Sunday, 28 June 2009

Quinn Direct Insurance – with the right address

There is a BBC sitcom entitled "Keeping Up Appearances" which features a woman by the name of Hyacinth Bucket (she pronounces it "Bouquet") who is an insufferable snob. The kind of person, you suspect, who might hold great store on someone having the "correct" address. A bit like Quinn Direct.

There was an interesting report in The Herald last week about an experienced driver with a full no-claims bonus who phoned up Quinn Direct to ask for a quote. “As soon as I said where I was from, they would not give me a quote”, said Michael Burns from Tallaght.

It seems that the company has a policy of excluding people with particular addresses from cover, on the basis of “high claims frequency” in “certain areas”. Mr Burns persisted in his request for insurance - no doubt pointing to the evidence of this no-claims discount - and Quinn Direct very kindly relented somewhat, saying that they “hoped to accommodate him”.

However, Quinn Direct continue to judge risk on the basis of postcode - rather on the more logical basis of someone's driving record. Witness the following from their website:

“…there are certain areas that have very high claims frequency and we are therefore faced with the choice of continuing to offer cover in these areas, which will have to be subsidised by other consumers, or stop offering cover. Having tried to resolve the problem for some time we feel we had little choice but to take the latter option at this time.

As an Irish Company we would clearly much prefer to see a solution whereby the level of claims reduces in these areas and in that regard we are very happy to interact with any relevant interested or representative bodies to see if a satisfactory outcome can be achieved whereby we recommence offering cover in the very small number of affected areas.”

It’s a risky business, insurance. But you don’t need to be an actuary to work out that someone with no insurance claims is probably a safe bet. And remember that insurance is compulsory in Ireland, so if an insurance company wishes to operate in the Irish market, surely they should be obliged to provide cover to all locations within that market? But all that aside, it’s typical that a company that boasts about its Irishness demands that your Irish address must not be an undesirable one... in their eyes.

I personally would not give my business to a company that operates in this manner. After all, my address might be a desirable one for Quinn Direct today, but will it have gone down in their Mrs Bucket-like estimation by next week?

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