True money stories from smart people: Car insurance excuses, trials and risks
The comedian Jasper Carrott used to read verbatim some of the daft excuses people put on their car insurance claims forms as a part of his stand-up routine.
He’d found wonderfully un-self-aware phrases such as:“The accident was caused by me waving to the man I hit last week” or “I don’t know who was to blame for the accident; I wasn’t looking” and “I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment”.
But recent comments on my website, MoneyMagpie.com, have been more to do with the difficulty of getting a decent insurance price in the first place.That seems to be even more of a trial for some, particularly with car insurance.
For a start, Punty says: “I work in television and I know it puts my insurance premiums up. I once asked the woman on the phone why it was and she said it’s because I might give a lift to a celebrity one day. Really? You think Johnny Depp’s going to cadge a lift in the back of my Citroen C2 after a hard day’s filming? Do they know how it works?”
It does seem rather unfair, particularly when, according to insurer 1st Central, supposedly uber-sensible accountants are the worst drivers by profession, involved in more than 16,000 accident claims a year. It’s not just them either, they’re followed closely by solicitors, who are responsible for 15,000 claims, and third are doctors, who moved up the list by six places from ninth last year. So if you’re in a car, it’s a dashcam a day that ‘keeps the doctor away’.
It’s not just car insurance where the complaints come in either. Foxy says: “I’m an artist and apparently that makes my home insurance more expensive. What do they think we do – sit around all day in our pants setting fire to the curtains?”
Well, yes, sort of.
You might not think you’re just a number, but that’s how insurers see you.They work out our risk on a points system according to your job (or lack of one). Professions are graded one to three, and woe betide you if you’re in one of the high-risk categories, however puritanical your behaviour has been thus far.
Of course, journalists, entertainers and – surprise, surprise – racing drivers have higher premiums but, interestingly, nurses and social workers have lower ones. This is not so much because they’re considered to be more sensible than us ‘luvvies’, but because these tend to be female-dominated professions. So although an EU directive has made it illegal to charge women and men a different insurance rate, some companies are getting round it by charging less to people in supposed ‘girlie’ professions. Sneaky!
And it certainly helps to be smart when you describe your job to insurers. For example, it’s cheaper to be a writer than a copywriter and, oddly, it’s cheaper to be a bricklayer than a builder. But it’s not a good idea to tell them you’re a nursery nurse if you’re a bomb disposal expert. That will be tough to prove as you dig the shrapnel out of your bonnet.
There are also gadgets around now to monitor your driving and even prove your innocence in a prang, which can exonerate you if you’re a politician (another high-risk profession) and someone rammed you because they didn’t like your face.
But they can work against you too. Kimberley Doley comments on an article about using dashcams as evidence: “My children’s dad needs this dashcam desperately...Not to protect him from insurance scams, but to protect other road users. I hope it would make him think about his driving and make him a safer driver as it may embarrass him that he might end up on World’s Worst Drivers Caught on Tape.”
And, when it comes to bringing your premiums down, the old favourite of simply comparing prices before you buy can save everyone money – even if you just pretend to do it, as Claude tells other readers. He says: “Call your car and home insurance company and tell them you want to go through all your coverage because you found another carrier that is cheaper. They’ll probably help you ‘find’ 10% off or more.”
Yes, funny that, how they manage to ‘find’ that extra 10% off, even in the middle of a policy. Insurers must have coins down an awful lot of sofas.