INSURANCE companies have come under fire for using a postcode change to put up premiums at Fleet and Church Crookham.

They have latched on to the change of postcode from GU13 to GU51 and GU52 to charge more for car and household insurance in the area.

The shock increase was discovered by Mrs Christine Barry when she insured a Nova car for her 19-year-old son Kevin.

When she first rang Direct Line she was quoted £874.65 on the GU13 postcode to insure the car.

Two weeks later, when she telephoned to confirm the quote, she was amazed to learn that the fee had increased by £11 simply because her postcode had been changed to GU51.

"I think it's scandalous that we should be charged extra just because we've been given a new postcode," said Mrs Barry, of Aldershot Road, Fleet.

"Our house hasn't moved, and our circumstances haven't altered, yet our premiums have gone up. This will affect everyone in Fleet."

Luckily she escaped the increase this time because Direct Line agreed to stick to its original quote of £874.65.

The hike, Mrs Barry discovered, would have been even more if she lived in the Church Crookham stretch of Aldershot Road.

Because of a blunder by the post office, Direct Line was originally told that her new postcode was GU52 which would have resulted in a whopping £40 increase.

But Direct Line soon established that GU52 applied only to Aldershot Road, Church Crookham, which was also previously GU13.

Mrs Barry's protests have been brushed aside by the Association of British Insurers.

Information officer Lisa Love told her in a letter that there were always "apparent anomalies" when postcodes changed.

Local MP James Arbuthnot is investigating the problem following the intervention of Hart councillor Lucy Ellis.

"It is certainly a ridiculous situation," he told Mrs Ellis in a letter.