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View Poll Results: How do you feel about insurance in this country?
I'm over-insured - I really should lighten my load and take a few risks 7 58.33%
I think I probably have the "right" amount of insurance 2 16.67%
I'm under-insured - I should get some more - maybe I can insure my pet hamster as well. 3 25.00%
Voters: 12. You may not vote on this poll

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  #1  
Old 13.12.2005, 20:34
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Insurance and insurance companies



Hi all,

Today I was really angry. I've become increasingly frustrated with the amount of insurance I have, and feel constantly persecuted under the weight of these various restrictions which usually mean that I end up chained into a contract which turns out to be disadvantagous to me. Unless I keep a constant vigil on the fact that I have to give three months notice to end a contract with a 1 year or 5 year renewal, I end up getting screwed.

Anyway, I've had enough of the situation and decided that I'm going live a little and not take any insurance unless I have to by law (even the list of insurance that I must have isn't exactly short!) The reason for this is that I never seem to get any service from insurance companies, and whenever I try to claim I find out that somehow I'm not entitled to anything. For example I have a CHF1500 excess on my health insurance (since I never use it, I have a high excess). I had an accident one December. The costs were split evenly over December and January, and came to around CHF3000. I figured I'd at least get 1500 back. Oh no, the costs were split over the 2 years, and I got nothing.

Anyway, now I find I have to start reading fine print, and instead of just binning everything I get regarding insurance I've started reading it. I discovered (by checking carefully) that my car insurance was going up. I visited Comparis.ch and discovered that I could terminate the contract for this (naturally the insurance company tried to hide the fact that it went up). So I checked the offers on comparis. Now get this - most of the offers you can't see and cost CHF29 to see who they are... Luckily for me the cheapest offer was from Zuritel - a full 30% cheaper than my existing insurance, and apparently they don't charge for you to "contact" them. This fact alone would have meant i chose them, even if they weren't the cheapest.

So I decided that I should probably go and visit my Winterthur office in person, since I figured that if I did stuff by post they were going to give the run around and refuse to cancel the insurance. If I were there in person I could take care of everything including the termination of the contract etc. If there was anything else I needed to know then I could find out there and then. So I went to my local office, only to find it was closed at lunch. Ok, wait a while and then go in. I give the papers to a girl at the front desk and explain I want to cancel. Then a guy comes out and leads me into a side room.

He asks me why I want to cancel, and explains to me that I have it wrong - my insurance has not gone up. I insist that it has, he insists that it is my mistake, because my previous policy was for a partial year. I point out the fact that even accounting for this, they have still put the price on my "haftpflicht" up by over 10%. He explains that this is the case with all insurers, and that my Vollkasko (comprehensive) insurance is going down, so there's no increase in price at all. I point out that even when the two are combined, it is STILL an increase in price. I ask him to explain why if everyone's prices are going up why Zuritel is 30% cheaper. His response - yeah well if you go with them you'll get no service. I responded that I don't want service, since nobody gives it to me anyway, and I'm only going to take the insurances that I am forced by law to have. I think it is incredible that they continue to charge me each year the same premium on my car based on the new value, but in the event that it was stolen or written off they'd only pay me the second-hand value - this is nothing but robbery!

Anyway, once it became clear that I wasn't falling for the BS, he said I'd have to send him a letter by registered mail.

Then I got really furious - I asked him why if we were standing together in the same place I couldn't just produce the letter in front of him, he accepts and we are done with it. He absolutely refused. I pointed out to him that in other countries I can cancel my insurance whenever I want over the telephone, but he didn't care. I accused him of deliberately trying to make my life difficult, in the hope that I'd give up instead. But he didn't care - that was his line and he was sticking to it.

I left the office furious and resolved never to deal with Winterthur again. I just can't believe that all these companies have offices everywhere and work via "agents" who get commissions on the policies they write. The same goes for all our health insurance companies - why do they have to have offices everywhere? Why can't I just complete all my business by telephone or mail, or internet? Why do I have to pay for their rent in all these locations? Where's the direct insurance model which replaced this system many years ago in other countries?

