10 Step Homebuyers Guide

Buying a home can be a stressful and confusing time. This step-by-step guide is designed to support and
inform you throughout your mortgage application through to completion:

1. Consultation with adviser – We will assess your requirements and find the right mortgage for you.

2. Protection – An essential not an extra, to ensure you are covered in the event of death, critical illness, or loss of income.

3. Decision in principle – Basic personal details will be submitted to the lender to see if you meet their terms. A Key Facts Illustration will be provided detailing everything you need to know.

4. Credit searches / application – The mortgage application can now be submitted and searches completed.

5. Document verification – The lender will assess your documentation submitted on application, this is usually payslips and bank statements. They may require further documents or further information to support your application.

5. Valuation – The lender will check the value of the property. You should also consider appointing your own surveyor
for a more in-depth survey of the property.

6. Offer – Once the valuation has been approved the lender will produce an offer.

7. Legal work – The solicitor will then complete the pre-exchange of contracts including deciding on a completion

8. Exchange of contracts – You are now legally committed to purchase the property.

9. Payment – Deposit is paid and the solicitor will finalise all mortgage arrangements. This is preceded by the payment
of land registry fees and stamp duty.

10. Completion – Funds are transferred and the purchase is completed. It’s now time to pick up the keys!

Protection: do you know what it means?

Life insurance and critical illness cover, do you understand the jargon or are you confused by the industry terms?

Research by Legal & General has revealed that most customers are confused about the language used for protection products. Legal & General surveyed 2,000 people, and found that many consumers didn’t know what was meant by protection.

The survey found that only around one in 10 people associated the term ‘protection’ with life or critical illness cover, whereas some 40% assumed it related to protection against physical harm or protective clothing, while 19% of people did not associate the word with anything at all.

Protection is a term used when talking about critical illness cover and life insurance in the sense that it can financially protect you and your loved ones in case the worst were to happen. This type of protection can be invaluable.

If you’re diagnosed with a critical illness and can’t work, do you know what you’re entitled to from the state? How will you keep up your mortgage payments? If the worst were to happen, would your family be financially stable? These are the questions you must ask yourself!

Just over half of those surveyed by Legal & General did not have any life insurance or critical illness cover in place yet two thirds said they would be willing to pay between £10 and £20 a month for cover.

Seeking professional advice when looking for protection is important; your adviser will be able to find the cover that is best for you and your individual circumstances, as well as talk you through the industry jargon!

If you’d like to discuss your protection needs, contact one of our advisers today.

UK life insurance is the cheapest in the world

In the UK we’re largely underprepared for the worst-case scenario. If the worst were to happen to you, without suitable protection, it could leave your family under a lot of financial pressure and despite life cover being the most popular type of protection the majority of us still aren’t covered!

According to Legal and General only 15 million adults have a life insurance policy which is just under a quarter of the UK population. This figure is quite scary, especially considering the price of life insurance in Britain is the cheapest in the world according to CIExpert.

Reducing Premiums
Surprisingly, premiums have actually reduced over time and it may be cheaper to cover yourself now than 10, and even 18 years ago.

For a £123,000 decreasing term plan on a 32-year-old non-smoking male and a 28-year-old smoking female in 2001 the cheapest premium available was £42.47 per month with Norwich Union, who are now Aviva. Today the standard Aviva plan would cost you £41.81. The reduction for a standard Zurich plan is far wider too – £58.21 per month down substantially to £39.93.

A November 2012 plan reflects a similar trend. A £92,000 decreasing term plan for a 24-year-old female non-smoker cost £26.67 pm with Zurich, which today would want £25.24 pm. L&G, which charged £34.58 pm, has reduced to £26.17 pm. But the price is always dependant on your individual circumstances.

Whether this downward trend is set to continue or not, now seems like the perfect time to protect you and your loved ones in case the worst were to happen.

If you would like to discuss your protection needs, or just explore your options, contact one of our advisers today.


Life Cover when living with a serious medical condition

There are around 66 million people living in the UK and we Brits are largely underprepared in case the worst should happen. Many of us may have been, or could in the future be diagnosed with a serious medical condition and we all have unique circumstances that mean we need different types of cover.

Amongst those of us who have been diagnosed with a serious medical condition there is a common belief that we are unable to get protection. Because of this it’s not so surprising to hear that only 15 million adults have a life insurance policy in case the worst were to happen, according to Legal and General.

