This blog has deviated quite a bit from the ‘living in Spain’ it started out to be. Because at some point in the adventure, living in Spain is just a location. And the adventure would continue no matter what country I lived in.
But every now and then, I want to mention something about the trials and tribulations of living in Spain. Things that irk me, like bank charges and insurance. All those things that are irksome no matter where you live, but slightly more so when you are dealing with things in a foreign language.
I received my ‘quote’ for the home insurance last week. Well, as it’s Spain, it’s not so much a quote but rather a ‘we’ll be removing this amount of money from your bank account in a few days unless you get off your arse and jump over hoops to tell us not to’. Actually – to get the letter -before- the money was taken out of the account is a bonus. Normally I get my bills about a week after the money has left, so I guess that’s progress.
The insurance had increased by about 70 euros a year – about 25%. Kind of a lot, dontcha think? So I decided to look around. And as Linea Directa (the Spanish arm of Direct Line) had come through with reasonable prices for my motorbike and car insurance, I decided to try them. Online quoting system was much easier than popping into my bank down the road and querying their costs. Can you believe that the price came in at about 300 euros CHEAPER than the insurance that I currently have? I mean, I expected perhaps I could save 50 euros or so. Would I have switched if it were that small amount? I doubt it. But 300 euros!? Come ON!
It reminds me of when I first started getting bike insurance quotes through the gestor. And when I asked for a quote, I would get one (very overpriced) and they would proceed to fill out the paperwork, assuming that as I asked for a price, clearly I needed insurance and who the hell shops around in this country? No one, it would seem.
So I contracted insurance with Linea Directa, who told me to recommend them to my friends (which, obviously, I’m doing! Tell them I sent you!). The paperwork came by email about a half hour later. The following day I went to my bank to tell them not to renew the amazingly high priced insurance and they said ‘Oh, well. You need to provide us with proof…’ and I cut her off by presenting the paperwork that Linea Directa had emailed. “Oh.” So no excuses, no trying to get my business back, just a raised eyebrow that The Foreigner had managed to secure a better deal and didn’t just pay the amount for an easy life.
I’m sure it’s a culture thing and I’ll bet I’ve mentioned it before somewhere. Where in the US and UK we are used to, and even encouraged, to shop around, here in Spain it seems that you pay the price on the tin. Shopping for a new vacuum cleaner? That Dyson will be the same price at every single shop in town. And even out of town. Before the likes of the online retailers/providers like Linea Directa and Pixmania, if you wanted anything, there was no point in driving around searching for a better deal. And the culture still remains the same. You need some windows for your house? Go to the guy who makes windows and ask him. He’ll be surprised if you ask for a quote first. You need windows. He makes windows. You’ll get them from him no matter what, won’t you? (Well, no actually…)
I’m not a big fan of banks and insurance at the best of times, but when it’s clear that they are trying to take the piss – I can feel pretty damn smug about telling them exactly where to get off by taking my business elsewhere. And I’m glad that finally, there IS somewhere to take my business to.