Hastings Direct loses out to the Invisible Community

Should one write about personal experiences? Heck yes – especially as it describes how the power of the consumer dramatically overtakes that of the supplier.

Hastings Direct (bizarre name as they are an intermediary, or as we used to call them a “brokerso not ‘direct‘ after all) provide insurance which is underwritten by other companies. In fact they provide insurance from 5 other insurance businesses. You’ll have seen the advert along with the slightly irritating yet highly memorable “0800 double -oh 1066” tune. They are an MBO business as of this month, so this might be an interesting time for them to take stock.

I had been insured by/through Hastings Direct for 2 years, having been insured by Admiral (Parrot/Admiral advert) previously. They offered the best price at the time.

I’ve just moved house so I let Hastings know this – and I had moved from an area which would be regarded as substantially risky to one which is regarded as much less risky by insurers if you believe the tables they use (from an E which is pretty risky to a C which is about average) plus the car is to be housed on a drive instead of on the street this time.

The actuarial amongst you would assume this would make the remaining period of insurance cheaper – I should get a refund you might think.

But no – according the Hastings’ underwriters this was a riskier area to move to. And they wanted £53 for the remaining 2 months.

So no-risk-no-accidents-safe-car-no-speeding-fines-moves-to-nice-area-7-years-no-claims-40-something David gets told his annual fee for covering his car is now £500+

I tell them there’s a mistake. “Nothing I can do sir.”

“It’s got to be an error.”

“Computer says it’s not.”

I tell them I’ll have to have a think about it.

10 minute later and some nice times on confused.com gives me an annual quote of £225 which includes adding my beloved (and her previous claims) to the policy. I ring Hastings and let them know that I have to let them go (it’s like a relationship isn’t it?)

There’s even that special call centre button, “If you’re thinking of leaving us please press 2,” but the man at the end of it almost sounds resigned to the fact I’m off – even when I tell him how it’s half the price: he doesn’t event want to negotiate.

So – today’s lesson. The infomediary is dead. Long live the comparison infomediary. Informed customers are immensely powerful. Uninformed, non-learning organisations can survive this trip at all.

And I haven’t even mentioned anything about meerkats.