Even knowing the system won't always save you
I work in financial services as a broker, and because of this I thought I knew almost every trick in the book - but last week I found out that one of the most basic things tripped me up.
My car insurance renewal letter came out from Chill.ie who are a broker I use (should now say "used"), saying that it would cost €592 to renew for the year.
The letter said they had researched the market and found the best deal available - which wasn't with my current provider who wanted more, my initial reaction was "as a broker that must be the case because they deal with 13 different insurance companies".
Despite my dad being in the car racing business, I never had a fascination for cars and drive an 11-year-old car worth €2,000 at best - and so the price struck me as being high.
About the only thing I have always known by working in financial services is that you don't ever, under any circumstances, go direct to the insurance company for anything.
Brokers can negotiate prices and commissions, the direct sales teams in insurance companies can't. In fact, a recent Central Bank of the Netherlands paper suggested 'banning' direct selling by insurance companies because of their lack of transparency and offering.
I decided that I'd talk to another broker that some of the people in the office deal with, because we don't do car insurance (there are all kinds of brokers, we do loans, pensions, life insurance and investments).
What happened next really astounded me. Darragh in the office told me he got a quote - using the specific details from my existing renewal letter such as the no-claims status and other details - for €400 fully comprehensive. Not only that, this policy had a few add-ons that the other one didn't.
That's a whopping 33pc less and hardly a sum to be sneezed at! I simply couldn't believe it, again, because I figured that the broker would have checked every option in the market.
So I asked him who the new insurer was, because I wanted to check if Chill.ie dealt with them, I was confident it was some new entrant I hadn't heard of. That had to be the rational explanation.
It wasn't. It was a well-known company, who Chill say they deal with. I shot off an angry email (I haven't had a response yet), but that doesn't fix the fundamental issue.
Which is that, as a broker, I know we have a duty to research the market - and I can't figure out how a company can say they did just that and yet still come out with a premium costing almost €200 more!
Sometimes, it would seem that, it pays to have two brokers!
Sunday Indo Business