"Being stuck in the house on near lockdown, due to what they are calling “Tier-4” COVID-19 restrictions, I have had some time to think and reflect on many things in life. Is life generally going well, am I happy with my current cars (2016 Cayenne and 2018 C63 AMG), should I start looking for another car and risk a potential execution from my partner, and how much have I spent on car insurance over the 23 years that I have been driving.
All interesting topics, but the last one really started to bug me. So I started looking at it in a bit more detail.
What is car insurance and why do we need it?
So, for anyone that might be new to driving or not yet ready to get behind the wheel of your first car, every year, every driver with a functioning road legal car, is legally required to pay an amount of money to an insurance company, so that, in the event they crash, are crashed into or their car bursts into flames, said insurance company will then fork out for the repairs to your car (and other cars or people involved in the accident depending on what type of instance you have). Sounds good so far right? The amount the insurance company pays can range from hundreds of pounds, to tens of thousands depending on how bad the accident is, the value of the car, and the cost of the actual repair. It’s very often the case that if you do have an accident, the cost of the repairs can actually exceed the price your have paid into your policy. So again, sounds like a good thing. In fact sounds like a bonus right? AND the icing on the cake is that if you are a good boy or girl on the road, at the end of each year, you get a small reward in the form of what they call a ‘No Claims Bonus’ which technically makes your policy a little cheaper the next year.
What’s been my experience with car insurance?
Technically, yes, at face value it seems great value for money, especially when you are claiming every year and driving like a lunatic to get your value for money. But what happens when you are like me and millions and millions of other people that tend to lean on the safer side of driving all (or most of the time)? Going back to my COVID lock down spare time, I sat down the other day and started thinking about what my experience has been with car insurance over the years. Here’s a summary of my top reflections:
How much have I spent on it over the years?
Within the same thought bubble, I decided to do some basic maths of just how much I have spent on car insurance over the 23 years that I have enjoyed happy motoring. And believe me, I have loved motoring. I tend to change my car(s) each year so I have become a bit of a dark arts insurance master when it comes to searching for and sniffing out better insurance deals. So I got my first car on my 17th birthday (stunning W reg, yellow Austin Metro 1.3, with some rust, started often and sounded awesome with the PECO 2 Big bore exhaust, for anyone 38 and over). Yes the cars improved over the years, but insurance kinda stayed the same. You see at 17, you pay a shed load for your insurance, because we are all huge liabilities apparently. Then I hit my 20s and got a bit more responsible, but I also got better cars. So my insurance stayed roughly the same. That pattern repeated throughout time until about now. So with one car, I have paid on average £1200-1500 a year for the last 17 years. Then around £3000 per year for my 2 cars for the last 6 years. So that means I paid around £20-25k for 17 years and £18k for the two cars over the last 6. So, tallied up, that’s £38-£42k I have spent over the years for the privilege. GULP!!!
How much have claimed back?
In order to assess how upset I should be, I had to of course look at and weigh up all the claims that I have had over the years. All 1 of them! Taking me back to 2014, being behind the wheel of my shiny and awesome 2012 C63 AMG as it ploughed into the back of G63 AMG in wet weather, I remember ringing around for quotes. Didn’t make too many calls as I was pretty sure this would need to be a main dealer affair based on how the front looked and the steam coming out of the radiator. I booked the car into the closest Mercedes main dealer and waited to hear the news about how much it might cost to fix.. I made a few bets with myself and some friends, and we got to around the £3-4K mark, as it looked like lots of bits needed to be done... Waited, and waited and then the quote came.. Started with a 1, then another 1, then a 6, followed by a 3 and an 8. Yes, £11,638!!! I didn’t crash a plane, or a golden bus, just a high end saloon! I was shocked, speechless, mind blown, and for the first time, eternally thankful that I wasn’t actually going to be paying the bill out of my own pockets(although I recognise now that I was one of the reasons everyone else’s policies probably went up that year).
So, what’s my conclusion
Well, other than feeling HUGELY guilty for pushing up premiums that year, I guess I also need to recognise the fact that, it would have taken only 4 of such accidents over a 23 year period to have fully balanced out ALL of the money that I have spent on premiums. There is no way I would have been able to fork out over £11k that week for repairs either, so again, the fact that I had insurance, meant that within a week or so, I was back on the road like it never happened, and to be fair, my premium never went up enough to reflect the relatively big claim. So, as much as I hate paying insurance, and want to throw my laptop out the window every time I get to renewal time, I have seen and experienced the benefits of having “just in case” protection!
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