Which? warns on car insurance extra feesDrivers hit by fees to renew or change policy
24 July 2013
Drivers are being stung with a range of additional fees when they come to renew their car insurance or even to change details on their policies, according to new Which? research.
We looked at the additional charges levied by 37 car insurance providers and found that some punish loyal customers, or put you out of pocket if you move house, change car or get married.
Loyal drivers hit by renewal fees
You'd think car insurers would be happy if you decided to renew your policy with them. Most would indeed be jumping for joy, reflected in the fact that the vast majority do not charge a renewal fee, but there are a couple of exceptions.
Hastings Direct charges policy holders who wish to renew £20 for the privilege, rolling the cost into the new premium - a fee that has also been bumped up by £15 since our last survey six months ago. 50Plus Insurance Services will also charge you £10 - while the remaining 35 insurers we looked at charge no fee at all.
Hastings Direct told us that every insurance company incurs costs to administer policies at renewal 'whether they choose to disclose that cost as a separate fee as we do, or wrap it up in to the total premium price. We believe our approach is more honest and transparent.'
Other car insurance charges to watch out for
Our analysis showed the highest fees for making an adjustment to your details are attributed to the same two insurers again - Hastings Direct and 50Plus Insurance Services -, and can set you back by as much as £35.
Of the policies we analysed, you'll be likely to have to pay £19 on average if you need to change some details on your policy. Just over 20% of the insurers we looked at, including AXA and Swiftcover, let you do this for free.
If you need a duplicate copy of your documents sent out, you could be charged as much as £26 if you take your insurance from Esure or Shelia's Wheels. AA, Endsleigh, RAC and Zurich customers don't fare much better, facing a charge of £25.
However, 12 of the insurers we looked at, including Age UK and Aviva, produce duplicate copies for free.
What happens if I want to cancel my car insurance?
One last thing to watch out for is cancellation fees. If you need to cancel your policy before the end of your insurance period, you'll get stung for more than £40, on average.
Customers with an annual premium of more than £300 with RSA's E-choice policy are worst off, paying a whopping £70 fee to cancel. Only four, including Age UK and NFU Mutual, don't charge at all to cancel.
Which? takes additional fees into account as part of our policy analysis of car insurance providers. Find out more and look at our table to compare additional charges from all car insurers.
'Fees shouldn't be used to squeeze more money from customers'
Speaking about the findings, Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: 'We've found that drivers are being stung with a range of additional fees when they come to renew their car insurance or even just update their details on their policy.
'Fees should reflect the actual costs incurred by the company, and not be used as an excuse to squeeze more money from consumers who have little choice but to pay. We also want to see all fees made available on the insurer's website and not hidden in lengthy policy documents so people can compare companies more easily before taking out a policy.'
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