On the road with Sir Richard Branson

On the road with Sir Richard Branson

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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Learn more about car insurance

Does insurance cover a stolen car if keys were in the car?

A car insurance policy that covers the theft of your car, such as third party fire and theft insurance, usually covers a stolen car, even if the keys were in the car’s ignition.

However, your insurer may deny the claim if you live in an area where there have been several car robberies reported recently. They will see you leaving the keys in the car as a case of negligence. In such cases, your insurance provider may even expect you to have installed anti-theft security measures in your car. 

You may need to confirm whether or not you left your keys in your car, and if they had been stolen or misplaced, before filing your car insurance claim. The loss or theft of your car keys may be covered by a comprehensive car insurance policy, but usually as an optional item.

If you can confirm that your car keys were stolen, mention this in your claim as this will help establish that your car was not stolen as a result of your negligence.

Can you insure your car for 6 months?

Most Australian insurers won’t offer you a 6-month car insurance policy, so you may need to buy a policy that covers your car for damages and cancel it after six months. You will need to purchase comprehensive car insurance to protect your car from accidental damage, theft, vandalism, or natural disasters.. 

Consider checking whether your 6-month comprehensive car insurance will cost more if you pay monthly or six-monthly premiums instead of a one-time annual premium. Another question to ask the insurer is whether you’ll need to pay administration or cancellation fees when you cancel the policy.

Alternatively, you can look for a suitable ‘pay as you drive’ car insurance policy, which usually offers you the coverage of a comprehensive car insurance policy but only requires you to pay for the distance driven. Such a policy may not be the ideal 6-month car insurance plan as it is based on how much you drive rather than for how long. If you need to drive a lot, you may end up paying more than you’d pay for regular car insurance.