Posts Tagged ‘insurance’
Some have already set-up special funds to cope with emergencies and others are offering you repayment holidays while you get yourself sorted. Most banks are offering a three month repayment holiday for mortgage borrowers.
Other than that, who is offering what?
HSBC are offering increased financial flexibility to customers. That means fast-tracked credit acceptance, loan and overdraft extensions and waiving fees on loans and overdrafts. They’re also going to get rid of limits on emergency payments.
HSBC are also working with mapping technologies while they try and identify which properties and areas are at the worst risk of flooding so they can make contact first.
RBS and NatWest are sending specialist business support teams to flooded areas this week and next, in a bid to help small and medium-sized business with short-term money problems as they priorities repair work and such, and of course, try and cope with their loss of income.
RBS/NatWest set up a £250 million UK Storm Business Fund which can provide short-term, interest-free financing and is available to all businesses, not just customers of RBS and NatWest. You can get three-months interest free and fee-free loans.
Ulster Bank have set up a support package of £10 million to help businesses that have been hit by the weather. The bank will help out customers with short-term cash commitments, such as repairs or managing a working capital. As Ulster Bank are part of the RBS Group, it’d be worth asking if they have the same provisions as RBS and NatWest also.
Nationwide current account customers will be able to ask for a temporary overdraft or an increase to cover emergencies brought on by the averse weather. The building society said: “We realise that not all customers may have the relevant documentation to hand and so, in such cases, we will find alternative ways to securely identify and assist our members.”
Santander are offering a loan payment holiday or giving you the opportunity to change your mortgage to an interest-only one, so you can reduce your monthly cost. Credit facilities will be extended for 12 months for farmers (6 months for small businesses). They are also paying £100,000 into a recovery fund.
The Association of British Insurers
The ABI have issued an emergency guide for households so they can be better prepared when dealing with insurance companies. You can read that here.
Ministers are saying that all driving records are being moved online, which should mean that the cost of your car insurance should fall. The days of keeping the paper bit of your insurance with your licence is soon to be over (mid 2015, they predict).
Premiums should fall because insurers will now be able to check you for traffic offences, which means, if you’ve been a good driver, you’ll get a cheaper deal as the insurance companies won’t have to make guesses about the risk of motorists.
Now, all your speeding points and the like, will be available online. If you’ve been a lousy driver, this is not great news. This might not be great news for anyone if you consider the government’s record of IT cock-ups.
The Association of British Insurers says there should be ”significant cost savings” resulting from “reducing the need to obtain paper copies of licences from policyholders” and the DVLA will allow insurers to access information through the gov.uk website using an individual’s licence number, national insurance number and postcode.
This comes after the news that paper tax discs will be scrapped and that the paper counterpart to the driving licence photo card is to be killed off too.
The DVLA said that “although some services cannot be delivered digitally, such as assessing a customer’s fitness to drive, we can improve the processes supporting the delivery of these services through making greater use of digital tools”.
Are you happy for all your details to be on a government website in exchange for cheaper insurance, or is this an accident waiting to happen?
If you’re unlucky enough to find your car wheel-deep in floodwater, you would think your friendly breakdown service would give you a hand out of there. But er, no.
Drivers who’ve broken down on flooded roads have been finding themselves getting short shrift from breakdown companies, because quite a few of them don’t cover flood damage – instead they ask for a £150 fee to tow you away from the flow.
Scott Kelly from GoCompare warned: ‘Drivers need to be aware that the cover available from breakdown companies varies considerably. If you are unlucky enough to encounter flood water, don’t automatically assume your breakdown company will rescue you for free.’
Obviously, getting your car waterlogged is NOT GOOD, and it can completely bugger up your engine. And if this happens to you, you have to try and get the money back from the insurer – which will also bugger up your no claims bonus.
The advice is to check your policy for exclusions. Some policies, particularly with the AA, can be very vague – so go through it with a fine tooth comb, Or, if life is just too short, take the easiest option and switch to Green Flag. They’re the only major breakdown company that will fish you out for free – unless you’ve done a Jason Bourne and driven off a bridge into a deep river, in which case it’ll cost you. (If you’re not dead.)
The good news is their flood policies could change in the future. The RAC have already said it will scrap any fees for flood affected cars – and if the weather keeps getting worse, others will probably have to follow suit…
When you’ve got a leaking roof and a water damaged house, life seems bleak –and contacting your insurance company seems even bleaker. But like a chariot full of experts in white boiler suits from heaven, in swoops Which! to save the day with their top tips on claiming on your insurance after the floods.
