I had the notice to renew my car insurance a couple of days ago. It was over £400, which I think is a bit steep. So I went online to have a look around. The best (not cheapest) deal I could find – better in some respects but with a larger excess – is about £240. So I had a Jimmy-look-see at my own insurance company’s website. Hm. Assuming I currently have a £100 excess (I’d have to go look up the policy to check that) it’s £312.49. They do mention a 10% discount for buying online, but £95 is rather more than 10%. Evidently, I must ring up after the weekend and have a little moan.
We had a similar sort of thing in the church a few years ago. Well, it’s not the same but it gives rise to a similar reaction. You see, our benefice (group of churches under one minister) always paid its quota in full. That is, the money we pay to the Diocese which covers the cost of the minister plus National Insurance, pension etc. and a bit towards the Diocesan admin and upkeep of the Cathedral – others know more about its reckoning than I do. But lots of churches don’t pay in full and few pay very little. So the suggestion was made that the churches which do pay in full should pay more to cover the costs of the ones that don’t, rather than the latter being called to account for it. There was a meeting where full and frank (but entirely polite) exchanges of view were made. My contribution to that meeting was to say that paying in full is what matters. If you do, you take satisfaction from that and you do your best to achieve that payment every year. If the amount asked is bumped up to an impossible level and you fail, even by £100, you haven’t achieved your aim and you have to come to terms with that. But the next year, does it matter much, if you can’t pay 100%, whether you pay 99% or 90%. And in a few years, even much less. Don’t move the winning post too far, I suggested, or the bond broken may never be repaired.
It’s a bit the same with my insurance company. We used to have a lovely bloke called Steve who came round and did the renewal for us in person. When we first, on the recommendation of a friend, asked him to call, he undercut Norwich Union by so much that we not only insured our cars but our house and contents with his company (CIS, if you’re interested). And it never went up to an unseemly extent and they were brilliant if we had a claim, so we didn’t shop around. But once I got a bigger and newer car, it took a big price hike, and by then their policy was to use the telephone rather than a person, so their valued personal touch had gone. And now that I’ve found they’ll offer a lower price to a new customer, the loyalty I’d have for them is completely gone. So, even if we come to terms and I go with them after all, I’ll check online every year. Which I’d rather not have to bother to do. Yes, arguably I should have been doing it for a long time already. But it’s the degree of overcharging, you see. I’d certainly pay a few tenners not to have been bored witless putting in the details of this and that several times, but they have chanced their arm too far.