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I have worked for 5 years on trade magazines for insurance professionals and then organised 3 publications to be distributed with the Guardian about insurance with the British Insurance Brokers Association and the Chartered Insurance Institute. This experience has helped me enormously in all my insurance matters.

Therefore I was perplexed to have to pay out £35 because of a new decision about car insurance made by the Government – something George Orwell would have devoured – based on….what logic I don’t know.

The story

In 2011, I lived in North London. I was there when Tottenham, just up the road, was burning down. The atmosphere was getting a bit menacing. Civil unrest was stirring and had been stirring for some time.

* Student fees,

* Changes to Disability Living Allowance,

* The Occupy Movement had started. The government’s bailing out of banks while they don’t change their behaviour, costing the country billions.

* Unemployed people being further restricted in their attempts at finding work,

* People being pushed into unpaid work for profitable organisations for their £72 a week,

* Changes to prevent under 25 year olds receiving housing benefit.

* Pensioners being steered into lump payments that greatly reduce the amount they get.

I could go on.  Does this government do anything except take money from where it is needed and do things against the public?

Auto Renew

Here’s what happened:

The night before I am due to drive to Glastonbury, my car is broken into. I go to collect a friend to give him a lift to Somerset, where we cut out cardboard to not be blown out of existence on the motorway. My car sits in a wet field for a week.

I call Sheila’s Wheels’ (SW) claim line. The first thing I hear is ‘press 1 if it is windscreen or glass related.’ I press one. I mean a broken window is glass related isn’t it? No. Apparently not. This takes me through to Auto Glass. They tell me this is called a ‘non claim.’ They are not allowed (?) to tell customers if their no claims bonus will be effected or not ‘for fraud prevention reasons.’ (not specified).

I call the number again and wait to speak to Sheila’s Wheels. The man tells me off (yes, proper teacher style), saying ‘it is not windscreen or glass related, but theft.’ I ask if my no-claims bonus will be effected if I claim. He says ‘probably not’. I ask him to get a yes or no. It is a yes. 2 years off my no claims bonus (NCB)

I decide to pay for the Autoglass repairs myself, costing me £260. The Sheila’s Wheels man tells me that even though nothing was stolen and I was not claiming, it would still affect my policy the next year.

So I was extremely surprised that Sheila’s Wheels Auto-Renewed my policy at the same price without asking me or warning me. They didn’t go for the higher policy price in order to do this.

By this time I have moved from a North London street in the time of civil unrest to an off-road private parking and then a side street in Cornwall. Note this.

In January 2012 I used a broker called Be Wiser. They found a policy for me with AXA. In March, it became apparent that Sheila’s Wheels still thought they were covering me. At this point, I had to get Sheila’s Wheels to stop my policy, refund me and send out a letter confirming that I had a 5 year NCB.

On 22 March 2012 an Ian Thompson at SW spoke to BW to confirm I had 5 yrs NCB, no claims and no convictions.

The Claims and Underwriting Exchange (The C%UE)

In January 2013, BW call me to offer a new policy. A couple of weeks later, an email arrives telling me that a document is attached. I assume this is my policy and don’t check it until I’m ready to get my tax disk.

They write to me (saying about saving the environment, which they would have done if they had alerted me to what the attachment was about) to say that the Motor Insurance Board registry (AKA the C%UE) has shown that I had an unreported ‘incident’ in June 2011 and to let them know about the claim.

I call up and am told by Be Wiser that they can’t phone Sheila’s Wheels so I have to ask SW to write to BW to confirm (what they had confirmed by phone in March 2012) that I had no claims or convictions. It takes two attempts to get this from SW. The first letter states wrongly that I was insured by them from 8 December to 8 December.

I scan and send the letter from SW to BW by email. I get a letter back which says: ‘Please be advised that the claim notification still needs to be added to your insurance policy as an incident had occurred. This will cause an additional premium.’

So even though I had paid out £260 myself, and Sheila’s Wheels had auto-renewed my policy at the same rate without asking me for more money, and I was not parking my car in London during civil unrest but in a Cornwall side road, I had to pay more money.

It turned out this was £35. Not as bad as it could have been. However, it is the logic coming from Government that gets me.

Apparently, because my car was broken into in London, it makes me – not my car – a higher risk to the insurer. It doesn’t matter where I live.  I could have been robbed in downtown Los Angeles and then moved to a hamlet in Wales, but I would still be a higher risk and therefore have to pay more for my car insurance, even though I haven’t even claimed or cost the insurer a penny extra.

This is because insurance, including car insurance, is personal, not ‘just’ business. Because I had my car broken into in London, my car – sitting on a road in Cornwall – is suddenly more at risk of being broken into than other cars on the road. This is because of government statistics. They have decided that the person makes the car more likely to be broken into.

OK, I know car insurance is more competitive than it could be and the cost is shared out, but the people who are still getting away and causing everyone problems are uninsured drivers. These people cause cash for crash accidents, they do hit and runs, they cause responsible drivers costs, inconvenience and problems untold.

So how does making the PERSON a higher risk help a law-abiding citizen when they are hit by uninsured drivers?

And last question: how does this help anyone stop, crack down or catch the uninsured drivers?

This is just getting more money out of people because their wallets are already open.

Yup. the government are bullying the public again.

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