Melissa Kite

Real life | 31 March 2016

So it’s not just Aviva who have it in for me - all the insurance companies are at it

Real life | 31 March 2016
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After a year of affordable car insurance, I knew I had to be in for it when my premium came up for renewal. Nothing prepared me, however, for the quote that came through from Aviva, who I am thinking of re-naming Amorta, or Adversa, which just sounds more appropriate.

You may recall that after I won my personal injury dispute with no liability or fault on my record after three years of fighting, I was refunded thousands of the sky-high premiums Aviva had been charging me while the case was going on — because, naturally, they had to assume I was guilty of causing spinal injuries to two members of the non-working classes by bumping into the back of their people-carrier at 5 mph in a traffic queue on Streatham High Road until I could prove I had done no such thing.

Once that little legal nightmare was settled, my premium plummeted from four figures to £25 a month, although I knew that couldn’t last.

As the renewal loomed, I feared it would go up. But I had ten years’ protected no claims bonus so, really, how high could it go?

Oh, it could go. It could go all the way, baby. From £25 a month, Avivaaaaaagh had somehow got to the figure of £72 a month, or £832 a year.

I rang them and they did the usual thing of knocking a few pounds off when I complained. But they could offer no explanation for the increase. ‘Unfortunately,’ said the chap, ‘we don’t have access to why the quote has gone up. It’s the pricing team who does that.’

Really? And there was me thinking it had been done by the cleaning lady. I asked whether he could go away and ask the pricing team and he went away. The unfeasibly happy Aviva theme tune played for a bit. Then he came back and said: ‘There’s no way we can divulge that information. All we can say is that it is down to circumstances beyond your control.’

Genius. Pure genius. So I gave up and went on And then things got a whole lot worse. For some reason, it wouldn’t accept my address. When I tried to select my house number, it would only let me select the number 30, which is not where I live.

Also, in asking me to describe my job, it gave me a hundred options, none of which was remotely what I do. It allowed me to select writer, but insisted I chose an ‘industry’. I scrolled through dozens, but could find nothing even vaguely accurate. From Aerospace to Zoology there was nothing to describe the world to which I belong. ‘Media’ wasn’t there, and neither was ‘Ritual Humiliation’, ‘Financial Suicide’ or ‘Sitting at Laptop in Pyjamas’, so I had to select ‘Art’. It seemed the least wrong.

The cheapest quote was from Admiral at £45 a month so I accepted, rang the number and asked the cheery soul to please put it through, but amend the details for address and occupation.

That was fine, she said: ‘I just need to ask you a few last questions. Have you any speeding convictions resulting in fines, points on your licence…’

‘No, no,’ I said, for I had already ticked that box. And then she added the fatal words: ‘…or speed awareness courses?’

I gulped. My heart pounded. No. It couldn’t be true. ‘Speed courses? You’re saying speed courses now? But I thought the whole point of speed courses was to avoid putting your insurance up?’ I had to divulge I had just done one, of course, which she tapped in and then chirruped: ‘Right, with that new information your quote is… £62 a month or £700 a year.’

I put the phone down. There’s no point fighting. The reality of it is, the insurance firms may as well ask you the following:

Have you, in the past five years, incurred any fines, points, driver awareness courses or parking tickets, including those subsequently overturned on appeal?

Do you live in an area where a car has been damaged or stolen since the introduction of statutory policing in 1829?

Do you drive a make and model of car that has ever been the subject of an insurance claim?

Have you ever had an accident of any kind, including in the bath?

Have you ever stopped at Sainsbury’s petrol station in Cobham to buy diesel and a packet of mini sausage rolls?

Have you ever broken a nail while in a hurry, stubbed a toe, or had a haircut you’ve later regretted?

Oh dear. You’re saying yes to that last question are you? Well, I’m afraid in the light of that, your insurance premium has risen from the £45 a month quoted to £700 a year. Shall we proceed with putting that policy through for you?