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My husband has a less than pristene driving career, 2 crashes exactly a year apart ruined any hope he had of gaining a half decent insurance premium last year. Luckil he has no driving convictions then when it came to renewal time in April 2005.
After using one of the broker sites, husband came across Admiral's premium, considerably less than the nearest competitor of Budget Insurance. Admiral were quoting a figure of £430 per year for a fully comprehensive policy, covering husband and me in a Vauxhall Corsa Club ( 3dr1.0 12v, 51 Plate) for 10 months on one of their no claims bonus excelarator policies. Budget were quoting us £514, so Admiral were miles ahead in terms of price. This online quote gave Admiral a few assumptions, like we wanted to pay Annually, like our car was garaged overnight, like we wanted a £1000 excess!, so once we clicked though to Admiral these would need to be changed.
On clicking through to Admiral and entering your details, those of your car, where you keep it overnight, what claims you have on your current policy and what if any driving convictions you may have. We decided that we'd like to pay via direct debit every month, that incurred a charge, we wanted our excess to be in the £300 region, that too incurred a charge, then we put we kept the car on the road overnight, this ensured an appropriate charge was levied!, in the end our policy came in at £496, still marginally cheaper than Budget.
The online quote system is fairly easy to use, when we used it we had some time out problems, but we found using the site after 5pm sorted the problem out. After deciding we wanted to proceed with the quote, we whipped out our joint Maestro card and thought paying a deposit, giving bank details on the internet would be the end of it, sadly we were mistaken...If you want to pay monthly you need to telephone Admiral directly, taking off the ease of arranging your car insurance over the net. We decided still to proceed as the quote was competitive and husband rang up to arrange things.
After a 24 minute wait for an operator, he explained he had had an online quote, was happy with it, wanted to arrange a direct debit to pay monthly and please could you arrange that Mr Admiral? Well it seemed a simple enough request to ask, but no, we had to go through the quotation process again, which actually came out with a different quote (more expensive) than our internet quote, husband argued the toss that we'd had an online quote, we just wanted to arrnge monthly payments, the operator then told he he should have said in the first place! Arggghhhh! After dealing with the confusion, our card details were taken, bank details confirmed and our policy arranged to start 4 days later. We were informed of the fact our policy documents would be sent out to us by post and we needed to sign and return a copy of the credit agreement.
Whilst Admiral do have a UK based call centre in Cardiff, which is great in this day, we found the gent we spoke to wasn't very hepful, we asked questions such as how much is your APR, how long is your cooling off period was, and inportant to us was do you charge for cancelling your policy due to not having the vehicle anymore (we were thinking of reducing down to 1 car), thre answer to all of these questions was 'I'm sorry, I don't know that I'm afraid'. There was no indication of where the information could be found out in the policy documents, if at all and no offer of actually going to find out the answers, but we were of the thinking 'OK, maybe you do get what you pay for', and we were happy to search the policy docs to find the answers.
The documents arrived 2 days later and everything was present and correct and our credit agreement was returned to Admiral.
At renewal, Admiral provided us with a competitive quote and as we'd had no problems or crahses, we decided to be loyal customers and retain our business with them in the hope they'd be good to us if we ever had a problem. Again our new policy documentation arrive within days and all was good and fine.
In May 2006, we jointly decided that we would switch all our direct debits to our joint bank account, with many companies this was very easy but Admiral we determined to make the process as difficult as possible. Husband rag their call centre up to change bank details.
After a 15 minute queue, he got through, explained the reason for the call, the agent was really unhelpful saying it wasn't possible to change bank details at that pont in the month, husband offered them a card payment and said he would call back at the end of May/ start of June but this was declined too. Asking what exactly he could do the reply came that he'd actually have to pay the remainder of his year's premium and that was all he could do. Undersatndably annoyed, he asked to speak to a supervisor, he was advised that one would call him back. There was a call back and the situation was explained again and the supervisor was very knowledgable about their companies proceedures but was very unhelpful with regards to the sitution that needed to be resolved. Again they insisted that the full 9 months of the policy would need to be paid, this time a dealine was set by the 25 May, or the policy would be cancelled.
Husband suggested it would be wiser for him to pay what was needed, set up a new direct debit but because he wasn't willing to pay the full amount but they dug their heels in and wouldn't budge.
After writing to their customer services, we were informed that hubby was in breach of contract, they were going to cancel his policy from 27 May and bill him for £60 for cancelation! After faxing a reply back they said if he didn't pay the £60 it would be referred to a Debt Collector and he's suffer harm on his credit rating. He's still refusing to pay as he onl wanted to change his bank details and he's now referred the matter to the Ombudsman, will keep you posted on that one!
Overall, great for the first year, appalling retention of customers and shoddy service in the 2nd. Despite the customer servicem they remain competitive for their motor insurance, especially for young drivers and those with no/low no claims bonuses and I am sure while the demand is there, they will continue to be so. However their inflexible approach to problem solving has sent husband over to Post Office for insurance and he's very vocal about the service he encountered with Admiral, but I am certain it won't put those who need them off buying from them.
I am not recommending them based on customer service but I am recommending them on price, and the abiliy to gain a 1 years no claim bonus within 10 months, just the remember addage goes 'you get what you pay for'.