I don't think I've had a major rant for a while, well I am having one now. I have a health insurance policy, you may not agree with this but having never been in hospital or touch wood had any major illness in my life I do have something of a fear of these places I'd like to think I might be able to hide away in a quiet and private room if I needed treatment. It has nothing to do with queue jumping and I certainly keep myself healthy, don't smoke, one glass of wine does me, not overweight. I've had different policies over the years and been with my current provider for probably 10 or more years, obviously I've never made a claim. Last year my premium went up quite a lot so I opted for a £1,000 excess which gave a decent reduction and I calculated that a couple of years on a reduced premium would cover any excess I might have to pay in future. My policy is due for renewal next month and when the paperwork arrived there had been a 30% increase from last year, despite the covering letter stating that the average increase for my age was 17%. I phoned up and of course got the same guff I get every time I complain to them, big increase in claims, medical inflation (which I believe is running at around 3%) and when I said that I might not go ahead there was certainly no fawning for my custom, the operator merely asked me to let them know if I wanted to cancel.
So this last week I've been trawling around for a better deal and I've received three different quotes for a policy with the same provider varying from £450 to £1,000, allegedly for the same cover. I have pages and pages of small print to get through but my overall impression of the insurance business is one of deep suspicion.
For example, when our tv in Italy was struck by lightning we spoke to the insurance company who said we'd have to cover the first £100, fair enough, plus obtain two written reports about the incident from tv engineers and we would lose our no claims discount adding about 15% to future premiums. It was cheaper just to buy a new tv ourselves, we gave the old one to the repair man in the village for spares.
When we came to renew our Italian house insurance this year we were told we couldn't have cover for earthquake or land slip. We live on the side of a mountain on the edge of a seismic area, those would be our two main concerns and given the tv debacle we have little confidence we are covered for anything at all.
I might say its a long time since the days of the Man from the Pru, the insurance adviser who used to call round to collect payments from customers door to door, and that the aggressive call centre selling is a deterioration of customer service, but then I bought endowment and pension policies from the man from Equitable Life in a face to face way and a big con that turned out to be. Who can we trust.
Lets not end on a bitter note, here's my lovely amaryllis flowering it's pretty little head off. If only big business was as honest and straightforward, no small print on the bulb, performs as expected, customer satisfaction big style, happy days.