Insurance companies and the post office
The tax on the Volvo expired yesterday. Normally I would just do the job on-line and wait patiently for DVLA and the Post Office to conspire to deliver a new disc to my door. However, as we are going on holiday in said Volvo at the weekend I decided to place my faith in post office counters and go and physically buy one rather than trusting the post system. To be fair they have never let me down on that front but thereís a first time for everything and I didnít want it to be this time.
A busy weekend (getting very drunk in Skipton for Mrs Kís 40th) meant I didnít get around to looking for the MoT and insurance certificate until this morning. I have two folders for car-related documents, one is labelled Sierra (because thatís what I had when I labelled the file, and I had a few since) and one is labelled Volvo (because thatís what we hadÖÖ. A 440 if memory serves). Iím fairly fastidious about this having lost documents before and found it to be a PITA getting replacements. However, the insurance certificate wasnít in the Volvo folder so I searched the Sierra one and the damned thing wasnít in there either. A search of the cork board in the kitchen and the household docs ďpendingĒ rack turned up nothing. (The pending rack isnít really pending, itís where we put stuff that would get shredded if the shredder wasnít knackered.) It wasnít in the glovebox and it wasnít on the book case either.
At this point Mrs K started to panic. Thereís no way the kids will go on holiday in the Alfa after it disgraced itself last year on the same trip but we canít use the Volvo with no tax disc. I know if I tax it on-line it should get here in time but itís August and everyoneís on holiday so they might need the full 5 working days which puts us right in the mire. ďRing your insurance company says IĒ so she does. No problem they say, they canít e-mail it but can fax it (but a fax is no use for taxing the car) or they can have one in the post tomorrow at the latest and weíll have it by Wednesday. Good enough but we are back in the hands of the post office and they want £26 to cover the cost of a 3 minute conversation, hitting the send button on a computer system and putting it in an envelope. Hands are tied though so we bite the bullet on that one.
Itís not ideal because the car wonít be taxed until Thursday but it should be OK. Once Mrs K had made the phone call I decided to check the one other place her insurance docs really should not have been Ė the big box under the stairs that contains instruction manuals for long defunct electrical appliances, gas bills from 1997 and old letters from the bank about the parlous state of my finances Ė a sort of family archive of crap. Bingo! Her renewal has somehow been fast tracked to the big box rather than the Volvo folder. Iíve got the certificate in my by-now sweaty mitt and can tax the car today.
ďRing your insurance and cancel the new certĒ I say and she does Ė no dice. Once the submit button has been pressed at a car insurance company it stays pressed. £26 down the swanee and a new certificate that is no longer needed is heading towards us like the runaway train in that film with Denzel Washington. And so we finally get to point 1 of my rant:
1. Does it really cost an insurance company twenty six pounds to pop a bit of paper in the post? This is the same charge as you pay if you change cars which must surely generate a lot more work? And why is it that some companies are quite happy to allow you to download your documents but others see it as some massive security risk?
2. If I can use a website to tax my car and it checks the insurance and MoT records automatically, why canít they do that in the post office too instead of relying on easily forged bits of paper? How hard would it be to create an insurance certificate that would pass muster with the woman in the post office so why donít they use the system that is there to prevent such jiggery-pokery?
3. Why-oh-why didnít I check the big box under the stairs before ringing the insurance company? If anyone wishes to nominate me for you-know-what of the week for this act of utter stupidity, feel free and Iíll second it.