On the road with Sir Richard Branson

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RateCity's consumer advocate, Michelle Hutchison, speaks to Sir Richard Branson on risky driving, record-breaking water cars and keeping insurance companies on their toes.

September 14, 2010

What type of car do you currently own?
I have to confess that I don't actually own a car! Living on a Caribbean island there's not really much call for one. Most recently, I did own a Land Rover when I was spending more of my time in the UK.

Out of all the cars you have ever owned, what has been your favourite?
For sentimental reasons it must be a 1968 Morris Minor - my first car.

If you could own any car in the world, what would it be?
I think it would have to be a classic James Bond car - probably Sean Connery's Aston Martin DB5.

Has there ever been a time when you've been in strife with your car, such as an accident or if it was stolen?
I was fortunate to be driving a Land Rover when I crashed on England's M40 in 1994. The car flipped over but thanks to the tough build of the four-wheel drive, my family and I were saved with just a few bruises.

I also crossed the English Channel once in an amphibious car in 2004 [and broke the Guinness World Record for the fastest crossing in an amphibious car in one hour, 40 minutes and six seconds]. It was fantastic but I have to admit a little bit wet. We were soaked through by the time the 22-mile [35km] journey was over with, not to mention the car.

Did you have comprehensive car insurance?
All the people around me have always insisted that I have the most comprehensive insurance going, whether it's car insurance, life insurance or otherwise. I think I've probably made insurance companies slightly nervous over the years for some reason.

Do you have any advice for other drivers out there?
In Australia I don't think many people realise that two big players control around 75 percent of the car insurance market. Car insurance is often a monotonous renewal process year after year, but you can save up to 30 percent on your premium by shopping around. It's well worth that little bit of extra effort!

What are the three main factors that are important to you when choosing car insurance?

  • Price: Make sure you're getting the best deal and question your insurer if your premium goes up year on year - it shouldn't. For example, some car insurers guarantee no premium increases over a two-year period if your situation stays the same.
  • Protection: The cheapest car insurance doesn't always mean the best car insurance. Figure out what level of cover is suitable for your needs - everyone will be different.
  • Promise: If your provider isn't giving you what you want, or they're just not showing you any love. Break up with them and move to someone who wants your business and isn't complacent.



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