This piece is going to be a little less light-hearted than my other blog articles. Anyone who has access to a vehicle has to fulfil several legal requirements. Most of us know them off by heart:
1. up to date and valid driver’s licence
2. MoT Certificate should the vehicle require it
3. ownership documents
Most of these make perfect sense, although I do have issues with a couple of them. It is a very good idea that we have the MoT test – having driven in other countries that don’t have this sort of testing, I can say, from personal experience, that an automatic with a box full of neutrals or a people carrier that insists that it is trying to do a passable impression of a side-slipping Spitfire MkIX are not the most pleasant vehicles to drive. I honestly don’t think the concept of tracking and balanced tyres exists in the US…
However, my biggest problem is with insurance. Legally we have to have it, but it’s basically legal gambling at best, at worst it’s worthless…
I have no problem with the idea of paying a given amount to a third party to provide a service but, in all the time I have been driving, I have never had a satisfactory result to a claim. Personally, I consider this nothing more or less than a stealth tax on drivers, since the amazing legal fictions these companies come up with to get out of paying have to be seen to be believed.
The one time I did get partial satisfaction from my insurance company it was as a result of being hit from behind by an idiot who was driving up to a T-Junction while chatting on a mobile ‘phone – that was a decade ago and I still have constant pain because of it.
The result? £2000 ‘compensation’ and a repair job that my grandmother could have managed better with pattern parts, which may have used a pattern, but it was more likely one related to dress making, and bare metal left to rust.
We are now, in my area, paying 120p per litre for basic 95 RON unleaded petrol – of which more than 50% is tax. I am paying £240 in road tax for a year on the car I am running at the moment and so it goes on – ad nauseous. I am now dealing with a insurance company and broker that will remain nameless for legal reasons, who think that it’s OK to ask an individual personal questions that have no relation to driving or insurance and then threaten the customer that they won’t be covered if they don’t answer (even though the questions are illegal under UK law). They also think that it’s a wonderful idea to get every single thing they can find wrong – and charge me accordingly.
I have been told repeatedly regarding this situation that I am covered while all this is going on… Can you guess what’d happen were I to make a claim?
Yep, that’s right – suddenly I wouldn’t be covered… and I would never have been covered. It’s not that I mind paying for car insurance – even if it is nothing more than a legal sucker bet, a bet in which you are being offered odds on the basis that something nasty is going to happen to you and possibly your friends and loved ones who are in the vehicle with you as a consequence of your own or another’s actions.
No, what I do take exception to though is when I pay for a service from a company that is then allowed to hide behind all sorts of tenuous excuses as to why it isn’t going to pay and then, by the way, raises your premiums because someone drove into you. I also take exception when it seems that all the monies I pay in tax on fuel and road tax and all the other related taxes (under which I include insurance) – and the roads are utterly atrocious. Potholes deep enough to rip tyres apart and bend wheels – surfaces that are uneven and breaking up, so are dangerous in wet or icy weather.
Politically, I am a liberal person. I don’t like the idea of police and politicians going on about terrorism to scare us into giving away our human rights. I don’t like the idea that a Government, which has 30% of 15% of the vote, can be considered to be legitimate – we have invaded other countries for less…
However, I like it less when private companies can make massive profits on what is little more than legal gambling, set up to benefit them, based on a legal requirement that no-one can escape and not be branded a criminal. This would be bad enough if there was a good public transport system. Yes, I know that there will be people taking exception to this comment but, in my experience, public transport is pretty miserable and limited.
The journey from Colchester to Brookmans Park, which is just outside Hertford, is about 65 miles one way. By car it takes about an hour or so with a good run. It is physically impossible to get from one to the other using public transport.
It simply cannot be done – believe me we tried for almost a week to work it out and there was no way of getting from one to the other using public transport. You could say it’s not really important, but it is if you live in Colchester and work in Brookmans Park. The best we could manage was a journey that would take 5 hours and end up in Hertford, with no way of getting to the destination other than a taxi.
There are places in my town that do not have a bus more than 3 times in a day – then you have to factor getting to the transport hub in the first place (in this case the bus station) – when you are being charged £3 to do 2 miles…
I think it’s time that the Government was forced to set maximum levels for car insurance premiums based on the engine size for example – and forced to control the industry better so that the policy-holder is treated properly and actually gets something out of the policy they paid for. People are left with all sorts of financial problems and could loose jobs and livelihood if these companies write off or refuse to repair a car when the customer cannot afford a replacement – that seems to be happening far too often at the moment.
As it stands, the car insurance industry is of no benefit to anyone other than the car insurance industry. They try every single method possible for getting out of paying up, even when they have witness statements and other evidence, so the customer doesn’t benefit. Given that the industry is dominated by large corporations, it’s a good bet that they are finding ways to avoid paying their taxes, therefore the Government doesn’t really benefit.
All in all, it could easily be said that anyone who has vehicle insurance or, indeed, any type of insurance is paying a stealth tax to the insurance companies, nothing more, nothing less…
I therefore guess the question is: how long are we going to let this continue?
Is the Editor of the Parkers website and price guide, formerly editor of Classic Car Weekly, and launch editor/creator of Modern Classics magazine. Has contributed to various motoring titles including Octane, Practical Classics, Evo, Honest John, CAR magazine, Autocar, Pistonheads, Diesel Car, Practical Performance Car, Performance French Car, Car Mechanics, Jaguar World Monthly, MG Enthusiast, Modern MINI, Practical Classics, Fifth Gear Website, Radio 4, and the the Motoring Independent...
Likes 'conditionally challenged' motors and taking them on unfeasible adventures all across Europe.