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Archive for February, 2008

How to save on your life insurance

Written by admin on Feb 9th, 2008 | Filed under: Uncategorized

Life insurance cover is a sensible purchase for anybody with young children or other dependents – but it can seem like just one extra crippling cost to add to the expenses of bringing up a family. Here’s how to bring down the cost of your cover and secure peace of mind on the cheap.

Be choosy

You can use calculators on sites such as MSN Money to figure out roughly how much you should be paying for life insurance, but finding the best deals out there will be up to you. There are plenty of companies out there who are keen to sell you their life insurance policies. Instead of singing up to the first good deal you see, spend some time comparing offers. Internet comparison sites are useful shopping tools, but you should also sound out some of the larger insurers, such as ASDA Finance and Direct Line, to gauge the current conditions of the market. When you find a policy that seems right for you, it may also be possible to drive the price down further through negotiating.

 Don’t lose on tax

Under current IHT legislation, every £100,000 of life insurance represents a potential £40,000 tax bill. To protect your family’s money, ask you insurer to write your policy in trust. This will prevent a good slice of your life insurance pay-out from going to the tax man.

Look out for added benefits:

Cheaper premiums may represent limited cover and fewer benefits. Taking the time to think about the exact cover you need before signing on the dotted line is a good way of ensuring your family’s security. For example, good critical illness policies will automatically include up to £20,000 worth of cover for children. Since this is the sixth most common cause of claim, it can be a useful benefit for parents.

Don’t take out unnecessary cover

 Before you begin comparing life insurance policies, double-check the cover you already have. Life insurance, income protection and critical illness insurance can be included in employee benefits packages – sometimes under different names like ‘death-in-service benefit’, ‘long-term disability benefit’ or ‘permanent health insurance’.

 Get in shape

The healthier you are, the lower your life insurance premiums will be. By stopping smoking, limiting your drinking habits and losing weight, you could end up cutting thousands of pounds over the lifetime of your policy. Reducing your cholesterol and blood pressure through healthy eating and regular exercise will also help save you money – and it’s not bad for you, either.

Your efforts to save on life insurance are best met by browsing for quotes online as it’s efficient and easy and usually cheaper than buying in person. You might like to try Asda Finance’s website as a first-step search for your life insurance purchase. 


How to Avoid Car insurance Disputes

Written by admin on Feb 9th, 2008 | Filed under: Uncategorized

You may think that your car insurance offers automatic protection against accidents, legal claims and theft – but have you really read the small print? By taking the time to understand what your policy covers before signing on the dotted line, you could save plenty of financial and emotional stress in the future.

Shop around

Few people take out car insurance nowadays before comparing different policy prices – but it’s just as important to look at the cover offered by competing insurers. A low price might mean policy exclusions, large hidden excesses and a poor claims service, so make sure you familiarise yourself with the fine details of the cover before you buy. Comparison sites will find you the best prices, but to compare policy details you will generally need to visit the websites of the insurers themselves.

Pay Attention to the Proposal Form
When you arrange your car insurance, you will generally sign a written proposal form or complete a form verbally over the telephone. The questions that you answer at this stage will form the basis of the insurance contract and can render the policy null and void if answered incorrectly. For example, if you fail to disclose any modifications that have been made to your car then your insurer can fail to pay out when you make a claim. They may even charge you a penalty for failing to disclose important information.

Read your Policy
Your car insurance policy will generally arrive with your certificate, and both should be examined carefully. Make sure that it faithfully catalogues the answers you gave in the proposal form, and that there are no exclusions that you were unaware of. If you spot a mistake then inform your insurer immediately – some companies will refuse to alter changes that were not noticed within a few days of your receiving the policy copy.

Value your Car Correctly
Undervaluing your car can lead to disputes and disappointments in the event of your making a claim. You should also be aware that the value you put on your car at the time you take out the policy is not necessarily the amount you will receive should your car be written off. Some insurers will offer you the current value of your car, while others will attempt to find a vehicle of a similar age and model to replace it directly.

To get a policy you understand; it’s advisable that you browse a variety of sites that can provide you with full, clear policies. To compare and contrast, look at Beat That Quote’s website for car insurance comparison. Likewise, a site like Co-operative Insurance offers competitive car insurance quotes to help organise your purchase.


