Saturday, 28 April 2012

The good side of insurance

After the bad experience with life insurance that I posted about yesterday, I thought that I would also post the good experience that I had when renewing the car insurance for my spitfire yesterday afternoon.  The car is insured with Footman James in the UK and they were fantastic!

At first off the woman on the end of the phone assumed that I was the wife of the insurance holder - as the renewal and policy is still in my old name, something that is always nice to hear.

And when I explained the situation and that I needed to change my title and first name on the policy it was changed with only one question: Sure, what does it need to become?

Why all companies can't be as easy I have no idea!

Friday, 27 April 2012

The hard side of insurance...

For the last few years Mrs Stace and myself have had our life on hold.  No major purchases and no plans made.  Now we are starting to make plans again, and starting with the major purchases that we have delayed until now.

The car was one of those purchases, and a new kitchen is the next.  As the fixed period for the mortgage was due for renewal we decided to look at using that to do the work on the kitchen.  We needed to look for a new provider, as ours was just too expensive.  That part was easy.  Go to an advisor and ask about a new mortgage for our situation.  Simple.

But...  We needed a small life insurance to get the mortgage. And that is where the fun started.

I have been seeing a therapist for the last two and a bit years.  I am also taking medication on a monthly basis now. And am under medical control of a hospital long term.

Life insurance companies really don't like hearing this. So you have to get extra information from the therapist, hospital and my GP.  OK, I can do this, and I can see that they would want some kind of information as to why I'm doing all of those things.

Even when I had to run around last minute as they asked for the wrong information originally.

Still.  Everything came back green.  I am perfectly healthy and there is no reason not to insure me.  Woot.


When the insurance company took too long to get back in touch (considering they knew that my mortgage company was pushing for the insurance green light!) I called them back.  'You have all of the information?' 'Yes.' 'Great, so you can get the OK for the insurance out today so I can get it to my mortgage company?' 'Oh! No, we won't be insuring you'.


It turns out that as I am likely to have an operation in the coming years they will not insure me, full stop - no matter what the different medical reports started.

So why the hell did they get me to run around for a week going from health care provider to health care provider for proof that I am healthy when it had nothing to do with the actual outcome!

I called my work (I work for an insurance broker) and the guys in the life insurance department worked they butts off trying to sort something out for me.  4 of the 6 that can provide policies in the time frame I needed said no immediately (due to the operation clause) - seriously WTF?  Whilst I can see that it does raise your chances of dying, it is nowhere near the statistical chance they attribute to it (unless it's true that 10% of people die having this surgery...).  But at least they were not wasting my time!

Two others said send us all of the information that was sent to the first company - we will, but against an increased price.

2 hours later one of the two were out as well, and Mrs Stace and myself were busy stressing out completely!

That was on a Friday afternoon and the last company would not give us an answer until Monday morning.

Tick tock

On the Monday I had leadership training, something I was looking forward to but had trouble staying with.

Then at lunch I got the call I wanted!  The last company had got back and they *would* insure me (I was expecting the opposite answer!) but against a premium that was 4x standard for the first 5 years, after which they assume the process will be over and it will fall back to the standard premium. I worked it out and the amount they are charging me in that first 5 years is 10% of the amount being insured!
 If they insure 10 people they have covered the cost of one person dying. Not counting the fact that they will be investing the money I pay them and making even more...

But, I'm not stressing about that!  We got the insurance and the mortgage advisor could stop trying to organise emergency measures that would allow us to take the house without me being insured.  That it is going to cost more is annoying, but in the grand scheme of things doesn't rate very highly.  Being refused full stop - that would be a different matter!

Ironically though... The Friday that this all happened I had to go to see the endocrinologist at the gender clinic so that I could start testosterone blockers.

I am 178cm tall.  Weigh 69 KG's dressed - putting me slap bang in the middle of the healthy BMI range.

All of my blood work came back perfect.

My blood pressure was 140 over 85 (seriously, after the day I had had with the insurance company how can it be only 140!)

