Renewing Car Insurance – Our Experience

First Published March 1st, 2005

*** I know that some of you reading this will cringe at the insurance quotations mentioned in this article, but everything is relative. My insurance situation is complicated and hence the higher costs. I still managed to save significantly by shopping around. ***

My insurance was due towards the end of this month. Having, in the course of the past year put together the Value Ireland Tips on getting cheaper car insurance, and compiling the Value Ireland Motor Insurance Checklist, it was time to put all that knowledge into practice.

For the reason of having lived outside of Ireland for 6 years prior to 2003, my insurance has been enormously high for the past 2 years. Basically, insurance companies were treating the fact that, though I had a clean accident free driving licence since 1992, there was something “wrong” with the fact that I had only 2 years no-claims discount in my own name, being over 30.

My 2004 insurance premium was a whopping €1900 – at the time, this was the lowest I could get, anywhere. Some companies still wouldn’t quote me since I hadn’t lived in Ireland permanently within the previous 3 years.

My 2005 renewal notice from Hibernian arrived at the end of January. This time around the quote was for €1800, which when after subtracting the no-claims discount of 20%, and the penalty points discount, added the government levy, and subtracted their €100 renewal discount, became a total of €1197. There was an “optional extra” for Legal Expenses of €25 which I would have removed anyway, taking the actual quote to €1172.

All in all, compared to the €1900 for the previous year, I should have been happy enough – almost an €800 drop in premium.

Today then however, I printed out a copy of the Value Ireland Motor Insurance Checklist, sat down beside the phone and began ringing around. The checklist has 16 insurance companies, with all their contact details, plus all the questions that I need to be asking.

My insurance requirements were fully comprehensive cover for a car based in Dublin, for myself as named driver only on the policy, cover for driving other cars, bonus protection cover.

1. Allianz Direct
Rang through and didn’t have to wait more than 2 minutes to get to speak to a Sales person. Went through my details with them, and they gave me a quote for €1106. Already, after one quick phone call, I’d saved myself €66.

2. AA Ireland
On my first call through, got to speak to a Sales person, and was immediately put back on hold, and left for 5 minutes without anyone returning. I hung up. Speaking to some work colleagues, they had mentioned that the AA provided them with some good quotes, so I presevered. On the second attempt, after waiting for 5 minutes, I again went through my details and explained my requirements. The best quote from the AA was €1069. 20 minutes into my evening and I’ve saved myself €103. A very helpful sales person here, while explaining that the unusualness of my motor insurance history would mean my quotes would be unusually high, suggested I contact 2 other insurance providers who may be able to provide better deals – a good sign was that they were already on my Value Ireland Motor Insurance Checklist.

3. Axa Insurance
Called through and after 5 minutes waiting, hung up. We’ll never know what they could have done for me.

4. Insure.ie
Called here and got straight through to a very helpful sales person. Went through my details and requirements, and again, it was pointed out that the unusualness of my situation meant that as the Sales person put it, “I’d be screwed”. However, he did ask what my best quote to that point had been, and he beat the offer by €119. With this quote of €950, I was now €222 better off.

Aside – Here is an interesting point which arose on my 4th call, and which goes to highlight the campaign by the Motor Insurance Justice Action Group with regards to the profits that Irish insurance companies are extracting from the market here. The quote I was given by www.insure.ie was €950 which would have been from Allianz if I had gone through with the insurance.
Lets assume that www.insure.ie make 5% commission on every policy they execute for Allianz. So, Allianz will earn approximately €900 on my policy through www.insure.ie.

Yet, when I rang Allianz Direct, the exact same policy requirements would have cost me €1106. In this situation, by going direct to the company Allianz would have made an extra €200 odd, which would presumably be straight profit.

5. Hibernian Direct
At this stage, being happy that I’d already met my initial target for this years premium of being below €1000, I called back Hibernian Direct to see if they could do anything better for me now that I had some more competitive quotes. In 2004, Hibernian had been pretty agressive in competing for my business, including calling me twice and bettering the best quotes that I’d had each particular time. If this year they offered me the cover at the €950 quote I’d already received, I’d have stayed with them, and left things at that.

