Under 21? The insurers won't want to know you: Sue Fieldman tries to find a way through the car insurance maze

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The Independent Online
INSURANCE companies are crying out for business, or so the beguiling advertisements for ever cheaper car insurance would have you believe.

If you are 50-something and drive a nice staid saloon round the country lanes in Wiltshire, insurers will welcome you with open arms. But if you are a 17- year-old schoolgirl driving round the North Circular in London, forget it.

Young drivers are lucky if they can get insured at all. The task is made more difficult by the huge number of motor insurers on the market and the plethora of different 'best buys' from brokers.

Martin Korn, from north London, wants his daughter Rachel to be insured to drive the family's second car - a five-year-old Honda Civic.

The car is already insured for him and his wife with Wren, formerly called Paladin, a Lloyd's syndicate, for pounds 347.

Mr Korn's first port of call was his current broker. Mr Korn says: 'They are good brokers and I have used them for years. The cheapest they came up with was a premium of pounds 651 with my current insurance company.

'They did not think the premium could be beaten, as it took into account the discounts I had already got over the years.'

Mr Korn decided to check the market himself. Initially he thought a phone call to another broker would confirm the same best buy.

Hours later he realised that life in the fast lane is not that straightforward. A second broker, highly recommended, offered the best buy from his database - a premium of pounds 1,500 with Norwich Union.

Mr Korn tried the direct-sell insurers. He was firmly directed elsewhere. The combination of a driver under 21 and the type of car was just too hot for Direct Line to consider. Churchill Insurance and The Insurance Service automatically rejected drivers under 21.

Mr Korn went back to the brokers. He rang the Automobile Association to see if they could come to the rescue. They quoted a premium of pounds 654.

Next stop was the RAC and a quote of pounds 556. But the euphoria was short-lived. He telephoned the brokers Hill House Hammond. They came up with a quote of 'more than pounds 1,000 with Norwich Union'.

Swinton Insurance also offered Norwich Union. The premium was pounds 1,498.

Mr Korn turned to Endsleigh Insurance, which specialises in the student market. He says: 'They suggested I insure the car as if it was Rachel's. They also said that my protected no-claims bonus was not really worth having. Although the premium was only pounds 587, I was not convinced.'

He decided to change direction and concentrate on the car rather than the driver.

He telephoned Swire Renshaw, which specialises in insuring Hondas among other cars. It came up with Lion Insurance, part of Royal London Insurance, a premium of pounds 480 and a better deal on the excesses under the policy.

Mr Korn has accepted the Lion quote. He says: 'It must have taken in total three hours and 15 phone calls. But it was worth it for the sake of saving pounds 170 a year.

'The whole area is a minefield. If you buy life insurance you go to any independent intermediary and they will inevitably come up with the same best buy.

'Try to buy car insurance and everyone comes up with a different answer. It is crazy.'

Swire Renshaw: 0484 422200.

(Photograph omitted)

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