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					                                                                                                                             no claims protection




                              No claims
                              but NO GAINS?
                                          No claims bonus protection can be sensible –
                                            if you can figure out what you’re buying




B
        uying comprehensive car insurance           ■ There’s no assurance that paying more will         has 10 years NCB and drives a 1-litre 2005
        now costs close to £900 on average –        provide better-quality protection. The cost varies   Citroen C1 Vibe. In this scenario, adding NCB
        a huge expense, but one that millions       because it’s based on the premium you have been      protection to the policy increased the premium
of us can’t avoid.                                  quoted and your circumstances.                       we were quoted by Churchill by nearly 25% the
    One of the best ways to keep the cost down                                                           highest we found. However, even with NCB
is to build up your no claims bonus (NCB), or       protection – no panacea                              protection, Churchill’s insurance quote was
no claims discount as insurers often refer to it.   NCB protection is not a panacea – having it          amongst the cheapest in our research.
    Once you’ve built up several years no claims,   doesn’t mean your premium won’t rise if you            On the other hand, we found cases in which
it’s worth thinking about paying an extra           make a claim. It protects your no claims bonus       you would pay no extra for NCB protection.
premium to ensure you don’t lose your bonus         not your premium. Your premium will rise if          For example, we found a quote from Which?
if you have to make a claim.                        you make a claim, though the rate of increase        Recommended Provider Rias that stayed the
    NCB protection policies are popular – more      should be slower.                                    same. Rias – which specialises in providing
than three out of four Which? members buy              For example, one Which? member told us            insurance for the over-50s – only acts as a
them every year. But are they any good?             that his insurance rose by 30% after he made         broker, and provided us with an Ageas policy.
                                                    a claim, even though he had NCB protection.          Ageas currently includes NCB protection as
What We found                                       However, he was told it would have                            standard, which is why the quote
■ Our research reveals little consistency in how    risen by around 75% if he didn’t                                         didn’t increase in this case.
much protection policies cost or what they offer.   have the cover.
■ Some policies promise to keep your bonus                                                                               the small print
intact no matter how many claims you make,          our research                                                              Finding the overall price
others only cover you for one or two claims in      To establish how prices vary,                                          is only half the story. The
five years.                                         we got insurance quotes for                                               level of NCB protection
■ Cost varies a lot, adding around 25% to your      a 50-year-old man living                                                               provided by
premium in some cases, in others, nothing.          in south London, who                                                                   different

www.which.co.uk                                                                                                                      September 2011 | 65
 no claims protection



insurers varies considerably. As the table                                                              maximum discounts
(overleaf) shows, the NCB protection policies                                                           It normally takes between five and 10 years to
sold by the likes of Saga and                                                                           reach the maximum discount offered by an
the AA only keep your full                                                                              insurer, and it’s important to establish this
bonus intact if you make no                                                                             when buying cover. But taking your full no
more than two claims in five years.                                                                     claims bonus with you can prove tricky when
   In contrast, some insurers promise to                                                                   you switch, if you’ve already hit your
protect your bonus no matter how many                                                                         insurer’s maximum discount level.
claims you make. Some, such as Aviva, will                                                                                  Once you have enough
guarantee that your claims won’t lead to a                                                                                 claim-free years to qualify for
rise in your premium, others don’t, or                                                                                     the maximum discount, some
aren’t so clear about                                                                                                       insurers simply record you as
the effect on premiums                                                                                                      having reached this
of any claims.                                                                                                        milestone – and stop adding
   Many insurers offer different levels                                                                                additional claim-free years to
of cover. With Admiral, for example,                                                                                  your file. If you then switch to an
we found that adding unlimited no                                                                                   insurer that gives you credit for
claims bonus protection to the policy of                                                                            having more claim-free years, you
our 50-year-old male Citroen driver                                                                           may find that your existing insurer is
increased the cost by just over 5%.                                                                           unable to provide the proof that you
   However, adding protection of up to two                                                                    need. For this reason, it’s a good idea to
claims in three years only increased                                                                         keep old insurance documents, so you
premiums by around 0.25%.                                                                               have a paper trail covering all years.

