tOOK the plunge the other day and switched the car insurance. Well, it was that or take out a second mortgage. I’m still on medication for mental exhaustion. I like filling in forms online when I can take my time and answer questions intelligently – like ‘Q: What do you mainly use the vehicle for?’ ‘A: Driving about in.’ And if I get bored, I can save my work and come back to it an hour later after a nice refreshing cup of tea or bottle of something.
So eventually I completed the form (which was only for a quotation, mark you) and clicked on Send and settled back in satisfaction. Which did not last long, because the screen said ‘Sorry, our online service is temporarily suspended. To receive your quotation, please phone ......’ And that’s where the trouble started. A nice young lady from “Sarfend” said ‘you need our membership department. Please hold while I try to conneck chew’ and then it was 20 minutes of Greensleeves while she tried to work out how to use a telephone.
I was half expecting to be connected to someone in Mumbai, which I wouldn’t have minded because we could have had a matey chat before getting down to the biz, but no, when Membership eventually replied he was English.
He told me his name, which was either Carl or Wilberforce.
It was difficult to tell, because he spoke very rapidly, and the conversation began to sound like a Monty Python script.
‘Have you got a moustache?’ he inquired in a strong Norwich accent. ‘I’m sorry – could you repeat that?’ I said, baffled.
‘Where. Is. The. Vehicle. Parked. At. Night?’ Oh! ‘On the drive’. ‘And is your wife an elephant?’ was the next question, but I was getting used to it by this point, so I tried ‘about 5,000 miles a year’ and he seemed happy.
Then it was ‘Have you ever played the bongos?’ and I hazarded another wild guess – ‘No-claims? About 10 years.’
This went on for 20 minutes until at last he announced the quote: ‘ninety sausage palaver’.
My left ear had just about fallen off, so I accepted, with fingers crossed.
But it was worth it. I’m now insured to drive a Centurion tank, a moped and an electric lawnmower, and I’ve saved well over £120.
The policy doesn’t actually mention anything about cars, but that’s a minor point.
If I’m stopped, I know exactly what to say – although only Carl will understand me.