Claim (noun)

  1. a statement that something is true:   "There were claims that he had lied."
  2. an official demand for something you think you have a right to: "a claim for compensation"

So in my simple way I thought that a "no claims bonus" was a bonus that I got for not having made a claim (sense 2)


Not according to the (un)Cooperative Insurance company. They assert that because I phoned them up to enquire whether something was covered by my household insurance that is making a claim. I call it making an enquiry.

There had been a power cut whilst I was away, and the hifi wasn't working any more – its power supply had died. I asked whether this would be covered by my policy and they said I would need to get evidence (a letter) from the power distribution company (Western Power) that there had been a surge. So I went off to enquire of Western Power if they could help, but because I had no idea when the power cut had been (I had been away for a week) they couldn't say whether there had been an incident or not.

Since the excess on the policy was more than half the cost of a new hifi, and anyway it was old and I didn't want to get another one the same, I didn't bother to lodge a claim (sense 2), but went and replaced it myself.

When my renewal notice comes I discover that the Coop have reduced the "no claims bonus" (as well as the premium going up 25% anyway). When I phone them to find out why it seems that they treat any phone enquiry as a "claim" (not in any English sense). This is ridiculous – they claim (sense 1 as a verb) that all insurance companies do this. I wouldn't know about that as I can't think of a time when I have ever been in this position before, although I know that Direct Line didn't treat it as a claim (sense 2) a couple of years ago when I phoned to ask if I was covered when the dining room ceiling fell down (they said they thought it was fair wear due to old age, which seemed reasonable to me, so I didn't make a claim).

It does seem that the use of the phrase "no claims discount" by the Coop (and probably some others) is a little misleading – what they actually are offering is a "not bothering us discount", and also the most appalling and unhelpful customer service.  They told me I had to write to the Under Writers and gave me a PO Box address (apparently they don't have telephones) but I have never heard anything, so I wrote to their complaints department and some days later got a form letter back with my name mis-spelt.

Shame really as most other branches of the Cooperative Group are very good, courteous, and have a sound ethical business policy. It seems these rules don't apply to the insurance side of their business.

Still we all know insurance is just a gambling game with the odds stacked in the dealer's favour, so once the mortgage is paid off I wont be bothering with house insurance any more. The only other insurance I still have is on the car, and that is a legal requirement so I can't drop it but I think I'll be switching my business away from Coop once the renewal comes around.