Andrew leads our Operational Team and is our expert when it comes to all the ins and outs of car hire excess insurance.
When you get your renewal notice from the AA for breakdown cover, it's well worth checking the price against what a new customer gets quoted. A Guardian reader, JB recently got a renewal premium of £238, an increase of just under 7% from the previous year. JB checked the AA's website and found a new customer would get identical cover for £144.
JB also noticed that the renewal notice described the cover using different terms from the website making it more difficult to compare like with like. JB phoned the AA to ask why the renewal premium was more expensive than a new quote. They confirmed the cover was the same but offered no explanation, simply offered to reduce the renewal premium to match the website.
This isn't an isolated incident, the AA seem to be relying on brand loyalty and customer inertia to increase profits.
The AA among others also use the marketing technique of giving you a free upgrade, an additional service thrown in for free for a year as a reward for your loyalty. Next year, you may start paying for that complimentary service which, don't forget, you didn't actually specify in the first place. If you do nothing and simply renew, you will find over the years, that you have much more comprehensive cover than you originally felt comfortable with. You will also be paying for it.
The AA responded saying: "We offer online, first-year introductory discounts to encourage people to join the AA. We also want to encourage our members to stay with us, so have introduced Silver and Gold membership for renewing members giving a range of extra benefits at no additional charge.
"JB was entitled to move on to Gold at renewal at no additional charge giving him extras such as Key Cover and breakdown cover for weekends in Europe. In addition, following a review of his circumstances, we were able to reduce his renewal fee.”
So when you get your renewal notice for the AA, at the very least you should check their own website for a new customer price and phone them to get that price. Better still, take it as an opportunity to re-evaluate what cover you want and what would be nice. Then check the MoneyMaxim breakdown insurance comparison service.