Should you use comparison sites for general insurance?

When looking for general insurance it’s easy to open up your laptop, head straight to a comparison website, enter your details and take out the cheapest option for cover. However, the cheapest option may not always be the best!

Remember that comparison websites will try to hook you in by showing you lots of cheap prices but it’s important to know that these policies might not be such great value. They might have a high excess, meaning that you will have a bigger financial outlay at the point of claim, or they simply might not provide the cover that’s right for you and your personal circumstances.

Unlike an insurance broker, comparison websites do not give ‘regulated advice’. This means that they only provide you with product information, and not whether the policy you are purchasing has the correct type and level of cover suitable to you as an individual.

Comparison websites are also not normally suitable for complex insurances cases; comparison sites normally only feature ‘standard products’ and won’t necessarily take your personal circumstances and needs into account.

Because they don’t give advice, any questions you might have about an unusual home, property or belongings you would like insured are unlikely to receive an answer through a comparison site which is why using an insurance broker can be invaluable.

Using a broker will give you access to expert advice, they will be able to give you guidance on the products and policies that best suit your personal needs.

A broker will ask you about your personal circumstances to find you the right policy – they’ll also be able to tell you if you’re already covered by your existing insurance policies so you don’t overlap, and they will often get you a good deal by comparing prices and product features.  

As well as this, comparison websites won’t give you access to specialist providers whereas using a broker will. They can provide bespoke cover, so if you need to insure something of high value high-value like a unique antique or an expensive piece of art an insurance broker will know how to help.

If you would like to talk through your general insurance options, contact one of our advisers today!

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.

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.

Is your protection right for you?

Many of us Brits aren’t protected at all should the worst happen to us or if we find ourselves unable to work for a period of time, in fact a staggering 81% of us have no income protection in place, according to the latest State of the Protection Nation report from Royal London.

Should something happen to you or your children that meant you were unable to work and earn an income, not having relevant protection in place could put you and your family under a lot of financial strain.

For those that are lucky enough to have savings and think they will provide the necessary safety net, it is always worth considering how long these will actually last, particularly for the two-fifths of us that have savings of less than £100, according to the Money Advice Service.

According to Legal and General 15 million adults have life insurance which is more than both critical illness and income protection combined, despite there being a much higher chance of being diagnosed with a critical illness or facing long-term absence from work.

Your chances of getting a critical illness also increases with age. According to Macmillan Cancer Support there is an estimated 2.5 million people living with cancer in the UK which highlights the risk of not having critical illness cover.

You might think the state would provide support but applying for benefits can be a complicated and lengthy process. After weeks or possibly months of no income, you might also be surprised at the amount you’d be expected to survive on.

For example, if you meet the criteria for Statutory Sick Pay from the state you can get a depressing £92.05 per week and the state provided Employment and Support Allowance in some cases can pay an even smaller amount. Both are significantly less than the UKs weekly average income which is why seeking specialist advice to ensure you are suitably protected is important.

You are also more likely to be off work with an injury or serious illness for a sustained amount of time than you are to die. According to Royal London, every year people in the UK suffer an injury or serious illness that means they can’t work for a month or more. Your employer might keep paying for you for a while but there may be a limit to how long that will last.

Planning for the inevitable is definitely crucial, but it’s also worth thinking about right now. Building a full protection solution that is tailored to your needs and your budget is incredibly important. Whether you need to prioritise critical illness cover and income protection over life insurance depends on your individual circumstances which is why expert advice is priceless.

If you think you need protection, or think you’re not currently suitably protected, contact one of our advisers today to talk through your options.

Payment Protection Insurance is optional. There are other providers of Payment Protection Insurance and other products designed to protect you against loss of income.

Getting the maximum from your income protection

Insurers pay out a whopping £13.9 million per day in income protection, critical illness cover and life assurance according to figures released by the Association of British Insurers and Group Risk Development.

But are you getting the income protection cover that’s most suited to your needs? Your income changes throughout your life and your source of income changes too – whether that’s through bonuses, commission, overtime or any other form of income.

The maximum benefit payable to you will depend primarily on your income, but not all types of income will be used by providers in their calculations. Understanding the maximum benefit providers will pay is important and that is not as straightforward as you might assume.

Some providers don’t base their maximum benefit on a fixed percentage of earnings. Instead they have a stepped system. For example, some lenders may cover up to 60% of the first £20,000 of earnings, 50% of the next £20,000 and 40% of the rest. This means that different providers will offer better levels of cover depending on the client’s amount of earnings.

With different providers considering different forms of income as well as the tiered system that some of them use it is important to find the best income protection for your needs. But as well as this, certain providers offer protection with other elements that can add value to make your cover more important – and this is where an adviser can help.

Payment Protection Insurance is optional. There are other providers of Payment Protection Insurance and other products designed to protect you against loss of income.

If you want to talk to your adviser to discuss your options and find out which provider will be more beneficial for you, please get in touch 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.

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!

 

A Grand Lesson for Homeowners?

Are Homeowners Ready for Mortgage Benefit Changes?

Questions have been raised on whether homeowners are ready for the government’s upcoming changes on SMI, or “support for mortgage interest”, a benefit designed to help households struggling to meet their mortgage repayments.

The free benefit will now close in April 2018, with its replacement taking the form of a government-backed loan to be paid back with interest. The government says the new loan provides households with a safety net, but critics suggest this is merely saddling homeowners with a “second mortgage” to consider.

With these changes on the horizon, now is the ideal time for those without protection to consider what might happen if they had to rely on state support. Nobody wants to find themselves in a financially vulnerable situation, but circumstances can change quickly, and without cover in place households can find themselves struggling.

Why has the change caused concern?
The biggest worry for the industry is not the transition to the loan itself, but the low number of people that have signed up. One report showed that under 7,000 households had signed up to the new loan, a fraction of the 124,000 households that receive SMI.

Some experts want the government to delay the changes, to give people more time to sign up. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has stated they are contacting all SMI claimants to ensure they are aware of the changes and point them towards the next potential steps.

How might this effect households?
Households could face genuine hardship and even repossession if they fail to complete the loan application process in time. To make matters worse, the previous 13-week waiting time on claiming for SMI has increased to 39 weeks, a significant period to be trying to cover household bills. Some experts suggest that possible increases in base rate may also see a climb in those relying on SMI.

To be eligible for SMI, a homeowner would need to be already receiving either Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-based Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit. But SMI will be unavailable to those with more than £16,000 in savings, which means without financial protection, hard-earned savings could be hit before any support is received.

How can I ensure I don’t need SMI?
This change has put even more emphasis on the importance of protecting household finances. But research by a leading provider indicated that less than half of homeowners have appropriate financial protection in place should they be unable to work, with just over 25% of the working age population having a savings buffer equivalent to three months’ income.

With a comprehensive protection plan, you can build your financial resilience to ensure you won’t need to rely on state support, or eat into your savings should your circumstances change. We can talk to you about your finances and help you ensure you do not find yourself relying on loans to fill the income gap left open by the unexpected.

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
options.

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
adviser.

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!