Car insurance: Just call saves a lot of money – economy

875 euros instead of the previous 690 euros – a retired couple with a 15-year-old BMW X3 would have had to pay that much more for their car insurance next year. And that despite an improved no-claims class, i.e. the number of accident-free years of each driver. With the “discount for loyal customers” automatically granted by the insurer, the sum was reduced to 810 euros.

It’s not surprising that prices are rising, after all, everything is getting more expensive these days. But the 810 euros are still significantly more than what a new customer would have to pay for an identical contract. Customers who have remained loyal to their provider for years should therefore pay significantly more for the same product than new customers. This is likely to be difficult for many of these loyal customers to convey.

The retired couple did not want to put up with it either and called the insurer. The result after a good hour in the queue: After the 690 euros this year, they only have to pay a slightly higher contribution of 700 euros for the coming year. The insurer Admiral Direct, which belongs to Itzehoer, showed understanding.

According to Elke Weidenbach, an insurance expert at the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center, the couple did what customers should do after an increase in their car insurance premium: actively approach the insurer. “A simple phone call often brings a lot,” says Weidenbach. “The worst thing you can do is remain silent and do nothing.” It is rather unlikely that an insurer will approach customers on its own initiative to point them to cheaper offers.

The insurer is often open to discussion and, on request, will offer to switch to a cheaper tariff or a tariff with more attractive new customer conditions. This is often more worthwhile for the customer than terminating the insurance and switching to a new provider. As a rule, it is also in the interest of the insurer if customers stay as a result of such a concession. After all, it is expensive and time-consuming to acquire new customers.

It is not uncommon for customers to find out how much they should pay for their car insurance in the following year only a few days before the deadline of November 30, when most car policies can be cancelled. “There are insurers who take an amazing amount of time to send out the bill for the coming year,” reports Wolfgang Schütz from the comparison portal Verivox. He advises consumers who have received a price increase to check with the insurer. Important: If the premium for car insurance increases, customers always have a special right of termination of four weeks – even beyond November 30th. The reason for the price increase is irrelevant.

Motor vehicle insurers are currently in a dilemma. Strong price increases harbor the risk that customers will quit and switch to a cheaper competitor. At the moment, however, insurers can hardly avoid paying higher premiums. The actuarial consulting firm MSK estimates that the market average premium level for 2023 would have to rise by around ten percent if insurers do not want to make any losses.

The Germans drive more cars again – and cause more accidents

There are various reasons for this: After the two relatively low-damage pandemic years 2020 and 2021, Germans are driving more cars again – and are causing more damage again, which is also becoming more and more expensive on average. This is due to rising spare parts prices and workshop costs. But also due to the fact that more and more expensive technology is installed in the vehicles, which means that repairs are becoming more and more expensive. Inflation, which has been galloping since this year, has once again significantly strengthened the development.

“For existing customers, it will be significantly more expensive,” says Schütz from the comparison portal Verivox. “The prices for new customers are also increasing, but more moderately.” The price increase for tariff offers for new customers was around three percent compared to the previous year, and around four percent in the low-cost market segment.

When it comes to mitigating the increase in premiums for car insurance, tariff adjustments can help, emphasizes the consumer protection organization Bund der Verversicherungten (BdV). Customers who have comprehensive insurance may no longer need it when the car is getting old. The same applies if the children are now out of the house and have their own car. If they can be removed from the circle of drivers, the contribution decreases. Increasing the deductible also means savings. As with all insurance, paying annually is cheaper than quarterly or even monthly.

Comparison portals and tariff calculators can help

Younger customers in particular, who pay a particularly high price for their car policy, should think about concluding a telematics tariff, in which a particularly careful driving style lowers the premiums, often by up to 30 percent.

If consumers want to change their provider, they should use various comparison portals such as Check24 and Verivox. The tariff calculators on the websites of companies that are not represented on the Check24 and Verivox portals can also help, advises Weidenbach from the North Rhine-Westphalia consumer advice center. “How good a comparison portal is depends on how large the market coverage is,” she says. Sometimes it’s not that big. Germany’s largest car insurer HUK-Coburg is not listed on any platform, the same applies to a whole range of large providers. Also: From a legal point of view, the platforms are nothing more than insurance brokers and live on commissions that come from the insurers.

There is little point in delaying the change of provider for a few more days in the hope that the offers will then become even cheaper, emphasizes Schütz from Verivox. “Anyone who is looking now should close it,” he says. “There’s no point waiting any longer.”

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