Car Number Plates and Car Insurance Tales

I saw 2 very funny number plates a few months back, both were on black luxury 4×4’s of some description, BMW X5’s with tinted windows I think but couldn’t be sure as they were passing on the other side of the road and I was laughing at the plates (not that I was distracted of course!). I saw these number plates a week apart and I did chuckle:

Darth Vader

Whilst I’m awake at some ungodly hour of the morning (I hate early summer sun!), I thought I’d regale you with the story of my hunt for cheaper car insurance. Specifically, having last year passed the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) Driving Test (which is a voluntary car training scheme after which you are given a 2 hour driving test by a qualified Police Driving Instructor) I tried to get discounted car insurance. This was actually one of the reasons that I finally made the decision to join the IAM, I believed that as an advanced driver, I could get cheaper car insurance.

When my car insurance renewal notice came through, I called my insurer: eSure, and told them that there had been a change in my circumstances and that I had passed the Institute of Advanced Motorists driving test and that I was now an Advanced Driver and did they give a discount for this? The poor lad on the phone seemed terribly confused and I had to repeat myself several times and finally he put me on hold whilst he went to ask his supervisor, I was however shocked by his reply when he came back:

“What’s the Advanced Driving test? Was this a Court instructed test you had to do as the result of a driving conviction or something?”

I explained as well I could but it was clear he and his supervisor had never heard of the IAM and certainly their “system” didn’t have a tick box for it, so in the words of the Sun newspaper reporters, I made my excuses and left.

Not to be deterred I went to the IAM website to seek the list of insurers that offer discounts, surely this would be listed right? Well yes and no. I think reasonably I expected it to be found under the page entitled General – Vehicle Insurance

But no, no car insurance firms are actually listed on that page! Nor did searching the site with Google provide any more help. It was only after I logged into the extremely insecure Members Only area that I found the right page.

As a side note, logging in to the members area for the first time, was a job that forcibly required me to hand over my email address details (something I am always very reluctant to do) and more surprisingly I discovered presented me with my date of birth. I’m rather alarmed that the answer to one of the security questions all my banks ask of me, is so easily retrieved by anyone with access to my surname and IAM membership number! Hardly 2 closely guarded secrets. If you were to check now however, you’ll find that my birthday as recorded on the IAM website, is not actually my official birthday. Yes, like Her Majesty The Queen, I have 2 birthdays: my real birthday who I only tell people and companies that *really* need to know; and my public (or in this case, my “Internet”) birthday, for all those companies that think they need to know, but in fact don’t in my opinion! However, I digress.

The details for the IAM discounted insurers are a closely guarded secret it seems, odd really as I figured it would be touted publicly as a benefit, however once you’re in, the details are here

It’s called “IAM Select” who according to that IAM web page offer up to 22.5% off. Great, that discount, on top of my never having had an accident and having no insurance claims for over 15 years (so max No Claims Discount) should have my premium rock bottom. One phone call to IAM Select later, I’m feeling left a little confused. Why? Because the quote I received from IAM Select was in fact MORE than my renewal quote from eSure. I’d even queried this with them and asked how much of a discount the IAM Test gave me, and their reply: 5% discount! To be fair, it wasn’t much more, £15 on a £380 quote for fully comp, but £15 more nonetheless.

So, having jumped through hoops to get details of the IAM discounted car insurance, I find:

  • only a single insurer offering an IAM discount;
  • that the alleged up to 22.5% discount is grossly over inflated;
  • and that the insurer is not competitive.

The result of all this is that I’m still insured with eSure, despite their concerns over Court appointed driving tests, and I’m missing about 90 minutes of my life wasted in a fruitless exercise.

It’s all rather disappointing really.

{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Bryan 6 June 2007, 6:29 pm

    Those plates are pretty funny. I would laugh quite hard just seeing one of those in my lifetime but two in the same week, wow! I am quite the Star Wars fan myself.

  • Colin McNulty 6 June 2007, 6:45 pm

    I know what you mean Bryan, they were in the same town on similar cars. I reckon it must have been his and hers, but who got which one….?

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