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Itís that fun time of year again Ė car insurance renewal time! And to make things even easier, the tin-pot company that insured me last year neglected to send me a renewal note and very kindly phoned me on the 3rd May to inform me that my insurance was due to run out on the 5th and would I like to renew. I think this was a ploy to panic me into agreeing into renewing with them without searching for a cheaper quote. After venting my frustration at the lack of warning, I found out that their renewal quote was £716. At least this gave me a starting point for my Bank Holiday trawl of insurance quotes.
I was dreading my renewal this year as I bought a new car last August and knew that it was going to be more expensive to insure than my previous car Ė a C reg Nova. When I bought it and changed the insurance, the extra premium came out of the loan money so I didnít notice the difference. So £716, although expected, was still a shock.
Usually I search internet site after internet site. This is my preferred way of shopping for car insurance because you donít have to make friendly chit chat with somebody on the end of the phone or wait in long ďyour call will be answered shortlyĒ queues. And, of course, there is usually some small discount included for buying over the internet.
But the downside of internet searching is the endless time it takes to fill in those forms which all essentially want to know the same information. A few months ago, I saw a TV advert for Confused.com which promised to take away even this hassle, making the internet process an even more attractive option. According to their commercial, you fill in the one form, and they do the hard work of sending it to the various insurance companies. Sounds simple enough so I logged on to their site.
On the home page you are greeted with 2 options Ė to log in as an existing customer or to begin a search as a new customer.
The new customer option asks you for personal details and you have to set up a password. Next itís straight to the questions you need to answer about yourself and your car in order for them to get the best quote for you. All the questions are straightforward and most contain drop down boxes so not much typing is involved. It asks for your car registration number and finds your car for you. But make sure you check it is your car Ė mine came up as a Rover 620 and itís actually a Rover 420. Entering your details manually doesnít take too long and at least you can be sure you are insuring the correct vehicle.
Overall I was quite impressed with the layout of the form. There isnít too much information required on each screen so it feels as if you are moving through the questions quickly and, of course, you are safe in the knowledge that this will be the only time you have to answer them. One question that did get me quite agitated was the one about occupation. There were two boxes, one to enter your full time job and one to enter a part time one. I work part time so I typed Customer Service into the part time box and clicked the Next button. But it sent me back saying I hadnít filled in the full time box Ė thatís because I donít have a full time job! It didnít let me type ďnoneĒ for the full time option so in the end I had to enter my part time job in the full time box Ė makes me wonder why they have the options to start with. If they want to know if you have more than one job then why not give the options Main Occupation and Secondary Occupation. Just a suggestion.
That was the only time I had any problems and it took me around 15-20 minutes to complete the questions. Itís worth bearing in mind that this form does ask a few more questions than the standard because they have to give different information to different companies but it didnít take much longer than usual. The only improvement they could make is making it easier to change your details. For example, I had added Paul onto my insurance and was interested to see how the premiums changed if I took him off but the only alterations I could make was changing the level of cover e.g Comprehensive to Third Party or amount of excess I was willing to pay.
So, my information submitted, I sat back and waited. I was expecting the site to flash up the top three quotes they had found straight away but maybe this was a little optimistic. A message box pops up and lets you know your details have gone through successfully and they will email you within the hour with the quotes they have found.
About 20 minutes later I checked my email and my quotes had arrived. It had actually only taken 10 minutes for them to get back to me. Considering I was expecting to wait an hour, I was rather impressed.
The email was very clear and the first sentence states what the cheapest price they have found is Ė for me that was £483 with Churchill. Quite a difference from the £716 quote from my previous insurance company. There is an internet link within the email which takes you straight back into the website and lists all the quotes it has found and who they are with. Not only that but it also shows you the companies that they havenít managed to get a quote from. For me that included Admiral, Elephant and Peopleís Choice. It doesnít tell you why they canít get a quote and when I went on the Elephant site for comparison, there was no problem so it may have been a system blip Ė who knows? And right at the bottom of the list are the insurers who opted out of being part of Confused.com. These include AA, Direct Line and Esure. There are links to these websites so you can get quotes directly if you so wish. I did this with the AA site just to see what their best price was. It turned out to be £565 so I felt confident that the price Confused.com had found was probably about the best I was going to get.
I clicked on the Churchill link and another window popped up detailing the quote and the excesses I had agreed to. Legal cover was an optional £16.99 and it lets you know what your initial deposit will be. There is another link that took me straight to the Churchill website, asking me for the password I had set up earlier and giving me a security code. This security code enabled me to access the quote I had been given through Confused.com so there was no answering all the questions again and no catch. I added on my legal cover, entered my credit card details and everything was hunky dory with my new insurer.
On Wednesday, my insurance certificate and all the extras that come with it popped through my letterbox and I am now comprehensively insured with Churchill. I just have to get my No Claims Discount proof through from the last company and send it to Churchill and I wonít have to think about car insurance for another year. But when it comes round next May Bank Holiday, Iíll let Confused.com do all the hard work again.