Saga and Age Concern are among insurers alleged to be ripping off the 50-plus age group by charging up to £50 more for home insurance, a survey reveals.
This equates to an annual £200m windfall for insurers paid by the UK's four million 50-plus homeowners.
The findings are based on a review of renewal notices from 850 insurance customers who visited broker Berry, Birch & Noble between January 1999 and May 2000.
Saga, Royal & SunAlliance and Direct Line customers were in for the largest average saving – 26% – by switching insurers, claims the survey.
Saga is the leading provider of home insurance to the 50-plus market with 500,000 policyholders.
Customers switching from Age Concern were offered a 20% saving, which was at the lower end of the survey's scale.
Both Saga and Age Concern household insurance is underwritten by Norwich Union.
Berry Birch & Noble director Paul Harrison said: “Saga and the charity Age Concern have developed a strong reputation for being the guardians of the over-50 age group.
“But our survey shows they are not the cheapest providers of household insurance and brokers can compete and survive in this market.”
He added that the public was wrong to assume that insurers are cheaper just because they happen to target the over-50 age group.
Berry Birch & Noble claims 90% of older home insurance customers in the survey found a better deal after they shopped around for cover. The broker said it was able to offer customers an average saving of £50 on their average renewal premium of £210.
Other 50-plus homeowners were able to achieve even larger reductions, some paying premiums of £500 achieved savings of up to £250.
Berry Birch & Noble said the survey showed that insurers and mature person's organisations risked abusing the loyalty of older people.
But a spokeswoman for Age Concern Enterprises, the insurance arm of the charity, challenged the survey's findings.
She said that since the survey was based on home owners it could not be representative of most of Age Concern's customers who are mainly low-income households.
The average Age Concern premium is £19 for £7,000 of contents cover and £66 for £55,000 of buildings cover – a total premium of £85, considerably less than the survey average of £210.
The spokeswoman added: “Age Concern moved into household insurance because many of our members' needs were not being met by the conventional insurance market.”
Saga spokeswoman Gillian Ford said: “Saga is confident of its competitive position and refutes the claims made by Berry Birch & Noble.”