Has your home insurance gone through the roof? Then switch

You can make savings of more than €400 by taking a few minutes to change insurance providers, but surprisingly few people are shopping around

‘Many consumers may be needlessly paying more for their cover.’ Photograph: Getty Images

‘Many consumers may be needlessly paying more for their cover.’ Photograph: Getty Images

Mon, Jul 28, 2014, 01:00

What would you do for 400 quid? How many hours would you spend hanging on the telephone or sifting through paperwork for that kind of cash?

Unless you are among the super-rich or the super-lazy, chances are you would be happy enough to do 30 minutes of not very taxing work if someone told you you’d get €400 at the end of it, right?

Wrong. Last week, the National Consumer Agency published its annual survey on home insurance. It found that shrewd consumers who shopped around could save more than €440 on such policies.

The consumer body rang eight different companies armed with information on a range of property types throughout the country. Based on companies willing to provide a quote, the average saving to be made came in at a not too shabby €264.

The biggest saving of €421 was found on an insurance policy for a fictional three-bedroom bungalow in Midleton, Co Cork. In this instance the cheapest quote was €279, while the most expensive was €700. The average quote for the Midleton house was €403.

The largest percentage difference in quotes was 162 per cent on a three-bedroom semi in Newbridge, Co Kildare. In that case the cheapest quote was €237, while the most expensive was €622. The average quote in that area for that property was €330.

The numbers themselves are striking, but even more remarkable is the reluctance many people still have when it comes to shopping around for better value on this most basic of financial products.

According to the National Consumer Agency, only 37 per cent of consumers had bothered to check if there was a better deal available for their home insurance over the previous 12 months. And just over one in 10 actually switched home-insurance provider last year. With 1.5 million homes in the Republic of Ireland, that means more than 1.2 million people turned their noses up at substantial savings last year and collectively wasted hundreds of millions of euro.


The benefits of switching

Ciarán McHugh is not one of them. He discovered the benefits of switching two years ago when he managed to knock about €700 off the annual cost of health insurance for his family by moving from a long-established provider to newcomer Glohealth. Then, last year, a home- insurance policy he had on a second property came up for renewal.

“It used to be our family home, but when we wanted to move it was so deep in negative equity there was no chance we could sell it, so we were forced to hang on to it,” he says. “We had to rent it out, and, while it is not exactly washing its face, we are not as badly off as some people.”

Making savings where he can is important, so, when the time came to renew his house-insurance policy, he rang the bank he had his mortgage with. Months earlier, when he had rung to tell them of the change in status of the property from owner-occupier to rental, they had mentioned something about offering house insurance.

“I had a long-standing policy which I had taken out with 123.ie, and they were quoting me €400. I rang KBC, and straight away they knocked €50 off the premium and then another €50 because I had my mortgage with them. It is not a huge amount of money, I know, but it’s better off in my pocket than anyone else’s.”

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