Which? renews calls on insurance companies to ditch high rate numbers

Ahead of today’s Downing Street meeting with the insurance industry on flooding, Which? is renewing its calls on insurance companies to ditch expensive telephone numbers.

When the Prime Minister recently intervened to require the Environment Agency to change its flood helpline from an 0845 to an 0345 number, the Government sent a clear message that the use of premium rate lines should be scrapped as quickly as possible.

Our research finds that 79% of home insurers use expensive 084 or 087 numbers for their customer lines, including big names such as Ageas, Aviva, AXA, Churchill, Direct Line, Esure, Hiscox, Royal and Sun Alliance and Virgin, meaning those affected by the floods and seeking insurance may be forced to pay up to 41p a minute to make a claim.

The Consumer Rights Directive will ban 0845 numbers for customer service and complaints lines from June 2014, but this does not apply to financial services companies, such as insurance companies.

We’re calling on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to act and ban all financial companies from using costly customer service numbers.

More than 70,000 people are now supporting Which?’s Costly Calls campaign which is calling for all companies and public bodies to scrap high rate numbers. In the last week alone more than 12,000 people have signed up in support of our calls on the insurance industry to play fair by flood victims.

Which? executive director, Richard Lloyd said:

“We’re pleased the Prime Minister has this issue high on his agenda and the insurance companies must to do everything they can to make things easier for flood victims who shouldn’t have to pay a premium to make a claim, especially when many will be calling from a mobile.

“The Government must also make sure other public bodies play fair and drop high rate numbers as soon as possible so that people are not left out of pocket when calling essential services.”

Our Costly Calls campaign is calling for:

  • The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to change its rules to ban financial services industry from using costly numbers for complaints and customer helplines.
  • The Government to lead by example and stop public bodies from using high rate customer helplines as soon as possible.

You can sign up to our Costly Calls campaign here: www.which.co.uk/costlycalls

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