For the benefit of others…
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been trying to answer one question: How can I insure a car in the UK cheaply with a US license. The universal response to this question: “Impossible.” We’ll see about that...
Overview: I’ve learned that Henry (the name I’ve given to all insurance companies in the UK) does NOT trust you if you are from the US. Henry thinks you will wreck your car, and he communicates this to you in the form of very high premiums. Since I’ve spent so much time figuring out how to stick it to the man… I thought I’d pass along a little bit of information to help those who might be thinking about insuring a car in the UK.
1. First of all, let’s just get this out of the way: you make Henry nervous. There are people just sitting in a room right now getting paid to be nervous about Americans driving on the roads.
2. It is probably easier to get insurance in the UK than anywhere else I’ve lived (read: America). Henry will take your debit card number online and write you a policy for whatever you want. But don’t be fooled. The minute you try to make a claim, Henry will go over every inch of your policy to find out if there is ANYTHING at all that you were even remotely untruthful about (like whether you’ve had a UK license for 10 years or you’ve really had a US license and you’re just bending the truth). If Henry finds out, he voids your policy and keeps your premium. I heard about a guy who had his car stolen and Henry wouldn’t pay because the car was parked overnight at a location that was not listed in his policy as a possible location for overnight parking. The moral of the story: tell the truth. (Candice has been trying to tell me this for years.)
3. After calling just about every Henry I could find on the internet, I had a list of premiums ranging from expensive to very expensive. Henry wouldn’t insure me on my US license, and didn’t even care that I’d been driving for over 10 years! I felt oppressed by ‘the man’, and in this case ‘the man’ had a British accent, a name like Vivian, and the tendency to repeat words like ‘we can’t’, ‘no’, or ‘I’m so very sorry.’ ‘So very sorry’ my toe, Vivian, give me my insurance before I start singing the 1-800-SAFE-AUTO jingle to you and it sticks in your head for the rest of your sweetly insured life. In conclusion, give Viv the ‘what for’ and move on.
4. After two weeks of frustration, I called GEICO. After all, a 15 minute call could save you 15% or more on your car insurance, right? Who cares where I am in the world… a promise is a promise, and they don’t say anything about having to be in the US to save the 15%. In the end, my hero (or heroine, as it happens) from GEICO was a woman named Kathy. Apparently, GEICO will give me insurance on my US license, will give me a discount based on how many years I’ve driven without any accidents in the US, and will do it so cheaply that Henry will have to start therapy to deal with the nervousness.
So, to sum it all up… you make Henry nervous, tell the truth, give Viv the finger, and call GEICO.