Ex-mayor, 89, able to save thousands after switching health and motor policies.
A FORMER Mayor of South Molton has spoken of her shock after finding she was able to save thousands of pounds by switching her health and motor insurance.
Helen Macintosh, 89, has faithfully held policies with Saga since 1991 but noticed premiums had started to creep up after more than two decades of loyal custom.
She said she asked a friend to check the details only to discover she could save £4,000 a year for her health insurance, and £640 for motor cover.
Mrs Macintosh, who lives alone near Bishops Nympton, claims to have found identical policies reducing her health insurance from £485 to £162 a month, and motor insurance from £1,245 to £560 a year.
She said: “I’d made health insurance claims totalling around £5,000 over the last 21 years but have never made a claim on my motor insurance in all that time. I just assumed the premiums went up because I was old.
“But when a friend checked it out for me on one of those comparison websites, he couldn’t believe what I was paying.
“When I telephoned Saga to cancel the policies, I told them it was far too costly and they asked if it would help if they reduced it a bit.
“They said I should have come to them first to see what they could do and I said I thought Saga was supposed to look after the elderly and that they should have come to me first.
“The policies are identical and the health cover is underwritten by AXA, the same company as used by Saga.”
Saga spokesperson Paul Green said Mrs Macintosh held one of the company’s most comprehensive health policies and the premium reflected the high level of cover offered by the policy.
He said: “Given the premium she is now paying we do not believe that she will be receiving a comparable level of benefits to that which she previously had with ourselves.
“With regard to the motor premium, while we cannot be the cheapest in every case, we believe it is a competitive price for the risk presented.”
The company said it did try to contact Mrs Macintosh by phone to discuss the various options open to her to help reduce her premium but she had declined to discuss this at the time.
Andrea Scott, director of Age Concern Barnstaple and District said: “It is very difficult if people don’t know to shop around.
“This particular lady has held insurance faithfully for 20 years but the problem is that the market fluctuates so much these days that it is prudent to review your insurer every couple of years.
“If in doubt, always check your policy and if you are unable to do it yourself, ask a family member of friend or call us and we will find someone to do it for you.
“Although we can’t deal in insurance ourselves, we can get someone to look at the policy to assess how much they are paying for it and help them to look around for the best deal.”
A spokesperson for Consumer Focus echoed the advice: “Unfortunately, for many consumers it doesn’t pay to be loyal when it comes to some household bills such as insurance or energy.
“We would always advise people to shop around using comparison companies which can be accessed online or over the telephone. “Often the current provider won’t be the cheapest and it is only by shopping around that consumers can be sure that they are getting a better deal.”