Home Insurance – You Can Save Money!

Pah! I hear you say, how can it be possible to save money on home insurance? Well, I’m going to tell you (or there would be little point in the title to this blog). Let me start by saying that if you don’t have this type of insurance that’s fine, if you don’t have a home to protect! If you do, this little piece of paper might save you a fortune.

Owning your own home well, having a mortgage is a huge commitment especially these days and if something goes wrong with your bricks and mortar, it could break you financially if you’re not properly protected. It might seem like I’m being a bit of a drama queen but ask yourself this, could you afford to replace a roof or rebuild your kitchen because the boiler blew up? The answer for many is no.

Now I’ve finished lecturing you on why home insurance is important, let me give you a few tips on how you can save some money on the premiums:

Contents Insurance

It’s wise to take a close look at this particular part of your policy because there might be some savings to be had on your premium. For instance, if you have a minimalist approach to your decor there isn’t much point in being insured for well over £100,000!

Renovate, Renovate!

Some people are attracted to properties that need, shall we say, “a little work” simply because the initial price tends to be lower. However, bear in mind that out of date electrics, leaky roofs and old plumbing can push your monthly payments up.

Where You Live

OK, some of you can’t do anything about this because you’re already committed to a mortgage, but if you’re on the market think about the area you’re going to live in. As we all know weather in the UK is on the change and has been for a number of years. Oddly enough (or maybe not), our country has become an awful lot wetter which results in? Yes, floods! If you can, avoid areas where your home is at risk of water damage due to the river at the bottom of your garden breaking its banks!

You should also avoid areas that are not unlike a war zone! Insurance companies do take the current crime rates into account and this could also result in you paying more for your home insurance. If you are in a higher crime rate area, install an alarm system (your insurance broker will thank you for it).

Speaking of brokers, you might want to avoid them because, well, they’re the middle man and need to make money as well.

A Couple of Obvious Tips

Don’t take out insurance with a view to claiming every time something goes wrong that you can afford to fix without any financial assistance. Some companies operate a “claim free” policy which helps keep your payments down. Think of it as a reward for being a careful customer.

I leave the most obvious tip until last – check your home insurance policy each time it’s due for renewal. Things change and it could be that you’re currently covered for something you no longer need.

 

 

 

Bye, Bye Health – Hello Gap Year

Bye, Bye Health – Hello Gap Year

The above title might sound a little shall we say, “stuffy” however there is a serious message behind it. Many people of all ages (yes, of all ages) will be looking forward to a gap year and spending it in their home country is the last thing on their minds. Sure, it’s all very exciting working out what places you’re going to visit, how you’re going to get there and what mad activities you can do while you’re away.

BUT! And there is a big but. You might think “it will never happen to me” or “it’s too expensive to take out travel insurance”. After all, you’re going to need all those extra pennies for the parties you’ll be attending and the day trips you have planned. Let me stop you right there! You might not know it, but there are policies on the market designed specifically for backpackers and they won’t break the bank.

If you’re still not convinced travel insurance is a good idea, think about it this way. You decide to take someone up on the offer of a bungee jump (something you’ve always wanted to cross off your bucket list). You’ve looked into the most reputable company you can find to help you achieve this moment of pure adrenalin and believe nothing can go wrong.

Nine times out of ten if won’t however, if it does and you don’t have the right travel insurance in place, you could be looking at bills in excess of £20,000! I know parents will do anything for their children including re-mortgaging their homes but do you really want to bankrupt them in the process, and all for the sake of saving £90-100? I’m guessing the answer is no. So, now I’ve managed to help you think about the dark side of travelling let’s take a look at some of the benefits you can get from a backpackers travel insurance policy:

What You Get

  • Cancellation – This can be a major headache especially if you’ve pre-booked flights etc. Most travel policies will cover you if you’re unable to travel due to illness or some other emergency.
  • The big one! Medical Expenses – This isn’t just about being able to have your leg put in plaster. Insurance companies go the whole way. They offer cover for a stay in hospital, general medical treatment, travel costs and even flights home.
  • Again, a big one! Personal Injury – Yes, the chances are you’ll never have to face a life changing accident but if you do and are not covered the outcome could be horrendous financially. If you do happen to sustain a life changing disability there are insurance companies out there who will pay a lump sum.
  • Personal Injury – This isn’t to you, it’s to someone else. We live in an age now where suing one another for injuries sustained is commonplace and it’s not just limited to the UK so, it’s worth having a travel policy that covers this too.
  • Belongings – You may think you’re going to travel light but you’ll still need money, passport, your precious tablet and/or mobile phone and a whole host of other valuables so get them covered.

Travel but Stay Healthy

I have touched on other areas of travel insurance when you’re going away during a gap year but your health is something you cannot replace so protect it the best way you can. The last thing you need is to be stuck in the “back and beyond” without any help.

 

Help! I Need To Make an Insurance Claim

Help! I Need To Make an Insurance Claim

OK, so we don’t all take out insurance in the “hope” we might one day be able to make a claim. For those of you who have landed on this page with the intention of taking out a policy specifically for that reason, I suggest you look elsewhere! For those of you who are in a pickle because that 100 year old oak tree has just crashed through the roof of your home, or you’ve come back from a hard day at work to a flood in your kitchen….read on.

The Obvious

OK, this is obvious. Make sure you’re insured! Before you navigate away from this article because of an insult to your intelligence, think about it. Many people blindly take out an insurance policy and just renew each year without thinking about any changes that may have occurred. So, when I say make sure you’re insured what I mean is that before you go ahead and renew, take into account anything that may have changed from the previous year.  In fact, it’s worth checking if you get something new for your home or something changes with your car before your policy is due for renewal.

Don’t Panic

Panicking comes easy when you have a disaster that seems like it will end the world, believe me, I’ve been there! So instead of doing something like a “keystone cop” dance head to where you keep your emergency numbers (being the sensible one in the household you’ll know exactly where that is).

Make a call to the insurance company and (calmly as you can) explain the situation. This will set a few wheels in motion. If you’ve chosen the right insurance company, they will act straight away especially if you have an oak tree in your living room!

Non- Emergency Situations

Maybe your cat has had a “mad 5 minutes” and ended up breaking that precious Ming vase which has been passed down through the family or, your garden shed fell down. In this situation there shouldn’t be any need for panic, well, there might be a need for the cat!

When you need to make an insurance claim that doesn’t require an immediate phone call to the company it’s best to make sure you have everything in place first. Policy documents should be to hand because they will contain pretty much everything you need. Think telephone number for claims and your policy number.

Once you’re happy you can make a claim before you call ensure you have all the facts about the incident correct. Insurance companies take a very dim view of not receiving the right information when their customers make a claim, and even an honest mistake can hold up replacement items or a cash payment.

Also remember you may be asked for receipts for items being claimed or invoices from a certain tradesman that assured you he had fixed your leaking pipes.

Finally

Make that call and be honest! If you’re not the chances are you will be found out and that will probably land you in hot water! Plus, you’ll have to mend that hole in the roof or replace your kitchen at your own cost.

 

 

Got a Weird Pet? You Can Get It Insured

Apologies if the title to this article has offended you, but let’s face it…some people might think having an “exotic” pet is kind of weird. Although, I don’t put myself in that bracket because I have an unhealthy interest in spiders and snakes! Just before I get onto the importance of exotic pet insurance, it may interest you to know that we in the UK were the first to look kindly upon these sometimes misunderstood creatures and so we were the first to branch out into this particular type of pet care.

Now that snippet of information is off my chest, I’ll give you an idea of why you should consider getting a document of insurance for your precious Mickey the Chameleon or Zippy the snake:

This type of animal is likely to cost a lot more to buy in the first place, and whilst I’m sure you love them just as much as say, a cat or dog you do have to think about the investment you’ve made. That said there are plenty of “normal” domestic pets that cost a small fortune!

If your pet does suffer an illness it’s probably not going to be as easy to treat as it would be a cat or dog, and could need more specialist attention which can also cost a pretty penny.

Because pets of this type can be rare they can be considered as somewhat of an attraction to would be thieves (God Forbid Mickey should ever go missing)!

These are just a select few reasons in addition to the insurance requirements for more common animals, but that doesn’t mean it’s all you can expect to get cover for. There are a number of companies on the market who will cover you for death (again, God Forbid poor Mickey) or long-term illness.

Is Exotic Pet Insurance Easy to Find?

If you’re looking for this type of pet insurance for the first time, you might be surprised to know it’s not that difficult to find. Many companies have recognised that offering cover for the less common types of pet is actually a pretty untapped market albeit more specialised.

Many of the household insurance names are now offering various policies for all types of pet and it’s not just limited to the little ones we keep indoors. If you have a horse, pet pig or even a goat it’s possible to get some insurance.

Types of Policy

As with cats and dogs, you can get pet cover for your scaly or feathered friends which will cover vet fees as well as theft or (and I hope this never happens), death. Of course, you do have to accept that exotic pets come in all forms from reptile to mammals and some species will need specialist care. With that in mind, make sure you discuss at length what your requirements are.

As an “out of the box” pet owner don’t think you’re being singled out anymore because there are pet insurance policies’ out there tailored to meet you and your pets’ needs.

Insurance – Know what You’re Getting Into!

For the majority of people who live in the UK, counting the pennies is top of the list. However, there are times when you simply can’t cut corners. For example motor insurance is a big no-no when it comes to seeking out those so called “super deals”. I’m not saying you shouldn’t shop around when looking for any type of policy because there are plenty of companies out there who have reputations second to none.

But! There are also plenty of shady dealers out there who are willing to sell you something that, quite frankly, isn’t worth the paper it’s written on. Some of you reading this may think “surely not” but I assure you they are out there and they’re costing both customer and company millions upon millions every day!

So, what is it you should look out for? Let’s start with the obvious Do’s and Don’ts…..

DO

Make sure the company you decide to go with is a registered member of any governing bodies required. In respect of motor insurance for instance, they should be a member of the Motor Insurers Bureau or the MIB.

If you intend to use a broker, they should be on the Financial Services Register.

It may seem like a more expensive option but stick to companies you’ve heard of and do your research before passing over any of your hard earned cash. Oh, and by the way (BTW for all you text speak people out there) make sure any website you’re looking at is genuine. One way to tell this is by checking they’re regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. If you have any doubts, and I mean ANY there are numbers you can call.

DON’T

OK, this might sound silly but if you’re contacted about insurance by someone through any type of social media site, the chances are they’re not the real deal.

It also goes without saying that if you come across someone in your local pub with what looks like a bunch of official insurance documents in their inside pocket, you’re not dealing with a person who has legitimacy on their mind!

You Shouldn’t Cut Corners Because…..

Imagine this? You think your car is properly insured and you have a prang (nothing serious) but the police attend the accident. If you’re found to be carrying fake documents the chances are the long arm of the law isn’t going to be too pleased!

You might even find yourself being questioned over your own attitude to being a law abiding citizen. All sorts of things can go wrong and you might even end up with your precious Vinnie the Vauxhall being imprisoned or worse still….squashed!!

Overall

We hear plenty in the media about how certain “undesirables” are pushing up the cost of insurance by making false claims, but the problem is just has huge on the other side of the fence. Remember that just because there is a friendly looking dog or some other legitimate looking logo on the paperwork you’ve been sent, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve got real documents.

Oh, and if you hear the words “ghost broking”…head for the hills!

 

 

 

Insurance and Moving Home

What’s the first comment most people make when they hear you’re moving home? That’s right, “it’s one of the most stressful things you can do”. Less than helpful isn’t it! However it is true and anything you can do, no matter if it’s your first or 100th move is to make sure you reduce the amount of stress you have to go through. But how I hear you cry! Well, apart from reaching for a large glass of wine (or something stronger) when you’re faced with a mountain of packing, it’s wise to ensure you don’t have to worry about your belongings when they’re not with you.

Home Insurance

Of course, you will already have home insurance and if you haven’t perhaps you should read some of the information we have on our website. It’s not there just because we like to teach people to “suck eggs”, it’s there to protect you from any of those precious items being damaged or stolen.

