Continuing our series of undercover investigations, we sent a property owner to obtain a quote for commercial insurance on a buy-to-let property with public liability cover
It is not the strongest or most intelligent of a species that survive, it is the ones that are most adaptable to change - Charles Darwin.This one of the many nuggets of wisdom on Duncan Pocock Insurance Brokers website.You couldn't ask for a more comprehensive and user-friendly website full of reassuring facts and oaths of commitment to customer service. When I phone, after a brief, pre-recorded message in which the broker declares its adherence to the GISC code, I am transferred to an operator who puts me straight through to Richard Webb. So nice not to be subjected to an interminable options menu. I tell Richard that I am a first time landlord seeking quotes for commercial insurance and property owners' liability. He takes down the details of my newly acquired mid-terrace, three bedroom, Edwardian property which I plan to let to suitable, professional types (no students, DSS or actors). We discuss the building's specifications, security etc. He asks me the re-build value. I say £245,000. Rent per annum we round up to £10,000. He tells me public liability cover up to £2m is fairly standard along with contents insurance to the value of £5,000. Would I like subsidence cover? Yes. Additional legal cover up to £50,000 for an additional £55 pa? Yes.
In writingRichard is very thorough and eager to be of help. I am put on hold. I listen to just enough of an old pop favourite to remember what I was doing that summer when Richard is back again ready to impart the good news. He rattles off the terms agreed and with an implicit flourish announces that he can insure me with Norwich Union for an annual premium of £643.50 inclusive of the legal cover. I ask him if I can have it all in writing and he promises to pop it in the post that day. He also says he'll ring me in about five days' time. Just to prove myself the shrewd business shark that I am, I put him on the spot with "...and how much commission does Duncan Pocock, aka Folgate Riskline, previously Redline Business Insurance take?" He falters for a moment, rattles his keyboard and makes busily accessing information- type noises. "We take 30% which comes to roughly £170 and £20 from the legal cover," he announces.Sure enough, Richard is true to his word. The next morning I receive an A4, windowed envelope. Inside is a glossy brochure stating Folgate's (which owns Duncan Pocock) terms of business and a list of tempting incentives to hook you in. Among them, the offer of a profit share and a three-year fixed price policy. Should a claim within the first 38 months not exceed 25% of the premium then you would be entitled to a small rebate and the offer of a three-year fixed premium.Then there is the loyalty bonus if you recommend them or arrange other policies (typically £25 for personal, £50 for commercial). Also enclosed are four pages of specific information pertaining to my policy, all the relevant facts and figures. On examining this closely, I discover a discrepancy. How does a premium of £559.67 plus £27.98 IPT plus a £25 policy fee (don't remember Richard mentioning that) plus £55 legal cover (arranged through Capita Assistance but not itemised) come to the aforementioned total of £643.50? My calculations make it £667.65.I decide to get on the blower. Richard then proceeds to spin me a whole load of revised figures that do indeed come to £643.50. Not wanting to appear stupid and bad at maths I thank him for clarifying the matter and hang up. Good thing I asked, though I am little puzzled as to why the figures were not crystal the first time.
Excellent presentationJust as I was beginning to think Richard had marked me down as a potential liability, he rings, as promised, to see if I have had other quotes. I say that I am still waiting for replies and that I will be in touch if I wish to proceed. Having been rejected a million times in my career, my heart goes out to him. He probably qualifies for a bonus this year, anyhow. Duncan Pocock, or whatever it wishes to call itself, has excellent presentation, offers fairly standard cover with a few frills and the promise of first class service. The premium quoted is quite reasonable. It's a shame about the slightly unclear figures, but I suspect this is not typical. Overall, I believe that this is a broker with a great deal at stake and if put to the test would not fail to deliver. Now, all I have to worry about is devious students and unemployed actors trying to pass themselves off as respectable professionals. What is the world coming to?