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Been a while…

…since I had a good rant about insurance companies. Well, it’s a new year and there are two advertisements that are really getting on my nerves at the moment. The first is a radio advert by AXA who claim to be your “local” insurance company. Drop in and get your amazingly cheap policy with no fuss. Well AXA are far from your “local” insurance company so don’t let that fool you into supporting your own. In fact unless you live in Dublin or Derry you won’t be talking to somebody in the same county as you when you call them. On top of that, the great savings on offer, well I still haven’t forgotten that when I started driving and acquired my first policy through a broker who got me a policy with AXA without my immediate knowledge, they charged me over IR £3,500 to drive a standard, small-engined, of-the-shelf, family car. The next year their call centre told me that they had a blanket ban on my model of car even though I was still insured with them at the time I called for new quotes. I vowed then that I would never do business with AXA again and I never have. FBD is an example of a local company – you can actually drop into one of their offices in your county and say hello to them.

The second advert that really gets me at the moment is the Hibernian TV advert. You know the one that uses the footage of Charlie Haughy telling us to tighten our belts. I guess they didn’t think of this when they used that footage and that somehow highlighting the badness of the past would make us think that here’s a company that cuts to the chase and has no time for those who hoodwink and obstruct? Well just over 5 years ago Hibernian was the first motor insurance company to turn around and tell Irish drivers that the Irish driving test was worthless. Of course they didn’t say that exactly but in a roundabout way they did; they introduced the “ignition” driving test that placed a further obstacle in the path of young drivers with full licenses towards getting cheaper insurance and that somehow a half-day course would eliminate loads of the risk that their hefty statistics claim to otherwise represent. The biggest insult of all was that it completely undermined the official, government backed, Irish driving test by refusing to accept that drivers were qualified. The other thing that relates to that footage of CJ and the motor insurer is that for the last couple of years, while we have all been tightening our belts and getting ready for recession, companies like Hibernian were enjoying record profits in the Irish motor insurance arena. In 2007 the Irish motor insurance industry enjoyed profits of over Eur 357, 000, 000 but of course we’re the ones tightening our belts just like when CJ was buying his fancy shirts – the failure to spot the obvious similarity is frankly baffling and I for one would never hire the genius who came up with that idea for an ad.

Sigh… Rant over.

6 thoughts on “Been a while…”

  1. AXA have an office down on the Quays in Waterford. I dropped into them last year and they were very helpful. On the phone doing a recent claim I got an American and she was very helpful and efficient.

    They were also one of the few, and cheapest, insurers who would insure me when I moved over from SA. I still pay high rates but nobody else is cheaper.

  2. Ah yes, I guess I should have been careful about my local comment. They do have a number of branches dissipated across the country but I guess I went a little off track with my rant. I should have just said that they are as local as a UK chain store. 😉

    Interesting to hear that you were limited on options when you moved over, especially at your age (no offence intended, I just remember you arriving at a prime age for insurance, one of the magic numbers in insurance 🙂 ). The thing is though if you skim back over the companies that refused you and see how many of them have a parent company that is your current insurer then you’ll be in my boat of ill-content. 🙂

  3. Ah yeah, the “local as a UK chain store” thing is annoying and you are right that they shouldn’t be advertising themselves as local.

    I had a South African driving license and most of the cheaper insurers here required an EU or full Irish. Of the ones that took my SA license AXA was the cheapest. Also none of them would take my No Claims years from SA which was highly annoying as I had over 5 years! Paid over €2000 a year for insurance at first. Down from that but still €1500+ for a 1.6l Volvo estate… What do they think I do, donuts at 3am in a Volvo estate?

