Archive for June, 2008
Undercover police in Miami had the easiest bust in their lives when they were offered a ride in a heavily modified stretch limousine bus cruising through South Beach. Their $40 ‘fare’ got them on board a mobile brothel, where another sort of ride cost somewhat more.
So if anyone’s interested in acquiring a modified stretch bus, the Florida police have one available at a knock down rate, and if you need to insure it, make sure get a specialist modified car insurance quote.
According to the Yorkshire Police, thieves in Leeds have been nicking car stereos from Ford Foci (or Focuses if you prefer) under the mistaken impression that they contain a magical chip, which, if soldered into your Sky Digibox will allow you to watch the movies and football for free.
Now, I know people in Leeds must be desperate to watch a real football team again, but this is so obviously a load of rubbish that you have to wonder who is falling for it.
Reminds me of the spate of drain cover thefts we had here a couple of years ago, following an untrue rumour that the scrap metal price had gone through the roof.
Still even that is more believable than this recent magazine article which is dodgier than the coffee I had at the French Car Show yesterday morning.
The results are in in the Auto Express Driver Power insurance survey for 2008 and we were pleased to finish in a creditable 11th place in the survey, showing last year’s rise from 40th to 17th wasn’t just a flash in the pan.
With this result being the outcome of actual customers responses, we’re especially happy that our customers seem to have a good opinion of us, a testament to all the hard work which has been done in improving the customer experience over the last few years, even though we certainly think there’s room for further improvement.
I think the results are even better for the fact that, as a broker, a certain amount of the customer experience is out of our hands and relies on our panel of insurance providers. Particularly so when you consider that the unusual and specialist cars we often cover are much harder for the insurance companies to deal with, especially if there is a claim.
Because of that, I think the value of dealing through a decent broker is demonstrated when you see that some of the companies on our panel are languishing in the bottom 10 of the rankings – so it seems that you really can get demonstrably better value AND better service by going through a broker, despite what Direct Line would have you believe.
Of course, the broker you choose has a big impact – otherwise Endsleigh, Budget, the AA, Swinton and the Post Office wouldn’t be in the bottom ten.
And now, a la Jeremy Clarkson, I’ll explain why we actually did even better. The top four companies are all, in a way, cheating. I don’t mean that they aren’t doing really well for their customers, because they are. It’s just that if you aren’t an elderly trade union member living in the country, you won’t be able to get a quote with all four. SAGA and RIAS concentrate on the ‘mature’ markets, Frizzell targets only union (and similar organisation) members, and the winner, NFU, will only quote drivers with a rural postcode.
Obviously that’s fair enough, but it does give these companies an easier ride in the survey stakes, because they can tailor their products and their customer experience to their very specific niche. In our case, managing the conflicting expectations of classic car owners, high net worth individuals and modified jap import enthusiasts, for example, is much more of a challenge. Our staff have to learn about hundreds of products, and then have to deal with customers who are so dramatically diverse that they need treating in quite different ways. And it even comes down to things like the hold music – which everyone complains about, but for different and often opposite reasons.
So, all in all, an impressive showing, and for anyone who might have been disappointed by our service in the past: we’ve got much better – it’s official, and we’re aiming to improve even further, so perhaps it’s time to consider giving us another go.
Norwich Union sorry, Aviva* have announced that they are pulling the plug on their Pay As You Drive Car Insurance product, after disappointing sales and low take up of their tracking technology.
The idea behind PAYD is that you install some GPS telemetry gubbins in your car, so that Norwich Union can track where you go, when you go and how you get there, and in return they charge you a variable rate per hour of between 5p a mile and £1 a mile, depending on whether you’re on a leisurely drive through the Cotswolds at noon or caning it through Brixton at midnight.
The problems with this are manifold. Do you really want your insurer to know how fast you are driving on every occasion, where you go to regularly? Privacy is a major concern for many people with any kind of pay as you drive mechanism, and who is to say what NU would use the info for, or even if they’ll sell it to the highest bidder?
Even Norwich Union’s own marketing spiel could only come out with a statistic as underwhelming as this :
“24% of “Pay As You Drive”™ Pilot customers would have saved up to 30% compared to a standard Norwich Union Motor Insurance premium”
I’m not sure if that means that 76% were worse off, or no better off for choosing PAYD, but in any case you would expect bigger savings than this from the hot air they spouted when they launched the product.
In any case, ans as we previously pointed out, a limited mileage policy is a better, lower tech solution for most young drivers, and offers the added advantage of a set monthly bill, so no sudden stings or big fluctuations when you have to travel more than in an average month (like many students travelling long distances a couple of times per term.) What’s more, in many cases the savings with a limited mileage policy can be quite substantial, and you don’t have to worry about fitting an ugly black box to your pride and joy. (Hmm. I wonder if you have to declare a telematics unit as a modification.)
Despite Aviva’s attempt to spin this failure as a result of fears of a surveillance society, I think the real problem is that the product was quite gimmicky and did not in fact offer drivers an attractive way of using their cars, and so it was doomed to failure.
The 10,000 policyholders are now being substituted onto other policies, which means in a week or two we will be seeing uproar on the forums as someone gets stung for a massive premium increase. Oh dear.
*(incidentally, we told you that piece of news aaaages ago – before they did, in fact)
Since the Fast Car photoshoot at the office a couple of weeks ago, I’ve spent every spare moment (I don’t get that many, which is why it has taken 2 weeks) looking at the hours of footage we took on the day and editing it down into something you might actually want to watch – here it is: