August 16, 2017

‘Jazzy’ Jeff Prestridge of the Daily Mail (see last week’s edition) has been up to his old insurer-bashing tricks again. Seriously, what is his problem?

The latest bee in his bonnet, insurance-wise, is the ludicrously misconceived idea that insurers are somehow ripping people off by charging them vast amounts of money for the privilege of paying by instalments.

In particular he’s going after yellow insurer Uvavu whose chief exec Mark Wilson the disheveled Partridge accuses of being ‘dapper’.

Last time out, Jazzy JP was mostly berating Uvavu and Co for lacking loyalty towards long-suffering policyholders. This time he’s on about them penalising customers too cash-strapped to pay up front in full.

Much as the well presented Wilson would like to project a “cuddly consumer-focused image,” JP says, he secretly nurses “anti-consumer” sympathies and has no compunction over working his animus out on unsuspecting Uvavu customers.

Confronted by suggestions that making less well off customers pay more for not pre-funding a full 12-months’ cover, Wilson and his Uvavu colleagues, Jeff claims, called the moaners bluff by increasing the premiums paid by upfront payers – to make it fairer!

If he’d levelled premiums downwards, Jeff says, we would have been singing his praises, but, oh no, they’ve gone for collective punishment because “we believe this is fairer to customers and provides greater choice and flexibility for customers in how they pay their premiums to us,” as their press office puts it.

Uvavu reckon up-fronters were getting a discount (now cancelled in the name of fairness), while Jazzy Jeff reckons the month-by-monthers were paying a surcharge for spreading. Who’s right? Far be it from Bankstone News to take sides when, so clearly, there are what Donald Trump would call “many sides”.

Elsewhere in the Mail, the knives are out for insurers’ premium instalment offers on a broader front. According to one report insurers are ‘ripping off’ Brits by charging them £500 million a year for spreading the pain, with individual customers paying up to £300 extra if they can’t afford to fork out upfront.

Insurers, the Mail claims, are treating instalment payments ‘as if they were a loan’ and charging over-the-top interest accordingly. This ignores the fact that in many cases they ARE a loan, via a premium finance company, to ensure that the less affluent’s inability to pay upfront doesn’t interfere with insurers’ predilection for sitting on other people’s money for long periods of time (a habit learned back in the days when interest rates were higher and you could actually make money that way).

The Mail neglects to specify whether other insurers will be following Uvavu’s lead by increasing up-fronters premiums to match those paid by the instalmenteers, thereby adding another £500 million to their collective profits.

Should they opt to do so, it would hopefully teach uppity consumers not to kick up such a fuss in future.


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