Then I realised that Zuritel do follow this model, and apprently they aren't the only ones. So why haven't the direct insurers wiped the floor with the competition? I can only guess that restrictive laws make it hard to change insurance companies, and people are just too tired to fight. When they can't even get access to a quick quote to compare between companies because some agent has to contact you, and then go away and work on an offer, it makes it hard to compare.

Then I saw that Zuritel is a division of Zurich - the people who stitched me up with my 5 year contract that I couldn't escape from on my last car. I vowed never to give a single rappon to Zurich after they did that to me, and now I find myself doing exactly that... It seems that no matter how hard I try they get me in the end!

Mark
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Old 14.01.2006, 18:31
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Re: Insurance and insurance companies

Just an update on this one.

I managed to change over. Zuritel made it relatively easy for me. I had to fax back signed contracts and stuff, and then they had to send me a card saying that they would be insuring the car. I then had to send this card along with my "Fahrzeugschein" back to the strassenverkehrsamt. The Strassenverkehrsamt them changed the name of the insurance on the Fahrzeugschein to Zuritel and send it back to me with a bill for CHF25!!

I mean what gives? Nobody can explain to me what it is necessary to have that stupid Fahrzeugschein anyway, the strassenverkehrsamt imposes that stupid document on me - they should pay their own costs for having to modify it if they are stupid enough to insist that the insurance company is recorded on it. Why should I be responsible for their own lack of innovation or efficiency? I mean seriously - why can't the Fahrzeugschein just be a virtual document that the police can check if they pull you over? Why have a piece of paper? When I've owned a car in other countries I didn't have to have such a stupid thing. ANyway, I'm rambling again...

Mark
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Old 16.01.2006, 15:41
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Re: Insurance and insurance companies

Quote:
The Strassenverkehrsamt them changed the name of the insurance on the Fahrzeugschein to Zuritel and send it back to me with a bill for CHF25!!

I mean what gives? Nobody can explain to me what it is necessary to have that stupid Fahrzeugschein anyway, the strassenverkehrsamt imposes that stupid document on me - they should pay their own costs for having to modify it if they are stupid enough to insist that the insurance company is recorded on it. Why should I be responsible for their own lack of innovation or efficiency? I mean seriously - why can't the Fahrzeugschein just be a virtual document that the police can check if they pull you over? Why have a piece of paper? When I've owned a car in other countries I didn't have to have such a stupid thing. ANyway, I'm rambling again...

Mark

Yes Mark,

You are rambling again. You need it in the UK, you need it in Germany, you need it even in the US in fact almost all countries so you can sell the god forsaken thing when you get fed up with it, don't like the colour etc and you should be grateful it cost me CHF 41 to change the damned thing when I moved house and then another 125 for changing the number plates when changing canton. Now if you wanted to rave about that I could understand...

Richard
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Old 16.01.2006, 16:28
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Re: Insurance and insurance companies

Quote:
Then I saw that Zuritel is a division of Zurich - the people who stitched me up with my 5 year contract that I couldn't escape from on my last car. I vowed never to give a single rappon to Zurich after they did that to me, and now I find myself doing exactly that... It seems that no matter how hard I try they get me in the end!

Mark
Don't get too hung up on not dealing with companies ever again because of rubbish service - In Switzerland, pretty soon you'd run out of companies to deal with :-)

Best to just go for the best deal available, regardless of feelings about the company. If others did likewise, there _might_ be a change in business attitudes here. (I like to hope so, anyway.)


Interesting that the guy at the insurance office tried to flat out lie to you when you wanted to cancel the insurace. So much for ethics. Well done for not swallowing his BS. I'd imagine that about 90% of Swiss people who went to the office wouldn't have stood their ground when faced with an 'official' person in a suit telling them something.

As for insurance 'service' - a friend who pays fully comp. insurance was recently involved in an accident caused by a drunk driver. Luckily, noone except the drunk was injured but quite a bit of damage was caused by debris on the motorway (hence his claim). Despite the fact that he was completely NOT at fault (the drunk driver is being prosecuted) and that the other guy's insurance company should have covered everything, he ended up having to pay 1500CHF towards repairs himself because a new replacement engine installed in his car allegedly increased the resale value and it was 'only fair' that he pay the 'increase' in the value of the car. Never mind that being in an accident will decrease it's value, even if it did get a brand new engine.

