I bought a new car with lovely safety and tech features. Thank you, yes, it’s a nice car! Feels as if it can run itself. Before I could explore that, I found the insurance process ran itself!
Car dealers offer insurance as corporate agencies of multiple insurance firms. The tie up could be for all dealers of a manufacturer, or a large dealership chain. They earn a commission for selling and renewal of insurance and negotiate rates and terms for claims repairs, the latter much like hospitalisation insurance and network hospitals.
Bundled services present advantages and disadvantages to us as customers. They will tell you in detail about the advantages, but let me tell you about at least some disadvantages that I encountered during the process.
I asked, indeed, about insurance. It could be one of the three firms. Their quotes, as well as one from my own insurance agent who represented a different firm, were comparable. But the dealer option was structured as a seamless service with their in-house, authorised workshop handling repairs and their in-house insurance team, claims. So, I opted for the latter. A late evening email from the insurance team asked me in bold letters upfront to click ‘AGREE’ or ‘DISAGREE’. To what? Inside the message was a proposal form for the car insurance. Various options were pre-checked and the insurance company pre-decided! It had other unspeakable errors including mis-spelling my name, getting my gender and nomination information wrong.
The sales team smoothly pointed me to the insurance team who would be available only the next day. But within minutes landed an email from the RTO team. It was a CC of an online application for registration of the vehicle with the same cover note, not yet ‘AGREE’d to, for a three-year third-party liability insurance. I wanted the insurer to be changed. The RTO and sales team huffed smoothly that this would mean a delay and MY desired registration date would not be met! The options, apparently, aren’t always for the customer to exercise! I got my option of insurer, but a delayed delivery of the car. Wearied, I decided not to bring up the fact that the policy failed to give me a discount for automobile association membership, something the motor tariff specifies. They were nice enough about some other options though. They spent half-a-day helping me pick out accessories from their pricey list!
The writer is a business journalist specialising in insurance & corporate history