If you have home insurance it’s unlikely your policy will cover you when you’re moving home. Part of the reason for this is if companies did there would be no need for the guys (or gals) who offer goods in transit insurance (more on that below). Another reason is when you move, your belongings are neither here nor there until they meet their intended destination i.e. not at home!

So, the moral of this little section of our blog is DON’T think that just because your items are covered when indoors, they’ll be covered when they take a short (or long) trip! That said, it’s always worth talking to your chosen firm because they might just be able to handle what you’re looking for and potentially far cheaper than anyone else (add it to your to do list).

Goods in Transit

Most of us will need to use a removal company when we’re on the move with our belongings and its imperative (that’s REALLY IMPORTANT) that you check they’re insured. Even your average man with a van should be able to show the relevant documents required so if they do happen to smash Grandma’s Ming vase you will at least be able to recover the cost.

Do remember at this point that you can’t put a price on sentimental items that could end up with a crack or two. If you have to entrust these to a removal company, make sure you explain how important (and valuable) certain belongings are.

One other piece of advice is to trust your gut! If you have the slightest doubt the company you’re talking to won’t do “what is says on the tin (on wheels)” forget them and move on to the next. Likewise, it’s also worth talking to other people who have used them.

Don’t Go Cheap

If a removal company tell you they’ll beat any price, and they can do any date you like there might be a reason for this….they’re either dodgy or don’t have a lot of business on their hands! Instead, get two or three quotes you can compare and go with the one that makes you feel most comfortable. After all, these are your precious things and need to be protected. If you follow some, (hopefully all) of the tips above you can at least strike one stress of your list when moving home.

 

Calling All Landlords Are You Insured?

Calling All Landlords Are You Insured?

Everyone seems to be looking for an entrepreneurial way of making money these days well, a lot of people do anyway. One very popular way is the buy to let property market which sounds like a fabulous idea if you’ve got tens’ of thousands of pounds lying around doing nothing (or the ability to afford a second mortgage). If this is the case then lucky you! However, as easy as buying a property and renting it out sounds, there are a million pitfalls and the worst thing about them is they can cost you your life savings.

Is Landlord Insurance a Legal Requirement?

In short, the answer to this one is no. However, if you’re not buying the property outright your mortgage lender may well make it so before you can let it out to anyone. Now you know you’re not going to get your “collar felt” for not having a policy do not think it’s not worth worrying about.

Imagine this? You rent your new found property out to a professional couple who have told you their prize Staffordshire puppy won’t damage the interior in any way “he’s just a pussy cat really”. Only to find he’s wrecked the wall paper and chewed a fair few door frames in protest at being left home for the afternoon.

Worse, you could come across unscrupulous characters’ who are more than willing to take you to court over an “accident” that happened in your property and has left them with injuries. Worse still, your “great” new tenants decide that paying rent isn’t first on their list of priorities! Not only could you end up out of pocket when this type of situation arises, your stress levels could leave your veins standing on end!

So no, Landlord insurance isn’t required of you legally but it can sure save you a whole lot of trouble!

What Policies are Out There?

Much like the rest of the insurance market, this particular niche is becoming ever more competitive and there is a plethora of choice. Of course, the major firms out there were among the first to jump on the band wagon but there are smaller companies who might be worth looking at. I’m guessing however that at this stage, you’re more interested in what you get for your money so let’s take a look at that:

  • The “biggie” – loss of rent.
  • Damage caused by accident.
  • Yes, this does happen – deliberate damage by tenants.
  • Employers’ liability, this one might sound a little odd but if you have various tradesmen coming into your property there is always a chance you might be “done” for an accident they’ve suffered.
  • If your property is likely to be empty for a while, it’s worth looking into a policy that will cover you for any mishaps during that time.
  • Aside from Employers’ liability you can also get what’s called Landlords’ or Public liability which will protect you from tenants claiming for being involved in an accident.

These are just some of the possible problems you need to look at when searching for a Landlord insurance policy but do remember that companies can cover these and a whole lot more.

In Short

If you intend to become a landlord (or already are), think long and hard about this type of insurance. It could be the difference between a tidy profit each year or losing everything!

 

Got Your First Car? Get Insured!

Got Your First Car? Get Insured!

It’s exciting isn’t it? You’ve been through all the stress associated with learning how to drive and you’ve finally passed your test (unless you’re one of the lucky few that managed a pass first time) – in which case, I take my hat off to you.

Now you’re the proud owner of a full driving licence and the road is yours for the taking (legally of course). Some people will be lucky enough to have support behind them when it comes to investing in their first car so some of the monetary burden is taken away. However, it doesn’t matter if you’re one of the “special ones” or not, car insurance is still something you definitely cannot afford to turn a blind eye to.

The more daring among you might think mentioning insurance for your car as a form of scaremongering but to be completely serious, if you don’t get it you could be saying goodbye to that precious licence before you know it. Plus, it might be a good number of years before you see it again!

So, where to begin? At the beginning of course!

Choosing a Car

The following information won’t apply to everyone who is new to a full driving licence because (as unfair as it seems) you won’t all be in your late teens to mid-late twenties. Unfortunately new drivers who are of this age are not only considered “new” but also “potentially dangerous”. Let’s face it, if you’ve already been looking at the type of car you want as a youngster the chances are you haven’t been able to help yourself when it comes to wanting all those bells and whistles.

Unfortunately now is the time to put your “adult” head on especially if you don’t want to pay through the nose for car insurance. In fact it can be costly for any age bracket. Maybe you’ve been eyeing up the latest sporty model that will only take two people and has an exhaust that can be heard 2 miles away!

Let me stop you there. Unless you have a large budget for vehicle insurance bear in mind the type of car you go for. Basically the more sensible and safe, the cheaper the policy will be. Sorry to be such a kill-joy but it’s a fact if you want to save some money.

Types of Car Policy

There are literally tons of car insurance policies to choose from, but remember that when you’re looking most comprehensive cover is just as cost effective as third party. It may also surprise you to know that a lot of companies on the market won’t even entertain the somewhat outdated third party, fire and theft policies anymore. When you do your research (and you should research) think about the types of things you’re likely to keep inside your car, what type of car you have and how much travelling you do.

Keeping Safe

If you really want to keep those insurance bills down, make sure you check out companies that offer incentives for safe driving. For instance a lot of the larger firms will fit a device that measures how safely you drive. The less “joy rider” you are the less you pay.

Overall, car insurance is essential in terms of protecting yourself from all types of little mishaps to those rare occasions when serious accidents occur. Plus, you’ll be going a long way to making sure you keep hold of that precious driving licence that took so much work to gain in the first place!

Do You Love Your Pet Enough

Do You Love Your Pet Enough?

If you own a pet (or two), the chances are you’re answer will be a posthumous yes to the above question. In fact there’s no chance about it, of course you love your pet enough but do you, or have you considered pet insurance? This question is probably going to be met with a “no”. After all, you wouldn’t be reading this blog otherwise!

The first thing is why are you considering insurance for your pet? Well, the main reason is we all know how expensive a trip to the vet’s can be and not all of us have the spare cash hanging around to deal with an unexpected illness. This can range from a little bug that Fido picked up on a walk to (God forbid) a serious long-term problem. Another reason is by having insurance, you get peace of mind that you won’t have to go to the “bank of daddy” when there’s a need to have medical treatment for your pet.

So, what’s on the market I hear you say well, take a look below and I’ll give you a few ideas:

Types of Pet

All pet insurance companies offer policies from accident only cover to lifetime with both cats and dogs. These types of policies are also available for rabbits and horses. But, what if you have an exotic pet such as a parrot, lizard, snake, or in some cases a beloved tarantula? You might be surprised to learn you can get insurance for these less than fury friends as well. That said, they are pretty new to the market so don’t expect to find them everywhere and you will more than likely pay a little more.

Accident Pet Policies

If you have a pet that’s prone to accidents (and yes, they do exist)! Maybe Tiddles is constantly coming home with cuts and scratches or Fido just can’t help but chew on the nearest bee as it flies past. In which case there are companies out there who are dedicated to making sure your vet bills are covered should an accident happen.

Of course, there are more serious situations where a little more than some antiseptic and antibiotics will do. If your pet has to have an operation due to an accident there is plenty of cover to choose from so if you are faced with something like a car accident, you can devote your time to looking after the patient instead of worrying about how to pay for treatment.