To put it into perspective, one in two of us will develop some form of cancer at some point in our lifetime according to Cancer Research UK, and around 27% of people within England alone are claimed to be obese, according to the latest Health Survey for England Report.

A report by the Exeter has found that two thirds of cancer sufferers do not have a single protection product in place. The ‘An Unhealthy Situation’ report, which surveyed 2,000 people across the UK, also found a similar situation for people with type 2 diabetes, those with high BMI and those with heart conditions.

With these conditions it’s arguably even more important to ensure you’re protected for your unique circumstances. It can provide you with peace of mind as well as financial stability for your family.

With this in mind, more providers, like the Exeter, are making protection more accessible to everyone, even if you have a serious medical condition. In some cases, insurers will be able to cover people living with medical conditions such as:

  • Cancer
  • Type 1 diabetes
  • A BMI above 48
  • Complex heart conditions
  • Multiple conditions

The Exeter’s ‘Real Life’ product is a specialist life cover product for we Brits with complex medical histories and disclosures. It gives many of us access to valuable protection that we may not have previously been able to access.

There are a range of serious medical conditions that we can all develop in our lifetime and with the diagnosis of conditions like diabetes and cancer on the rise, it is incredibly important to make sure we’re suitably protected for our own individual needs. This is why seeking expert advice is invaluable.

So, if you’re living with a serious medical condition and want to find out what level of cover is available to you, contact one of our advisers today.

Be-your-own-boss Britain

There are over four and a half million self-employed workers across the UK accounting for 15.6% of the UK workforce, according to the latest Office of National Statistics figures. The self-employed sector has seen a huge growth in the last decade with the UK well and truly catching the be-your-own-boss-bug.

People of all ages are starting their own businesses in the hope of achieving greater independence, flexibility and a more positive work-life balance. This however, comes with greater responsibility and it may be the first time people have had to consider their protection needs.

Is anyone safe?
No age group seems to be immune from the be-your-own-boss bug! The number of over 65s turning to self employment nearly tripled between 2001 and 2016, rising to 469,000. And the youngest group – 16 – 24 year olds – also saw a self-employed surge, with more than 80,000 becoming their own bosses during the same period.

These figures suggest that the oldest working generation are keen to branch out on their own, relying on the skills and expertise they’ve gained from their employment, while the youngest are eager and confident enough to launch their own businesses.

For the would-be entrepreneurs living in be-your-own-boss Britain, launching their own business may be the first time they’ve had to consider their protection needs. The support of an adviser at this time is crucial.

Help! I’m confused!
There are many protection needs that must be met when starting your own business and it may seem quite daunting. There’s income protection, business protection, and key person insurance just to name a few. For businesses though, it is essential that workers and the workplace are adequately insured.

Self-employed workers have historically faced challenges when sourcing mortgages and protection products due to a number of factors like the irregularities of their income streams, payment amounts and work patterns.

However, with such a large number of the UK now being their own bosses, it is vital that all borrowers are made aware of the importance of protection, as well as the various benefits and options available in the market.

So whether you’ve been caught by the be-your-own-boss-bug, or just want to talk about your protection needs, contact your adviser today.

Do millennial parents really need life insurance?

A study of millennial parents has revealed some startling statistics and attitudes towards life cover. Three quarters of
young parents said they have no life insurance in place to cover them should the worst happen. Despite how much
of an impact this can have on those left behind, 67% also said that they simply did not have time to go through their

What is life insurance?
Life insurance delivers the peace of mind of knowing your loved ones are financially protected should the worst
happen. Life cover normally comes in the form of “term insurance”, which covers the policy holder for a set period of
time, normally around 30-35 years.

If you were to die during the policy’s term, your family will receive a pay out of a lump cash sum, or alternatively a
regular income that can be used to pay off an existing mortgage or other bills.

Why don’t more millennial parents have it?
Generally, younger parents will always feel that life insurance is less of a priority than older generations, simply
because they are less likely to die anytime soon. Currently, millennials would rather spend their funds on new
technology and experiences, than on insurance against future events.

When asked, many millennials also assumed that life insurance was simply too expensive to consider, with 80%
prioritising other financial needs, such as living expenses, recreational expenses, and saving money for the future.

