personal finance

Car insurance quote rockets over a claim I did not make

In May our Audi car was vandalised while parked on our Bristol home’s drive. The window was smashed and blue paint thrown over the bonnet. We called the police and informed our insurance company, Admiral.

Because the damage was relatively minor I paid to repair the window privately. It cost £140.

A few weeks ago my insurance renewal came through, and as I shop around, rather than the £420-£500 or so I had expected, I am being quoted £700-plus. It seems that Admiral has put a note on a database showing that we had this incident in May – in spite of the fact I did not make a claim.

It has meant that no insurer will quote online and I have had to spend hours trying to find reasonably priced cover. I have 14 years’ no-claims bonus and cannot understand why I am being penalised in this way.

KG, Bristol

I get the feeling that there is a growing cynicism among consumers at the way car insurers behave, and this letter will only fuel that further. A lot of readers in your shoes would have not told their insurer what happened, and you can see why.

However, once the police were informed you were duty-bound to tell Admiral, as had it found out later it could have cancelled your cover. The insurer says customers are required to tell it of any incidents involving their vehicle, as a condition of the policy. It told us its claims data shows that policyholders who report non-fault incidents, or incidents where no claim was made, are more likely to go on to make a fault claim in the future – hence the higher premiums.

Admiral confirmed that all incidents reported to it are placed on the Claims and Underwriting Exchange on which insurers record and swap the details of claims made and other reported incidents – whether there is a payout or not. This is why other firms would only deal with you by phone.

The postscript to this story is that Direct Line eventually offered cover for £520 a year, the premium that Admiral originally offered, and you declined as too high.

So where does this leave the rest of us if we reverse into a shopping trolley and scratch the car? It seems you should not inform your insurer.

•This article was amended on 12 October 2020 to add a “not” in the final sentence.

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