Sunday, February 8, 2009

Is Your Home At Risk From Being Underinsured?

Do you have enough buildings and contents insurance on your home? The worst time to find out that you're underinsured is when you've made a claim and discover that the amount you are covered for doesn't match the cost of repairs or replacement of valued items.

Whilst insurance may not bring everything back exactly the way it was, having enough cover to fully compensate you for damage or lost contents can help you to return to some sense of normality.

Having the right level of cover for your home and its contents is a matter of making sure you start with appropriate cover and updating your policy when necessary. Here's a checklist of six key questions you need to ask to be sure that you're fully covered.

1. Are your property and belongings under-insured?

The total sum insured on your policy is the maximum amount that your insurer will pay out on a claim. If the value of your home has increased since you took out your policy, be sure to update it. You should also be certain to insure for replacement or rebuild cost rather than the property's market value. Your contents insurance should also be for the cost of replacement and should include everything that you own, including outdoor furniture and barbecues etc.

2. Is the single item limit on your policy high enough?

Most insurers set a maximum of about of about £1,500 for any single item in your home. If you have individual items in your home that are worth more than this limit, notify your insurer that you want to include them on your policy. You may need to pay a higher premium, or include an excess on your policy to cover items like electronic or audio equipment.

3. What is excluded from my cover?

Check the policy terms and conditions to find out what exclusions might exist - preferably before you buy. The cheaper the insurance quote, the more likely there are exclusions. The most common exclusions are for damage from floods, or for items that are most likely to be stolen or damaged.

4. Do you have new for old cover?

You'll want enough of a benefit to replace your belongings. New for old cover means that your insurer will pay out for the cost to buy the damaged or lost items new. Insurers generally won't provide this cover for clothing, household linen, bicycles and audio or computer equipment that is more than five years old.

5. Are you using approved security measures?

Make sure that you always lock doors and windows, and arm alarms when you leave your property. Check with your insurer for suggestions for further security steps you can take. Alarms and approved locks can lower your insurance premiums.

6. Do you need special insurance for flooding or subsidence?

If you live in a flood area, it's important to inform your insurer of the fact if they are not already aware. Likewise, you should disclose any knowledge of subsidence risk to your insurer. If you don't, your claims may be rejected. Knowing that you may face an additional risk of flooding or subsidence, you can opt for additional insurance to cover these eventualities.

How To Navigate The Life Insurance Minefield

Buying insurance of any kind is often confusing. In order to compare policies by price, you have to be sure that each policy carries the same benefits for the same amount, and figure in a dozen different factors. It's enough to set your head spinning in most cases.

Term life insurance cover, however, can be relatively easy to comparison shop. It simply covers you in the event that you die before the end of the term for which you are covered. Here's how it works.

How Term Life Insurance Works

Term life insurance will pay out a specified lump sum to the person that you name in the event that you die before the date the policy expires. The payout is subject to a few exclusions, most often suicide or other self-inflicted conditions.

Other than deciding if you want guaranteed or reviewable premiums, there's no need to worry about other bells and whistles (will it pay if my electricity goes out and my meat spoils?), so comparing policies is a simple matter of comparing premiums among the various life insurance providers.

How Much Cover Do You Need?

The biggest decision you'll face is how much life cover you need. The general rule of thumb is that, at a bare minimum, you should provide at least enough to pay off your outstanding debts and cover your funeral expenses. Thus, the face value of your policy should cover any remainder on your mortgage and other debts, and provide a cushion to help your family to get back on their feet financially after your death. If you have young children, you should also cover your expected annual salary multiplied by the number of years until the youngest is no longer financial dependant.

What Factors Are Considered in Assigning a Premium?

There are a number of factors that may affect how much you pay for your policy aside from the amount of the death benefit you choose. These include your age, your gender, the state of your health and any pre-existing conditions, and whether or not you smoke. Smokers can expect to pay at least 25% more in higher premiums than those who don't smoke cigarettes.

Why Should You Buy Life Insurance?

If you are the major breadwinner or a major contributor to family income, you should be insured. No one likes to imagine what will happen if they die, but sound financial planning demands it. Your life insurance benefit can mean the difference between your family keeping the home in which you live and losing it to debt if you are no longer able to provide for them. In general, if you are carrying a mortgage, you should carry at least enough insurance to cover the remaining mortgage so that your heirs aren't left with an ongoing financial burden.

