Z wonders on what date the Sage passed his driving test

I whiled away half an hour or so this evening getting an online quote from the company that offered the best overall deal yesterday, taking into account the extras given such as breakdown cover, windscreen replacement etc. It had said that there was a compulsory £100 excess and a voluntary £250 excess, but gave no info on how to remove the optional excess, so I thought that going to its own website rather than a price comparison one would sort that out.

Big mistake. It was the most absurdly overcomplicated form I have ever completed. It wanted to know the date on which I passed my driving test. And when each of the other named drivers did. This is not information given on your driving licence as far as I can see and when, as in the Sage’s case, it’s more than half a century ago, however does it matter? It offered me fully comprehensive insurance for all drivers or for over 25s or for over 30s, but then wanted me to name and go through the details of any person who could drive the car. it wanted notification of medical conditions – fair enough if it’s anything that affects driving but there was a massive list and in my case, for example, the early stages of arthritis is hardly relevant, except presumably to bump up the premium (I put ‘none’ for each of us). Every other form, when asking for the occupation of named drivers, offers a few general types or else lets you type in the first few letters and then suggests options. This one, you had to scroll down hundreds. It wanted to know whether not only I, but all named drivers, were home owners or not, even though I’d put them down as occasional, casual users of the car. The Sage got a speeding ticket a couple of years ago. It wanted to know the date, the points and the fine, which is fair enough, but then it asked the date of the offence. What? How is one to remember that?

It looked to me suspiciously as if it would check out every little detail and if I’d put in that I passed my driving test on 14th April 1971 instead of 17th May (whatever, I don’t remember the month, though the year is correct) they could refuse to pay out on a claim.

Anyway, I persevered out of stubbornness in the end, and finally got my quote. It was for £469.31. Now, this is the same company that, through a broker, offered £241.91 yesterday. Furthermore, it didn’t tell me what I was getting for that. It didn’t ask if I wanted courtesy car, breakdown cover and the like, or tell me what excess I’d be paying. My telephone number was a required field. I’m afraid that I’ll tell the unfortunate call centre worker what I think of the website and the quote.

26 comments on “Z wonders on what date the Sage passed his driving test

  1. Caitlin

    What a nightmare. I am putting it off but I really must just bite the bullet and get on with it – suddenly our current provider doesn’t seem so bad.

  2. Z

    The price comparison site was all right, to be fair, but I would certainly buy it over the phone rather than online – or at least query details over the phone before buying online.

    Yes, I know it’s nearly midnight. I’m off to bed soon. Really.

  3. Z

    Dave darling, you’ve seen our house. You are teasing me.

    Point still holds though. Why do they ask for it?

    What I’ll do is ring my original insurance company and renegotiate, in the first instance. I’ve got several weeks in hand, not as if it’s urgent.

  4. Z

    Dotterel, I have the Tom Lehrer song ‘I hold your hand in mine’ running irresistibly through my head … ‘But still I keep your hand as a precious souvenir’.

    What date did you pass your driving test, Dave? I know that you are unflinchingly honest and you won’t make it up.

  5. Z

    Well, we don’t actually throw anything away and if we spent long enough we could find most things. For example, looking for my driving licence last night I found my Oyster card, which the Sage will need on Thursday. Not the licence, but that will turn up when I’m looking for something else.

  6. Dave

    My full and detailed CV document on my computer, from which I can extract many facts to fill in forms says: Passed Car Driving Test 20.11.74

  7. Z

    Dave, you didn’t design that form for them, did you? It was obviously put together by someone who thinks that recording such stuff is normal.

    Having said that, I’m lost in stunned respect.

  8. Z

    I looked and it only gave one date. On reflection, it may have been the date of the offence rather than of the conviction, but it still doesn’t alter the point of what I say. I can’t see any reason to need it, unless it’s to pick up on a small point you’ve got wrong and therefore wriggle out of paying out on a claim.

    It even wanted to know what sort of car alarm it has. The model and everything. It was factory-fitted more than 10 years ago and while it may say in the manual, it isn’t on the registration papers. Besides, I might have been trying to sort out insurance for a car I’m in the process of buying. Every other site had provision for you to say that, but not this one.

    And after all that, they gave a quote nearly double the one the one the same firm quoted through a broker.

  9. Dave

    The reasom for the date of the offence is probably quite simple – Any offence over 3 years ago, they may ignore. So they need to know when it happened.

  10. Z

    Yes, I can see that of course, I’ve no problem there (except they make it 5 years rather than 3). But why the offence plus the conviction dates when no one else asked for that? And why do they want the exact date of my driving test, and the Sage’s and Al’s and Weeza’s when no one else has wanted more than how many years ago (and if it’s 11+, that’s all you need to say). Surely you’ve not saying that it’s not silly to ask for such precise information?

    Neither the Sage nor I has ever had a CV because, being self-employed (in the Sage’s case since 1968), we’ve never needed one.

  11. Z

    And they gave no details at all of what cover they were offering to provide nor what the excess was. And the quote was ludicrously high. As a website, it’s worse than useless.

  12. Dave

    I wouldn’t disagree. I didn’t write the site.

    Asking for exact dates can be interesting, though, when people are telling porkie pies. I know the police often ask people they suspect of being under-age their date of birth – making up a false one on the spot often throws them.

    I have seen insurance forms where people claim to have passed their test on, for instance, a Sunday. Even, once, Christmas Day.

  13. Dave

    I don’t have the CV document as a CV as such, although it has helped me with basic information when I have applied for a job, but almost as an autobiography.

    It does come in useful when I want to know when, for instance, I walked the Pennine Way – or when people like you challenge me to give the exact date I passed my test.

    And when I become Pope, and someone wants to write my biography, all the relevant dates and facts will be there for them. Speaking as a biographer, i know how useful that would be. I think everyone should keep one.

  14. Z

    I haven’t been suspected of being under-age since I was about 36.

    I’m happy to be forgotten, and to be so insignificant that no one will ever want to write my biography. I love to not matter at all.

  15. Lionel

    “… the early stages of arthritis is hardly relevant, except presumably to bump up the premium (I put ‘none’ for each of us)”

    It’s not usually to inflate the premium. It’s so they can dismiss any claim and declare the whole policy void if it transpires you didn’t declare something when you applied for the insurance – whether or not whatever wasn’t disclosed is relevant to any claim.

  16. Z

    True. I’d already decided I wasn’t buying from them online, so I just was going through it all to see what quote I would get. Thing is, I’m a pretty good bet. I’ve never made a claim or had an accident, never had an endorsement, I’m easy money. They would like my business, as would many other companies, so why ask unnecessary questions and then give me an overpriced quote? Makes no sense at all.


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