Tim Walker’s Theory

All insurance companies across New Zealand provide a similar service and charge a similar rate, except, as they would have you believe, youi insurance.

Youi is cheaper than the rest, this much is fact. I submit however, that the only reason youi is cheaper is because it has made the management decision to accept a lower net profit margin; as in fact they all could stand to do. Sure, youi craps on about how its ‘asking more questions to find out more about the customer’ leads to its ‘cutting back on assumptions’ meaning they can ‘afford to charge less’ but let me assure you, most of this, is utter bollocks.

I undertook some research the other day for no other reason than to ensure the above statement was less ‘scurrilous conjecture’ and a whole lot more ‘damning fact’. I gave AA Insurance a call to capitalise on their ‘free quote’ service, also their apparent discount for AA members: I give the delightfully warm-spirited Polynesian girl, Mary, my particulars, I advise her that I’m only keen to go for third party cover as it’s my belief that anything more than that’s a gamble and you know me Mary, I say, I like to play it straight…

Following a good ten seconds of contagious giggling, here’s what she said: “Alright sir, I just need to ask you a few questions…”

Gosh, I thought, I thought youi were the only insurance company who asked questions; I thought the other ones just judged what kind of person you were from your voice, how good a driver you were from the abruptness of your speech patterns…

“…Do you drive your car to work, sir?” Mary inquired.

“I work from home, Mary.”

“Oh, OK then, so do you park your car on the road, or up your driveway?”

“I have a garage, Mary, and unlike every other resident on my street, I’ve put my washing machine back in the laundry so I can now use the garage to park my car.”

“Oh, OK,” she said, making more tapping sounds, presumably on a keyboard, “and have you made any insurance claims in the last ten years?”

“Ah, shit, um … No, that would’ve been twelve years ago … It was a third party claim, I rolled back into another car – smashed up their bumper pretty bad.”

“Oh, OK, but your car was fine..?”

“Yes it was, thanks – I have a tow bar fitted for that very reason, Mary.”

This conversation continued for some time and with each different inquiry I fielded, I was reminded of the youi commercial where that Todd Emerson guy strongly implies that other companies don’t ask questions about their customers.

What I learned from my ‘genuine’ inquiries regarding ‘Third party cover including fire, theft and vandalism’ for my car, was that every insurance company to whom I spoke in fact does ask questions; the peculiar thing I noticed was that they ask the very same questions that that youi advertisement claims they do not ask. It was all very odd.

For the record, between, AA Insurance, Tower, AMI, and my current vehicle insurer, Vero, there was around a $30 annual difference – which was composed primarily of AA’s discount. It was then that I gave youi a call. By now I’m profoundly bored with answering the same cluster of questions which I now realise, apparent keyboard tapping notwithstanding, don’t make a shit of difference anyway.

Ultimately each company is going to charge what it likes while remaining competitive and regardless of circumstance, providing you’ve proven yourself to be a responsible, reliable motorist, that flat rate is more or less what you’ll be charged.

Youi on the other hand claims to be able to charge less because it makes a greater effort to find out about its customers, thereby cutting down on life’s variables. That’s their reasoning. That’s perhaps how they could offer me a mildly cheaper rate than the AA.

In reality all insurance companies, perhaps perfunctorily, now ask their customers questions and if youi can still manage to provide the service cheaper than its competitors, it’s only because it’s accepting a lower profit margin – there is no way that youi pays out to its clients such a lower value as to warrant charging significantly lower premiums.

The conclusion, or theory, clearly, insurance companies charge far more for their services than they need to in order to make a profit. Obviously, they need to have more money coming in as premiums than is going out as payouts, and youi is seemingly satisfied with taking a little less of that cream. Of course youi can’t just tell New Zealanders that they’re being grossly overcharged, therefore, when it comes to the question of their charging less, the answer is based around questions.

Makes sense.



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by U E Ashired

Photography by Onshi Rance Cam




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