve just been mugged? I contacted MORE TH>N’s press office to ask them if they could explain why I’d been done for £30 and how they justified charging me for what was no MORE TH>N some mild tinkering of their database.

Buzzzzzzzzzz!

Just six whole days later, their spokesperson got back to me. Presumably, she’d spent the near-week consulting the Big Girl’s Book Of PR Bullshit, as the reply I received included this phrase: “Depending on the nature of the change, a number of systems may need to be updated in order to provide the policyholder with the correct level of cover. You will find that the majority of motor insurance companies implement a charge for amending such policy details.”

Maybe, but that doesn’t f***ing make it right though. And highlighting the fact that the majority of other motor insurance companies are also fleecing us doesn’t justify it either. Most crocodiles gleefully bite the limbs off humans – that’s why you don’t invite one round for Christmas dinner.

Let us know if you’ve also been stung by these arbitrary, insulting and cash-raking ‘administration fees’ while sorting out your motor insurance, and feel free to blow the trumpet if you know of a provider that doesn’t charge them. We're feeling some dialogue with the Office of Fair Trading coming on with this one…

10 comments

  • Balti
    Swiftcover dont charge as you can make any changes yourself via the website.
  • Tom W.
    I had the similar experience when trying to inform More Th>n of my new address. Told them to forget it and cancel my car insuarance and then got cover with Swiftcover. How can they justify the £15 charge. Even to send out ammended docs etc it can't cost even a fiver.
  • jen
    That's outrageous!
  • David P.
    When I bought a new car, I phoned Tesco Value Car Insurance to inform them that I'd like to change the car I had insured with them to the new car. I got a new quote from Tesco Online for the new car and worked out the difference. However the difference was 3 times what I had worked out and of course they dutifully added the £26.25 amendment fee to the premium. When asked why it was so much more, they told me I didn't get the 10% online discount and that rates change all the time. I told them I just got a quote from them minutes ago but they just said like it or lump it. I would've cancelled there and then but I would've lost a month's premium and 6 months no claims and that worked out costing slightly more than cancelling and going with Virgin car Insurance (the cheapest quote I could get for new car). However, when I said waive the £26.25 amendment fee or I'll go with Virgin they said OK.
  • Danny
    I work in the insurance industry and the thing that winds me up more than anything else is the idiots who blindly complete an application form and then abdicate all responsibility for what they have written, what they have purchased or anything else to do with the transaction. I have applied for insurance and without exception every insure provides a summary of cover, terms & conditions on line and a policy booklet when you take the policy out, in there is mentioned subtle things like what admin charges there are, what excesses there are, who can drive your car and other important information. When someone asks you for the admin fee, charges the excess or tells you you are not covered you squeal like a stuck pig. Grow up and take responsibility for your own actions. You did not read the summaries, you haven't read your policy documents and now you want to blame everyone else for it.
  • Andy D.
    Danny - as you're an insurance insider, can you explain to us how an administration fee works? Why does it cost a customer £15 to change their address when the whole process is almost completely computerised? It's very similar to bank charges - when they were investigated, it was estimated that the true cost in every case was a couple of quid. I didn't get charged when I changed my address with my credit card providers, the local library or my milkman, so how do insurance companies do it? And why do they almost ALL do it?
  • Danny
    I don't work in pricing but it stands to reason if a policy is set up online, the paperwork issued online, renewal is remotely processed by computer. The only need for human intervention is stuff like this. There is a fairness issue and you may well have a point about the amount of the fee. My issue is with adults who write on web sites in an articulate way portraying themselves as reasonable and intelligent who have in reality done something stupid and wants to blame someone else for their stupidity.
  • Andy
    It's funny reading what Danny has put. More often than the terms and conditions are available on t' internet and are often sent with the policy details to be signed. At this point, the insurance company has already taken the money out of your account.
  • Gary
    This is another example of rip-off Britain. Not only are they charging to make small amendments, most also take a big wedge if you have to cancel your policy (it's not pro rata what you are refunded). I would suggest everyone writes to their MP or escalates to the FSA Ombudsman but the former have there own expenses scams going and the latter have no teeth. I had hoped that the comparison sites would now include these charges on their main screen so you could compare when making the choice of which policy to go for. This information is well hidden in the small print though and I'll have to go to the individual portals of each insurer to make an informed choice - what a hassle. I'm planning on a house move this year so this is going to be a problem. As for Danny, you stick to the party line son. It's this money that'll be paying your bonus.
  • Tony
    Aviva don't charge for policy amendments made on-line - wish I'd spotted this differentiator before I switched from Aviva to Moretha>n.

What do you think?

Connect with Facebook, Twitter, or just enter your email to sign in and comment.

Your comment