Assuming you actually HAVE insurance – and if you don’t, good luck with replacing that roof – the first thing to do is check whether you’re covered for flood damage. This is the painful bit, obviously. But standard buildings insurance should cover outer damage, and contents can fix all your belongings that are currently floating down the street.
Which! then tells you to call your insurer – policy number to hand – and ask what you’re entitled to claim for. If you’re flooded, arrange for a loss adjuster to visit, and you can ask them to recommend repairs to stop it from happening again.
If there’s anywhere dry to hand, keep a hold of your paperwork and a record of the flood damage. Take pics and list everything that’s buggered. And finally, say Which, if your claim is rejected or not sorted in 8 weeks, you can make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
Otherwise, phone Richard Lloyd – he’s probably back off holiday on Necker Island and raring to go. Good luck.
If you’re with travel insurance company Staysure, you should be aware that they have confirmed that customer names and addresses have been stolen by hackers. They also managed to make off with card payment details and the CVV three-digit number on the back of a card.
The Financial Conduct Authority, the Information Commissioner’s Office and the Police have all since been informed of this data breach.
Staysure’s CEO says: “We immediately hired independent forensic data experts to fully ascertain the extent of the problem and have written to 93,389 affected customers, which represents fewer than seven percent of our customer base, to warn them and ask them to check that they have not been the victims of any fraud as a result.”
This only affects customers who took out insurance before May 2012.
If you haven’t received a letter, it would be worth contacting the company. Compensation is available too, with customers being offered free access to Data Patrol (an identity fraud monitoring service from Experian).
Hopefully, Staysure will be beefing up their security in the meantime.
Not only that, post-accident repairs are often shoddy and concerns have been raised about how hard it is for drivers to spot the best value products.
The Commission has been studying the insurance market for over a year, following up a referral from the Office of Fair Trading and they agreed with the OFT that the system was not working well for motorists, stating that premiums were being hiked up because the insurer of an innocent driver in an accident sorts out the replacement car or repair, but the at-fault driver’s insurer pays the bill.
“This separation of control and liability creates a chain of interactions which result in higher costs for replacement cars and for repairs being passed on to at-fault insurers,” it said. ”The Commission estimates the extra premium costs to be between £150m and £200m a year. There is insufficient incentive for insurers to keep costs down even though they are themselves on the receiving end of the problem.”
The Commission will now have to come up with ways to sort the market out and submit their final recommendations by September 2014.
They areas they’ll be looking at is capping the cost of replacement vehicles, making the at-fault driver’s insurer manage claims, making the not-at-fault driver responsible for providing a replacement vehicle and addressing the volume of sub-standard repairs following accidents.
“[These] possible remedies are a further step along the road to getting a market that enables insurers to deliver fully for consumers,” said James Dalton, of the Association of British Insurers (ABI). ”We look forward to continuing to engage with the Competition Commission as it carries forward its work and we hope that this will lead to further improvements in the market and lower premiums for customers.”
One avid Bitterwallet reader’s girlfriend (yes, there are BW readers who aren’t crushingly lonely) received a letter from those nice folks at Churchill Car Insurance (oh yes), and on the face of it, it seemed they’d send a boring blank letter.
However, you could argue that Churchill just wanted to acknowledge a customer’s existence while telling them everything they needed to know about car insurance, ie, absolutely nothing.
Data obtained under a Freedom of Information request showed a 79% increase in compensation claims in the last financial year from people who have had their vehicles borked by potholes. Cyclists will be rolling their eyes at the news too, as Britain’s cycle lanes are like Screwball Scramble.
Britannia Rescue, which conducted the research, said potholes take up a total area of 295 square miles on these shores – that’s twice the size of the Isle of Wight.
With that, nearly 1 in 10 people have suffered car damage as a result of our dreadful roads in the past 12 months, and the company added other stats:
- Local authorities have paid out £2.5m in compensation to motorists in the past financial year.
- UK councils have received 32,600 compensation claims over the same period – a 79% increase over the previous year.
- The most common problems are tyre damage (43%), damaged suspension (34%) and damaged wheel rims (26%).
Britannia Rescue said: “Short-term fixes are often chosen over longer term solutions, with close to a quarter of councils admitting they usually temporarily fix potholes rather than resurface the area. The average cost of repairing a pothole is around £50, meaning the amount paid out by councils in compensation could have been used to repair more than 50,000 potholes.”
The company’s managing director, Peter Horton, said: “Britain’s pothole epidemic has resulted from years of under-investment … we now have around 200,000 potholes on UK roads. Motorists should protect themselves and their vehicles by reducing their speed on potholed roads, and also reporting damaged roads to their local council.”