The doctor said I was an extremely healthy person.

I just struggle to get life insurance :)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Things that make me tick!

I was just reading Lynn's weekly blog, this week it's a bit of an insight into what makes her tick.  Well at least in three catgeories:
  • Hobbies - Things i actively take part in, That i actually do in real life. 
  • Interests - These are things i think about often, but haven't put into action (yet!). 
  • Dis-Interests - Things that i used to do, but now i either don't do, or i don't enjoy. Dare i say these are 'Hates?' 

So I thought I'd taker her up on the challenge to do a bit about me.  Sorry :)



I love cooking!  From baking to trying to come up with new variations on meals to make life a bit more interesting.  Christmas is my busiest time - I make my own mincemeat, and of course the pies to put them into and my own Christmas cake.

Sometimes I can get quite creative, and sometimes it's just trying to come up with a healthy variant on something we have eaten before.  One thing that I try to do is work out what goes into herb mixes for various dishes (TexMex or Nasi are ones that allude me!) to try and get the same flavour without the shovel of salt that is normally in the sachets.


We both love reading, and in the spare room we have somewhere close to 500 books (and have even read most of them!) and generally add 30 or so a year; one of my excuses of changing the V50 to a V70 :)

The mix is a bit eclectic, with all types of fiction in there from chic lit to classics to every adult Discworld (and most of the younger ones too).


Hmm...  Should this go in interests or hobbies.  That was a difficult choice, but as I have the camera, lenses, tripod and the camera bag to break my back when I leave the house I thought I'd include it here even though I don't do as much as I would like to.

I love interesting shots, whether of people, objects or the world in general doesn't matter.  Sometimes I try to make nice shots (and fail :p) and sometimes I'm just lucky.

One thing that we have managed to do is ensue that we have a photo each year to use as a Christmas card the next. We've done this for the last few years, it's fun to do, Mrs Stace gets involved as she can do the DTP far better than I can and in the end it feels something really special to send out.

And of course I have more shots from Assen TT races than I care to think about! :)

Listening to Music

Quite how music manages to bring about so many changes in mood I don't know.  When I'm sad I can retreat inside myself with some mellow Crowded House, when the sun is out and you have reverse flu some Zoe, Texas or Will Smith can bring a smile to your face.

And when you want to relax nothing beats 'Air on a G String' for me (Cliche I know).

We have a few hundred CD's, and are still growing the collection and we have a Spotify Premium subscription to search what they have to offer too!  It's great discovering new artists or songs!


Playing Music

I always wanted to play the guitar, piano and learn to sing.  I never quite got around to it.  We have a piano in home, and Mrs Stace plays wonderfully! Me, I love playing it but haven't had the patience to sit down and learn to play it properly yet...


I have some amazing stories in my head.  And that is where they will stay because I useless at trying to get it out of my head and onto the paper...


Fanbois-ism of any kind

Ug...  Nothing is worse than a fanboi.  I don't care where from.  Android, Apple, MS, Linux.  They are all tools to do a job, not the job itself.


Er, we have just a few square meters of garden that is not patio.  And it's too much.  Sitting in the garden, great.  Spending time removing weeds and trying to make sure the plants don't die again...  Not so much :)


I like clothes, and clothes shopping.  I like web sites where you can put together an outfit and try to see what you like. I don't like someone telling me what to wear just because...

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Stress and Tiredness

Wow,  for the last few weeks I have been thinking of writing another entry here, but for various reasons I have just not has the time or energy to do it.  OK, more energy than time.

So...  What has been going on in the last few month or so...

Well, too much for one post, so I'll start with changing the car... (Sorry this has turned into a long post! Oops)

Our V50 was had reached the point where we either needed to change it, or keep it until it totally died on us.  Actually, it had just passed that point.  199000 KM's to 200000KM's meant about 1/3 of its value was lost.  Each 10000 after that took even more off.  We had reached...  202000.  Damn.

