'End car insurers auto-renewal monopoly! 10 rule changes needed' blog discussion

This is the discussion to link on the back of Martin's blog. Please read the blog first, as this discussion follows it.

Please click 'post reply' to discuss below.


  • Castle
    Castle Posts: 4,054
    First Anniversary Name Dropper First Post
    With reference to the NCB information, the renewal notice should also specify how many years NCB has been built up. Many renewals will simply say for example, the maximum of 9 years, when in fact you may have far more.
  • Bronniedog
    Bronniedog Posts: 21
    First Anniversary Name Dropper Combo Breaker First Post
    I have just received two renewal documents from Aviva for the same car. I phoned Aviva, initially due to Martin's piece on auto-renewal of policies, to cancel the auto-renewal as I always take out a new policy to get the best rate and cash-back. Whilst talking to Aviva I enquired about the duplicate renewal notice which had a different premium and policy number. You can now guess where this is going.... The previous years policy (which was an old one with Aviva) had been auto-renewed (even though I had taken out a brand new policy, at a lower rate than the renewal), and I had paid twice for the same car but had not picked up the duplicate payment as this had gone out on a different credit card! I also have other policies with Aviva. I urge everyone out there to check their car policies for the past few years to make sure that your policy has not been auto-renewed in a case where you have taken out a new policy expecting the old one to lapse. Aviva are refunding the extra payment but must be making a fortune (along with other insurance companies) due to these changes in policy admin.
  • Moneyless
    Moneyless Posts: 10 Forumite
    I had the misfortune of being with Quotemehappy (Aviva under another name) last year, I got the renewal price before Xmas, and responded the same day saying do NOT renew, I had found a much cheaper quote elsewhere (£100 ish), so into January I had heard nothing, so I tried to check they would not renew, no joy, I sent at least 3 further requests through, via their contact page, and by email, and still no response, so renewal day arrives (18th of Jan) and I take my new insurance out, only to get a text the next day saying I had gone over into my more expensive overdraft mode (£3 a day), and when I checked they had taken the renewal, so I said to the bank about it, and they could do nothing, but gave me their phone number to get them to return the money, as the bank said it would be "instant" as such, maybe 2 hours if there's a large number of such things needing action, but this would be the latest time it would be.

    So I rang, which the receptionist was surprised about as they bill themselves as an Online only trader, but what use is that when they do not respond to your multiple messages ?
    They looked up the department and eventually put me through, and the 1st person I spoke too was very apologetic, and said it had already been refunded, and to check there is not a problem at my bank, so I did, and the bank told me they were lying, and not to take it from them, which I didn't, but how can you get money out of them when they play silly sods ?

    I rang back, and got through faster this time as they remembered the last call, this time I got a different woman, this time she said as per the contract they would refund within 5 days, I told them they had just told me it was already done, and should be in my account, more so as they illegally took it (as far as I am concerned at least), so I said it had better be back in my account before 18.00 or I would pass my expensive banking charges onto them to pay, but she said it was impossible, it would take 5 days, so I told her she was talking rubbish as my bank told me what should happen, so by this time I had enough, so I said sod this I'm going straight to the Ombudsman and rang off.

    The Ombudsman was very helpful, and produced a letter on my behalf and sent it direct to them for me, and said if they didn't sort this out to go back to them, well a miracle happened, suddenly my money was back in my account the very next day (it was a Sunday when it happened), funny 5 days I thought, and the next day I had a phone call from the insurance people to sort things out, they wanted security details from me to do more, which I refused as I had no way to know who they were, so we continued via email, they claimed I had not requested the renewal to be stopped in enough time to stop it, they reckon my 1st request was 18 hours before renewal, when in fact it was at least my 3rd request, over approx. 1 month.

    So they asked for proof of this, so I attached my 1st request to them, a few weeks letter I email again asking "am I being ignored ?"
    They claimed they never got the email, so I resent it, and attached a copy of the email they claimed they never got as well, again a few weeks later I email again asking "am I being ignored again ?"
    This time I added that they got my other email just fine, and that one has also gone unanswered now.

    It's obvious they know exactly what they are doing, imagine the interest they must earn off peoples money just holding onto it for a few days, in my case near £300, multiply that by who knows how many people, that has to be some major interest they get, and being big business they just keep getting away with doing this, so I keep meaning to go back to the Ombudsman, but keep forgetting due to my failing health, I just can't deal with such hassle anymore, I have enough other things to be dealing with without this kind of thing, so definitely a dirty tricks company in my opinion.
  • agarnett
    agarnett Posts: 1,301 Forumite
    edited 12 March 2015 at 10:39AM
    Very good, Martin.

    The story above about the dual insurance at Aviva of the same vehicle is appalling.

    Every single vehicle on the DVLA UK registration database that is not SORN'd must be linked to a single insurer via a single policy number at any given moment in time - that's the law - but I think it places a legal duty on the vehicle owner at penalty of a criminal offence. And the rest is open house for insurers to mess with.

    It is an unforgiveable error that the system is clearly corrupted by the practices of the insurers interacting with our personal data held on a government database.

    I have long said that some insurers cannot be trusted with a license to conduct insurance business (which now also requires total diligence in the accuracy and maintenance of our personal data held on government databases). The list unfortunately includes some of our biggest insurance companies.

    It has long been known that the insurance industry is one of those that makes windfall profits from overlooked mistakes and overlooked refunds, and more recently from strong-armed T&Cs changes and traps. In the last year or two they have actually started giving it a common name usually more on the life pensions and investment side of their house, but to them it is all "Back Books" grist to their mills.