no claims confusion                                                                                     is protection Worth it?
No claims bonuses offer discounts to drivers                                                            Protecting your no claims bonus can greatly
who go several consecutive years without                                                                reduce motor premiums, making them an
making a claim.                                                                                         attractive proposition.
   However, our research revealed that there                 It’S ImpOrtANt tO                             But as with insurance in general it’s worth
is incredibly little transparency among                      beAr IN mINd thAt                          comparing cover where other factors are
insurers about how much this discount will                                                              equal. While you’re never going to select an
be – with few insurers providing explanations                NCb prOteCtION IS                          insurance policy just because of its NCB
of how they work.                                              NOt A pANACeA                            protection, it’s adviseable to check the
   For example, there’s scant information on                                                            comprehensiveness of the protection you’re
how many years bonus you’d lose if you made                                                             buying, and how much this will add to your
a claim. This matters because it varies a lot                                                           underlying premium. Particularly where you
from one insurer to another.                          MaxiMuM no claiMs bonus protection                have a high no claims discount to protect, it
   When we looked at the websites and policy      1     Admiral Insurance Services     Unlimited        would be worth checking how many claims
documents of 21 major insurers, the Co-           2     Aviva                          Unlimited        the NCB protection will cover per year when
operative Insurance Society was the only one      3     Esure                          Unlimited        deciding between similarly priced quotes.
that clearly stated how its no claims bonus       4     First Alternative              Unlimited
                                                                                                           For instance, say you use a price comparison
scheme works.                                                                                           site and find the cheapest is marginally less
                                                  5     LV                             Unlimited
   The Co-op says that it offers a 50% discount                                                         than the second or even third placed provider.
                                                  6     More Than                      Unlimited
for drivers with one claim-free year, rising to                                                         It’s worth running quotes for the top few
70% for drivers with five or more claim-free      7     Sheila’s Wheels                Unlimited        providers with and without protection. This
years – and there are clear tables showing how    8     Allianz                      2 claims in a yr   could make all the difference to cost. Likewise,
this discount reduces should you make a           9     Axa Insurance                2 claims / 3 yrs   you’d want to know how many claims you can
claim while you are a Co-op customer.             10    Churchill                    2 claims / 3 yrs   make before your NCB is affected.
   Axa claims to offer drivers with over eight    11    Direct Line                  2 claims / 3 yrs      Unfortunately too many insurers don’t
years NCD up to 90% discount – far more           12    Natwest                      2 claims / 3 yrs
                                                                                                        explain how their NCB and NCB protection
than the usual 65-75%.                                                                                  works meaning that it’s hard to do like-for-like
                                                  13    Privilege                    2 claims / 3 yrs
   However, its policy documents don’t                                                                  comparisons. This is an issue we want the
                                                  14
contain clear information about what the                RBS                          2 claims / 3 yrs
                                                                                                        industry to tackle.
bonus levels are for those with fewer claim-      15    Swiftcover                   2 claims / 3 yrs
free years.                                       16    RAC Motoring Services        2 claims / 3 yrs   Which? recommended providers
   Which? believes that the insurance             17    RIAS Insurance [b]           2 claims / 3 yrs   When you’re looking for car insurance, we
industry needs to address the poor                18    Tesco Bank                   2 claims / 3 yrs   suggest you look for Which? Recommended
information that is provided by many              19    The Co-operative Insurance   2 claims / 3 yrs
                                                                                                        Providers (p67). These offer good customer
insurers, so customers are to be able to                                                                service and high-quality policies. Which? has
                                                  20    AA Insurance Services        2 claims / 5 yrs
make like-for-like comparisons.                                                                         contacted each to request they’re clear about
                                                  21    Saga Services                2 claims / 5 yrs
                                                                                                        how their no claims bonus schemes work.

66 | September 2011                                                                                                                    www.which.co.uk
                                                                                                                                                no claims protection




   60
                                  Which? Recommended caR insuRance PRovideRs
                                  Finding a competitive price is often the most                              online community survey of 9,380 members in Oct
                                  important factor when looking for insurance, but you                       2010 and April 2011.
                                  should also look for good-quality cover that will pay                         We update our rankings twice a year. For the second

  SECOND                          out when you need it, and which offers great
                                  customer service. That’s why we analyse the policies
                                                                                                             half of 2011, we’ve seen one new Which?
                                                                                                             Recommended Provider, Marks & Spencer. Once