Is Life Insurance Enough?

Frankly, it may not be. It's far less likely these days that the family breadwinner will die - but there are many other things that can happen to threaten family security. You may want to consider some other cover options for protecting your family's finances if you fall ill or have an accident that prevents you from working. These include critical illness insurance, which can help pay for care as well as income for the family if the main breadwinner becomes disabled with one of the named conditions. There are policies that combine life insurance with critical illness cover althouth the cost of CIC is much higher than standard life cover because the risk is greater.

5 Tips To Help You Save Money on Life Insurance

1. Shop around for the best deal.
2. Only buy what you need.
3. Get the most appropriate cover for a mortgage.
4. Give up smoking. You'll save at least 25%.
5. Write your policy in trust so that your beneficiary has immediate use of the benefit.

Will Your Mobile Phone Insurance Leave You On Hold?

It's never fun to be left waiting on hold, but it's even less fun when you're waiting for your mobile insurance provider to settle your claim. If your phone goes missing or is damaged, you want a replacement mobile now if not sooner. Good mobile phone insurance can help there - but how do you choose the best cover without spending more than you should?

Why You Might Need Mobile Phone Insurance

While you may have got your phone free when you signed a contract with your mobile provider, replacing it won't be quite so easy or cheap. Unless you have a good insurance policy, you could be paying full price to replace your handset - and if you've had the latest model with all the bells and whistles, that could be a substantial outlay.

Will You Need to Replace Your Handset?

A mobile phone is stolen every 12 seconds in the UK, says Halifax home insurance. That's a lot of mobiles going missing. But mobile phone insurance doesn't only insure you against the theft of your handset. If you leave it behind in a taxi or drop it down the gutter on the roadside, you could be eligible for a replacement with some policies. Mobile insurance for your handset will nearly always cover your loss as long as you can provide either parts of your phone or a police report of its theft.

There is an even more compelling reason for having mobile cover, though. Between the time your handset is stolen is lost and the time you report its theft to your mobile service provider, a thief can run up hundreds of minutes in overseas calls for which you may be responsible. Most handset insurance will cover the cost of those calls so that you don't end up paying for someone else's conversation.

Do YOU Need Mobile Phone Cover?

Insurance for your handset will cost you £28-75 annually, depending on whether you choose to purchase cover from your provider or standalone insurance. You might also look into your home contents cover to find out if it includes your mobile phone, or whether you can add it for less than standalone insurance will cost.

Before you decide to if mobile insurance is right for you though, ask yourself these questions:

- How much will it cost you to replace your handset at full price?

If your annual premiums are close to the cost of replacing your handset, you might do better to bank the cost of your premiums against the possible loss.

- Are you clumsy?

If you're likely to drop your handset in the loo, insurance may be worth the cost.

- Do you need the latest and best?

- How much of a necessity is your phone? If you count on your handset for work reasons, for example, insurance will be well worth the cost.

Where Can You Get the Best Deal?

There are a number of different options for insuring your mobile. The most popular sources of mobile cover are:

- from your mobile service provider

In most cases you'll pay about £5-6 per month on your account for handset cover. Check with your provider to find out exactly what is covered.

- from a standalone insurance provider

You may be able to purchase a policy for about £32 annually - about half the cost of insuring through your provider. Shop around for the best deal.

- a combo policy through a standalone provider

These policies may be available from your home insurance provider. Sometimes called portable electronics policies, they can provide cover for all of your portable electronics and communications devices, including your MP3 player, your PDA, your mobile handset and even your laptop.

As with any insurance, don't just use price to measure the suitability of different providers. Take into account policy features and reviews from existing customers who have claimed.

Tips For Choosing A Business Insurance Policy

Choosing the right business insurance policy is often not as easy as insuring your car or home. Whilst there are currently fewer providers of commercial insurance than personal cover, the same guidelines apply whatever type of policy you need. Getting a good deal basically comes down to three elements. Know what you need, reduce the risk and shop around.

What Issues Do You Need to Consider?

If you want to keep your insurance costs as low as possible, thinking of ways to reduce your risk and shopping around for a good deal is a good way to do it. You could reduce the risk by increasing your business' security measures, or choosing a different type of policy that assigns risk in a different way.

