End of the road for shopping around?

20/12/2018

Unsure whether or not it should take a dim view of insurance providers charging loyal customers more than disloyal ones, regulator the Fanatical Crackdown Authority (FCA) decided to ask the audience.

Exploitation

An exhaustive survey of sentiment among purchasers of insurance products has now revealed that roughly half such persons consider the practice (jewel pricing, as it is known, for some obscure reason) ‘exploitative’.

Indeed, almost four out of five insurance buying persons (so not just the ones who think jewel pricing is exploitative) believe the practice should be outlawed.

But a ban might not please everyone. Slightly worryingly, 38% of survey respondents said they actually ‘enjoy’ shopping around for their insurance – while fewer than one in five said they couldn’t be arsed comparing prices.

Sneaking admiration

But it’s a devious and cynical world we live in these days, Readers. Around 40% of respondents said that, whilst it might be ‘sneaky’ ripping off loyal customers, they view it with a certain grudging respect.

Maybe ‘ripping off’ is the wrong way of looking at it. Ian Huge, CEO of survey-mongers Consumer Intelligence, believes that – far from being the villains of the piece – insurers deserve our sympathy.

Vicious circle

Jewel pricing, he suggests, is “not a deliberate and calculated attempt to rip off loyal customers.” It’s more of a technical thing – what you might call “a by-product of having introductory rates in a market with high customer turnover.”

Insurers, Mr Huge argues, are stuck on a sort of a “merry-go-round”. They’d love to get off, he says. But if they started charging everyone the same price, they’d lose business to insurers who had yet to dismount from the merry-go-round.

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