Hidden fees are increasing the cost of car cover

When buying motor insurance, you need to look at all the fees and charges, not just the quote price.

If you need to change a detail on your car insurance you could be slapped with a £30 charge. Insurers say the fee is to cover admin costs, but with the price varying between different firms, the evidence shows they seem to charge what they like.

If you want to change your name – if you've just got married, for instance – Swiftcover would charge you £30 to make the alteration. But at Aviva and the Co-op, the change would be free.

Confusingly, Swiftcover will make no charge if a policyholder changes the details themselves online. That suggests the Axa-owned insurer thinks it's fair to charge £30 for a few seconds' work by one of its staff.

Meanwhile Direct Line charges £15.90, More Than £25 and Esure £26.

If you need to notify your insurer of a change of address the charges are even more puzzling. Swiftcover, Esure, More Than and Direct Line all charge the same amount again. Aviva charges £19.08, but it's free if you do it yourself online.

At the Co-op a change of address – or any other personal detail – is free. But it racks up the charges if you change the policy details, such as by adding another driver or changing the vehicle.

The Co-Op's Nuala Ryan said: "Our practice is to apply a charge that fairly reflects the additional costs involved in amending a policy rather than as a source of additional income." The insurer charges £15 "to cover administration costs".

Are the charges fair? Yes, said Asia Yasir of Direct Line. "The admin fee is to cover the costs associated with making the changes to a policy. For example, if you were to change car, then we will have to re-assess the risk of your vehicle, collect the additional premium via the bank or credit card, then print, pack and post a new schedule and a new certificate of insurance. This is on top of the time taken for the person to collect and enter the new information."

Peter Vicary-Smith, the chief executive of Which? disagrees. "It's a disgrace that insurers charge exorbitant fees to make basic changes. The charges should reflect the real cost and not be a way of making easy money from consumers who are already struggling with high and rising insurance premiums."

The consumer organisation has accused insurers of taking consumers for a ride with the hidden fees for basic policy changes and renewals. "We want insurance companies to be clearer about the fees that they charge and stop hiding the details away in pages of terms and conditions," Mr Vicary-Smith said.

Such charges should be made clear when people buy motor cover. An extra £30 for every personal detail changed, for instance, could turn a cheap insurance deal into a much more expensive one. It's only by knowing all the costs that people can make a fair comparison between rival policies, rather than simply buying what appears to be cheapest.

Finally a word of warning from Lee Griffin of Gocompare.com: don't be tempted to avoid the fee by not telling your insurer about a change. "If you don't tell them and have to make a claim, the insurer may refuse to pay out on the grounds that you didn't inform them of a change."

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

    £450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

    Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pillar 1, 2 & 3) Insurance

    £450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: Business Analyst Solvency II SME (Pilla...

    Manager - SAS - Data Warehouse - Banking

    £350 - £365 per day: Orgtel: Manager, SAS, Data Warehouse, Banking, Bristol - ...

    SQL DBA/Developer

    £500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer
 SQL, C#, VBA, Linux, SQL Se...

    Day In a Page

    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

    'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

    Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
    7 best quadcopters and drones

    Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

    From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

    British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve