Never Renew On-line

Here’s my latest in a rather lengthy line of what would generally be termed insurance renewal run-ins. I say generally because one of the first that really made me laugh was with the renewal for my AA breakdown cover which, I suppose, could loosely be termed insurance. My latest bit of fun came as a result of our home insurance cover.

Our home insurance expires in five days time on 20th August. It is currently with Aviva [formerly known as Norwich Union, a name I liked much better, however …] To their credit, they sent my renewal letter and quote out a full month before that date. I say credit because it gives you plenty of time to shop around for alternative quotes. I didn’t. In fact, I pretty much forgot about it in all the excitement of our gold-rush 30th Olympiad. I spotted the letter lying, as usual, on our breakfast bar in the kitchen, just yesterday and thought, “oh yes, I must renew that”. I didn’t. The renewal quote, incidentally, was for £339.55 including buildings and contents insurance.

Today, whilst chopping up a chilli for some mango salsa to accompany a couple of salmon fillets, the phone rang. Carol answered it and proffered me the phone. Being up to my elbows in finely chopped chilli, the air changed colour to a delicate hue of blue. Carol insisted. I wiped my hands and took the phone; it was a man from Aviva muttering something in a Scottish accent, which makes a wonderful change from a Mumbai accent (more credit to them), about renewing my home insurance.

Me: “Oh yes, I’ll be renewing it on-line.”

Aviva: “I can do it for you now over the phone to make it easier if you like.”

Me: “it’s not very convenient at the moment, I’m cutting up vegetables”.

Aviva: “I’ll be very quick. Or is there a more convenient time when I can call you?” [More credit at this point, I think.]

Mug: “Oh, OK, go on, I’ve already stopped chopping my chilli.”

Aviva: “I’ll just have to ask you a few questions.”

Me: [Sigh!] “Oh, you’re not going to get me to go through all the details are you, you’ve already got them?”

Aviva: “Can you just confirm your name and date of birth?”

Me: “Wait a minute, you phoned me, why do I have to confirm who I am?”

Aviva: “blather, blather, … data protection … blather.”

I was tempted at this point to ask Mr Aviva to confirm who he was; how do I know he was actually an Aviva representative, after all? As it was, I just went ahead and confirmed myself.

Aviva: “Thank you sir, was you renewal quote £339.55?”

Me: “That’s the one.”

Aviva: “Can I just put you on hold while I see about the price?”

Me: “Sure.”

[Surprisingly brief pause …]

Mr Aviva: “My manager has just authorized me to offer you a renewal price of £281.41 if I do it now. Would you like me to go ahead?” [Reminiscent of double glazing quotes.]

Me: [Thinks: Strewth, that’s a saving of nearly £60!] “Sure, go for it!”

Had it not been for the Olympics, my forgetfulness and/or my lethargy, I’d have been on-line renewing at the originally quoted price. Trying to get the cover we need for our travelling absences is, after all, a pain in the bum; it’s worth a few extra quid not to have to jump through those hoops every year. Fortunately, I did nothing and saved us £60 in to the bargain.

The moral of these stories is clear: never renew automatically on-line. Either wait until they phone you or phone them and bitch about the price.

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