Direct Line has been charging my dad £1,968 car insurance premium

I have just discovered that Direct Line has been charging my 86-year-old father £1,968 a year to insure his 1994 Nissan car which he only uses to take my mother to hospital appointments. He has a full no-claims record, but has been paying this premium that he can’t afford.

As soon as I became aware of this, I did a price comparison and switched him to Saga which wanted a much more reasonable £728. I’d like you to warn others with older parents to remind them to shop around at renewal, or do it on their behalf. I just wish I had spotted this sooner.
JR, by email

Is this another case of an insurer quietly upping the premium each year, and a loyal customer being taken advantage of? It certainly looks like it. Direct Line told us that while it is normal for premiums to rise when drivers are over the age of 75 as the risk of claims increases, its “improvements to pricing” would have delivered a significant price reduction for your father at his next renewal.

That’s as maybe, but your advice to compare at each renewal is excellent. This is especially the case for home insurance. Guardian Money has previously reported on customers paying £1,100 a year or more for cover that costs £250.

Some better news …

Amid the tales of poor customer treatment, there have been some positive stories, too. SP, from Devon, wrote to praise Staedtler. Unable to work out what was preventing her refilling her father’s old mechanical pencil, her request for advice was met with the offer of a new model. “I am amazed that any company still offers this level of customer care,” she writes.

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Garden tool firm Spear & Jackson has also won praise after it saved a reader’s long-arm loppers after he lost a blade-return spring. “I got a reply within the day from a named sales person and posted a free replacement spring, arriving two days later.”

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