Motor Insurance was made compulsory under The Road Traffic Act 1961. Personally, I am delighted that is the case because at least if you get that unexpected shunt up the rear, the likelihood is that the other driver will be able to pay you for it.
Regular readers will know that I drive an eighteen-year-old Ford Fiesta and do so with a smile on my face. The car has many things to recommend it such as its unattractiveness to car thieves, its lack of modern digital electronics making it easy and cheap to maintain and its reliable if unspectacular performance guaranteed not to attract police attention. She has sailed through five NCT’s to date, the last one being only last week so she’s in PMO and legally fit to be on the road.
Last year my fully comprehensive insurance with bonus protection and two named drivers was €340. This was expensive given the car barely covered 2,000 miles all year but I paid up anyway. This year though the exact same lads quoted me €740 for the coming year. “Why?” I asked the voice on the other end of the phone this morning. “Rates have just gone up, that’s all,” says yer wan. Naturally I phrased the question slightly differently several more times only to meet the same stone wall-(ing).
Timely is it not that only this month we learned that, “The Competition and Consumer Protection Commission has issued summonses to motor insurance providers compelling them to appear before them to give evidence regarding suspected breaches of competition law in the sector.” One doesn’t want to be too disparaging just yet but if my experience is an example of a wider national increase of such magnitude then I wish the Competition and Consumer Protection Commission the best of luck with their investigation.
But I think there is a much more fundamental and wider issue here. If our Government use their authority to introduce a law that will cost us a lot of money every year, then they must also have the responsibility to legislate the companies they force us to pay in order to protect the citizen from unscrupulous overcharging. But our Government shrug and tell us there’s nothing they can do for us in this regard. I, for one, find that answer unsatisfactory. We elect and pay our politicians for the sole purpose of making laws. Even when they enact unpopular laws they tell us it is for our protection. They inevitably add the they have a duty of care to us.
But what good is that if we are being robbed because of one of their compulsory laws? We have heard all the usual drivel about the markets and how competition offers the best price, etc, etc. However, that only works when the citizen customer actually has the choice not to make any purchase at all. When the Government decrees that you must buy from one of the providers, they create the perfect conditions for a cartel to develop and that is why I believe they are solely responsible for the outrageous quote I’ve got this year.
And it begs the question as to whether we would voluntarily pay for such car insurance if it were not compulsory? How would it be if the Government met the representative body of all the car-insurers and told them they’d rescind the law to see what would happen in true market conditions? If the insurance companies are not telling porkies then they should be delighted to get out of car insurance. If though, they started a price war between themselves and ran expensive adverts on TV to lure us back to insuring our cars voluntarily by offering really low premiums, then we’d know for sure what’s going on right now, wouldn’t we?