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Insurance renewals and auto renewals – what you should know?

Robin Bowman

Robin Bowman
Nov 10, 2016

Insurance renewals, especially car insurance ones – attract loads of complaints here at A Spokesman Said.

The problems nearly always revolve around misunderstandings and confusions. 

The big question is whether you should ever agree to auto-renewal and what does it actually mean if you do?

Here’s how one Spokesman Said complainant got into a mess with Swinton.

Who said what and when is hard to work out.

But here’s our view on this tricky subject and what we think are the pros and cons of auto-renewing and not doing.

(Actually, we think it’s got almost nothing going for it, but we always try to be balanced.)


What is auto-renewal?

When you take out insurance of most kinds, the insurer will often ask if you want to opt for auto-renewal.

This means they’ll store your payment details and contact you near renewal time and, if you want to go ahead, you don’t need to do anything.

Terrible idea!

OK, we’re going to be as fair as possible to allow you to make the right choice.


What are the pros?

Minimal effort at renewal time.

All you need to do is accept the quote and the insurer will do the rest.

You don’t run any risk of being uninsured for any length of time.

Er, that’s it.


What are the cons?

We get lots of complaints, like the one above, from people who tell us they have cancelled their auto-renewal but it goes ahead anyway, which is a nightmare to unravel.

If you phone up and cancel, as the customer above did, what proof do you have that it happened, other than their recorded phone call, which they may or may not have made?

The Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) says auto-renewals account for five per cent of the motor insurance cases it handles, and that’s a lot.

If you auto-renew, you’re not checking for better prices and policies – NEVER DO THIS!

If you think an insurer will automatically give you the best price or even its own best price, then please, please, please think again, because they hardly ever do.

You can check car insurance prices using the tools hosted on our site*. 


Loyalty does not pay!

Typical problems with auto-renewals are:

* People who take out a second policy but didn’t realise the first would automatically renew. They only realise there’s a problem when their old direct debit is taken. Getting your money back can be a complete headache.
* People thinking their policy will renew automatically and then discover it hasn’t, which means they are not insured and breaking the law. If you’re involved in an accident or are stopped by the police you are open to prosecution.
* As we’ve said above, there’s a huge probability you’ll pay through the nose for your renewal. 

To us, all that looks pretty simple and the choice is simple.

Opt for no auto-renewal and there’s still no need to forget about renewing because your insurer will contact you abut a month before asking if you want to go ahead with one. 

That’s the time to hit the comparison tool* and see how much better you can do than what you’ve been quoted.

And if you have any problems with your insurer, bring your complaint to A Spokesman Said - we're in your corner. 


*The insurance quote systems are owned and operated by Seopa Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). A Spokesman Said Limited is an introducer appointed representative of Seopa Limited (FRN: 313860).


Last year 65% of customers didn't switch their car insurance to try and get a better deal.