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.


A beginner’s guide to home insurance


It’s natural to want to insure your property. After all, it’s more than just bricks and mortar; it’s also your home.

When you buy a house, buildings cover is typically one of the conditions of the mortgage. But a surprising amount of people don’t take out contents insurance at the same time, leaving a big hole in their future financial security.

The key differences between buildings and contents
The main thing a buildings policy covers is the physical property itself, as well as all the permanent fixtures such as fitted kitchens. You can also include cover for outbuildings such as greenhouses, garages and sheds. Typically a buildings policy will cover damage caused by flood, fire, subsidence, theft, storms or malicious damage.

Contents insurance is the sister product and is often taken up alongside buildings cover. This protects against damage and loss of valuable possessions. Roughly speaking, these are the items you would take with you if you moved, such as furniture, goods, equipment, electrical items, and personal expensive items.

It’s easy to underestimate the value of your contents
Your house may be the most expensive purchase you ever make, which makes it easy to assume that it is the only thing worth protecting. But it is common to underestimate how much you have accumulated in your home. Without contents insurance, you might find out exactly how much when it is already too late.

Some people categorised by providers as high net worth, might not necessarily label themselves as such. But when we sit down and work through exactly what you have to protect, we find people are often surprised. Whether you have fine art, large luxury goods, or small but equally expensive items such as jewellery, we will be able to find a policy that works for you.

Working with landlords
There are plenty of options for landlords when it comes to home insurance. Whether you are just looking for buildings cover or wish to ensure the contents of your property are protected as well, we will be able to help you find the right cover. As well as accidental damage cover and legal expenses, landlords also have the option of rent protection and emergency cover.

Staying flexible
No matter your circumstances, our providers have a range of building and contents products that can be tailored to work for you. You can choose to add options such as alternative accommodation, accidental damage, personal possessions cover, home emergency cover, or legal expenses cover.

We can work with you on choosing the right extras and features that fit not just your circumstances, but your budget as well. We will help ensure you only pay for the cover you need!


How can you improve your EPC rating?

With new standards on rental properties now in effect, landlords are working hard to ensure theirs are meeting the regulations on self contained flats and houses.

Those that do not could face fines of up to £5,000, unless their property meets the new minimum requirements on Energy Performance Certificates (EPCs).

What exactly are EPCs?
Energy Performance Certificates, better known as EPCs, let you know how energy efficient a property is. These are colour coded and resemble the sticker you often see attached to appliances such as fridges and freezers. These range from the most efficient “A” rating to the least efficient “G” rating.

EPCs will help a prospective tenant assess the financial running costs of renting a property, including estimates of energy use, fuel costs and CO2 emissions. As of last month, all rental properties must have an EPC rating of “E” or above.

How can landlords make improvements?
If a property is not up to standard, an Energy Assessor will make recommendations to improve the home’s efficiency. EPC ratings only consider permanent fixtures, so although draught excluders will help keep heat in, it won’t count towards your EPC.

Insulation – A really big contributor to a good EPC rating. If your property was built after 1920, it will likely have cavity walls, which means that as well as loft insulation, you may be able to install insulation inside the walls.

Windows – If your property does not have double glazing, this could have a major impact on its EPC rating. Installing double glazing can drastically cut energy bills, by preventing heat lost through windows.

Boilers – Installing a new, energy efficient boiler in the property can greatly affect the EPC rating of a property. This is especially the case if the boiler is over a decade old.

Energy – You may be considering moving to newer, renewable sources of energy for your property. The most common form is solar panels, which can allow the property to store energy, contributing to an improved EPC rating.

Thermal cameras – Some landlords have been using thermal cameras, to see where and how heat is escaping. With new technology available, it is now possible to purchase an attachment for your smart phone to have an instant thermal camera at your fingertips.

Future proofing your property
Landlords who make improvements to their property’s EPC rating could do more than meet the new standards. Having a property with a strong EPC rating will also help it stand out from the crowd, as tenants look to rent an energy efficient home to save costs.

If you are considering making changes to improve your EPC rating, it is always worth seeking professional advice. We work closely with lenders, so we can talk through your plans to make sure the changes do not affect your mortgage in any way.

7 Great Reasons to Contact Your Adviser

1. Your circumstances have changed
In a very short time your circumstances can change significantly. Many life events can come and go without you considering the implications they could have on your mortgage or on your protection needs. If you think something may have changed that is of importance, such as marriage, having children, a change of job or even changes to your health, let us know so we can revisit your mortgage and protection options.

2. You aren’t fully protected
We want to make sure you are protected should the worst happen. If you didn’t take out any protection when you took out your mortgage it may be a good idea to revisit this decision. Your financial position may have also changed since you first took out your mortgage. This means you could now have more money in the budget to build on your existing cover or start protecting yourself, your family and your lifestyle.

3. You could be saving money on your mortgage
If your current mortgage deal is coming to an end you will automatically be transferred on to your lender’s standard variable rate. This means you may end up making higher monthly repayments. If you want to check you are not paying more than you need to on your mortgage, then we are here to help you.

4. You are considering investing in another property
There are many ways you can invest in property. If you are thinking of investing in a buy to let property, a holiday let or another property investment option, then give us a call and we will be able to advise you along the way.

5. You want to help your children buy their own home
If your children are now all grown up, they may be looking to fly the nest and purchase their very own property. We would love the opportunity to help them find the right mortgage. We can also give you advice on all the different ways you can help children take their first step onto the ladder.

6. To discuss the mortgage and protection market
The mortgage and protection market is constantly changing. We would be happy to discuss changes in the market that could affect your mortgage, protection or future plans.

7. You were declined for a mortgage in the past
You may have previously been declined for a mortgage. However, there are now many more specialist lenders available to us. This means we have more options to help those with complicated borrowing scenarios. So, if you have been declined in the past it doesn’t mean the door is shut forever!

Don’t forget you can refer your friends and family to us– we are always happy to help!

Are micro homes the future of property?

What is a micro home?
A ‘micro home’ doesn’t have a strict definition, but is broadly classed as a home with a floor area under 37sqm, which is also the minimum size for a studio.

Micro homes are typically in prominent locations and often have communal areas inside and outside. The newer homes are usually well designed and have features such as air ventilation and good sound insulation.

How common are they?
There are high numbers of micro homes in major cities such as London, Leicester, Liverpool, Cambridge and Bristol. Demand for cheap housing in urban areas along with rising house prices has driven up the supply of these small establishments.

Micro homes are great for a cheaper alternative to regular sized properties, coming in at an average of £279,000 in London, which is less than half the average price of London homes sold in 2016. This shows they are a cheaper method of getting on to the property ladder, but buyers should also consider whether they will be a good investment and if they will be happy living in such a small space.

Who are micro homes built for?
As micro homes tend to be cheaper, close to cities and small, they are mainly bought by first time buyers and young professionals. However, they are often advertised to investors who benefit from capital growth and rental income.

How easy is it to get a mortgage on a micro home?
It is a common misconception that micro homes are extremely hard to mortgage. While they may be trickier to agree a mortgage on, some lenders will consider this type of property (subject to valuers comments). The likes of Santander, Nationwide and Halifax do not have minimum requirements for the square metre size of a property to make it eligible for a mortgage.

If you would like some more advice on the prospect of buying a micro home then speak to our adviser today