Hackney driver fears riots responsible for car insurance rejection

A Hackney driver believes her car insurance company dropped her as a customer because she lives in a borough that saw some of the worst rioting in the country last summer.

Historian and writer Juliet Gardiner had insured her P-registration Volkswagen Polo with Lloyds TSB for years, and had racked up a nine-year no-claims bonus with the company.

But the 68-year-old was stunned when the company declined to renew her fully-comprehensive policy recently, and two staff members told her the decision was probably due to her location.

Ms Gardiner has lived in Eleanor Road for 20 years, which is streets away from Clarence Road, where arson, looting, and violence erupted on August 8.

“It seems another example of the mindless social and political demonisation of an inner city borough, which is so regrettable and hardly the way to rebuild confidence in our troubled cities,” she said.

Although she managed to find insurance elsewhere, she added: “This does not diminish my anger towards Lloyd’s TSB for the way they have demonised a Hackney car owner for their own misguided political reasons.”

A spokesman for Lloyds TSB said the company works with a panel of insurance companies to offer coverage to customers – and the entire panel declined to insure Ms Gardiner.

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He said other Hackney residents have been accepted as customers over the past few months and added: “In Ms Gardiner’s case, we were regrettably unable to find a renewal quote for her due to a number of different reasons, each depending on the views of individual insurance companies we deal with.”

He admitted location was a factor for some of the companies – although he was unable to say whether the riots played a part in those decisions – but said others gave the age of the vehicle and the owner’s occupation as reasons for rejecting Ms Gardiner.

But Ms Gardiner slammed the company because she says the only difference in her circumstances is that rioting broke out in Hackney last summer.

“The older a car gets, the less they have to pay out for it, and my job and location haven’t changed,” she said. “I’m not now a one-legged tightrope walker in Syria.”