The Economically Sound Boiler

Written by admin on Feb 9th, 2008 | Filed under: Uncategorized

It is thought that condensing boilers are 88% efficient, and among the most cost effective boilers available to consumers. This new improved success means that all new boilers in England and Wales have to be condensing boilers, unless there are some very exceptional circumstances.

Hot water heating devices use either gas or oil to heat water that is then used to heat a house. When fuel is used to heat water a certain amount of water vapour is given off. In older boiler types, water would escape, not only through the unit itself, but also through ‘flues’ fitted at the back.  These flues are responsible for much escaped heat loss to the surrounding atmosphere.

This loss of water vapour is also an added expense to the bill payer: you are effectively being charged for heating the air.

Condensing boilers are cleverly designed to keep as much energy within the unit as possible. In condensing boilers the heated water vapour, escaping from the back of the unit, is used to help heat the air flowing into the boiler. This creates a double action, both of which save energy.

Firstly, escaping heat is extracted from the water vapour and retained in the actual boiler. Secondly, incoming air is heated and reused to heat more water. This whole process takes place in the ‘heat extractor’. This is a very simple, yet extremely clever, way of overcoming the problem of excessive heat loss.  Also, with the reusing of the escaping heat, fuel use is lower, and therefore the cost of the bill is similarly reduced.

Not only does this have an impact on the cost of fuel to heat a house, but it t also has a positive impact on the overall fuel consumption of the country. In this way condensing boilers are better for the environment as a whole. This is because the CO2 emissions are lower; in this way condensing boilers are helping the government’s aim to reduce CO2 emission in general in this country by 20% in the year 2008.

There are two drawbacks, both of which can be solved fairly easily.

Firstly, the newer condensing boilers are more expensive than the older gas boilers.  However, once installed savings will be immediate. This means that after a while the condensing boiler will have paid for itself.  The second drawback is that there are fewer qualified engineers capable of installing and repairing the unit.

However, if you approach a major company that specialise in gas applications and boiler installation such as British Gas, this won’t be a problem.  These companies will have many qualified engineers ready to help. British Gas, for example, has 5,500 CORGI Registered Engineers on call throughout the year. They also provide homecare insurance to protect your boiler against future disrepair.


Common Life Insurance Terms

Written by admin on Feb 9th, 2008 | Filed under: Uncategorized

Generally speaking life insurance is relatively straight forward, your policy will have stipulations attached to it that dictate the terms of it paying out, and similarly the premium may or may not vary according to the conditions agreed upon when first taken out. There are, however, some other types of life insurance that you may not be strictly familiar with and should be worth consideration.

Riders
A rider is a modification to the insurance policy added at the same time the policy is issued. A rider changes the basic policy to provide some particular features that the owner may wish for. The most common form of rider is an accidental death policy (which then becomes known as “double indemnity”) this is so that, in the event of accidental death, the policy value doubles. Another common rider is a premium waiver, which waives future premiums if the insured becomes disabled.

Joint Life Insurance

Joint life insurance is either a term or permanent policy insuring two or more lives with the proceeds payable on the first death. This is an extremely common and useful form of insurance, particularly for those who intend to spend the rest of their lives together, though it can become complex in the event of divorce or separation.

Survivorship Life Insurance

Similar to Joint Life Insurance, Survivorship life insurance is a policy covering two lives that pays out on the second death, this is much less common than joint life insurance.

Group Life Insurance

Group life insurance, predictably, is an insurance policy that covers a whole group of people. Standardly this will be the employees of a company, or members of a certain union or association. Unlike individual policies, proof of insurability is not normally a consideration in the underwriting. Rather, the underwriter considers the size of the group, and more importantly the financial viability of the collection as a whole. Generally speaking group life insurance also contains within it the possibility that a member exiting the group has the right to buy individual insurance coverage.

Single Premium Whole Life

Single premium whole life policy is a policy with only one premium which is payable at the time at which the policy is issued, this is uncommon as the original premium is almost always significant in order to cover the remainder of the policy.

