Advantages Cheap car insurance with what looks to be high quality cover...
Disadvantages ... but you can only protect your NCB if you're over 25.
|Competitiveness of APR|
|Comprehensiveness of range of products|
|Efficiency of service|
|Value for money|
|Online - Content/organization of site||Good|
|Online - Reliability/speed of site||Poor|
I'm not a happy bunny today. Why? You may well ask, and I shall tell you a little story to illustrate my despondancy...Once upon a time there lived a little Indiegirl. As soon as she was 17, she decided to learn to drive. She took some lessons and passed her test first time (lucky devil) and bought herself a little car to run around in. She bought some insurance for that car, as she decided to build her own No Claims Bonus up (rather than relying on daddy's insurance).
A year passed by and the little Indiegirl trotted off to university. She decided to sell her car and not drive for a year. The lack of motor took it's toll, however, and Indiegirl soon found herself working hard in her holidays to buy and insure another car...... ooh, did you feel that?! Anyway...
... Six years after that fateful test-passing day, in November 2002 when the Indiegirl was 23, she had to renew her car insurance. Having driven for 6 years with no accidents, convictions or claims, and having built up a No Claims Bonus entitlement of 5 years, she thought that she stood in pretty good stead for her car insurance renewal. How wrong could she be??After lots of searching, Indiegirl came across the Esure website. It promised her that "good drivers with 4 years no claim discount can save up to 30% on car insurance". "great" thought Indiegirl "I'm bound to qualify for a discount here". So she read all the FAQs and 'about esure' pages...
I'll just stop the story here for a moment to provide you with some information. The background to esure is that it is a "new insurance company" set up by the founder of Direct Line. Apparently, they "believe that careful drivers and homeowners deserve better policies", and that "esure customers should not subsidise those who have a poor claims history." In their own words: "we're more selective about who we insure."
With this in mind, Indiegirl began to get a little worried. Although she was 23, she was unfortunately classed as a 'young and inexperienced driver' (6years claim free driving, 5yrs NCB? Go figure). Then she spotted - within the esure 'Frequently Asked Questions' page, a very useful header:
There will be some situations where we will be unable to provide a quotation for car insurance:
-#- If you have less than 4 years no claim discount (unless you already have a policy with us and are looking for cover for a second car where we may be able to offer an introductory NCD).
-#- If any driver is not aged between 21 and 75.
-#- If any driver does not hold a full driving licence.
-#- If you live in Northern Ireland or the Channel Islands.
-#- If any driver has had a driving licence suspended in the last 5 years.
-#- If all drivers have more than 2 minor convictions (i.e. any conviction with the following codes: CU, MS (excluding MS50-56 and 90-96), MW, PC, PL, SP and TS).
-#- If any driver including yourself has an occupation in the following categories: taxi or minicab driver, proprietor or controller; performer or presenter in films, TV, radio, music or other performing arts; professional sportsperson, manager or coach; non UK armed forces or diplomatic staff; or connected with gaming, nightclubs, circuses, fairgrounds, amusements, street trading, scrap waste or second hand dealing, student, fast food delivery.
-#- If your car is valued at more than £50,000.
-#- If your car is not kept at the policyholder's address.
-#- If your car is over 20 years old.
-#- If your car does not have a United Kingdom registration number, or has a registration number starting with 'Q'.
Up popped a new window, with a nice simplified form to fill in. The top banner was blue, and had pictures of 6 cars in which lit up from left to right as Indiegirl progressed with her application. She knew she was nearing the end of the quotation process as more cars filled up along the top. The bottom banner was orange, and had little links which the Indiegirl squinted to read, but discovered that they were links to such things as "FAQs", "Feedback" etc. The main screen was white and very simply-laid out...Firstly, on the 'about me' page, she was asked to fill in her details, which she duely did - name, address, postcode, house number etc. Indiegirl was especially impressed at the esure site because she lives in a flat and some online insurance quotations haven't been able to find her address. However, esure popped up a checklist with the addresses found at her postcode, and Indiegirl was able to select the correct address for her flat.
