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Like a lot of people, Iím forever trying to do something to keep my motoring costs within reasonable limits, particularly my insurance. My wife and I have a car each, and for reasons that are lost in the annals of driving history, I tax and insure both of them Ė and thereís me on a pension and sheís still in full time work Ė bummer!
It only struck me the other day, that in a few monthís time, once Iíve paid the mortgage off, my two largest annual bills will be Council Tax and Car Insurance, both of which go up out of all proportion to inflation. This all makes a mockery of the security afforded by an index-linked pension, unless of course some kind soul keeps all other prices at below inflation rates (yeah right, dream on, Chris). Something needed to be done. Of course, getting her indoors to run her own bloody car would be a start!
Last year, and earlier this year saw us taking delivery of two new cars (oddly both funded by me again Ė am I doing something fundamentally wrong here, or what?).
In November last year, we got our hands on one of the first right-hand-drive Smarts, and in March this year, a Toyota Yaris T-Sport added itself to the Nibbles stables.
In the case of the Smart, my previous insurers wouldnít touch it, because at that point they assumed that right-hand drive meant that it was an amateur modification. Hence I started from scratch with Allianz-Cornhill at a not-unreasonable
£341/annum. The other car was taken over by Admiral for a fee (it being somewhat sportier than the Nissan Micra it replaced). Even so, I didnít feel the £402/annum being charged was unreasonable given the London area postcode and GTi pretensions of the car.
Then whilst idly channel-surfing on Sky Digital the other night, I chanced upon a commercial for www.confused.com. Now thereís a name I could identify with!
USING THE SITE
So I gave it a whirl. The web siteís front page was merely an invite to new and existing customers to log in.
Then merely by inputting the registration number of the car to be insured, THEY tell YOU what car you have Ė annoyingly the Smart still showed up as Left Hand Drive so maybe even DVLA think it is too. You can however, also input your car details manually.
Extra screens come and go, asking all the usual details, age, postcode, number and identity of drivers, blah blah blah. In the same spirit as the automated car details screen, you only have to confirm your house number, having given them the postcode.
I know from what others have said, that this is all very well but if you live in a new road for instance, you might as well be on another planet until these people pay for the latest version of the postal database. However, Iím an old git, and Iíve lived here for years, so I can only take as I find.
One tip Iíve found works for me, is to have a serious think about how much voluntary excess you can afford. Why not bank a few hundred quid in a high interest account for a rainy day and offer to pay more towards any claim Ė you can still get the money back through your uninsured loss insurance if youíve someone to claim against.
This says a lot about you, and seems to have a very salutary effect on the quote given, and is a good idea if you can afford it.
For some obscure reason, I requested a quote first for the T-Sport a few days ago, even though the renewal date wasnít until Spring next year. This meant lying about the renewal date just to get the search engine on the move Ė for obvious reasons, they donít like giving a quote with too many months life in it, given the turbulent conditions in the insurance market. However, within minutes, my e-mail box was ďpingingĒ with details of the quote, and YES they would have been cheaper had I been renewing in the next couple of months. £120 cheaper to be exact.
Then I received a follow-up phone call from the firm selected. I honestly canít remember who it was, because I was just tinkering and not about to do business. However, the principle is established, www.confused.com looks like it will be 10ís of £ís cheaper next year too. Pretty impressive stuff since I used last yearís premium as the guide price to beat!
Now we get down to the quote Iím most likely going to take them up on. Today (25.09.02) I input the Smart details into the machine. I didnít have to lie about the renewal date this time Ė early November 2002 falls within the time span of the validity of any quotes given in late September. Here again, I used last yearís premium as the guide price, knowing full well that insurance has never been known to get cheaper. Once youíve reached maximum no-claims-bonus, thereís no place else to go.
Hey ho! Ping goes the e-mail, and yes, you guessed it, they can beat my last yearís premium by £100, and still give me Protected NCB, unlimited screen replacements etc. etc.
I followed the link through to the selected insurer, in this case, Elephant.com where I was shown a summary of the quote, and the expiry date of its validity. All useful stuff. I havenít had the phone call yet, but this is one deal Iíll probably be taking them up on.
Not bad eh? A potential saving of £240 and I didnít even have to do any leg work!
As a footnote, I went back to their site and looked at the ďAbout UsĒ section. They are, surprise, a subsidiary of Admiral, as I believe is Elephant too. However, if their brief is to trawl for cheaper insurance, then presumably they have to favour non-Admiral companies where relevant, otherwise it wouldnít be long before someone realised that they are only a front for Elephant. It was Admiral who didnít want to touch the Smart last year. Any way, Elephant canít help being cheaper, can they?