Oh, and I can’t forget you. Humans are just as likely to end up needing a stay in hospital so bear this in mind when you’re shopping for pet insurance. Some companies will make sure your pet is properly looked after by providing kennels or some other suitable place for them to stay while you’re away. Although, they can’t guarantee the same amount of “nursing” from your pet when you return home!

Full and Part Cover

As far as “normal” pets go the world is your oyster when it comes to the type of insurance you want. Although do think about the fact that most companies don’t cover routine expenses such as vaccinations, neutering and micro-chipping. Oh, and remember if you have a dog it’s a legal requirement to have them chipped these days. If you’re considering insurance for a pet you’ve had for some years (in other words the grey hair is starting to make an appearance and walks in the park are more of a stroll these days), you’re not exempt. Some companies will even take your pet if they already have an ongoing illness.

Loving Your Pet Enough

OK, pet insurance will be another monthly expense to factor in but, considering policies can cost as little as £3.50 a month it’s not much to ask so you have peace of mind that your four (or eight legged) friend can get the treatment they need.

 

Travel Insurance – It’s Not Always Straight Forward

You Might be planning a holiday somewhere hot and sunny, or you may well be preparing for a new job that involves a lot of travelling. Whatever the reason for you climbing aboard a plane, boat or train, you should get travel insurance. Many companies offer “bog standard” policies that cover you for the obvious things that may happen, and these include but are not limited to:

  • Accidents abroad – more on that later in the article and what “accident actually means”.
  • Medical Expenses.
  • One of the most annoying things that can happen (in my opinion) – lost baggage, or delays in travel.
  • Theft or loss of money, travellers’ cheques, personal belongings or your precious passport.

These are some of the most obvious mishaps travel insurance companies cover however, there are more comprehensive policies out there should you need it. Perhaps you have a certain medical condition or disability? In which case, you don’t have to consider yourself on the “travel black list”! Due to the fact this type of insurance is becoming ever more popular and with good reason, there are plenty of options for people who once thought they would never get insurance.

Outside of the “Norm”

That said – what about the more, shall we say, unusual mishaps? I would never advocate someone making a false claim on any type of insurance policy after all, it’s illegal and could land you in a whole lot of hot water! Although I will say don’t out rule putting in a claim if you think you have a valid reason for doing so. Sure, not all companies will pay out but if you’re being totally honest what’s the worst that can happen? The powers that be will say “claim rejected”!

Take some of these accidents for example:

  • A person on holiday abroad marvelled at the idea of being able to read their favourite book under the shade of a beautiful palm tree, sounds idyllic doesn’t it? And it was, until a coconut promptly fell out of the tree and caused a head injury! Ok, most people (me included) would think there was no chance of a successful claim however in this instance all medical bills were paid.
  • Take this one for a disaster oh, and before you read on, people who are looking forward to getting married abroad don’t panic, just stay away from barbeques! An unfortunate bride did get a little too close and ended up with her dress on fire! Her quick thinking husband (yes they managed to get married first), did the only thing he thought would save her and threw his beautiful wife into the Caribbean – how gallant! The clever couple had made sure their travel insurance was as comprehensive as it comes, and luckily for them the cost of the dress was reimbursed. Apart from a successful insurance claim, at least this couple will never forget their wedding day!
  • If you intend to spend some time in a place where wild animals could get access to your belongings, try this little story for size. A couple came back from a day trip only to find a bunch of local monkeys thought it would be a good idea to break into their cabin and scatter the couples clothing all over a nearby forest (pesky monkeys)! Fortunately the nice man at their travel insurance company said yes to the claim.

Moral of the Story

I know lots of people shy away from travel insurance because they think its dead money (excuse the pun) however it’s anything but as the stories above prove. Whilst the situations I’ve outlined are not an every-day occurrence, it is possible you could be victim to an accident just as unusual.

For that reason, I think travel insurance is a must. The only piece of advice I will pass on is to make sure you read the small print before handing over any money especially if you’re going to spend time around monkeys or hot BBQ’s!

 

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