Car insurance quote retracted for confusing reasons

‘I genuinely feel that the AA are being unnecessarily difficult,’ reader complains

AA accepts that the customer’s no-claims bonus cert should have been accepted without question. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

AA accepts that the customer’s no-claims bonus cert should have been accepted without question. Photograph: Cyril Byrne


How annoying is it to switch car insurance provider on the basis of a reasonable quote only to find that quote disappearing as soon as the switch is completed? A reader called Neil knows just how annoying that is.

He took out a new car insurance policy with the AA at the end of April at an annual cost of €480 on the basis that he had a nine-year no-claims bonus. “When I was taking the insurance over the phone, I explained that [his previous insurer] only show six years of no-claims bonus on their cert but that I did have nine years of a bonus. When I forwarded my no-claims bonus from my previous insurer I was contacted by the AA.

In the correspondence he was told that he had set the policy up based on nine years’ no-claims bonus, “however, the document we have received from yourself states that you only have six years’ no-claims bonus. To update the information to reflect correctly the six years’ no-claims bonus, there will be an additional premium of €152.54. If you are happy for us to go ahead with this, please let me know and I can arrange for an agent to contact you to arrange payment.”

Neil asked the company to go back over the calls where he had explained that six years is the maximum that show on their no-claims bonus cert. The AA did that.

He then got the following response. “I have had a reply back in relation to the call retrieval request I had put in for yourself. On the first call you did advise the agent of the no-claims bonus that offers. However, you did not mention the windscreen claim that you had on your policy to either of the agents during your quotation stage.

“Even though the claim does not affect your no-claims bonus, it still means that you have had a claim on your policy in the last nine years, which means that we have to amend the no-claims bonus to the six years as per your no-claims bonus. To keep the policy active with the correct information, the additional premium I had advised you of in your previous email would need to be paid.”

This was the point where our reader began to get very confused. “I couldn’t understand why I had paid for additional windscreen cover to protect my no-claims bonus if I wasn’t able to claim against a windscreen breakage. Essentially they are reducing my no-claims bonus by three years for a windscreen claim that I had additional protection against.”

He says the reason he needs to follow up on this “is that I genuinely feel that the AA are being unnecessarily difficult. I feel that there would have been an excuse to increase the policy regardless of what I submitted. Their marketing was predatory in an effort to get me to switch. They sent me two letters promising to match my renewal, numerous calls, and when I decided to go elsewhere I received a text message saying they would drop the price by €60. I have spent hours and hours contacting them, on the phone and email. I don’t want other people to have the same horrible experience that I have had with them.

In response, an AA spokesman told us that as it operates as an insurance intermediary it “must operate within certain conditions that we agree with our underwriters”.

He said the company had recently reached an agreement with one of our underwriters “to allow an extra discount if a customer has a no-claims bonus that exceeds the usual maximum of five/six years. For example, where a customer has nine years of no-claims experience, we can have that reflected in their premium, even if their document only shows five to six years, on the basis that the customer declares that they have been at least nine years claims-free in their own name on the initial call.”

Addressing this case, the spokesman said that “in this instance the confusion was the result of a new process and that the customer’s no-claims bonus cert should have been accepted without question”. He added that the AA does not consider one windscreen claim to affect the bonus. As a result, our reader has now been given cover at the original price.