Dan Beckley, 81, has spent most of his life surrounded by cars and motorcycles. They are still the love of his life and he is still excited to be behind the wheel of his BMW 535.
During his working life, Dan ran a driving school and a company specializing in professional chauffeur services. For over 50 years he has been a member (and sometimes examiner) of the Institute of Advanced Motorists (now known as IAM RoadSmart).
However, a lifetime of professional driving counted for little when it came to the cost of your auto insurance. Dan, from Hordle in Hampshire, has just been informed by his insurer that his renewal premium for next year will be 75 per cent higher – £817, compared to the £466 he was previously paying.
Of course, Dan is not alone. Like so many motorists, he is caught in an insurance premium storm, with prices rising almost out of control. Insurers are in profit recovery mode and policyholders – not shareholders – are being forced to play their part. Claim-free records, low mileage, and exemplary driving count for nothing.
What bothers Dan are two things. First, he insures his car through Cornmarket Insurance Services, IAM RoadSmart’s preferred insurer. It is sold with messages such as: “It is important to us that your attitude and approach to road safety does not go unnoticed” and “At Cornmarket, we reward IAM RoadSmart members with lower insurance premiums and better policy benefits.”
Upset: Dan Beckley, 81, says insurers shouldn’t automatically consider older drivers high risk
“I can’t fault them for the quality of service,” says Dan, a widower. ‘You can always talk to them if you have any queries. But a 75 per cent premium increase is not a reward, it is excessive.’
Second, like many readers who have contacted me in recent weeks, Dan is convinced that the main reason behind the increase in premiums is the fact that he is an octogenarian, and most auto insurers consider that people like him are high risk.
“There are some difficult older drivers where I live,” he admits. But I am not among them. “We are not a homogeneous group and insurers should recognize that.”
For now, Dan is staying with Cornmarket. But if your coverage increases again next year by a similar amount, you’ll shop around—the smart thing everyone should do when it comes time to renew their coverage (car or home).
- I can’t let Dan’s story pass without paying tribute to Tom Stockill, the talented photographer who took the photo above. Tom spent an afternoon taking pictures of Dan. They talked about everything and nothing. Sadly, upon returning home, Tom died suddenly. Dan couldn’t believe the news when I called him. “What a professional he was,” he said. ‘He made me feel special. He was passionate about his profession. In fact he was. A photographer who was as comfortable taking photos of celebrities as he was lighting up our Wealth and Personal Finance pages.
Money matters… even on the famous Camino!
I have spent the last ten days walking from Porto in Portugal to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, along the Camino de Santiago, often known as the Camino de Santiago.
It has been physically demanding (I have lost an inch in height due to wear and tear on the soles of my feet), but in many ways it has been a wonderful experience. A 173-mile hike, stretching alongside or within sight of the roaring waves of the Atlantic. Glorious sunrises, stunning sunsets. All quite therapeutic.
What have I learned along the way other than that I’m not as fit as I thought? From a banking perspective, it seems that ATMs and bank branches (in big cities) are as plentiful in Spain and Portugal as they are in the UK. I certainly didn’t see any boarded-up branches, while Santander’s branches looked like a shinier version of their compatriots in the UK (understandable given the bank is Spanish-owned).
I have also learned that readers are never far away. For example, on the outskirts of Baiona, with a steep climb ahead, I met up with Jane Skilling and Gerald Smith from Holmfirth in West Yorkshire.
For 30 minutes, as well as the wonders of the Camino, we chatted about life as a retiree (Gerald) and working in the environmental charity sector in the context of a cost of living crisis (Jane). As soon as I revealed my hand, two issues rose to the surface like monstrous Atlantic waves: the rise of car insurance and how to manage a self-invested personal pension while the markets are volatile. Gerald has quite a few cash reserves.
You should have been told that you are getting a raw deal with that cash while suppliers rake in millions in profits by not paying customers a fair interest rate. But he didn’t want to spoil the Camino. As we pilgrims of the 21st century say, Buen Camino!
Beating the drum along the banks…
A huge thank you to those readers who have let me know how their cities still benefit from a good number of banks on their main streets. This despite the widespread sacrifice of branches in the last two years, which has left some cities without banks.
From Elgin on the north coast of Scotland to Burton-upon-Trent in Staffordshire and the cathedral city of Truro in south-west Cornwall, the drum has been beaten enthusiastically on high streets filled with benches. Not for nostalgic reasons, but because they play a key role in ensuring urban centers thrive rather than wither on the vine.
No reader did their impression of drummer Ginger Baker more enthusiastically than Truro’s Tony and Cynthia Martin. The Martins, owners of Coinage Hall, one of the city’s most iconic buildings, say Truro is home to seven banking brands, a building society and a post office. Between them, they help support more than 150 independent merchants in the city.
Although empty shops, as in many towns and cities, are a problem, the Martins say Truro can compete with any out-of-town shopping centre.
“Come visit us,” they said last week. I will do that. I still remember the last time I visited, when I had cod and chips after a hard day of walking. My mouth is watering when I remember it.
I was horrified when I was accused of being “woke” for suggesting last week that some of the older beasts of the investment trust industry (such as Monks and Bankers) should change their names to reflect what they do.
Even one of my biggest fans, Eddie Browne, a retired United Biscuits employee and Jaffa Cakes expert, was disappointed.
“What matters,” says Eddie, “is that investors do their homework and understand what they’re investing in. Yellow card to you, Jeff.”
Thank God it wasn’t red.
Speaking of cash, Starling Bank’s “big news” announcement a few days ago was a classic case of doublespeak. First, the good news: Checking account customers were told they would receive 3.25 percent interest starting earlier this month. Now for the bad: the interest rate only applies to a maximum balance of £5,000. After that, the rate drops to zero.
“Insulting,” was customer Paul Braithwaite’s response, although someone who has £85,000 (the maximum protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme) in the account will now earn £162.50 interest a year, up from £42 .50 before.
Answer? Try not to keep more than £5,000 in your Starling Bank current account and put any excess money to work in a savings account that pays a rate close to the bank’s base rate of 5.25 per cent.
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