   GUIDE
                                  of dozens of insurers, and survey the opinions of                          again NFU Mutual is way ahead of its competitors on
                                  thousands of Which? members.                                               customer score and policy score. Sadly, it tends not to




       21
                                     Our researchers look at 54 policy attributes to                         offer cover those living in urban areas. We recommend
                                  come up with our percentage score out of 100.                              you use comparison websites to look for the best
                                  Insurers must score above average for both this and                        policy, but avoid the cheapest and pick an insurer that
                                  their customer score to be a recommended provider.                         ranks well in our analysis. For more on how we analyse
                                  Customer score is based on a Which? Connect                                policies, see www.which.co.uk/moneysurveys

                                         car insurers                                                Which? recoMMended providers
       insurers surveyed




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  most comprehensive




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                                                                                                                                                                     l
     as standard                    1    NFU (239) a, b                                  HHHHH              HHHHH                   86                  80                83

            AvivA                   2    lV/frizzell (1,115)c, d                           HHHH             HHHHH                   75                  76                75

       (includes guarantee          3    NatioNwide (72) d                                 HHHH              HHHH                   65                  79                72
    protecting premium from         4    JohN Lewis iNsUraNce (75) e                     HHHHH              HHHHH                   78                  64                71
   increases related to claims)     5    50 PLUs iNsUraNce (38)f, g                         HHH             HHHHH                   69                  71                70




88%
                                    6    saga (937) f, h                                   HHHH             HHHHH                   66                  73                69
                                    7    the co-oP iNsUraNce (89) j                         HHH              HHHH                   68                  70                69
                                    8    Marks & sPeNcer (225) d                           HHHH              HHHH                   68                  66                67
                                    9    rias (235) f, h                                   HHHH             HHHHH                   70                  64                67
                                    10   aLLiaNz (30) d, k                                   n/a                 n/a                66                  63                64
   of Which? members have
                                    11   sheiLa’s wheeLs (98) j                             HHH              HHHH
      a no claims discount                                                                                                          65                  63                64
                                    12   PrUdeNtiaL (109) j                                 HHH              HHHH                   63                  64                64
                                    13   saiNsbUrys (52) j                                 HHHH             HHHHH                   65                  59                62
  least comprehensive
                                    14   esUre (258) j
   for ncB protection                                                                       HHH              HHHH                   61                  62                62
                                    15   direct LiNe (586) j                                HHH              HHHH                   61                  60                61
      AA insurAnce                  16   PriviLege (119) j                                  HHH              HHHH                   60                  60                60
      (2 claims in 5 years)         17   More thaN (305) g                                  HHH               HHH                   56                  65                60
             sAgA                   18   swiFtcover (186) l                                 HHH               HHH                   61                  60                60
      (2 claims in 5 years)         19   tesco (134) j                                      HHH              HHHH                   62                  58                60




 78%
                                    20   eLePhaNt (60)g                                     HHH              HHHH                   57                  61                59
                                    21   aa (300) e                                         HHH              HHHH                   53                  65                59
                                    22   rac (106)e                                         HHH              HHHH                   58                  60                59
                                    23   aviva (495) j                                      HHH               HHH                   53                  65                59

  of Which? members have no         24   adMiraL (321) g                                    HHH              HHHH                   56                  61                59
    claims bonus protection         25   chUrchiLL (496) j                                  HHH               HHH                   59                  57                58




 50%
                                    26   castLecover (39) e                                HHHH             HHHHH                   66                  49                58
                                    27   hastiNgs (117) j                                   HHH               HHH                   53                  61                57
                                    28   axa (97) h                                         HHH               HHH                   53                  60                57
                                    29   eNdsLeigh (34) g                                   HHH               HHH                   54                  59                57

  of Which? members with no        Sample size shown in brackets. a Policies only available via direct sales force and local agents and may not cover all risks or postcodes
                                   (particularly in major cities). Check on 0800 316 4661. b New customer max age 75. c Frizzell provides a discount on LV policy for members of
    claims bonus protection        CSMA, Unison and PCS. d New customer max age is 85. e New customer maximum age is 99. f Customer must be over 50. g New customer
       have made a claim           max age 79. h No upper age limit. j New customer max age 80. k Medical expenses not provided. l New customer max age 90


www.which.co.uk                                                                                                                                           September 2011 | 67

				
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