At the bottom she spied a checkbox for 'marketing data'. Now Indiegirl didn't want lots of rubbish falling into her postbox every day, so she checked the box as told so that her data wouldn't be used for marketing purposes.The next screen asked her to put her car registration in and it would find her car.. which she did - but the system came back with the wrong model. Right make, right car.. wrong trim. So she had to go through the laborious task of inputting all her car details. This wasn't helped by the exceptionally slow site and Indiegirl's frustration levels were rising rapidly. The next screen was equally slow and asked her more about her car - did she have an immobiliser, where was the car kept? A few more drop-down menus and Indiegirl was at the halfway point.
The green 'info-bar' on the left kept Indiegirl informed of any problems/errors/points that she should note, and on the third screen, it told her that esure insurance allows use of her car for:
- social and domestic pleasure purposes
- commuting to and from a permanent place of work
- personal business use for you, and your spouse if applicable
.. as standard. "Very fair" thought Indiegirl, and as she didn't need any further cover, she continued with the quote. She was told that if she wanted more cover - eg business cover, she could phone for more information.
And how she liked the little numbers that appeared before her eyes! £423? She twiddled with the 'customise' options to select the best cover for her and was pleased that the quote was of a 'sensible' nature...Then disaster struck. No, Indiegirl's PC didn't blow up, but it might as well have done...
At the bottom, on the right hand side of the 'quote' screen, Indiegirl spied a 'NCD protection' selector. For those of you who aren't sure what this is, I shall explain...When a driver achieves 5 years of No Claims Bonus, insurance companies *generally* allow you, for an extra 10-15% of your quoted premium, to 'protect' your No Claims Bonus. It is a truth universally acknowledged that 5 years is 'seen' to be the limit at which you are deemed a 'careful' driver. Thus, 5 years of claim-free motoring entitles you to pay extra for the protection that - in the event that you do have an accident or have to make a claim, you don't lose those 5 years of hard-earned NCB. Normally, you're allowed to have two claims in two years before you lose your NCB, although this can differ according to the insurers. Personally, I don't know a single person with 5 years or more NCB who hasn't opted for the NCD protection on their insurance - No Claims Bonus is VERY hard to build up and you don't want one little accident ruining your years of claim-free motoring now, do you?
Anyway, not wanting to run the risk of losing her 5 years NCB, Indiegirl wanted to 'protect' it and pay the extra. However, the 'yes' option on the 'NCD Protection' selector wasn't there! Indiegirl went back, she refreshed the page, thinking that it was a minor blip and that it would reappear.It didn't.
Confused, Indiegirl clicked the little ? box that appeared next to the selector, expecting to find out why it wasn't there in the green 'info-bar'...The bar turned blue...
"well, what information??" thought Indiegirl.. and proceeded to try and work out what she'd entered that was so wrong. Five minutes later and no joy, she decided give up on the idea of buying car insurance through esure, and clicked the 'feedback' option at the bottom right of the screen to tell esure why she wasn't buying insurance.Not expecting to hear from the company again, Indiegirl then went off and arranged her insurance through her work (a financial institution) and yes, she even got a better deal than esure AND with protected No Claims Bonus...
The other morning, she received an email from Customer Services at esure... the email contained the following:------------------------------------------------------
Protection is available if:· Cover is Comprehensive
*Minor convictions are any conviction with the following codes:CU, MS (but not MS50-56 + 90-96), MW, PC, PL, SP and TS.
Hang on a minute... so esure are happy to protect your NCD if you have 4 years or over... BUT you must be over 25?Let's do some mathematics here...
A driver passes their test @ age 17
17 + 4yrs = 21 years of age - 4 years of driving for eligibility to insure with esure and potentially 4yrs NCB.
17 + 5yrs = 22 years of age - 5 years of driving and potentially 5yrs NCB.
So this means that
- a 25 year old with 4 years NCB CAN protect their No Claims Bonus...
- a 24 year old with 7 years NCB CANNOT protect their No Claims Bonus?
-> who would you say is the better driver? In this case, it looks to me that (ok, so I'm ignoring premium charges but that's another story), esure only wants to promote the protection of that very-hard-to-earn NCB to over 25's.
Indiegirl is currently considering pulling together a complaint to one of the insurance ombusdman organisations on this matter.. she's sure there's a case for a discriminatory appeal in here somewhere.On that note, we shall leave little Indiegirl back in her wibbly wobbly driving world. Thank you for your patience and time taken to read her story.
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