Helen Nugent

Inertia means we are paying over the odds for our insurance

Inertia means we are paying over the odds for our insurance
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I live in a world of Post-it notes. Yellow ones, blue ones, orange ones. They are everywhere. One day someone is going to find my wizened body beneath a mountain of these infernal things. Death by Post-it note.

In a world where multi-tasking has become a full-time profession, the humble Post-it note is now an integral part of modern life. The company which makes them - 3M - amassed sales of $7.4 billion in the first quarter of 2016. The first quarter! (OK, they make other stuff but you see where I'm going with this).

The ubiquity of the Post-it note in my household is such that I've instigated a traffic level system for use. Yellow denotes a must-do task, blue means urgent, and orange points to something I have to tackle at some point before I die. Needless to say, shopping around for a new home insurance policy invariably ends up in the orange category.

But I'm not alone in my inertia. New research from MoneySuperMarket shows that a quarter of Brits automatically renew their home insurance policy instead of looking around and saving money. According to the price comparison site, UK homeowners are collectively wasting £37 million a year by allowing their home insurance provider to automatically renew their policy.

What does that mean for an individual in pounds and pence? MoneySuperMarket calculates the typical annual increase is over £9 per policy. But if those homeowners shopped around and switched, they could see savings of up to £59 each – or £243 million collectively.

Kevin Pratt, consumer affairs expert at MoneySuperMarket, said: 'Insurance companies trick loyal customers into sticking with them – but with higher premiums – through confusing renewal letters and notices, whereas new customers are offered great rates to get them through the door. If this happens year on year, loyal customers can end up paying hundreds of pounds more than they need to.

'When it comes to insurance, the message is clear: loyalty doesn’t pay.'

Ain't that the truth. But why do some of us fail to search out better deals? Is it the sheer weight of life admin we face on a daily basis? A laissez-faire attitude to personal finance? MoneySuperMarket narrowed it down. It found that a third were happy with the cost of their insurance and a fifth couldn’t be bothered to shop around while almost a fifth said loyalty stopped them from moving and 16 per cent liked their current provider’s brand. One in seven liked the customer service their provider offers.

That's all well and good but what is a pretty brand compared to saving money?

'Home insurance premiums fell to a six-year low in April, and prices are now at their lowest since 2010, standing at £109 on average for combined buildings and contents cover,' said Pratt. 'Customers who auto-renew are not benefiting from these competitive prices, though – they are reserved for those switching providers.

'As a nation, we spend over £37 million more than we need to because so many home insurance providers renew their customers’ policies automatically, that’s money we can’t afford to waste. There are savings of up to £59 per household to be made by shopping around and switching providers, rather than letting insurers get away with it.'

I'll have to rethink my Post-it system.

Helen Nugent is Online Money Editor of The Spectator