The recently reformed So Solid Crew are clearly short of a few bob, hence being ‘recently reformed’. And, to further the point, SSC’s Romeo has re-recorded ’21 Seconds’ for a commercial, flogging insurance with a robot.
Here’s the video.
“It was a strange thing to do as I’m so used to performing the normal verses,” Romeo told Digital Spy. “I had fun with it though, that was the main thing. We got to chill with Brian the Robot as well. I was actually fascinated by the thing. I’ve never actually seen a robot in my life! I wanted to play with the controls and stuff but they wouldn’t let me. I’d probably crash it or something.”
“It’s more accessible for teenagers to buy cars these days,” Romeo continued and, without any hint of irony, added: “But whether they can afford to actually insure the car is another thing. That’s what we’re trying to raise awareness of.”
7 million customers could be due up to £300 compensation each for the scandalous mis-selling of credit card insurance cover by Britain’s biggest banks. 13 banks have signed up to the compensation scheme, which amounts to £1.3bn.
The banks referred customers to insurance company CPP, which sold them pointless policies – like ID theft cover – that the city regulator says aren’t worth the paper they’re written on. The big banks – Santander, Barclays, RBS, HSBC, Tesco and MBNA – managed to co-erce 4.4 million suckers into buying the ID protection policy, which was already covered in the terms of conditions of the credit card.
Customers who took out the cover, dating as far back as 2000, will be entitled to the amount they paid for their policy since January 14 2005, plus 8% interest on any sum they owe.
Barclays are the worst culprit, which is a bit embarrassing for its new chief exec Anthony Jenkins, who appears to have merrily stood by in his previous role as CEO of Barclaycard and let it all happen.
As for CPP, they’ve already been fined £10.5 million by the Financial Conduct Authority, and this latest bout of compensation could put it out of business.
FCA’s chief exec Martin Wheatley said: ‘We believe this will be a good outcome for customers who may have been mis-sold the card and identity protection policies. Subject to CPP’s customers approving the scheme, these policy holders will be able to claim a full refund of premiums with interest.’
HA. HA. HA.
Many things cause car crashes – stupidity, texting, not paying attention, – but it would appear that the worst offender of all is…flip flops.
Yes, not only are flip flops are vile, but they’ve been proved to reduce braking times, and could be responsible for over 1.4 million accidents in the UK alone. In a poll carried out by Sheila’s Wheels, 1 in 3 people said they had driven wearing flip flops, and 27% of drivers admitted they’d got their foot caught under pedals or had near misses as a result.
More than half the 1055 motorists who took part in the survey also said they’d like to see tougher guidelines about the kind of footwear that’s suitable to drive in. And the worst driving shoes were (in order of danger): Flip flops, bare feet, wedge heels, espadrilles and sandals.
Of course, some surveys are dodgier than others, and guess what? Sheila’s Wheels have developed a special shoe cover with extra foot support which you can keep in your glove compartment and attach to the bottom of your flip flop before you drive. They’re calling it ‘the ultimate summer car accessory.’
Hmmm. How about (as it’s nearly autumn, anyway), you just bin your stinky £3 Asda flip flops and wear another pair of shoes that don’t cause you to mow down pedestrians and die?
Just a thought.
(Wealthy) people always say that you should have at least three months income saved in an easily accessible place to cover your backside in case you suddenly lose your income. In the real world, most people do not necessarily have the means to build up that level of savings. But how long could you last if your income disappeared overnight owing to illness, injury or redundancy?
A new calculator tool has been launched which helps you calculate just that, your own personal “deadline to the breadline”. Of course, as there is an insurance company behind it, they are obviously trying to peddle accident, illness or redundancy and life cover. However, their research does show that the average breadline deadline is just 18 days. Scary stuff.
The online calculator can be found here and asks you how much you spend every month, your savings and assumes you lose your income owing to ill health, and will be entitled to State Benefits such as incapacity benefit or employment support allowance (dole) in full once your income stops. Remember though that full and immediate entitlement relies on a minimum level of national insurance contributions- if you normally work and suddenly find yourself out of work this is a fair assumption; if your work history is patchy at best, you may only be entitled to income-dependent benefits which may be lower. You can also input other receipts such as child benefit, insurance policies, work-related benefits or non-earned income.
The calculator then gives you your result, which is presumably designed to terrify you into spending on a new protection policy. But even if you aren’t in the market for insurance, the calculator might help you think about what you would do in that situation, and what protection you may already have.