Modified Whole Life

Modified whole life is similar to single premium whole life. The whole policy charges smaller premiums for a specified period of time after which the premiums increase for the remainder of the policy. This is useful if you wish to take out a policy at a time when you do not have much financial viability, but can be a risk when the premiums increase.
These are the main types of life insurance that are available from most policy holders. Riders in particular can be very important, as it is vital that your life insurance policy is most closely tied to the demands of your everyday life and for the provision that you expect to leave behind you for your nearest and dearest. As with all insurance policies it is best to look through a number of companies to be certain that you get the very best policy for your needs. Try Legal and General for life insurance and other savings ideas, like an ISA.

If you live in the United Kingdom and are looking for a quality life insurance policy, get Liverpool Victoria life assurance quotes from LV.com


Understanding Car Insurance – Key Features to Look For

Written by admin on Feb 5th, 2008 | Filed under: Uncategorized

If you’re looking for car insurance, whether it’s for the first time or because you want a change from your current policy, one of the most important things is that you know exactly what you’re looking for. It’s easy to be swayed by a fantastically low premium, but the truth is that cheap car insurance won’t do you any good if it doesn’t cover the main features you need. Only you can really know what you want from your car insurance, but it always helps if you know a few of the key features that are being offered at the moment.

Courtesy Car. It’s always worth checking to see if the car insurance company you are researching offers to provide you with a courtesy car whilst yours is being repaired. This generally makes life much easier for you as a driver, particularly if you commute to work or find yourself driving on a daily basis. Generally, most insurance policies now come with this guarantee

Breakdown Cover. Not all car insurance companies provide breakdown cover, but it’s a very useful thing to have. Breakdown cover basically ensures that, should you breakdown in your vehicle, you will receive assistance and some help towards covering the cost of the inconvenience. Companies like ASDA offer an optional breakdown service from around £6.30 a month, which gives you roadside assistance, recovery, home start, onward travel, emergency overnight accommodation and European cover. Alternatively, banks like NatWest offer discounts on other breakdown services, like Green Flag Motoring Assistance.

Legal Expenses Cover. Legal expenses cover generally comes as an optional addition to any car insurance policy, and means that (for an extra fee) you can be covered in the case of uninsured losses from an accident that is not your fault. Most companies, including ASDA and Alliance & Leicester provide anything up to £50,000 to help cover these expenses.

Named Drivers Earn No Claims Discount. Some policies also allow all named drivers (not just the policy holder) to earn no claims discount, meaning that they can put it towards any individual policy later on. This can be particularly helpful for families with young adults sharing the family car, as they may later be able to use this no claims discount on their own vehicle. Co-operative car insurance UK for instance offer named drivers up to three years No Claim Discount

Personal Injury Cover. It is always important to check that your potential car insurance policy has adequate personal injury cover, which will provide funds to help in the case that you or your partner are injured in a motor accident. Different companies are likely to provide different sums in this case, for example NatWest provides up to £5,000 and ASDA provides up to £7,500.

There are many different features that appear in car insurance policies, but as long as you know exactly which of those features are important to you then it should help you to make an informed decision.

Prices and products are correct at the time of writing (30.05.08) and may be changed at the discretion of the provider.


Three Things to Consider When Investing in Life Insurance

Written by admin on Feb 5th, 2008 | Filed under: Uncategorized

Life insurance is not something that is easy to talk about, as it’s often hard to make yourself plan for the worst case scenario. However, many people eventually choose to invest in life cover so that, should anything happen to them, then they know that their family will be taken care of. Once you get past the initial hurdle of deciding you’d like to get life insurance, then there are certain things that it’s worth thinking about before signing on any dotted lines.

What will you need your insurance to pay off? If you’re going to invest in life insurance, then you need to make sure that it will help in the way that you want it to. Therefore, it’s important that you consider exactly what your family may have to deal with if you were to die. One factor is always going to be your mortgage, so if it still needs paying off then it’s worth checking that your life insurance policy will give your family the means to do so. The same obviously applies to any loans or debts you have that are outstanding. Also bear in mind that, if you’re the sole breadwinner of the household, then you may need to consider providing enough money for your family to get by without your income. Considerations like these will mean thinking about how much money you put into your life insurance policy, as well as which provider you go with.