    Yet for more than 20 years, not content with the slush profits from mistakes and refunds which sometimes can be forgiven if they have once upon a time resulted from administrative complexity and human error - i.e. before total computer automation and which were too expensive to delve into - they have lately been dreaming up ADDITIONAL fees for themselves and other sharp practice.

    Perhaps that's the reason for the additional fees: the true unidentified slush from the old manual way of doing things has been almost eradicated by accurate computer systems which record every transaction and how it was calculated, so insurers decided they wanted to create some official slush profit instead - strong-arm style as suggested earlier!

    Q. We can't physically register ownership of a vehicle without insurance, or it is simply illegal to register without insurance?.

    A. In some countries now it is the former, so much so that you register online and if you don't give the government an insurance policy number, the government will allocate an insurance policy from an insurer you choose, committing that insurer to cover you immediately while they produce a quote! I believe it could be so in the UK too, but currently I think UK relies retrospectively only upon the letter of the law, and not on the DVLA computer system refusing a registration without an insurance policy number, and requiring the insurer to diligently maintain the unique vehicle insurance policy record within the government database.

    Maybe that could be rule 0 ! Then at least this double insurance nonsense couldn't physically occur.
  • G6JPG
    G6JPG Posts: 147
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    (Firstly, is it really the case that you have to insure a car to own it, if not SORNed? I know it has to be taxed if not SORNed, but surely as long as someone is insured to drive it, the owner doesn't have to - in other words, can they send the black helicopters for you if it's in your driveway and taxed, but not insured, or only if it's on the road without insurance? For example, what about if someone from the motor repair trade is driving it - under their insurance that allows them to drive customers' vehicles; it seems unfair if the owner has to insure it as well. Fair enough, if it's actually on the road, there has to be some insurance covering it. Anyway, to get back to Martin's 10 points ...)

    1. Opt-in/out of autorenewal at start of policy year - sounds good. Also, IMO, it should be out by default, with the customer having to choose to in.

    2. Remove the NCB block to switching. Sounds good.

    3. Last year's premium should be shown. Most definitely - in bold; in fact, it should be the most obvious thing on the form, legible before anything else (except perhaps the logo).

    4. Reasons for increase should be given - sounds good, though I'd not be too bothered, if the old price was prominent, as the increase would then be obvious, and the customer could challenge it. If we're talking about things like rising crime/fraud/compensation levels in general, that is; if the rise is due to changes in individual circumstances, such as speeding points, then - although the customer should know about those too. Yes, I'm not too bothered about this one, if 3. is done as above.

    5. Cancelling by same means as signing - most definitely; what's more, if it is in any way difficult - over 12 minutes' wait on a 'phone, or website only works with very particular browsers - there should be an email the customer could send to, and need to do nothing further other than cutting off the payment. In fact, obliging companies to publish an email address (something with an @ in it, not a web address!) would be desirable in many more spheres than just this one!

    6. More notice about renewals. I'm not at all convinced about this one; too much and one can easily forget. 28 days seems reasonable to me. (I know you've suggested a further reminder at 2 weeks, but lots - quite probably including me! - might then just ignore the first one!)

    7. No cancellation fees for auto-renewed. I'm not too clear what you're suggesting here: if you mean after the renewal date has passed, then I'd say it was reasonable to allow such a fee, if one was in place before renewal. (The levels of cancellation fees is another matter: I think they should be no more than a month's policy value - but that's a separate matter.) If you're saying they charge a cancellation fee if you cancel a policy that would otherwise have auto-renewed and you do it before the renewal, then I totally agree (would such a behaviour even be legal?).

    8. Must ask about changes before issuing a new quote. I think they mostly do for discussed new quotes: if you're saying they must obtain confirmation of no change before an auto-renewal, and (which you sort of say) should notify the holder that the insurance will be suspended in the absence of such confirmation, then that sounds good.

    9. Ban early deposit-taking. Yes.

    10. Ban renewal fees. Not so sure - depends how clearly they're stated. Aren't they, in effect, just a premium rise? If they're being used as a way of hiding the rise, then I agree they should be banned, but if the renewal document (reminder, whatever you want to call it) shows clearly last year's premium and this year's total (i. e. including any renewal fee and anything else), then I don't think it matters what they call all components of the total. Much like my answer to 4 (give reasons for increases) - as long as the old premium and new total are both clear, I don't think it matters.

    Other: I find it depressing that they do auto-renew with an increase, given that I've nearly always been able to save, either by switching or calling back to the current one.

    If old premium and new total were presented next to each other (one above the other), it'd be interesting to see how many actually did auto-renew. They could even offer a discount for doing so :)!
  • Orford
    Orford Posts: 2,199
    Combo Breaker First Post First Anniversary
    I always get new quotes every year which invariably means I change insurers annually. So when I send the new company proof of NCD in the same letter I also give them notice that I do not want the policy auto-renewed and withdraw authorisation for any future payments on my credit card.
  • I know this is an old thread but it seems the right place to join the campaign.

    I got my renewal, phoned up to haggle on the price, said I'd get back to the insurance company. Found a better price elsewhere and took out cover. I didn't get back to the insurance company and they didn't send me an email, or letter, or the new policy but just auto renewed.

    I saw the payment on my bank statement and on day 14 told them it was not my intention to auto renew, that I didn't feel I had a contract with them and by talking to them about the price and telling them I wanted a better one I had demonstrated that I was not automatically renewing.

    Now I read their T&Cs and correspondence I realise I should have explicitly told them I didn't want to auto renew. I be they are quite pleased though.

    This 14 days may cost me £60 in charges.

    I'm not saying I am completely without blame. I did take my eye of the ball.

    What can I do now. How can I avoid charges? Any ideas?
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