Perspective | A Mini with a No-Claims Bonus. What Could Go Wrong?

The car rental agency advised that, as of his next birthday, Roger Crombie would be so old that “The Insurance” would not let him rent a car ever again. So he bought one.
By: | November 9, 2020

Call me Methuselah.

The car rental agency advised that, as of my next birthday, I’d be so old that “The Insurance” would not let me rent a car ever again. So I bought one. The experience was something of a motorpsycho nightmare (© Bob Dylan).

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First, my driver’s license had to be renewed. Luckily for you, this publication isn’t large enough for me to fully describe that process, but finally the damn thing was indeed renewed.

A 1967 Jaguar E-Type convertible was the only car I wanted, but … a run-around that would be comfortable on an occasional four-hour journey made more sense.

I started my driving life with an Italian Job-style Mini. Its floor fell out, and you could see the road rushing by underneath. (Perry Como, Magic Moments: “The time that the floor/fell out of my car/when I put the clutch down.”)

I hoped for better luck this time with the more modern BMW version and bought one by phone. It cost exactly 37 times my first year’s gross salary.

Transportation problem solved. Next?

Next came an unexpected wave of glee among my friends, petrolheads all.

“Shagalicious,” said a friend.

“Correct choice made,” reported a publisher.

“Tell me you added the speaker package,” begged another. (I did.)

One pal was keenly thrilled that I had apparently opted for velour floor mats.

The six-week delivery window gave me time to carry out the necessary bank robbery and then to buy the insurance “The Insurance” had supposedly forced me to buy.

If “The Insurance” wasn’t actually the villain of the piece, it was certainly the beneficiary. Instead of 20 bones for coverage on the few days a year that I rented, this was going to be more like a $50 bill every day of the year.

Gamblers on horse races call the $50 bill a “frog” and consider it unlucky. I, on the other hand, have never met a $50 bill I didn’t like.

Buying insurance was unexpectedly arduous. The first broker didn’t call back.

The first company I approached doesn’t trade in my area, the country’s most populous. One website repeatedly timed out after five seconds.

No online broker or company would essay an actual quote until after I’d bought the car and driven it home naked (of cover).

Finally, a national broker with a local office quoted $1,600 to $2,000.

A second broker, given the same details, went to the same company, and quoted half as much. Hmmm.

In the end, I bought a year’s cover for about $1,200, with a $1,000 excess.

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Another $700 went for gap insurance, which repays the full, rather than the depreciated, cost of the car in the case of a write-off in the first four years.

The Mini arrived today, starlight blue. I’m about to take my first journey. To avoid the inevitable disappointment when the new car is scratched, I might just total it. After all, I’m covered.

Thanks to the no-claims bonus system, the insurance cost becomes cheaper with every year in which I don’t make a claim.

If Methuselah had been covered into his old age, they’d have been paying him to insure the car. &

Roger Crombie is a United Kingdom-based columnist for Risk & Insurance®. He can be reached at [email protected]

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