Life stages, such as buying a house, are being reached much later by millennials. This means that many young
parents are left vulnerable while renting, without having had the life insurance conversation with their mortgage

Why is it such a good idea for millennials?
One of the reasons millennials should be considering life insurance is their age. Life insurance is often cheaper when
you are younger, which means putting it off only increases the cost of the monthly premiums.

If you have dependents and people that rely on you, then you need to consider what would happen if your income
was suddenly taken out of the picture. Would they be able to live comfortably? Would they have the same lifestyle?
Moreover, would they have the stress of financial worries piled onto the difficulty of dealing with your death?

If you would like further advice on life insurance cover, speak to on of our advisers today!

A Beginner’s Guide to Life Insurance

Life Insurance is there to ensure your family is financially secure should something happen. But knowing that is just the start…

What exactly is Life Insurance?
For a surprisingly affordable monthly premium, Life Insurance delivers the peace of mind of knowing that should you die, your family will either have a lump cash sum, or a regular income, which can be used to pay off an outstanding mortgage or support them with paying monthly bills.

Term Life Insurance is the simplest and most affordable type of Life Insurance, designed to protect you for a set period of time. This is normally used to cover the mortgage, which is itself often limited to around 30-35 years. If you die during the policy’s term then you will receive a pay out, if you live beyond this point then the policy will end.

What are the different types of Term Life Insurance?
There are various types of Term Insurance, designed to deliver the most suitable cover for you.
Family Income Benefit: Instead of a lump sum, this policy will pay out a regular income to help cover monthly payments and bills.
Level term: The amount of cover and total pay-out remains the same for the policy’s term.
Decreasing term: The total pay-out will reduce over the term of the policy. This can be suitable to take out alongside a decreasing loan such as a mortgage.
Increasing term: The amount of cover and premiums increase over the term. This can be suitable to combat the rise in inflation and the cost of living, as well as changes in circumstances.

What is an impaired life?
This is a term used to describe someone whose current circumstances would cause the underwritten premiums to be higher than a standard application. This can include not just medical and physical conditions, but the lifestyle or occupation of the applicant as well.

An application may be impaired for several reasons. This can include pre-existing medical conditions, hazardous occupations, or those that take part in high-risk hobbies. If you think you may have an impaired life, we can work through the provider options with you, as there are several that specialise in this area.

What else do I need to know?
It is often a good idea to buy Critical Illness Cover alongside Life Insurance, to ensure a comprehensive level of protection. Critical Illness Cover will provide a cash lump sum, should you be diagnosed with a critical illness such as cancer, heart attack or stroke. Life and Critical Illness cover can either pay on a first instance basis, or on the event of both diagnosis and death.

Life Insurance policies can also be written into Trust, which means it will not form part of your estate and therefore not be liable for Inheritance Tax (IHT). It is important to get tax advice before making any decisions regarding your tax options, but we can point you in the right direction.

If you would like to discuss your life insurance options then speak to one of our advisers today!

Should you get a Single or Joint Life policy?

Wanting to secure your loved ones’ future is something we can all relate to. It’s common sense to want to ensure that should the worst happen, they will be financially covered to cover costs such as mortgage repayments, childcare and funeral expenses.

Making life cover part of your financial plan is a big step towards that peace of mind. But if you are married or co-habiting, you may be asking yourselves an obvious question: Is it better to get two single life policies or a joint policy together?

As a couple, it might be instinctive to opt for a joint policy. But when making such an important decision, there are other things to consider. Here is a quick guide to some of the key things you may like to think about before coming to see us to discuss the next step…

Joint Policy:

  • Covers two lives in just one policy
  • Joint policies tend to be cheaper
  • Payout is normally claimed upon the “first death” only, but can be set up as “second death” which pays out when both policyholders die
  • Joint cover may not be suitable in the event of separation or divorce
  • Joint policies are not normally written in Trust as the policy usually pays out to the surviving partner as a ‘transfer of assets between spouses’, which is exempt from Inheritance Tax
  • Terms consider both parties and therefore partners won’t get individual terms as part of a joint life insurance policy
  • If both parents died, children would only get one payout

Two Single Products:

  • Two separate policies covering two separate lives
  • Two single policies are likely to cost more
  • Payout can be claimed on both lives, which will ensure the surviving person is not left without life cover, which may have higher premiums due to age or changes in health
  • Easier to keep covered in the event of separation or divorce
  • Single life policies can both be written in Trust. This means each of you can decide where the money goes on each policy. This will also avoid probate and Inheritance Tax (IHT)
  • Can be tailored to each individual’s needs and terms will reflect each partner’s circumstances and health
  • In the event of death of both parents, the children would receive two payouts

Whether you opt for a single or a joint policy can be based on many factors, all of which we can go through together with you and your partner. It also a good idea to add some critical illness cover to your policy, as well as child’s critical illness cover where suitable. Contact us today to arrange a meeting to discuss your protection needs.

