Home life · Notes from West London

The price of things (May 2019, motor insurance)

18 months ago I wrote this piece reflecting on the cost of a new charger for a Mac Book Pro, and the price of phone calls to Ireland from a landline. Both charges were far higher than I expected. Returning to the theme of how much things cost, I would like to report on something that has been getting cheaper for me year on year: motor insurance.

My insurance policy is due for renewal in early May. At some point in the last decade the quote, which had been climbing steadily for some years, was for something very close to a thousand pounds. I have never claimed on my insurance, and my wife and I (both well past our 40th birthdays at the time) are the only regular drivers of our anonymous Peugeot family car. The prospect of paying nearly a grand to insure it stirred me from my usual inertia, and within two phone calls, and without changing our broker, I had a quote that was less than half of the original. It was still “fully comp” (not third party, fire and theft) but the key difference was that I removed the option that allowed any driver, with my permission, to use the car. That option is a good example of “just in case” behaviour, something that I am prone to. I was paying hundreds of pounds extra every year just in case friends or other members of the family might get behind the wheel sometime. We have switched to “just in time” behaviour. My wife and I are the only named drivers and if we want to add someone else to the policy we can do it as needed. So far this has never happened.

In the intervening years the annual cost has kept falling. I have not fully adjusted to this fact. Every other regular charge (gas and electricity, Council Tax, home insurance, you name it) increases annually, but not motor insurance. When my quote arrives in April, by email these days, I open the attachment still half-expecting it to be close to a thousand pounds. This year, for the first time, it was less than a third of that. I should enjoy this while it lasts. Our children are 12 and 14. In 30 months’ time our son will be 17, the age at which he can start taking driving lessons. If he does learn to drive at that tender age we will be looking at a whole different set of options. Maybe he could follow my example, by taking his first lessons aged 23, and paying for them himself. Either way I hope that we have another couple of years of being pleasantly surprised by the arrival of our motor insurance quote in April.



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