I've had an insurance policy with an insurance company for just over 6 months, I've recently been looking at getting a new car and decided to buy one, Before I bought it I checked online how much it would cost to swap my insurance over to the new car (the insurance company let you swap insurance over online and calculate the extra amount you owe depending on engine size, etc automatically) I checked and it said it would cost an extra £36 for the rest of the year.

I purchased the car today and checked again and it said "we cannot insure you for this car", I spoke to them and they said there is nothing they can do.

I have proof (screenshot) that it quoted £36 less than 3 days ago but now they can't insure me on the car.

My question is - Can I take legal action against the insurance company as I wouldn't've purchased the car unless they had said I can swap the insurance over (which they did)?

  • 2
    Is this under Scottish law? Please edit your question to include tags appropriate to your jurisdiction.
    – jimsug
    Jun 23, 2016 at 17:39
  • 2
    I've seen such estimation sites before and have found small print saying that these estimates are not binding. So check for that.
    – user6726
    Jun 23, 2016 at 17:41
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    There is a difference between a quote ("we will do X for Y") and an estimate ("if we did X, we'd do it for Y"). Quotes are in some jurisdictions binding, while estimates are not. Such a tool is almost certain to have been an estimator and very likely used the word "estimate" somewhere in an obvious description or label.
    – user4657
    Jul 24, 2016 at 5:08

2 Answers 2


The only possible cause of action applicable here is an application for equitable relief, likely in the form of equitable compensation, for promissory estoppel. (Unless there are statutory provisions otherwise; I'm not aware of any but have not thoroughly examined English law.)

Generally, the elements of promissory estoppel are:

  1. A representation/promise to do or forbear from doing something
  2. A reliance on the representation to the person's detriment
  3. A unconscionable departure from the representation

However, you would need to show that the online tool was a representation by the insurance company that they would enter into an agreement to insure your vehicle for the specified price. This would not be the case for most online tools as they generally contain or display some kind of caveat that it is not intended to form such a representation.

If you believe that you may have a cause of action, the next step is to contact a lawyer - they will examine the facts of your case and provide you with advice in relation to your prospects of success.

  • Big difference between price is somewhat wrong (expected) and uninsurable (what they hey!).
    – Joshua
    May 25, 2023 at 19:12

Probably not. I believe that the quote would have been an "Offer to Treat" - it will, of-course, depend on how specific the quote was - ie were you logged in to an account at the time or was it just a form on the website ? Similarly, did the quote have a validity period associated with it, and is there any reason to believe it considered your specific circumstances ?

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