Pricewatch: Exorbitant ‘change of address’ fees unfair on policyholders

Liberty’s revealing response shows a blasé attitude to customer’s concerns

We got a response from Liberty which was remarkable only for the manner in which it completely ignored its customer’s concerns.  Photograph: Alan Betson

We got a response from Liberty which was remarkable only for the manner in which it completely ignored its customer’s concerns. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Lisa Brennan got in touch to share a recent experience she had with car insurer Liberty. It will probably be familiar to many people, and not just those who are with Liberty.

“We have recently moved home and now live 3km from our previous address. I alerted my insurer of a change of address and was informed that to do this I would have to pay a fee of €30. Failing to pay will result in loss of cover. I think it’s quite unfair that this is the case. The change of address merely requires one line changing. I’m wondering is there anything I can do?”

To be honest there is little that Brennan can do but pay the charge. The company knows they have her over a barrel and she can not simply choose to walk away from the transaction as might be the case in the vast majority of other consumer scenarios.

We were interested in finding out however just how much work was involved in changing a policy holder’s address and how such a task could cost a company like Liberty anything like €30. If it takes five minutes to complete the task – and let’s be honest, it probably doesn’t take half that time – then Liberty are saying they charge an hourly rate of €360.

If they pay the people in their call centre €30 an hour – and let’s be honest again, they probably don’t – then the company is making a substantial profit on this very basic admin task.

We got a response from Liberty which was remarkable only for the manner in which it completely ignored its customer’s concerns.

It said simply: “Administration fees may apply for policy changes and mid-term adjustments. These are fully detailed on our website and in page eight of our policy booklet.”