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My experience yesterday of disability discrimination by RAC car insurance

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I’m no’ really sure where to start but I’ll get on with it anyway.

Over the last 24 hours I’ve been renewing my car insurance and given the renewal premium from my current insurer was daft in comparison with what I paid at my last renewal as you might expect I looked elsewhere.

I looked online for some quotes as it is becoming near impossible to find free phone numbers to get such quotes without having to use the internet. Eventually I ended up on the pages of the RAC and as I have (at the moment) breakdown cover membership with them which provides a 10% additional discount I completed their online quote system.

The system of the RAC requires that would be customers complete questions before allowing the enquiry to proceed to the next question, you have to have made a choice, ticked a box. One of these questions related to employment status. In answering the question I ticked the, ‘’Not in employment due to disability or illness’’  and carried on. Another of the questions asked for the would be customer to confirm the ‘month and year’ of their obtaining their full driving licence and it was this question that led to my spending 3+ hours on the phone in the course of which I bought, paid for and cancelled two insurance policies.

You see I phoned the RAC number to confirm my not being entirely sure of the month in which I passed my driving test would not invalidate any policy that I might take out with the RAC. In the course of this phone call the woman I spoke with confirmed the month of passing my test was not something that would invalidate any insurance policy and informed me that the 164 premium included the 10% discount as the RAC, having my details on their system automatically applied the discount. She then went on to ask me about my employment status and when I told her of my being unemployed due to my bring disabled she responded by telling me my premium would be 217+ and the voluntary excess would double to 200.

I, as you might expect, questioned this new increased premium and she explained that she understood it was due to my employment status. Well all hell broke loose as I virtually exploded at the RAC’s disability discrimination. In the course of one of the many phone calls I had with the RAC following this quotation I asked them to explain how I arrived at the online 164 quote having ticked the appropriate box, unemployed due to disability of illness, and she told me their system was showing them I had not ticked any boxes in that category. I then explained that I had contacted the information commissioners office with a view to obtaining copies of the information I had completed on the RAC web pages and during that call explained to the ICO that would be customers cannot progress any online quote unless they have completed in sequence the various stages of the quotation process.

In the meantime to all these calls with the RAC I contacted Churchill Insurance and accepted a policy with them. I was still very angry with RAC and returned to them to question why they sought to increase the premium offered to me by 52+?  and after a long call with me arguing my point the woman I was speaking with agreed to offer the original quote telling me she could do so as the company offering the policy had ‘not changed’. I said I would go to the company I had taken a policy out with and cancel it before returning to the RAC. So I did this but when I returned the man who took my call at first tried to sell me the original 217+ policy before eventually getting to the 164 policy, even after I had given him the details and message from his colleague telling him to look at the notes she had put on my quote details. But then he informed me that this policy was a, to be with the Co-op insurance and b, to have a 200 excess.

So after a long and protracted debate about things I eventually took a policy out with the RAC discovering at the payment end of things that they would still have to charge the 217 figure when taking payment but with a promise that the difference from the 164 would be refunded within a week.

There you go settled eh?  Nope by pure chance in my morning’s post there was a letter from SAGA inviting me to take an insurance quote from them. This invite came with a free phone number so I decided to give them a shout and the result of this call saw me calling the RAC to cancel the policy I had just taken out as I was going to accept the policy being offered by SAGA. Well given the SAGA policy included a courtesy car as standard, in the event my car required repairing following an accident, and the fact it cost only 105 in comparison to the 164/200+ quotes and policies I had taken out it really wasn’t a hard choice to be making.

As is my habit I record my calls and I intend to speak with my MP about what the RAC Insurance company tried to do in respect of a disabled driver looking to obtain car insurance as required by law. My hope would be that he might find a way to bring this attempted disability discrimination by the RAC to a wider audience and prevent others having to go though the nightmare day I had yesterday.

The other matter, one that just rounded off a bad day, was finding out that the hospital in Berlin where my friend’s 95 year old father is being treated just now has told my friend to expect the worse in the next few days.

Sunny Clouds:
Just a thought (and in no way justifying any disability discrimination whatsoever), has this perhaps overlapped with a practice various insurance agencies and utility suppliers have of offering you a higher price and being prepared to haggle down to a lower one?  I assume (but don't know) that when you phone a lot of these companies their screen shows two prices - an initial offer and a reduced offer.

That being so, this may actually be down to a glitch in the computer programmes that unintentionally discriminates against disabled people by the way the algorithms work in relation to the two prices.

Having said that, there's the factor that you'll be way ahead of me on, which is the way that
disability and illness get lumped together for lots of purposes.  We're all familiar here with how they overlap and with all the permutations of illness with or without permanent disability, non-illness-related impairment with or without permanent disability.   Logically the categories that are actually needed for insurance don't refer to something like 'unemployed due to illness or disability' or whatever, but 'temporarily unable to work' and 'unable to work through disability'.  The 'temporarily unable to work' could then be categorised with 'currently unemployed' etc.  That being said, I suppose you could still get arguments over whether someone out of work short term is nevertheless unable to work due to disability if, for example, it's a relapsing-remitting condition or one that intermittently requires surgery etc.  Nevertheless, there should be some way of categorising it that's more appropriate if they sat down with people who've thought about these things for other purposes.

So my gut feeling here is that what it's about is someone with only hazy notions of the concepts and permutations of unemployment, illness and disability etc. creating the system or algorithms or whatever.

There may even be an industry-wide issue that someone with energy and time should be looking at, but how many people 'not in employment due to illness or disability' have the energy and time?

Sunny the RAC lied, it is a simple as that. As I was saying earlier in my op I had been offered online a premium of 164 with a 100 excess and had a I accepted that offer that is what I would have got. It was only when I sought to clarify my input of the date my gaining my driving licence through talking to someone on the phone that things changed. Again as I said earlier I could not have reached the point of being offered a premium had I not already completed the employment status question. An online quote enquiry requires the customer to indicate their employment status in order to progress the quote procedure, failure to answer that question stops the quote process. It is therefore something of a mystery to me as to why the staff at RAC Insurance (car)  insisted that there was 'no answer' no box ticked in the 'employment status' question. Put it this way I could not obtain a quote using the RAC's online system if I had left that question unanswered.

So I had answered the question, I had declared I was unemployed due to disability (or illness) and I had been offered a premium of 164. That the person I spoke with at RAC Car Insurance had tried to increase my would be premium by 52, on the basis of my work status, was discrimination on the grounds of my being disabled.

Sunny Clouds:
Not being funny, but how do you know there wasn't a glitch in the system so that when the people you spoke to said that it didn't show up on the system that you'd ticked that box, they were telling the truth?  As I see it, that's entirely possible.  I don't say that it is what happened, merely that it's possible.

That doesn't make what happened to you right, but it does suggest that it's possible that what you're up against could have a number of different explanations, and depending on which, different things need to be done about it.   More to the point, which explanation is right affects who is to blame for what happened, i.e. whether it's the call-handler, or management or whatever.

If the call-handler was wrong, she was wrong and I don't justify it.  I'm simply inclined when I read/hear about this sort of thing to suspect a systemic problem.

Sunny Clouds:
I just realised I forgot the most important thing -

 >bighugs< >bighugs< >bighugs< >bighugs<

One thing I really don't miss since I stopped driving is dealing with the car insurance.  Whether it's lies or cock-ups or system failures, it's a pain.

It's not long until my house insurance comes up for renewal.  Aargh!


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