Christmas season leaves coal in all our stockings

Van insurance news roundup: 7 days ending 27 Dec 2013:

Ever have one of those Christmas seasons where nothing goes right and it doesn’t matter what you do to change it? That’s exactly what’s happened this week.

First up is how the fallout from the Competition Commission’s latest report positively ruined Christmas for the shareholders of one major car insurance provider. Admiral Group saw its stock price take a tumble earlier this week after the Commission revealed that many car and van insurance providers are wringing extra cash from their customers in the form of ratcheted up costs for car hire and repair services. Apparently investors take a dim view to their portfolio being made up of companies that are caught red-handed in padding their profit margins by charging over and above the fair market price for their services – especially when some of these general and commercial van insurance companies are insisting on shoddy repair work being done and then charging as if it was not substandard.

It’s absolutely horrid to discover your insurer isn’t just treating you like a cash cow but is content to beat the cow to death for the leather. Still, things go on unabated for many insurers – and all too many customers, which is where the other half of this week’s bad Christmas story comes in – it turns out that things are so bad in Northern Ireland when it comes to insurance costs that the Consumer Council is telling residents to dump their existing insurer and shop around for a better deal. In fact, motoring costs in NI are so high that it’s often impossible to get a good deal on things like petrol or insurance, despite best efforts – not exactly the kind of Christmas message you want to get!

Hopefully the report from the Competition Commission will shake things up enough that this kind of behaviour on the part of insurers will come to an abrupt end. For what it’s worth there’s all too much of this when it comes to insurance companies taking hard advantage of their customers, especially in markets like Northern Ireland! Enough is enough; it’s one thing to run a company to make a profit and it’s another one altogether to do whatever it takes to make as much profit as possible – it’s just bloody wrong if you ask me!

And this is exactly why we need the Competition Commission to step in and change things as far as the insurance market is concerned. If you ask me, there’s no way the industry itself will regulate itself, especially not when all these companies are in business to make a profit; you need to have an outside source ensure that everyone’s playing fair and that’s simply not happening. Until this does indeed happen, we’ll have instances like in Northern Ireland, where motorists are being urged to shop around as much as they can.

I can only hope that the Competition Commission positively throws the figurative book at the insurance industry. Let’s get some regulation in there to make sure we’re not all paying through the nose on overpriced replacement vehicles and substandard repair work!

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