But, we did some looking around and found a couple of nice V70's to replace it with - with lots of options, and a big engine up front pulling it along.  Both test drives started well - I got some interesting responses when I handed over my driving license for the test drive.  The first garage actually asked for Mrs Stace's license as my license did not match who I was well enough - something I'll take that as a nice compliment.

But the car itself was a real disappointment.  It was nice in a straight line, though not as quick as I was hoping and in the corners it felt more like the XC90 I test drove last year than the V70 we took out.  Wallowing around corners and roundabouts made me take them all quick slowly - there was no confidence in the car.

Also, it had an awful colour interior - beige steering wheels and dashboards should not be allowed!

So on to the next!  The salesman was surprised when I handed over my license, but did at least accept it (Mrs Stace couldn't be with me for this one, so I didn't have that many options).  But...

For the first time I saw a difference between going in as him and going in as Stace.  I was test driving a 3L turbo charged, 286bhp AWD car.  In theory it should have been a bit of a beast.  I was trading in a 220bhp 2.5l AWD V50.  Also a bit of a beast. I like fast cars.

And all this guy could say was how comfortable it was.  Yes, but I want something that's fin to drive 'Yes, with the chassis that it has it's really comfortable!'  OK, but I want something that feels secure in the corners. 'Oh don't worry, it's a really comfortable car'.

Fine, don't listen then.

So another test drive and another disappointment.  This one had Volvo's 4C chassis, in theory you can set it to 'Advanced' mode and it should firm up and enjoy being thrown around.  Well, it firms up OK.  But still felt like a whale in the corners.

Back to the garage and into another comfort discussion. 'I'm a bit disappointed, it wallows in the corners even in 'Advanced' mode'.  'Yes, it is very comfortable isn't it' ARGHH!

They did have another car there though, a few less options and only a 2L engine (still 203bhp though) and much newer for the same price.  So I thought I'd take that out for a spin. 'It's not as comfortable as the T6' (Seriously, it was the only thing the guy could say!).

It was a much better car to drive though!  And certainly closer to the first V70 I drove last year.  Not all the toys that I wanted, but most of them, and the most important ones to us.

But...  After a weeks worth of trying to come up with a price the deal fell through - the salesman refused to do a deal - his first offer was final, and the point of him saying admitting that there was another car, in a Volvo dealership just 10KM's away that had exactly the same options, and was the same age, for 5K less and still saying 'That doesn't mean we have to sell it for the same price' I knew I was not going to have that car.

Lucky for me in the end.  I found another one.  Less than a year old, exactly the specification that I wanted and only used as a demo car.  Full factory warranty for 18 months.  Great!

And for less than the other car was.

A deal was made over the phone as I knew how the car drove and with factory warranty I just thought I could buy it as you would a new car, plus that way you can be emotionless when making the deal. Sitting drooling over the new car does somewhat hamper your chances of getting it cheaper.  The garage wanted my summer wheels on the V50 though so I had to get the winter ones changed, shouldn't be a problem I thought.  And that's where it went wrong.

On the day of having the wheels changed 1000 euros of damage appeared on  the side of the car.  With 8 days until it was going to be traded in. And the garage refused to accept responsibility for it. The damage has been there for weeks was their stance.  Damage that had shiny metal metal still.  'Look it's rusty', a quick wipe my finger to remove the road dirt and 'Yes, well you've removed the rust with your finger now haven't you!' (Again, seriously? Having had many cars with rust throughout my life I have never managed to remove it with my finger.  Normally it takes a lot of work and effort to get it off!)

The insurance is now dealing with it, and they organised getting the car fixed in the time available (and they did a great job too!).  Just a shame that it has cost me 11 years no claims unless the garage has a change of heart and admits what they did. My word against theirs is going to mean that I can't prove anything.

But we have the new car now - actually for 4 weeks or so, and it's amazing.  All the toys I wanted, almost out entire music collection on a 32GB USB stick in the car so no more changing CD's all the time.  And drives beautifully.

Oh, and it's comfortable :)