Insurance advice

Be careful with your insurance auto renewal

Insurance auto-renewal sucks. It’s supposed to be there to ensure you don’t find yourself riding around uninsured.

That’s the aim. But the fact is too many bike insurers use automatic policy renewal to quietly raise your premiums.

My previous insurer tried it on with me. Luckily, I followed the advice below and saved nearly £250. And it could have been a lot more.

The insurers aren’t going to help you if they can help it

It’s no big secret (except perhaps with unsuspecting bikers) as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) recognised when it called for increased transparency and engagement with consumers by insurance companies after a lengthy investigation into auto renewal and other practices.

Think about it. When was the last time, without you acting, that your insurance premium actually went down?

Auto-renewal is one of the ways insurance companies can make back some of the profit margin they may have lost in giving you a great deal first time around. But you don’t owe them anything, so this time round, follow these really simple tips and save your cash (maybe buy yourself a new lid or some heated hand grips to reward your good work).

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1) ALWAYS compare your renewal letter’s premium to last year’s premium

Don’t expect the insurer to help you and usefully put last year’s amount on your renewal letter. After its investigation into the general insurance industry (that car and home contents as well as motorcycle insurance) in December 2015 the FCA proposed that insurers should be required to disclose the previous year’s premium on your renewal letter. It will take a year or so for that to be adopted by insurers.

So dig out your old insurance documents. If you can’t find them, check your bank statements.

If you are paying monthly, it’s easier for a premium rise to go unnoticed. But an extra £15 a month is £180…

2) Get new quotes before you call your insurer

You’re going to want to shoot down your insurer if they’ve put the premium up by a few hundred quid. Fine, but do it once you’ve armed yourself with a bit of ammo.

Use our bike insurance comparison tool to get a fresh quote. Even if you don’t go with a quote from it, you can use the information to see if your present insurer will reduce the premium.

BBC TV’s Watchdog programme investigated auto-renewal in the car insurance market a few years ago. They found policy holders whose renewal price had risen by thousands of pounds! But in many cases, the insurance company quickly offered to reduce the premium when confronted with alternative quotes.

Remember, saving on motorcycle insurance takes time. But when you compare it to an hourly wage, it makes that time well worth the trouble.

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3) More then one bike? Multi bike insurance may not be best

The theory of multi-bike is that it’s cheaper than multiple policies, and often that can be the case.

Except for me. I nearly spat my cornflakes over the kids when I opened my multi-bike renewal policy letter and found it had doubled.

I used knowledge of the NCB rules to reduce my own premiums by nearly £250 last time round. You can’t use NCB on more than one bike. But you can insure more than one bike, using the NCB on your highest category bike (in my case an R1) and then starting a new policy, without NCB, on the other bikes (an SV650S for me).

My auto renewal policy was already £1284 before some expensive mods were added. 10 minutes on the comparison sites and around an hour on the phone brought that down to just over £600 including the mods, for the R1. The nature of some of the mods meant some insurers were quoting thousands. The mini-twin was put on a separate policy of its own… for £80. Compare how much I saved in roughly an hour and compare it to your hourly rate…

4) The same rules apply to breakdown cover

Yup. The breakdown cover companies do the same thing. Hard to blame them really as they are insurers too. And not the friendly roadside patrols we always thought they were.

So when the RAC renewal letter landed, I jumped online, got some new quotes and presented them with the evidence. And saved myself around £45. This stuff works.

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5) Remember to cancel!

You should receive a renewal reminder notice at least one month before your current bike policy expires. It’s too easy to stick it in a drawer and forget about it. But, if instead you followed the advice above and found a better deal elsewhere, remember to tell your existing insurance provider.

I’m writing this on the same day I’ve been stiffed by an insurance company for £38.40 because they renewed me automatically, even though I’d already insured with someone else. I had told a representative of the insurer that I didn’t want to reinsure, but apparently sales agents don’t always speak to the customer service people…. I will get the money back eventually but I’ve been having to jump through a few hoops to sort it out.

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Get yourself sorted at renewal time:

The most obvious thing is to act as soon as you get the renewal letter, so that it doesn’t get forgotten about, and treat renewal like the first time you tried to insure your bike/s.

It’s money, pure and simple and it’s better in your bank account than the insurance company’s.

More independent motorbike insurance advice

Keeping your insurance costs down
Are multi bike insurance policies cheaper?
The excess insurance trick that saves you serious money
Motorbike insurance mirroring explained
How do modifications affect bike insurance?
Treat saving on bike insurance like earning money

 

 

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The Author

Ian Malone

Ian Malone

Ian is the Editor and a co-founder of Biker & Bike.

He is obsessed about bikes to the point that he often starts conversations with new people by saying, "Please don't get me onto the subject of bikes. We'll be here all day."

Inevitably, the next question asked is nearly always, "What bike have you got, then?"

He owns four bikes right now:

'78 Kawasaki Z650
'97 Triumph Daytona 955i
'02 Suzuki SV650s
'09 Yamaha R1

At any one time, only two of these bikes are ever working, as you can read about on our blog.