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Policy Add-ons – Useful or useless?

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August 8, 2007
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This is part four of my analysis of the Direct Line / war of words.

Another prong of Direct Line’s assault on the aggregator websites was a claim that there was no information on policy features and add-ons provided by the price comparison sites, and that often the prices are cheap because the policy is very basic.

On the face of it, this seems like a reasonable point, but some of the aggregators do allow you to compare other features of the policy and there are other reasons that we shouldn’t accept this argument on face value.

Lets take a look at some of the “great” policy features that Direct Line brag about to their potential customers:

  • Named drivers earn their own no-claims discount: This, along with the advert used to illustrate it, seems to me to be a tacit admission that many of Direct Line’s policies are what are called fronted risks. This is insurance jargon for insuring your car in the name of your parents, or another elder relative, and most insurers consider this a form of fraud and some will decline to pay out if they establish that a named driver is actually the main user of a vehicle if this has not been clearly stated at the time the policy was taken out. Adrian Flux will usually decline to offer a quote on anything that looks like this situation, but that’s not to say you can’t get a discount for driving experience you have built up while covered on someone else’s policy – if this is your situation, ring us on 08000 838833.
  • Match your no claims bonus on a second car plus 10% discount for second cars: As specialist insurers with lots of classic cars, kit cars, cherished cars and show cars on our books, many of the cars we cover are second cars, or even third, fourth or 38th cars. As a result we’ve been offering matched No Claims Discounts for years, and that applies to standard cars as well. In fact if you have more than a couple of cars we can offer multi car insurance or a family fleet policy. And our discounts for second third and fourth cars can rack up to substantially more than 10%, because we know that you can’t drive everything at once.
  • Keep your no claims when you are hit by an uninsured driver: Sounds great doesn’t it, but there are a few catches here. First off you need to give Direct Line the registration number of the offending vehicle. No good at all for those numpties who hit your parked car while you’re shopping nor if the criminals (which is what uninsured drivers are, after all) speed off without giving you a chance to eyeball their plates. They’d also like you to collect the uninsured driver’s details “if possible”. You could just get a protected no claims policy which would protect your no claims discount, whatever the cause of your claim. Most companies now offer this feature for a small additional premium.

That of course is the point. All of these features come at a cost, and the customer has to pay for these features.

With a specialist car insurance broker, like Adrian Flux, you can ask for policy features that match your needs and we will do our very best to find a company with a policy that offers what you need. You may pay a little extra for the additional benefit, but most people would agree that that’s only fair.

But if you’re with Direct Line, you are paying for the provision of those named driver benefits and uninsured claim NCB protection whether you want them or not – through a higher premium. And what’s more, you may find yourself with a restricted choice at renewal time, as virtually no other insurer will decide to accept their named driver no-claims discount (that is the case at the time of writing anyway)

As I said earlier in the post, we would be able to offer an introductory discount for driving experience as a named driver, but younger drivers may well, in years to come wish that they had just got insurance in their own name with their own NCD.

And while we’re on the subject of policy features, most customers these days have grown used to the fact that most comprehensive policies now include a courtesy car while yours is off the road as a standard feature. Direct Line don’t.

Nor do they include free legal cover.

I haven’t heard them mention that in their ads, though.

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