Auto-renewal is a moneyspinner for insurers keen to cash in on customers' laziness

Elephant "auto-renewed" Emma Lunn's car insurance, taking £263

Emma Lunn
Friday 28 August 2015 23:00
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One aspect of my finances where I won't be so passive is car insurance. My renewal policy arrived this week. "Renewing with Elephant couldn't be easier" it declared. In fact, it's so easy I don't have to do anything at all – the Admiral brand is going to "auto-renew" me, take £263 from my debit card and insure me for another year.

While that might sound a bargain to boy racers with fast cars, a low premium is one of the advantages of being a middle-aged woman with a car that's old enough to have a cassette player. Surely Elephant would have rewarded me for my loyalty and another year of exemplary, no-claims driving? I'm afraid not: it is charging me 27 per cent more than last year.

Auto-renewal is a moneyspinner for insurers keen to cash in on customers' laziness. According to Gocomparecom, 18 per cent of drivers allow their cover to renew automatically without checking other quotes. A third of motorists stick with the same insurer for three years or more.

A quick whizz through the questions on a price-comparison site and my cheapest quote came out at £199 – and that's before the negotiations begin.

Of course Elephant isn't the only insurer to play the auto-renewal trick and insurers aren't the only type of company to exploit our lack of attention to detail. Internet dating sites, PC security software, Amazon Prime, Apple Music, Xbox Live and the AA, among others, all use auto-renewals to trap customers.

So here's an idea: Why don't companies create products so good, and prices so competitive, that customers actually want to stay – rather than being tricked into doing so? It's a novel suggestion, I know, but is it really so left-field that the business brains couldn't give it some thought?

twitter: @emmalunn

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