How will your insurance look after your family? For the most part, people invest in life insurance because they want a guarantee that their family will be looked after should they die. When you’re considering what kind of life insurance to buy, then a major consideration should be how exactly your family will be taken care of in the event of your death. Aware of the sensitivity of the subject, most companies offer a wide range of different options in terms of life insurance so that you can make sure your money is being used as you want it to be. ASDA, for example, offer both life insurance, which provides your family with a cash lump sum, and Mortgage Life Insurance, which is aimed towards paying off your mortgage should you die. Other companies like The Co-Operative Insurance offer Whole Life Insurance, which guarantees to provide your family with a lump sum in the case of your death, no matter how long you live.

What extras might you need? If you’re dealing with a terminal illness, you may want to consider the option of Critical Illness cover, which most companies offer as an option alongside your life insurance policy and which should help with your household finances in the event of your illness. Equally, you may consider getting a joint life insurance policy if you have a joint mortgage, or want to insure against any worst case scenario that might affect joint investments.

Life insurance has always been a subject that people shy away from, but if you do enough research to have a thorough understanding of what you are signing up for, then you can ensure the safety and protection of your family should the worst happen.

Prices and promotions quoted are correct at the time of writing (29.05.08) and may be changed at the discretion of the provider.


Sticking to a Budget

Written by admin on Feb 5th, 2008 | Filed under: Uncategorized

Okay, it was painful but you did it. You sat down and wrote out a monthly budget. You even identified a few places to trim the fat so you’d have some money to put into savings each month.
But somehow it hasn’t worked out in reality like it did on paper. You’re still behind at the end of the month, and your credit card debt is growing instead of shrinking. What’s going on? Why is it so difficult to stick to a budget? This article examines some of the reasons.

Unrealistic Expectations
Perhaps you made your budget work by capping your monthly grocery bills at £80, or allotting yourself only £10 a month for gasoline for your car. While these figures might look good on paper, there is very little chance that you’ll be able to hold yourself to them in reality. Look over your new budget with a critical eye. Are there any items that don’t survive the “real world” test?

No Goal to Shoot For
Saving money for the sake of saving money isn’t much fun, especially if that cute little party dress at the mall is calling your name. It’s important to set a goal that you eagerly anticipate. For instance, ‘When all my credit card debt is paid off, my spouse and I will take a holiday’ or ‘When we have £3,000 in savings we’ll buy that new television we’ve been wanting.’ Knowing that every pound you spend takes you further away from that reward.

Poor Motivation
Have you been dragged into budgeting kicking and screaming by a spouse, a financial counselor, or a court? If so, you may be unconsciously setting yourself up for failure. (“See, I really can’t do it!”) Try to find some area of budgeting that excites you, like saving up enough money to go on a dream trip or paying off your debt. Take ownership of your decision to budget, and you will soon find it’s not as difficult as it seems.

Unexpected Expenses
You may have been following your budget perfectly until your daughter got her two front teeth knocked out at school. Then there were unexpected doctor’s bills, pharmacy bills, dentist’s bills, and so on. No matter how carefully you budget, you can’t always control what life throws at you. Many experts recommend setting aside money in a savings account worth three to six months of living expenses for crises such as these. If you don’t have that much socked away, deal with the unexpected expenses as best you can, and get back on budget next month.

Not Enough Money
Sometimes, no matter how you move the figures around, the cold, hard truth is that you simply don’t have enough money coming in to meet your monthly expenses. There are a couple of ways to handle this. The first is to find realistic ways to slash your expenses, such as trading in your large car for a smaller, less expensive model – take a look at Fish4’s used cars website for this – or buying only store brands when you shop. The other solution is to earn more money. If you’ve been with your current employer for awhile, you may be able to negotiate a raise based on your years of loyal service. If no raise is forthcoming, consider finding a job that pays better or temporarily taking a second job until your financial state is better.

