Penalised for volunteering? That's just WRONG!

In my lunch hour I had one task to get done other than eating my sandwich - and that was to renew my car insurance.  I’d decided that the renewal fee from my current insurer was just too high and I’d go to a compare website to get a better quote. And I did -  significantly better as it happens -  with the AA. I’ve been an AA member for years so figured it was a trusted brand and I’d call up so I could tick yet another thing off my personal to-do list.

“Just a few questions madam…….Do you volunteer?” Well, given that I’d just told her my day job was Chief Executive of a national volunteering charity it’s not surprising that my answer was yes – “right ,I’ll just recalculate your premium quote”. Naively I thought that this might mean the AA had an ethical policy of rewarding people for giving back to their community – but no, I was informed that my premium would now be increased by about £50.

I was utterly astounded – I pointed out that as I live in London and my current volunteering is as a trustee and mentor I go to meetings by tube and don’t use my car, only to be told: “Well some people do - they use it for church events and things.” Apart from the fact that I don’t, I can’t begin to imagine why someone like my Mum for example would be asked to pay an extra £50 out of her pension for insurance so that she could deliver her church newsletters around the rural community in which she lives.

Surely volunteering should be seen as something wholly positive. In freely giving your time to do something good in your community you should be able to do it without having an increased premium from your car insurer. I can understand that there may be instances where volunteer drivers might be using their car in an increased capacity which might increase risk but surely you can’t have a sweeping policy that doesn’t define what type of volunteering you are doing or what that actually means. Or perhaps insurance companies could swallow that extra risk against their profits as part of their own CSR policy and contribute to society like those of us who volunteer.