JEFF PRESTRIDGE: Watchdog’s red face over £4bn ‘saving’ on insurance – FCA’s boast is now looking like prime baloney
It was good to hear BBC Radio 4 last Thursday running with our story on rising premiums for loyal motor and home insurance customers. Frightening, inflation-busting increases, despite new rules designed to deliver exactly the opposite from the City regulator the Financial Conduct Authority.
As we have been saying since the start of the year, the regulator’s boast that its intervention in the market would save loyal customers £4 billion over the next ten years is now looking like prime baloney.
Instead of the loyalty premium disappearing as insurers are required by the regulator to ensure no existing policyholder pays more than a new customer for equivalent cover, many loyal customers are being hit with huge premium increases.
Touchy subject: The FCA’s boast that its intervention in the market would save loyal customers £4 billion over the next ten years is now looking like prime baloney
Price rises that come with no explanation from the insurer and impact most (according to our mailbag) on elderly people.
There was nothing new in the report compiled by the BBC consumer affairs programme You And Yours – other than confirmation of the groundbreaking reporting we have done on the issue (we’re not finished yet).
Indeed, it was most notable for a hapless performance from a representative of the Association of British Insurers. They tied themselves in knots trying to explain why premiums for loyal customers were going through the proverbial roof when we were all led to believe nothing of the sort would happen.
I won’t name the individual, but you can listen to their defence of the indefensible on BBC Sounds.
As for the FCA, it was conspicuous by its absence. Maybe it’s realised, like us, that the £4 billion of savings it has been talking about really is nothing but prime baloney.
We’re on case of banks over rate rise failure
Savings giant NS&I has put its customers through the mill in recent years with service standards so appalling it almost seemed at one stage not to care any more.
Yet it appears to have stepped back from the abyss and – based on our bulging mailbag again – service levels are improving (do email if you disagree).
The behemoth is also doing the decent thing when it comes to savings rates. As with the December increase in Bank base rate, it has responded to this month’s 0.25 percentage point rate hike by passing it on almost straightaway to savers.
It means rates for those with Income Bonds or a Direct Saver account have already risen from 0.35 per cent to 0.5 per cent.
Although there are better equivalent savings deals out there for those who prefer to go off piste and put their money with unfamiliar brands, it’s good to see NS&I lead the charge on giving savers a fairer deal.
Its promptness is very much in step with the Give Savers A Rate Rise campaign which we launched late last year when base rate started notching up.
Sadly, NS&I is a bit of a loner because most of the banks have yet to adjust rates on mainstream savings accounts in response to December’s rate rise, let alone this month’s.
With most people’s attention very much on the cost of living crisis, it appears that the banks – and some building societies – are hoping their tardiness on the savings rates front will go unnoticed.
Well I’ve got news for them, we’re on their case.
Shameful that hospice sector hovers on edge of financial crisis
Over the years, I’ve visited a number of dear friends in hospices not long before they have passed away.
Usually, they have been tear-jerking occasions because my friends (Penny Perkins especially) were far too young to die.
Yet every time I’ve gone, I’ve marvelled at the dedication of those staff who administer this palliative care with such professionalism and tenderness. Indeed, it prompted me to raise money for Peace Hospice Care in Watford, at one time my local hospice.
Another adorable friend – much older than Penny was – is currently knocking at heaven’s door.
But her daughter has been told she has little chance of spending her last day or hours in a local hospice because of an acute bed shortage.
Of course, some people choose to die in the comfort of their home, but it’s sad (and shameful) that the hospice sector constantly hovers on the edge of a financial crisis, curtailing its ability to carry out its wonderful work.