A Good Way to Save Regularly
One of the best ways to save regularly is to put money into a regular savings account. These are typically linked to a current account from which you make a monthly payment into at the start of every month, and they can have very high rates of interest attached to them. For instance, Alliance and Leicester’s Premier Direct Regular Saver, linked to from its current accounts, offers a rate of 12% and you can put up to £250 per year into it. After twelve months you’ll have £3000 in your account, and then receive a £360 bonus as interest – excellent! For longer term savings and investments, it’s best to turn to the stock market, for which Legal and General has a number of good products.


Three Things to Think About When Purchasing Pet Insurance

Written by admin on Feb 5th, 2008 | Filed under: Uncategorized

Pets are like members of the family, so when they get ill it can be very distressing. Many people choose to invest in pet insurance so that, should anything happen to their pet, veterinary bills will be covered. This way, you don’t have to worry about making a tough decision as to whether or not you can afford to pay to help your beloved pet. However, if you plan to purchase pet insurance, there are certain things that you would do well to consider first so that you get the best possible deal.

What kind of pet do you need to insure? The most common types of animals to be covered by pet insurance are cats and dogs, and you are likely to find that a wide range of insurers only cover these two species. These days, you can pick up insurance either from a specific pet insurance company like PetPlan or from a local supermarket, like ASDA. If you’re looking for insurance for a more unusual pet however, you’ll have to do a bit more in depth research to find the right company for you. PetPlan also insure horses, and for more exotic pets you could try somewhere like Exotic Direct or Healthy Pets. Just be sure to always properly investigate a range of companies to get the best possible deal.

How old is your pet? If your pet is still very young, then you should have no problems finding a company willing to provide insurance, however things get a little trickier when you have older pets. Companies are less eager to give you pet insurance on older animals, as they are likely to need more veterinary treatment. Generally, cats can be insured up to the age of about 10 (though if you already have insurance with the company, this will continue on past the maximum joining age), whereas dogs have to be a bit younger – around 8, or a few years younger for certain breeds. Bearing all of this in mind, if you’re going to invest in pet insurance it’s probably best to start when your pet is young.

What extras might you need? When you’re investigating which company to choose for your pet insurance, always check for the features and extras you might need. Many companies like LV will cover the cost of boarding your pet if you have to go into hospital, and if you want to travel with your pet, it’s best to check what allowances each policy makes for this.

Ultimately, the main benefit of pet insurance is that it leaves you free to care for your pet when it is in need, without causing you any stress regarding expensive veterinary fees. It’s vital that you know exactly what you’re getting with your pet insurance, so always do your research before signing on the dotted line.


A Quick Guide to Property Investment

Written by admin on Feb 1st, 2008 | Filed under: Uncategorized

With our culture of widespread home-ownership, the British are at the forefront of foreign property investment. Such ventures are fraught with potential problems – bureaucracy, local laws, exchange rates, foreign languages – but the end result can be hugely rewarding and profitable.

Most people buy property that will grow in value over time. There are two ways to do this:
                a) Capital Growth – general property price growth in a specific location
                b) Rental Income – investing in a property that can guarantee you rental income

As an investor, you will probably fall into one of the following categories. Having an understanding of what kind of investor you are should help you to make the right choices:

Guaranteed Rental Schemes

These schemes guarantee you a period of rental income, usually set at a percentage of the overall cost of the property.

New Developments and Off Plan Investment

Investments can be made while a project is still under construction, or sometimes before planning permission has been granted. The price will reflect the risk.

Buy To Let

Buying a property with the immediate intention of letting it out is a familiar approach with popular resorts, who often provide this kind of scheme as rentals are easy to achieve.

Leasebacks

A leaseback investment involves buying your property and then leasing it back to an on-location property management company for a set period of time. They will agree to pay you an annual yield based on a percentage of the property value. Leasebacks are popular as they reduce the risk inherent in buying overseas.

Low or Nil Deposits
Some developers provide low or no deposits as an incentive for interest in a property. You get a return on your investment buy selling the property on with the deposit restored.

Once you’ve settled on the part of the world you would like to invest in, and the type of investment you want to make, you should be prepared to search the market thoroughly for the right property. Legal & general offer advice on investments, and Fish4.co.uk have an extensive property search service.

For holidays and cheap flights across the world try Travel Zoo and for travel insurance you might like to scout the Go Travel website.