How a reader’s car insurance jumped from €373 to €3,673
Nick McGinley left Ireland for two years - when he came back he was treated as a first-time driver
“I started looking into getting speculative quotations on a 1.4 litre petrol-engine Toyota Corolla, year 2010”
We have frequently written about the spiralling cost of car insurance and the manner in which readers are messed around by multiple providers but Nick McGinley’s story takes the biscuit. In fact, it takes a whole packet.
“I recently returned from the Netherlands where I lived from February 2015 to December of last year,” his mail starts. Before he left Ireland, he sold his car and cancelled his Irish motor insurance. That was February 10th, 2015.
“I drove in the Netherlands, first on a policy in my ex-partner’s name and then on one in my own name from October 2015 until I returned. In March, before I bought a car again, I started looking into getting speculative quotations on what I was looking for: a 1.4 litre petrol-engine Toyota Corolla, year 2010.”
First he visited two brokers in Dundalk. One quoted €2,897 for comprehensive work driving, while another quoted €2,160 for personal use and €2,530 for work driving, with both brokers saying that since it was just over two years since he had car insurance in Ireland, he had lost his no-claims bonus.
He then contacted two insurers, FBD and An Post. “FBD said it couldn’t give me a quote if I hadn’t had a policy in my own name in the last four weeks. An Post was more helpful saying it would be a quote of about €1,000 – if I could get a letter confirming my no-claims bonus from my Dutch insurer. I rang the company but it refused as in the Netherlands, you insure the car, not the driver and as I had transferred the policy to my ex-partner when I left, there was nothing it could do for me.”
Call it masochism on my part, but I was starting to enjoy making the calls. I had what you might call a headwind of downward momentum
The last motor insurance policy he had in Ireland, in 2014, was third-party fire and theft on a similar car, a 2004 Corolla, and it came to €373 through Chill Insurance. “I rang Chill and it quoted me €2,932.25 for cover. That’s quite a jump, isn’t it? Call it masochism on my part, but I was starting to enjoy making the calls. I had what you might call a headwind of downward momentum. Blue Insurance tried to give me a dummy quote but all of its underwriters looked the other way. Supervalu Insurance couldn’t proceed without a no-claims bonus within the past year; 123 could only offer me a letter of decline. I declined. Allianz couldn’t continue with the quote as my no-claims bonus was over its strict two-year limit. Liberty Insurance spent 10 minutes taking my details on the phone, but stopped me when I gave my occupation which is writer/voice-over artist/workshop leader. The company said it couldn’t go on, as my occupation – similar to the situation with musicians – fell outside its parameters and all it could offer me was a letter of decline. At least the writerly part of my occupation gives me a heightened tolerance for those,” he says.
I paid €14 a month for the Dutch policy to drive a 40-year-old DAF 66
He got the best quote from the AA – and by best, he means the most entertaining. “As my no claims bonus had expired by over a month, they could only treat me as having no driving experience. I’m 41. I’ve been driving since I was 17. I’ve never made a claim. I was a casting director for nine years here, specialising in finding unknowns for Irish feature films or doing scouting for international productions. I was on the road all the time doing auditions and workshops in schools and workplaces. I’ve driven a camera-van to Sweden; I’ve driven a props van around Connemara; I’ve rented the one available mini-van on Inis Beag that had no reverse so that if you missed your turn, you had to drive right around the island. While doing a one-man comedy show, I’ve hauled a giant inflatable T-Rex in a trailer around most of the primary schools of the country. I’ve driven in England, France, Belgium, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy and Canada. Do you want to know what the AA quote was? Personal use, €3,673.83; work use, €4,342.13. What would it be if I had drink or drug-driving convictions? It’s an awful shame I haven’t been disqualified a few times, or maybe done a stretch for vehicular manslaughter, because at least then I’d be getting my money’s worth. I paid €14 a month for the Dutch policy to drive a 40-year-old DAF 66.”
Since he has returned to Ireland, he has trained to be a Youth Advocate with YAP (Youth Programmes Ireland). The one requirement beyond Garda clearance is that you have your own car and a letter of indemnity from your insurance company. This was proving to be a problem. “Young drivers are driving uninsured because they can’t pay it. If premiums were reasonable, the insurers could bring them into the net and increase their revenue. The industry-wide discretionary policy of how long a no claims bonus lapses after two, 2½ or three years – is up to each insurer. It’s a shakedown.”
In the end, McGinley imported a 2010 1.6 litre diesel Ford Focus from the North. “Kennco Insurance – not the coffee – in Rathfarnham in Dublin proved to be the only reasonable company that was willing to overlook the no-claims bonus going slightly over two years. They insured me – the policy underwritten by Lloyds – and provided the necessary letter of indemnity for €715. They were kind and patient on the phone too – it makes a difference.”