Is this a hold-up? No, it’s your new car insurance premium!

Some weeks ago I received my usual, what I call, ‘countdown’ letter from my car insurance company reminding me that my annual premium was due; this was followed by a series of ‘phone calls from an overly-enthusiastic and chirpy  ‘customer service’ lady informing me that we were nearing ‘premium day’ and, in order to make life easier, she could take my ‘lil’ ‘ole  details over the ‘phone right there and then and ‘sort’ it out for me.  How helpful! What a caring individual!

  As customer service lady waited for me to retrieve my visa debit card from the detritus that is my handbag, she then, in a soothing, matter-of-fact voice, delivered the bad news. My policy had risen by nearly €100!!! What? But I’m a year older, I’m not a boy racer, I’m Miss Daisy for God’s sake, I’ve never, ever, (thank God) made a claim, meaning I’ve a full no claims bonus, I’ve been driving and insured in my own name since I was 18 years old, I’ve had the same, drab, sensible car since 2007, which, by the way, along with me, is now a year older meaning the value has slightly diminished…so, in short, what the hell was my insurance company playing at? Were they wearing a feckin’ balaclava and brandishing a weapon as their staff member imparted this price-hike  because what they were doing was not ‘helping,’ nay, they were robbing me blind!

  She was “sorry,” she empathised, but “insurance is up across the board, you know. We have to pass on the cost of the Setanta collapse to our clients; that’s the way it is I’m afraid. You’re not alone; sure my own premium has gone up too, ha, ha, ha.” Now I have to say that at this point, despite the fact people were within earshot, and, despite the fact she warned me that ‘some calls may be recorded,’ as someone who doesn’t like public spectacles, I let rip. Yes I lost it; possible  recording or not! I mean, the utter cheek of my insurers to think they could ‘pass on’ the industry’s incompetence and liabilities to me and other law-abiding citizens….or words to that affect, there may have been a few choice expletives thrown in for emphasis.

  Deciding I could do better, I logged onto a website that claims to compare ’14 different insurers to get you the best quote.’ Well, apparently enthusiasm courses through the veins of some of those happy, quirky folk working in the insurance industry because, when I failed to immediately jump at the chance to pay the €545 for fully comprehensive or even get excited over the €530 for third party they tried to sell me as their ‘best quote,’ a smooth talking male representative rang me to help relieve me of my hard-earned cash as he energetically told me I was ‘lucky’ to get such a competitive quote, expressing his incredulity as, bless him, stressed he, ‘failed’ to understand why I wasn’t throwing money at him right there and then! His ardour cooled when I colourfully told him, through gritted teeth, that at  €545 for fully comprehensive and €530 for third party, fire and theft his ‘best quote’ for fully comp was actually €128 dearer than the girl I’d already told to pee off!  

  You see readers, this whole insurance hike scandal is a big smelly pile of cow dung and I don’t understand why, along with other right-thinking Irish citizens, I’ve already had to bail the banks out of their €64 billion debt and now I’m expected to fund another bunch of reckless eejits who’ve mismanaged their organisations, leaving drivers like you and me to pick up what is reported to be a €90 million millstone around our necks to settle some 1,750 claims in the wake of the Setanta Insurance collapse.

  I received a call back from original ‘helpful’ lady’s supervisor, whom, following another vivid and rich exchange, sighed, shuffled papers and resignedly renewed my policy for €367 for fully comprehensive cover. Given what some have quoted me, I believe I may have got a good deal. 

Malpractice at Console casts unfair shadow on other charities

The antics of Console’s greedy chief Paul Kelly and some family members’ alleged swindling have literally shone a spotlight on Irish charities across the board, meaning members of the public, funders and potential donators and supporters will now be extremely wary of helping other above board, legitimate charitable organisations – and that’s terribly sad.

  You see, given this latest scandal, it’s going to take an awful long time before this now tarnished trust can be rebuilt in the sector.

  And, while I feel nothing but contempt for the likes of cheap and nasty swindlers like Kelly and Co., I would also have to hold the HSE, who contributed €2.5 million to Console, partly responsible because, in my opinion, they failed  spectacularly when it came to dealing with concerns and complaints raised with them seven years ago; allowing this massive malpractice to fester and continue to grow unhindered to the extent that Kelly, his wife Patricia and son Tim, allegedly benefitted to the tune of nearly €500,000 in wages, fancy cars, foreign travel, designer clothing and God knows what else – with the fallout causing irreparable damage and anxiety to those decent people who not only threw their weight and considerable support behind Console, but most of all, to the vulnerable individuals who required its counselling services.

Well done NUI Galway on embracing social change

With the passing of the marriage equality referendum, Ireland is now considered to be an LGBT friendly country so it was no surprise when NUI Galway, in our neighbouring county, took the substantive step last week to introduce gender neutral bathrooms on campus in time for their next academic year. Well done to them. 

  You see, I believe that every human being is born with dignity and, along with Ireland being only one of five countries in the world to allow self-determination of gender, and, as public loos have, for decades, been the cause of much anxiety for transgender citizens, this move once again shows just how far this country of ours has progressed when it comes to accepting and embracing social change. I’m proud of us.