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Motor insurance renewals - it pays to shop around

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The BBC consumer programme "Watchdog" has spoken out against insurers who hike policyholders renewal costs whilst simultaneously offering cheaper deals online.

A practice was uncovered of insurers increasing renewal premiums for their existing loyal customers but then offering the same cover at a far cheaper price for new potential customers on online price comparison sites.

Some of the examples found by the BBC programme illustrated startling differences in price between the renewal quote and the online quote via the price comparison website.  One extreme example highlighted a difference of nearly £1000 for the renewal of insurance for two vehicles, and another example illustrated a £100 renewal increase for a loyal customer for  four years who subsequently signed up online as a new customer and got a much cheaper deal.

In the cases highlighted by the programme, the insurer did honour the lower prices which the customers had found.

Insurers have responded to the programme's findings, stating they will change the way they generate quotes for new and existing customers and that new and existing business are assessed independently, but that they are working to resolve the problem to avoid discrepancy between premiums they quote to new and existing customers.

Until any changes are put into practice, if you do encounter such an issue, it may be worthwhile contacting the insurer direct to identify if they will honour the cheaper online quotation, however of course this would be an issue between policyholder and insurer to consider.

By road traffic accident expert, Rebecca Dawber