In 2005 however, I was disappointed. As I would have requested anyway, they removed the €25 optional legal expense cost, and when we revised my milage down from 15000 per year to 10000, they knocked another €32 off the premium to leave the premium at €1172.

6. One Direct
Being an advocate of shopping around in all walks of life, I felt that I should call a few more places on my list, just to see if I could better the €950. I rang One Direct, and after waiting for over 5 minutes without getting to speak to any one, I hung up. Again, I’ll never know what they could do for me. Well, actually, I probably do. I logged on to their website which provided automated quotes. Once the system worked out that I only had a 2 years no-claims discount, it kept kicking me out telling me that I had to do an Ignition course.

For those that are not familiar, Ignition is run by Hibernian Insurance for learners, or those that have recently passed their test, which, if they pass this course they can recieve discounts of 20-40%. Not bad (however, One Direct must not be aware of the qualifying criteria for enrolling on Ignition – you must have passed your test in the last 5 years). 1992 is more than 5 years ago – NEXT!!!!

7. 123.ie
I rang this crowd, but they don’t provide quotes over the phone. Their website however is extremely user friendly, efficent, and the feedback to your e-mail address of quotes is within the 2 minutes the friendly person on the phone said it would be.

Their quotes went up to €1600, with the best price being €977, which, though better than my initial quote, wasn’t as good as that of Insure.ie.

8. Quinn Direct
In the past 2 years, Quinn Direct wouldn’t even quote me because I had not been resident in Ireland for the 3 years previous to speaking to them. I decided to go directly to their website to see if they would quote me this time around.
Again, we’ll never know (though it’s unlikely – I’m only home 2 years now). However, the problem this time was that every link on their website was broken.

9. FBD
I had a vague memory of calling FBD last year, and not being impressed by the quote. However, the AA representative suggested that I speak to them this time around. And boy am I glad that I did. Rang their number, got straight through to a Sales person, and quickly went through my details and requirements.
The quote – €712. This was without bonus protection, and €767 with. So, I’d found myself a saving of €405-460. A saving of up to 40% after no more than 45minutes ringing around.

Excellent!!! Took a reference number from them, asked how long the quote was valid for (30 days) and said I’d probably be back to them. Damn straight!!!

Aside – There’s a little bit of euphoria kicking in now. I’d achieved my target of saving at least €200 on my insurance, and here I was now, dealing with all the “big boys” of the insurance companies, and saving myself even more money. (Yes, still a lot, but as I said at the beginning, all relative – I was initially happy to get €1000, was happy to get €950, and here I am getting just over €700).

10. TopQuoteDirect
I decide to go for the even 10 companies – just to see. I called this company and after a couple of minutes got speaking to a very helpful Sales person. Again went though my details, and requirements, and she asked what my renewal premium was. I mentioned the €1172 from Hibernian.
Well, she says, sounding happy with herself, I can beat that anyway. €1020. A not insignificant drop of €170.
She then asked what my best offer had been. I said €712. She laughed, and said that I shouldn’t be still talking to her, that I should take that quote, that given my insurance situation, no one would do any better.

11. Ford Insure
A friend of mine had told me about Ford Insure, obviously targetted at Ford drivers. I gave them a call, but because of the fact that I only had 2 years no-claims bonus, they were insisting that I do the Ignition course as well. Thanks, but no thanks. Obviously, it’s through Hibernian Insurance that Ford Insure works. Funny though, Hibernian Direct gave me insurance last year with only 1 years no-claims bonus, yet with 2 years, Ford Insure want me to do the course. Very confusing.

Conclusion.
So, I’m getting a little uneasy regarding the €712 quote. Is there a catch? Is it too good to be true?
I ring back and end up speaking to someone else. I give my reference number, reconfirm all my details, and my insurance requirements, and the quote is still the same.

Thank you very much, I’ll take it. They take a few more details and the documentation will now be sent out to me.

This work too all of 1 hour. 8 phone calls, and 2 visits to websites. I used the knowledge I’d gained from the Car Insurance Tips, and all I needed for the calls was my renewal notice from Hibernian and the Car Insurance Checklist printed out beside me.

Couldn’t be easier, and more than a little satisfaction along the way as well.

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