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Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Vehicle insurance Q I was due to renew my annual car insurance

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Vehicle insurance Q
I was due to renew my annual car insurance last week, with elephant (part of Admiral). I've been with them for three years. I was checking the renewal details and realised to my horror that they did not have a correct record of the points on my licence: an SP50 (a minor speeding infraction: three points and £60 fine) from December 2011 that I thought I had informed them of, but obviously had not. I rang them up immediately to correct the omission. They are now asking for several hundred pounds of extra premium, back-dated all the way to 2011. I objected on the phone, arguing that the omission was a genuine oversight, and that I did not deserve to be penalised so severely for reporting the omission as soon as I spotted it - ie I acted in good faith. Their treatment of me is hardly a motivation for customer honesty! More to the point: if for some reason I had claimed in the last three years, i have no doubt that elephant could or would have refused to pay, on the grounds that I had failed to fully disclose my driving history. In other words, it was I that was carrying the greater risk of nondisclosure, not them. I was miffed at the position they took on my mistake (and my in-good-faith reporting of it), and have taken my business elsewhere. But they (or rather, '*****@******.***' - the whole experience is proving unpleasantly impersonal) are now threatening to pass the case to a debt collection agency. I'm feeling bullied as well as aggrieved. Can elephant really backdate an insurance premium for past annual policies that have lapsed? I'd be grateful for your advice. I think they are being unjust, and would like to contest their bill if there any grounds to.
Yours sincerely,
James Fergusson
Alex Watts : Hello my name is ***** ***** I will help you with this.
Alex Watts : For now please let me know when your insurance expired please?

Two weeks ago - on 09 September

Alex Watts : Ok then no they can not claim historic fees.
Alex Watts : That contract has ended.
Alex Watts : This is a new contract
Alex Watts : They can not claim retrospective fees where a contract had ended.
Alex Watts : There simply is no power unless their terms allow it which I assume they do not
Alex Watts : The contract is at an ended and so are all the rights and obligations
Alex Watts : Can I clairfy anything for you about this today please?

Hi Alex,


thank you for this. It is somewhat reassuring. It sounds like I should look again at the small print of the original contract to check their terms - although from what you are saying, I presume it would be unusual to find a clause giving them the right to adjust my premium in retrospect? This seems like a grey area because (as you know) it is a legal obligation to have valid car insurance in the UK. Could they argue that because the paperwork was incorrect, I did not in law have proper insurance, 2011-2013? I also have a concern about the last contract, ie 2013-2014. Although this period of insurance expired 9 September, the phone conversation in which they first said I owed them more money took place about two weeks before that date - ie while that contract was still, just, live. They could presumably legitimately ask for a - very small - adjustment to cover the increased risk of covering me for those two weeks?

Alex Watts : No that is historic so it makes no difference
Alex Watts : The contract has ended, they can not charge retrospective for a terminated contract
Alex Watts : Does that help?

yes, up to a point. Although I have spoken to them again this morning and they are still insisting I must pay. They say it is in their terms and conditions, which I have now looked at. Oddly enough, I can find no reference there to premium adjustments being back datable. I wonder if they are trying it on. I have just written formerly to their "policy quality manager" to ask for clarity - and will follow up with a complaint to the financial services ombudsman if I do not get a satisfactory answer. Thanks for your help Alex

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