"Halifax took me for a chump" - loyal customer charged more than double on home insurance
Despite 15 years of loyalty to Halifax, one customer was disgusted to learn he was being overcharged by more than £450 on his home insurance.
Stephen Bleach received a quote for £780 to renew the policy on his terraced home in southwest London.
But when he went on a price comparison site his own insurer offered him a premium of £310 on the same property, he wrote in The Sunday Times.
"It took me a long time to realise Halifax Home Insurance had been taking me for a chump," he said.
"I don’t believe its prices are related to costs at all: I believe they’re purely calculated on what the company thinks it can get away with charging mugs like me.
"This is how one of the biggest names in personal finance rewards a decade and a half of loyalty."
Stephen and his wife Jaqui bought their house in 2002 and got a mortgage with Halifax, so took its insurance too.
"Even when we switched mortgage provider, we stuck with the company to insure the place; we naively assumed it was giving us a fair deal."
Last month, Stephen received a renewal letter with a quote of £780 for home, contents and personal insurance.
That was up from £625 last year.
Jaqui rang up Halifax to ask why their premium had gone up so much and the insurer told her it would drop the price to £648.
"He didn’t change the cover or the excess, he didn’t check with a supervisor or even put me on hold. He just dropped the price. So I said OK and renewed," Jaqui said.
Don't just blindly accept your renewals
That made Stephen question why their premium had gone up by so much in the first place.
He contacted the Halifax press office which told him that it continually assessed its pricing structures.
"The premium charged depends on a number of factors, including introductory discounts or offers, the level of cover provided, the level of risk and past claims history.
“We communicate the renewal price to customers clearly every year prior to renewal. If any of our customers wish to review their policy we encourage them to contact us directly. Our customer relations team is authorised to apply discounts if applicable.”
Not satisfied, Stephen went online to see what other deals he could get.
Using a price comparison tool – like A Spokesman Said – he found a Lloyds premium for £233, alongside several other significantly cheaper quotes.
"As I went, I idly totted up what we’d paid for our unthinking loyalty to Halifax: say, £500 a year, for 15 years — ouch."
Then he found a quote with Halifax – his own insurer – with a price of £360.
But since he was entering details as a new customer, Halifax also offered him a £50 cashback, which made it £310.
"I had stayed loyal to Halifax and assumed that would mean something. But when I’d pretended to be a new customer, it had offered to insure the same building and contents for less than half the price."
"Halifax alleges the x in its name stands for 'extra'. That’s getting stale. It needs to freshen things up and add some other plays on that final letter. Here are some suggestions for the next brainstorming meeting: how about 'extortionate', or 'exploitative'? Or, in my case, 'ex-customer'?"
This is not the first time Halifax have been caught out offering cheaper deals to new customers.
Halifax customer Gail Miles was paying £844.20 for her home insurance — she had been with the bank for 23 years — but after getting a price comparison she found a deal for just £132.38.
And who do you think gave her the lower quote? Yes, you’re right. It was Halifax.
Who is wealthy enough not to save £700 on the back of a couple of clicks?
Use our home insurance comparison tool to see what you could save.
Don’t get caught out on home insurance
Halifax is far from the only home insurer that does this.
When you are considering home insurance make sure you follow the four Nevers:
*Never auto renew – always check the new price against the previous year’s.
*Never take out insurance with your mortgage provider just because it’s offered – it almost certainly won’t be the best price.
*Never pay a renewal price for insurance without checking whether the company will give you a discount.
*Never agree to a discounted price before you’ve checked the market – be ready to switch providers every year - it could save you thousands in the long run.
Millions overpaying home insurance – are you one of them?
The charity Citizens’ Advice says as many as 13 million households are being overcharged, just for renewing their home insurance policies without shopping round.
Almost one third of the whole home insurance market could be paying around 70% more than a new customer for the same policy, the research shows.
Find out if you are paying too much with a quick comparison – a few minutes could save you hundreds of pounds.
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