His own insurance company should have looked after this (covered the 1500CHF shortfall and chased up the other company) but couldn't be bothered doing anything. He repeatedly called them to try to get some service for his expensive fully-comp insurance but they just gave him the run-around. I guess since he had a couple of years to run on the contract, they just didn't give a damn.

Seriously, this place is ripe for a shakeup. When change finally comes, it's going to be hard. I wonder will they get their own Margaret Thatcher figure? Probably not, given the way the political system works.



Gav
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Old 16.01.2006, 21:27
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Re: Insurance and insurance companies

Hi Gav,

This is precisely why I cancelled my comprehensive insurance. I figure car insurance (or any insurance) is seldom there when you need it. Your friend's story, while irritating could have been worse. Again, I think you're being a little unfair - while I agree that the Swiss insurance industry needs a shakeup, I think such a shakeup concerns more cutting out the middle man and making the premiums more attractive (and fair). I know several people in UK who had to sue their insurance companies for years to try and get they money they were owed after claiming on the comprehensive car insurance policies. Perhaps things have reformed in the UK in the last few years, but I head some real horror stories I can tell you! In my own experience I can only speak of 2 such claims. One was for my own car, and the entire value of the car was paid to my account in 48 hours, and the other was my step mothers car (which I was driving) which was also paid in 48 hours. Both of these were in Australia, and neither were my fault (honest). My step mother was pleased as punch because she was selling the car anyway, and ended up getting way above the sale price!

My main beef with comprehenisve insurance here is that the premiums are charged on the new value of the car, but they only pay the second hand value! This rip-off is so obvious that even insurance guys advise against it once the car is more than a few years old!

As for the guy that tried to lie to me - I guess one should kind of expect that to - isn't it insurance salesmen and used car salesmen that shouldn't be trusted (along with lawyers, systems admins and the list goes on...). That's why I like direct insurance - people on the end of telephones don't usually get commission and are therefore likely to be more honest!

Mark
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Old 16.01.2006, 21:38
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Re: Insurance and insurance companies

Quote:
Yes Mark,

You are rambling again. You need it in the UK, you need it in Germany, you need it even in the US in fact almost all countries so you can sell the god forsaken thing when you get fed up with it, don't like the colour etc and you should be grateful it cost me CHF 41 to change the damned thing when I moved house and then another 125 for changing the number plates when changing canton. Now if you wanted to rave about that I could understand...

Richard
The difference is that in other countries you might have a document, but it's not the same thing, it doesn't have to be carried in the car, and you don't have to trot back to some government office for them to make official ammendments which you get charged for. I've owned cars in 4 countries and only 2 of those countries (Switzerland, Germany) had this kind of circus. In Australia and South Africa there was no such document, and 3rd party property insurance is also not mandatory. In the case of the US, it is also not mandatory in every state.

My main beef here is that you are required to carry the damn thing at all times, and pay for modifications to it (and of course get fined if you don't). I just don't think it is necessary or serves a useful purpose. There's absolutely no reason that the relevant details can't be online to the police (as is the case in Australia and i'm sure the UK). In South Africa the police are probably grateful to get ammunition, let alone computers or radios in their cars :-)

Let's consider this. If insurance is compulsory (which it is in Switzerland) then why not simply make me carry a letter (or card) from my insurance company which states that person x, with vehicle y is insured. You have the same idea for your health insurance card (which is also mandatory), why do we have to create so much work for ourselves in this case?

Sure, some other countries may do this, but it doesn't make that right either! But I don't accept that this level of idiocy exists in every other country, because I can say from experience that it doesn't!

But at least we don't have those stupid tax disc things here - so I am grateful for that.

Anyway, the central point to this thread was about the fact that changing insurance to a more competitive policy wasn't easy. Finding and accepting the offer was easy, but I think that the process of changing was made more difficult (and expensive) than it needed to be. This will discourage people from changing, and ultimately lead to a very uncompetitive insurance market (Gav, if this is what you meant by a shake up required - I fully agree!!)

Mark
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