It’s that time of year when I need to renew or change my car insurance. What normally happens is that , after getting my renewal quote letter, I get onto one of the price comparison sites (usually confused.com), see that my renewal quote is actually cheaper than the lowest price on Confused, and let my insurance renew automatically.
This year however, because I’ve got a new car, and I’ve changed jobs, my insurance has (surprise surprise) increased.
After doing lots of looking round, on other price comparison sites, and going direct to the websites of those companies that advertise that they are the cheapest, and offer super good discounts, I’m still not sure that I’ve found the best deal yet.
I’m nearly 40, have 12 years no claims, and am not driving a sports car, so I’m not sure why my insurance is so high, but that’s not the issue here. I want to moan about the forms that need to be filled in before the site can give you a car insurance quote.
Some sites seem to have given the form filling in process some thought, and have made the validation instant, so that you’re informed if you haven’t entered a valid (type of ) email address, and let you know what format you’re phone number should be in, or whether it’s even a required field. This personal information is quite straightforward, but it can be hard work when the requirements are not immediately obvious. For all their faults, Confused.com does an adequate job on the surface of making this task less difficult.
What really annoys me is some of the “stupid” questions, and lack of thought and common sense.
For example, the form asks for the car year of manufacture or the registration number. This identifies the car, and gives the year. Then the next field asks for the date of purchase, which provides a drop down box that quite often and inexplicably ranges from around 1900-the present day.
You know the age of the car, I can’t have bought it before it was made, why on earth make me spend more time filling in a form than I have to?
Another example. “Is the car standard or has it been modified?” I choose standard. “How many seats does it have?” The same number as it left the factory with. Which you knew, because it’s standard and not modified.
“When would you like the insurance to start?” I can choose from either a drop down list for the day, date and year, or sometimes I need to choose a date on a calendar. As most quotes are only valid for 30-60 days maximum, why on earth give me the option of the next year, when if I select the next year, the form throws up an error telling me that the quote is only valid for a certain length of time?
Oh, job titles and industries are another one. I appreciate the fact that your form can auto complete, which is great, but why not use a bit of logic that says that if I’m a project manager, my industry is probably more likely to be marketing than market gardening.
Here’s another subject whilst on the subject of jobs. There are people who work with websites, or for internet-related companies. (like me) These job types are not listed. How many other “new” job types or industries are not listed, meaning that people could be paying far too much for their insurance?
Now, because I’ve got an iPad, I tend to do a lot of form filling in, or stuff that I can’t (easily) do on my phone, on it. Trying to fill in forms can be really tricky as many of the forms and sites have not been designed with touch in mind.
One of the sites offers tips for validation for each form field, explaining the information or format of the information required. Although this is usually a good thing, it does mean that when using a touch device, moving to the next field moves the focus to the next tool tip rather than the actual field, which means an additional tap is required. It is bloody annoying to get partway through typing something, before realising.
If some thought and care and attention had been given to these forms, the whole process of buying car insurance may not be so traumatic.
As the only other real option is to ring up, and eventually speak to somebody who may be even less interested and less helpful than the website. (Yes, Admiral I’m looking at you).
I’m becoming more and more aware of forms, and validation, and how stupid / clever forms can be and I think that there is a huge amount of improvement to be made on may sites.