‘Does my insurance company discriminate against me?’

Alex Robbins is editor of Telegraph Cars where, in addition to answering readers’ questions, he also contributes new and used car reviews, as well as buying and selling articles.

His knowledge of the used car market informs his numerous buying guides relating to best buys in particular sectors, with an emphasis on value for money. Each week, he will answer your questions about buying and selling, as well as solving your automotive problems, whether consumer or mechanical.

Do you have an automotive dilemma that you would like our expert to solve? For consumer and used car advice, or car breakdown advice, email CarsAdvice@telegraph.co.uk quoting your subscriber number. This week’s question…


Dear Alex,

Having used Aviva car insurance for many years, I was put off by the 20-25% annual increase in their prices over the past few years. A very long phone conversation with them resulted in a discount of around 3%. I tried a comparison website and sure enough I got cheaper quotes. I noticed that Aviva refused to quote on this website because they had an upper age limit which I had just reached. It looks like Aviva wants to throw us out, even though we’re loyal customers. Does that mean anything these days?

– RB

Dear RB,

I’m afraid that loyalty does indeed count for nothing in the insurance game right now – in fact, the way most of these companies operate, loyalty will actually cost you.

This is because most companies offer low rates to attract customers, then increase that initial low rate year after year. As a result, loyal customers end up subsidizing these cheap offers for new customers.

So the best way to get the best deal is to seek out the cheapest quotes every time your insurance comes up for renewal. It’s, thankfully, relatively easy these days, with the proliferation of comparison websites, though it’s admittedly trickier if you’re not internet savvy.

Regarding your allegation of age discrimination, I forwarded your comments to Aviva, and Iain Hamilton, the company’s head of auto underwriting, said:

“Car insurance premiums are based on many different factors, including the type of car being driven, where you live and who is driving the car, including the age of the driver.

“Our claims experience shows that the risk of having an accident and the cost of a claim increases as people move into older age groups, but we will continue to insure existing customers indefinitely, regardless of whatever their age.

“We recognize that many of our customers want to drive longer and we are continually reviewing our underwriting criteria so that we can continue to offer insurance to as many of our customers as possible.”

In short, that’s how car insurance works — and if he’s not wrong, it’s also worth noting that pricing insurance in this way based on gender is no longer legal. One might therefore be entitled to ask whether this should be done on the basis of age.

That’s a debate for another day; for now, all i can suggest is to shop around for the best deal and forget about loyalty. Insurance companies certainly seem to have.


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Justin D. O'Neill