保险英语口语 Unit 4:Shop around for the best car insurance(音频)
Shopping around for motor insurance really pays.
You might find a quote for half your present premium if you just took time to make a few telephone calls. Research by Telesure, one of the new telephone-based insurance brokers, found differences in premiums of more than 100 per cent in some cases, and 30 or 40 per cent in many. That can easily mean a saving of ￡100 or more. “I think that rating, overall, is very random,“ says Simon Ward, Telesure's chief executive. Insurers set their rates in line with their own claims' experience.
So, if your insurer has had a lot of these from drivers with your model of car, or living in your area, your premiums could rise. Another insurer with far fewer claims would offer you a much better rate. But if your renewal is due next month, and you start to shop around now, you cannot rely on getting the same rate in a few weeks. Premiums can change significantly from month to month, let alone year to year or between companies.
There are many loyal (or lazy) customers who renew every year with the same company assuming that, if their premiums are rising, other companies will be raising rates in the same way.
Unfortunately that is not necessarily the case: your own insurer will have no compunction about bumping up rates for existing customers, while a rival might be keen to attract new business and would make you a much better offer. Most insurers will accept transferred no-claims bonuses, so you do not have to feel tied. The motor insurance market is just emerging from a period of steep price rises-more than 20 per cent a year-to compensate for horrendous claim rates due to crime and the recession.
The industry is also changing shape as the arrival of Direct Line, the cost-cutting, telephone-based direct insurer, and its imitators force the old giants of the insurance world to re-think their strategies. Some sections of the motor insurance industry are now murmuring about a price war. That could be exaggerated, but companies moving into the direct insurance market need to grab a big-enough share of the market to justify the huge investment in computer systems, staff training and so on.
The easiest way to build up market share is to offer low premiums, even if that means making a loss for the first few years. And if direct writers are lowering premiums, the rest of the industry will fight back. So, consumers could benefit, at least in the short term.
Indeed, things are looking better for car owners than they have for some time. If insurers want to avoid a price war, they may start trying to compete on other factors, such as service-promising to offer smoother claims procedures, for example. This appears to be the direction being taken by the latest entrant to the direct market, Guardian Direct.
It is, however, far less easy for consumers to shop around for good service than for low prices. The proof of good service really comes when you claim-which, with any luck, will be long after you have made your choice. There can be some confusion between direct insurers and telephone brokers, especially as both tend to advertise widely with cheap insurance offers.
Direct insurers are those which sell only their own policies, and only directly to the consumer over the telephone. They cut out third parties, which reduces administrative costs, and should allow them to charge less. Telephone brokers have access to quotes from many different insurers, and use a computer to find the lowest for you. Some of them deal with a select panel of a dozen insurers, while others quote for more than 100.