- Try to be accurate when you're considering what you really need to insure for. Many companies purchase too much cover or not enough - it's difficult to strike the right balance.

- Find a company that's willing to be flexible when it comes to meeting your needs. You won't want exactly the same kind of cover for all of your business assets, and you'll likely need more than one kind of liability insurance too.

- Shopping for business insurance is not as easy or quick as other types of general insurance, but it's worthwhile taking the time. You're probably going to be tempted to spend only a day or two on this and then make a quick decision to save some time, but that quick decision might cost you money in the long term.

- If it's feasible, insure as much as possible with one insurer, so you can take advantage of bulk discounts (only when feasible, however. If you run a highly specialized type of business, it may be better to insure with a provider that has experience in your type of industry)

- Make absolutely sure that you understand everything your policy covers. Pay special attention to exclusions, excesses, and depreciation clauses. The latter is particularly important if your business relies on expensive equipment or machinery.

Final Points to Keep in Mind

Here are some additional things to think about when you're shopping for business insurance.

- Try to choose an insurer that specializes in the type of business you do. If you're involved in manufacturing, for example, choose one that specializes in insuring heavy machinery. They'll be able to calculate your level of risk and your premiums more accurately.

- Once you've decided what insurance you need, write it down and then stick to your plan. Don't let your insurer talk you into buying cover that you don't want or need. It's expensive enough when it's life cover or health insurance, but buying business cover that isn't necessary can be a large chunk of money down the drain.

- Try to buy insurance that can grow as your business does. In addition, think about how business growth might affect your insurance needs in the future. Will aging equipment need to be replaced in the next few years?

- Be careful that you don't inadvertently falsify any information. If you have to make a claim and any information you supply is found to be incorrect, your claim, and your policy, will be invalidated.

- Remember that employer's liability insurance is compulsory if you employ at least one person in addition to yourself (even if they work only part-time).

Protect Your In-car Gadgets and Save a Packet

Metropolitan Police statistics from 2007 show that gadgets like sat nav units and mobile phones have become big money for car thieves. And with harder financial times ahead for many, this area of crime is likely to increase.

According to those figures, theft of sat navs from vehicles rose 154% between April 2006 and April 2007 – that’s more than double. And sat navs aren’t the only gadgets attracting thieves to your car. MP3 players, DVD players and digital cameras are among the items most often reported stolen from vehicles.

The worst part of losing your sat nav or DVD player from your car is that it will usually end up costing you far more than just the cost of replacing the gadget. You’ll also be paying for the cost of repairing broken windows or popped locks, or however the thief gained entry to your car. If you make a claim against your car insurancepolicy for the repairs and replacement, you could lose your no claims bonus and may face higher premiums for years to come.

Knowing all this, you’d think that the savvy driver would take measures to avoid putting out a welcome mat for thieves, but surveys point to the opposite. An industry survey showed that an incredible 96% of drivers regularly leave their electronic gadgets in their cars when they park them. As if that’s not bad enough, an unbelievable 1 of every 3 drivers surveyed admitted that they leave their gadgets in full view inside their vehicle. The results? An incredible 21% of drivers surveyed – more than one in every five – have had at least one electronic gadget stolen from their vehicle.

Mobile phones, sat navs, MP3 players and other electronics are a veritable treasure trove for today’s brand of thieves. They’re often left in full view on the front seat or dash of a car. It’s only a matter of seconds for an opportunist to break a window and be off with your sat nav tucked into a pocket or under a shirt. Those goodies are easy to steal and easy to sell off, since they’re in such high demand.

Save Your Sat Nav – And Some Cash

One UK car insurer isn’t taking the situation laying down. At, the UK’s only completely online insurance company, they’ve added a new cover option to their car insurance. For a small extra premium of around £30, you can purchase gadget cover when you purchase their car insurance. The small gadgets cover will replace your in-car items if they’re stolen from your car or damaged accidentally. That’s a cheap price to pay to cover hundreds of pounds worth of equipment that you might use every day.

The small gadgets cover from will cover items like mobile phones, PDAs, satellite navigation systems, MP3 players, safety camera locators, portable games consoles, digital cameras, camcorders and portable DVD players.

Of course, the best form of protection is prevention. Before you get out of your car, make it a practice to pick up any gadgets on your dash or seats and stow them in the glove box or the boot. That one simple habit can reduce your chances of being a smash-and-grab target dramatically.