Hastings Direct Car Insurance Review
Hastings Insurance is a broker offering polices online, by phone and in branches.
It provides cover for cars, bikes, vans and home insurance, as well as a range of other services, such as breakdown cover, personal accident, substitute vehicle and key and legal cover.
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The company was set up in 1997, trading as "Hastings Direct”.
It now trades under the brands Hastings Direct, Hastings Premier, Hastings Essential, SmartMiles, People's Choice and insurePink.
In 2012, it launched a usage-based insurance product under the Hastings Direct SmartMiles name. The SmartMiles product requires a telematics, or ‘black box’, device to be fitted to the insured vehicle.
But the company is probably best known for its mascot, Harry Hastings, a cartoon figure dressed in armour.
It’s based in Based in Bexhill-on-Sea, and also has a second call centre in Newmarket, Suffolk and has recently opened a third call centre in Leicester.
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Types of Hasting Direct car insurance policies
It’s important to know that Hastings Direct is essentially a broker, searching for a suitable policy for customers from a limited range of UK insurers.
Go direct to Hastings and you won’t be exposed to the whole range of insurers on the market.
As with all car insurers, Hastings offers the three basic categories of cover:
The minimum level of cover required by law.
If you’re involved in an accident, this policy covers the cost of damage caused to the other party, car and person.
It doesn’t cover you, though, if your car is lost, stolen or damaged; and it doesn’t cover you for personal injuries.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can necessarily save money by opting for either this level or third party fire and theft (below) because these policies are often more expensive, the reasoning being that anyone opting for this level of cover is probably a high-risk driver.
Third party Fire and theft
This offers the same basic level of cover that ensures other parties are paid in the event of an accident, but in addition covers you if your vehicle is stolen or damaged by fire.
Again, this won’t necessarily save you money compared to a comprehensive policy.
For tips on how to save money on car insurance, visit our guide.
This is the highest level of cover and ensures you are protected in order to pay out to third parties in the event of an accident.
You’re also covered for loss from theft and fire damage and you can claim if you your vehicle is damaged even if it’s your fault.
If an accident is another driver’s fault, their insurance will pay.
But this does not mean your next premium won’t be affected. If you claim in any way, your premium will almost always rise.
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Hastings Direct policies
This is described as a ‘no-frills policy’ that ensures you're not paying extra for features and benefits you don't need.
This is Hasting’s standard cover and includes cover for certain extras like lock replacement, key theft and protection for in-car audio and sat nav equipment (before paying for extras, make sure they're worth it).
This cover offers a range of extra items in addition to standard cover, things such as legal protection, roadside assistance and breakdown cover.
Beyond these three basic categories there are other policy types, including:
Like most insurers, Hastings offers discounts if you insure more than one car with them.
A multi-car policy can offer certain other benefits, too, such as a half-price MOT voucher, windscreen and windows breakage cover, EU cover for up to 90 days a trip and £5,000 personal accident cover.
Drivers of multi vehicle polices just need to live under the same roof.
This is the Hastings version of the increasingly popular ‘black box’ policy that monitors the driver’s behaviour on the road and adjusts policy premiums accordingly.
It’s most suitable to younger drivers who would otherwise find themselves in a super-expensive premium category (here's how to slash the cost of teens' car insurance).
On top of those extras and add ons already mentioned, Hastings also offers the usual, such as protected no-claims, so you won’t lose your no claims bonus if you have to make a claim.
Don’t imagine that this will also protect you from an increased premium if you claim, though – you’ll just get the same no-claims discount on a higher premium.
To compare these policies with the market's best, head over to our free online tool.
What do customers think?
Hastings market themselves with the tagline “refreshingly straightforward car insurance”, although it’s hard to see why they're any more straightforward than any alternative.
They do boast a fair few awards, though: 2013, 2014 and 2015 Car Insurance Provider of the Year, Consumer Moneyfacts Awards.
We’re never too impressed with awards, though, as there seems to be one for everyone in the industry.
What about how the company handles claims?
Which? produces a league table of car insurance claims satisfaction. It surveyed 1,335 members in November last year and Hastings Direct had the honour of finding itself in LAST place.
It scored a paltry overall percentage of 50%, as opposed to the top eight insurers who all scored in the 70%s.
Here’s the breakdown:
* Customer service - 68%
* Speed of dealing with claims - 70%
* Regular communications with claimants - 54%
* Settlement value - 66%
* Overall claims satisfaction - 50%
Not much there to shout about then.
In the wider measure that assesses policies, Hastings did a lot better, finishing in the top half of the Which? table.
Its scores were:
* Customer service - 4/5 stars
* Handling of queries and complaints - 4/5 stars
* Transparency of charges - 3/5 stars
* Value for money - 4/5 stars
* Customer score - 65%
If you need to make a complaint about Hastings, post on A Spokesman Said.
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Like all insurers, Hastings Direct love you to auto renew.
They promise to let you know the cost of your new policy 21 days before you have to pay.
And as with any insurers, we recommend you opt out of this process.
With Hastings it’s the default choice and to opt out you need to “click the blue 'Live chat' button on their site to discuss.
We suggest you do.
You’ll no doubt learn how auto renewal saves you from accidentally being uninsured. True.
But only a mug will accept an renewal price without shopping around for a cheaper quote.