  4. Sorry…..first off as you have now noted….Axa have more branches nationwide than any other insurance company in the country. And as for thinking when you call them you are speaking to someone in either Dublin or Derry, it sure beats talking to someone in downtown New Delhi,and as for feeling hard done by on your quote of €3,500, did you not bother to check who your quote was from and did you not at least try to get a few quotes yourself, also the fact they didn’t quote on the renewal date was that quite obviously by their terms they probably shouldn’t of quoted you on your said vehicle in the first place so you actually got a years insurance off them, when you shouldn’t have for a price that was obviously the best in the market. And as for the ignition course, it does point to the fact that the Irish driving test is being disregarded, but to be honest, it’s crap, and always has been. How they let people out with full licence’s I will never know….I would much prefer if everyone had to do advanced driving tests, if it meant safer drivers on the road. And premiums in Ireland have been at their lowest ever prices over the last 5 years and that’s still with a ridiculous amount of claims. And yes you can point to the profits, but these profits have to be made, do you not know how a business works…..Ever heard of the rainy day situation…..well the rainy day has hit and it has hit big time….if it wasn’t for those profits we would all be without insurance and the said companies would be gone out the door and what would we be left with….Quinn Direct…..No thank you…..

  5. Colie, thank you for taking the time to comment.

    I was amused by a number of things in your comment but most of all by the IP address associated with your comment and the type of company that it associated you with – thank you for your unbiased views!

    Anyhow, let’s address the points you make. As somebody who has spent a great deal of my life challenging insurance companies rather than handing out policies, I have devoted a great deal of time and money into investigating the domain and in some cases actually acquiring actuarial data from companies through legal routes. Despite what my summary rant and your opinion may conclude, I do actually know, in great detail, what I am talking about.

    1) By walking into my local FBD office over the past 4 years I have saved 100’s of Euros by talking to my very local representative who is not a faceless individual, reading from a script and who cares not about whether I take the policy because they know they won’t get somebody at the other end of the country to compensate their loss on my renewal. Local business matters; let’s imagine there were no insurance businesses in Swords, Co. Dublin – I’m sure that would annoy some folk.
    2) Regarding my early days quote back in the year 2001, yes I did bother to check all details pertaining to it, right back to the underwriter. For your information that was actually the cheapest quote available to me, having spent several weeks of my time without my car, securing approximately 40 quotes from different companies, brokers, etc. That takes a lot of time let me assure you, after holding queues and reciting personal details and sometimes being rejected solely on age after your personal data is collected.
    3) Regarding “they probably shouldn’t of quoted you on your said vehicle in the first place”, what utter nonsense! I paid IR£3,500 for the pleasure of a piece of paper on my windscreen – they were laughing all the way to the bank. Sadly back in those days, pre-Equal Status Act there was a great deal of shall we say market apportioning going on. My insurance in that year was delivered by a broker, underwritten by a major insurance company. My broker could offer me a renewal quote the next year but the underwriter seemingly did not insure that type of vehicle at all when contacted directly. That makes sense?
    4) IR£3,500 is never a good price for insurance when there is zero evidence to suggest a sufficient risk. Just ask Mr. Ross with respect to his claim against Royal and Sun Alliance back in 2003.
    5) I agree that the Irish driving test is crap – this is the only point you make that I agree with by the way. However, what is even more crap is that only “young” people were deemed to be worse off having passed the test than somebody 10 years senior. The amount of blatant age-related discrimination that went on in this country back in those days was absolutely sickening. Sadly the attitude and acceptance remains in large pockets until such time that another landmark case is brought, and another after that.
    6) Profits, ah profits. Yes, my dear fellow, I understand very much how a business works. I run my own part time and for the remainder of the week I am a senior member of an organisation with a turnover per year in excess of a million Euro. I also understand that when companies gamble away premium monies in stocks and bonds with the original hope of making even more profits atop the Eur 4bn p.a. market that they were part of, it sure as hell isn’t the fault of the motorist. Sadly many insurance companies went “sub-prime” in the last 15 years and rather than covering their bases they just got greedy and now the customers will have to pay again.
    7) Personally it has always been my view for motor insurance that we should run a system like that in other sensible countries whereby third party insurance is included in vehicle registrations for the year and it’s up to the customer if they want to insure above that level for fire, theft, personal injury, damage, etc, rather than giving a licence to print money, to private enterprise whom were it not a profitable sector would not be spread left, right and center across every city and town in the country.

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