Money Grouse: Lesson for a mature student

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Gail Noble recently decided she needed contents insurance for her house in Huddersfield, and was pleased when the local agent from Refuge Assurance quoted her an annual premium of pounds 51. She immediately accepted the offer.

She was astonished to learn later that the arrangement had fallen through. Ms Noble, 42, is a mature student halfway through a degree course at Bradford University and it was her classification as 'student' that she believes caused the problem.

'They offered me insurance at double the standard premium of pounds 51 for cover of pounds 11,000,' she says. 'I was quite angry. My being a mature student shouldn't disqualify me.

'My daughter, aged 22, and I have lived at our present address for 10 years - surely a stable enough background to merit a policy.'

The Refuge agent told Ms Noble she would have had no problems if her occupation had been put down as 'housewife'.

Ironically, she has ended up as a Refuge customer. 'Initially I only wanted house contents insurance. But the agent went on to encourage me into taking out an endowment policy,' she says. Not surprisingly, Refuge was happy to accept that business.

Refuge Assurance says it does not arbitrarily discriminate against students. 'We do quite naturally have to look at the kind of risk,' said Bryan Blakeman, marketing manager. 'Where a student is in a hall of residence or in shared student accommodation we would certainly either decline the business or produce a quotation with an increased premium.'

However, as a result of our approach Refuge has re-examined Ms Noble's case and agreed to offer cover to her for the pounds 51 initially quoted.

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