3 Reasons to Take Your Policy Out of the Drawer

The whole point of protection is to deliver peace of mind, with the knowledge that you and your loved ones are financially covered should the worst happen. So it is understandable to pop it in the proverbial desk drawer and forget about it. After all, it’s nice to know you are covered.

But as your adviser, we don’t want you to either miss out, or get caught out, by not checking your policy. It is important to understand what you are covered for and that it is still matching you and your needs.

Reason 1: Your life has changed
Time flies, so your circumstances can change quickly through life events such as having children, buying a house or changing jobs. What was the right cover before, could now be falling short of that comprehensive protection plan. As an adviser, we see people’s lives change dramatically from one meeting to another.

It’s easy to assume you are already “covered”, because you have some protection. But it is important to always ask yourself what would happen in the event of a serious illness or the unfortunate death of a breadwinner. Would your loved ones have a steady income to rely on and pay the bills? Even a stay-at-home spouse has financial value worth protecting, especially if they are looking after children.

Ask yourself: Do I have fewer or more dependents than before? Do I need to update beneficiaries on my life policy? Are there any options I can add onto my policy? Do I need to increase my coverage?

Reason 2: Matching your budget with your cover
We can help you check whether your budget could now cover more protection. If you can afford to build on your existing cover, it is economical to purchase protection when you are young, as premiums are generally lower for the same level of protection.

Reviewing protection doesn’t always have to mean increasing the costs, as your circumstances may now mean a more cost effective option for your policy. You may also consider whether your policy has been written into trust, which can prevent the policy forming part of your estate and being liable for Inheritance Tax.

Reason 3: Ensure you know about the extras
Royal London’s Helping Hand, Aviva’s Best Doctors Global Treatment and LV’s Doctors services are just three examples of the additional support your policy could deliver. Some of the support is also available throughout the term of the policy, so you may not even need to claim.

Some providers such as AIG, Scottish Widows, Royal London and Zurich are already delivering annual statements to policyholders. This will ensure you are aware of the policy details and the current extras and benefits that are offered.

Still not covered yet?
It is never too late to get protection. We can discuss a variety of options and create an effective menu plan to fit your needs and circumstances directly.

Looking Beyond the Claim Stats

The protection market has fought against the myth that policies are simply too unreliable for some time. The market has worked hard to address this, and once again the latest claim stats released by a number of providers show that they are very much on the customer’s side. But are stats alone enough to break through the protection myth barrier?

Public perception
Figures from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) showed that in 2016 insurers paid out 97.3% of claims. But research from a leading provider revealed that over a quarter of consumers (26%) still believed that insurers did not pay out in the event of a claim at all.

Some experts believe it is about more than just prevailing myths and disproportionate media focus. They suggest that one of the big problems with claim statistics is that it is almost impossible to stand out from the crowd. After all, most providers produce claim statistics that are as strong as each other, which some suggest may create a sense of public apathy.

A new era for protection
Looking beyond statistics, insurers are focusing more on the policyholder, with an emphasis on the support and services that they need. Providers are speeding up the claims process, advancing payments to help with funeral costs, and increasing the care and bereavement support through access to third parties and medical professionals.

Added benefits and rewards are moving policies from the bottom of the desk drawer to the forefront of the policyholder’s mind. In a win-win scenario for both client and provider, some providers now deliver incentives for keeping healthy and reducing the risk of suffering an illness.

The difference is that more people are talking about their policies, which could help develop a culture based on customer experience. Meanwhile, providers are continuing to develop their policies and share case studies and real-life scenarios. This, along with the continuing success rate of claims, will help advisers talk to clients about the importance of protection.

If you would like to find out more about your protection options, contact one of our advisers today to arrange a meeting.