I recently received my car insurance renewal quotes from Direct Line; two vehicles (SAAB 9-5 Turbo & Subaru Forester).

As with most things now, loyalty is penalised.

Careful calculations are made as to how much can be got away with before triggering customer resistance.

So, as expected, the now routine annual premium hikes-for-no-apparent-reason were applied, we must assume working on the basis that very few us will a.) question/complain/take action or, b.) fight past obstacles and traps placed within any subsequent process.

All insurance companies appear to treat their renewing customers this way.

I had moved from my previous insurer (LV) after they began jacking up their renewal quotes by increasing amounts, and refused to say what their 'multi-car discount' actually was.

Also, my previous practice of letting my policy lapse for a day and reapplying as a new customer (thereby inevitably achieving a lower premium) was clearly now being blocked by LV Corporate.

Direct Line's new combined premium was £407.68 (including alleged 'multi-car discount').

Hmmm, not bad many might say (age and record of both cars and drivers helps) but a careful trawl on the net still achieved a whopping £161.49 (almost 40 percent!) saving.

I did take a few sensible precautions so I could explore various options prior to buying (i.e. adjusting the annual mileage cut-offs where a 1-mile-a-year difference can be worth £30) without triggering the insurers automated counter-measures; all within the capability of anyone with reasonable e-skills.

The result was not only much cheaper insurance with two separate quality providers (so no nebulous 'multi-car discount'), but also offering better overall levels of cover.

Moral of the story?

NEVER accept the first, or even second (it will still be poor), deal they offer.

Be prepared to 'walk away'.

Do your homework and read the small-print (to avoid paying lots for stuff you don't need, and having to pay extra for stuff you do!).

With a little time, care and effort, savings can be huge.

Cris Scott