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Insurance broker Swinton is piling on the admin fees

Be sure to check the small print which may hide hefty admin fees for making changes to a policy.

Be sure to check the small print which may hide hefty admin fees for making changes to a policy.
Photograph: Alamy

Wednesday 6 May 2015 07.00 BST

Last modified on Wednesday 6 May 2015 11.14 BST

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I recently moved home and notified Swinton, my insurance company, of my change of address. I was told I had to pay a £25 administration fee to do this. Moreover, because I -mentioned that I had changed jobs from a legal secretary to a personal assistant, I was liable for a £39 change-of-occupation fee.

Does this mean that every time a person changes jobs they have to pay more money to their insurance company? In my case, I was made redundant from my previous job and earn £10,000 less in my new one.

It would seem that insurance companies- are cashing in on these times of uncertainty. BB, Roydon, Essex

Admin fees for updating policies are a grubby little secret buried in the terms and conditions of many insurers and, in some cases, the exact cost is not specified. These are charged over and above any increase in premium due to a new postcode, or riskier occupation, and can be as much as £60 simply to amend an address. Swinton, which is a broker rather than an insurer, says that it’s up to the insurer whether to charge a fee for any policy amendments, but in your case it and the insurer have agreed that a secretary and a PA amount to a change in job title rather than function and have waived the second fee.

The Financial Ombudsman Service says that fees must reflect the actual work involved. It’s hard to see how a few taps to a keyboard can justify £39, so it is always worth complaining if you are hit with such a levy. Insurers may well back down; otherwise, if you think it excessive, you can complain to the ombudsman. Then shop around for an insurer that performs these services for free. Many do.

If you need help email Anna Tims at your.problems@observer.co.uk or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number.

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