April 18, 2012

In a story it clearly nicked from the website of Ashbourne Insurance Services, Insurance Times this week announced that consumer group Which? this week announced that Insurers are ‘taking policyholders for a ride’. Which sounds a nice friendly thing to do – until you read on and learn that what they are actually doing is charging people vast sums of money for doing things like making tiny little changes to their policies.

Sadly, yes, it really is true: Which? reviewed T&Cs on the websites of 39 motor and 34 home insurance providers and found that many are charging policyholders “exorbitant hidden fees” for basic policy changes and renewals. Although, frankly, if you’re really trying to hide something, putting it in your T&Cs isn’t a terribly smart move.

Some motor and/or home insurance providers, the consumer group revealed, actually have the audacity to charge their customers for the privilege of renewing their policies, with Hastings and 50p Lust apparently charging £5 and £10 respectively for allowing people to provide them with some easy repeat business. More logically, Budget Insurance Services (allegedly) charges £75 for canceling a policy.

Which? man Peter Vicarish-Smith said: “It’s a disgrace that insurers charge exorbitant [literally, off-track or deviant] fees to make basic changes to a policy. These charges,” he continued, “should reflect the real cost to the company and not a way of making easy money from consumers who are already struggling with high and rising insurance premiums.”

That would be all fine and well, of course, if PVS would be good enough to suggest an alternative way of making easy money from consumers! Maybe policyholders could be encouraged to take out some (exorbitantly priced) little extra policies that they don’t really need – or perhaps their details could be sold on to someone better positioned to make some easy money out of them.

Fresh thinking on this topic always welcome!


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