Slaying the Dragon: A Car Insurance Renewal Saga

I’ve been driving my little silver Hyundai for a year now. I love it, driving has opened up my world to so much more freedom. It makes getting from A to B with a toddler much easier, especially for spur of the moment jaunts. However, it being a year since I bought the car, it means it’s a year since I insured it. And so, the great saga of car insurance renewal began. It’s a tale of the ages, of mysterious numbers being pulled from the deep, legends of people turning mythical purple colours from blood pressure spikes upon hearing the price they’re being quoted. And so, I’ve got a tale to add to the bunch, but mine is a tale of victory, of slaying the dragon. In as much as a learner driver with only a years experience can slay.

For the last year, I’ve been insured by Liberty Insurance. As a starter-outer, they were one of the only companies who would quote me. They were the most reasonable, and allowed discounts for my parents being added onto my policy. That didn’t make the figure (close to €1800) any easier to swallow, but thems the breaks when it comes to car insurance for learner drivers in Ireland. We hear all the time about how the insurance companies are putting up the prices so much because of claims, blaming younger drivers and irresponsible drivers. However, there is a massive element of simple profit inflating that they’re playing at, and so is evidenced by the seemingly mystical method of choosing a price for an insurance quote. My initial research, followed my some market research (ie; asking others on Twitter), certainly backed up that theory.

Pretty accurate from what I’ve seen.

I am a safe driver. In some ways, too safe. In the I’ve-failed-three-driving-tests-for-being-overly-cautious way of too safe. It’s not an ungrounded fear, I’ve got post-traumatic stress related to a car accident and so I’m always a bit more wary than others might be. (The last one failed me for checking my mirrors TOO MUCH before pulling across a lane in traffic on a busy road. I’m not bitter. Just funding the RSA here.).

I’m currently waiting on a test date for my fifth (and hopefully final) test but dealing with a 25 week wait period in Cork at the moment, it could be a while. I hope to never have to claim on my insurance, as we all do. My ability as a driver isn’t taken into account in these figures. As we’re meant to do, I decided to shop around when my renewal quote came in to find the best quote. I quickly learned that I was staying put.

One company was asking for €2963 for Third Party Fire & Theft car insurance. Another quoted €2200. I stopped looking at the Fully Comprehensive figures because the TPFT ones were mind boggling enough. Many companies still wouldn’t quote me, as I’m still a learner driver. Right, so sticking with Liberty it was.

On the off chance that I’d get something different, I stuck all my details into the Liberty Insurance website. The renewal quote I had received in the post was €1077.83. However, with the exact same details, same car, same address, same me, the website quoted me €825.35 – a staggering difference of over €250. I pondered as to whether it was best to get the new policy there and then, or give them a call and get them to match it with my renewal. And then life happened, and I forgot to call them for a few days. I wound up getting a second quote off them for the exact same amount. Right so, not a fluke.

I chatted to a very lovely advisor called Sandi on their web chat, who was very helpful and offered to call me back and put me through to the renewals department. So far, so good right? So I thought, but really, this is where the saga got fun.

Sandi put me through to a woman working in the Renewals department, who for the purposes of this story we’ll call Jane. Jane was an hour away from her home time, she told me, and I could hear it in her voice. I explained my story to her, about how the renewal quote for my car insurance and the online one didn’t match and I heard an audible sigh. I was very polite and undemanding. Working in a contact centre, I know there’s nothing worse than a customer coming on with attitude and demands that are unreasonable. I simply asked if the two could be reconciled, given that the car insurance details are the same.

She looked over the details.

“Ok, we have a problem here. Your address is XYZ, Cork City in this quote, but on your original policy it’s XYZ, County Cork”.

“They’re the exact same house address”.

“But it says County here and City here, which one is it”

(I live in what would be considered a median of suburb and city, technically within the City borders. Regardless, the postman gives us everything addressed to both).

She asked me to go in and edit the new policy.

“We have to do it on the phone, let’s see if it bumps it up”.

Jane sounded particularly gleeful at the thought of the price bouncing up to match the renewal quote. I wouldn’t have been surprised with a “We Told You So” going on her tone throughout this. The figure didn’t move. Still at €825.35. She sounded disappointed.

Next stop, an issue with my parent’s addresses. Apparently (since in their form to sign up for insurance quotes they don’t ask you for the addresses of your named drivers), they were listed as living with me, and that would be a massive issue. Again, there were strong hints of “This is going to change it all, definitely”.

I edited the addresses. No change.

She tells me I need to wait on the line while she speaks to a manager about “whether or not we should be matching the quote”. Then comes back and tells me she needs a few more minutes, she’ll ring me back. I wonder what voodoo magic she’s performing to change the figures on the screen, but I agree. Time to stick the kettle on.

Jane calls me back within ten minutes. Unable to hide the satisfaction in her voice, she points out that my quote I’d created on the internet wasn’t going to work because I’d gotten the date wrong. Instead of the 23rd, when my policy expires, I’d quoted the 20th, because I didn’t have the exact date to hand at the time. I asked if it would be possible to just change it. Absolutely not. No way. New quote needed. Oh, and she was finished in five minutes, so it’d be best if I could do it tonight and she’ll ring me back in the morning.

I was left baffled. I messaged friends about the ludicrous nature of it all. And then I got on with my afternoon. She was already after taking up 45 minutes of my time with her faffing about, and it was a day for doing the GrownUp jobs like bill paying and appointment making.

After putting Eliott to bed, I sit in front of the laptop and open the Liberty website once more. I enter the details I could write in my sleep at this stage, double check that everything is correct and press “Generate Quote”. And then this happens.

€691.14. A whole €134.21 cheaper than the earlier quote of €825.35. An incredible €386.69 less than the renewal quote they gave me of €1077.83. Overall, despite it being a bit of a slog at times, the same company has wound up quoting me 36% less for my insurance with their only real competition being themselves. Which really does make me wonder – where the hell do those figures come from anyway?

I waited for my call from Jane this morning, and the call never came. Our agreed time slot of 10am came and went, as did 11 and 12. No sign. So off I popped to the website again, where I got the lovely Patrick to give me a call back and put me through to Renewals again. I’ll be honest, I was hoping for Jane. Part of me was curious just how much more bitter she would sound at the price reducing further. Instead, I was put through to a really friendly advisor Olivia (real names for the lovely people, clearly). She checked through the details, sorted everything out and took my card details. Bam, money saved, car insurance renewed for the lower amount.

Regardless of where they get those figures from, I’m left feeling like I’m the brave knight who slayed the evil dragon (for another year at least). It’s rare to see victory over the big companies like these who seem to live to drain money from us. I’m celebrating it while I can.

*******

BadMammy is on Facebook.

This has in no way been a sponsored post, nor did Liberty ask me to write anything about my experience. I’ve had to pay my own car insurance premium, for sure. I’m sure they probably wouldn’t want my criticism of their customer service from Jane anyway, but it’s important to call out when a company is both doing good and bad customer service. As someone who works in that industry, I know that the difference in even a small change of tone in voice can really matter. With something as expensive as car insurance, a little extra on the phone really shouldn’t be considered too much hard work. 
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