While many of us can’t afford to put money aside, if you can do so, a small savings pot would go a long way if income was no longer coming in. Although bank deposit rates are tragic at the moment, saving in a tax free cash ISA, even at a low rate, would protect any pitiful interest from the taxman. They say you don’t miss what you don’t have, so directing small income amounts like child benefit to be paid straight into a savings account could save £1,000 a year for one child.
You many already have life insurance that pays out in case of your untimely death. If you have a mortgage, some mortgage companies require an insurance policy to run for the mortgage term to ensure that your mortgage would be paid off. Additionally, many employers offer life cover to their employees as standard, or if not, if you are a member of a company pension scheme, there is normally a life insurance element included there too. Check your employment or pension documents.
Finally, critical illness policies are expensive, but many pay out on diagnosis of a serious illness, not just on terminal cases. If you are diagnosed with a treatable illness, like breast cancer, you could be comfortably off afterwards, while enjoying a normal life health-wise. Alternatively, if it would be important for you to be able to do that bucket list before you die, a critical illness policy, rather than a life insurance policy payable on death, would allow you the freedom to do this.
The FCA said that the insurer’s “aggressive sales strategy” helped them to pocket an extra £92.9m from customers by selling optional monthly extras. However, Swinton didn’t tell customers that the extra cover was optional.
Tracey McDermott, director of enforcement and financial crime at the FCA, said Swinton failed its customers. “When selling monthly add-on policies, Swinton did not place the consumer at the heart of its business. Instead it prioritised profit.”
As such, Swinton have been forced to allocate £11.2m to repay people who were mis-sold.
Which!!!!! executive director, Richard Lloyd, said: “It’s good to see the FCA handing out a hefty fine, which sends a very clear message to the insurance industry that mis-selling won’t be tolerated.”
Swinton’s chief Christophe Bardet said: “We apologise for these shortcomings. They were not compatible with the proud history of Swinton.”
Don’t know about you but we’d LOVE to sit through a lecture on ‘the proud of history of Swinton’.
Everyone knows that the best way to get a good renewal price on your insurance is to shop around. Besides the extra cashback you could earn by switching, most insurance companies will offer better deals to new victims customers than to those they have already snagged.
However, a BBC Moneybox programme back in March highlighted that the price differential can be as high as eight times the difference, with some companies refusing to offer existing customers the same deal even when challenged.
However, on Friday, the Chairman of the Commons Treasury Committee Andrew Tyrie confirmed the FCA is investigating the practice by insurers in the UK with a view to protecting the vulnerable.
While you might surmise that the idiots people who don’t bother to shop around might deserve any financial penalties they suffer, Mr Tyrie is more concerned about those who can’t, rather than those who won’t. In a nearlier open letter to the chair of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), he wrote “such practices appear to penalise long-term loyalty and are to the detriment of those less able to access price comparison resources, particularly the elderly.”
The ABI responded by saying “extreme differences” between automatic renewal prices and those charged to new customers were unusual, although “varied pricing aimed at attracting new business was to be expected.”
In a statement released on Friday, Mr Tyrie said: “The previous regulatory regime failed to protect consumers. It must do better this time around…The FCA…can do a lot to help consumers, especially vulnerable consumers,” adding “If people are given a more meaningful choice, they are less likely to be ripped off.”
He does know he’s dealing with insurance companies, right?
Everyone knows the insurance industry is the worst kind of old boys club. Well, perhaps not the worst kind. Still, the fact that financial advisers can be sunning themselves on a cruise paid for on the back of advice given 20 years ago is why the whole financial services regime is currently undergoing a ‘reform’ to make it more transparent for everyone involved, with such ‘trail commission’ payments expected to be banned from 2014.
Now, HMRC have decided to get in on the act, with a new ruling that any such commissions that are thrown back to consumers will, from April onwards, be taxable. Earlier years’ bonuses will not be taxed. The insurance industry are perturbed by this new announcement, but are trying to spread the bad news by insinuating they are merely the first step on an HMRC cashback rampage.
The payments in question are basically repeat commission paid annually on longer term insurance-type investments. If you purchased the product with the help of a financial adviser, you can rest assured that he has been enjoying the benefit of the annual charge-back ever since you took it out. However, if you did not have an adviser, or in certain other circumstances, the investment product provider or broker will get the bung instead. Such firms are under no obligation to show you a penny of this free commission, but some do, notably Hargreaves Lansdowne who repay 16% of any commission received to its investors as a ‘bonus’. It is this cash payment returned to customers, either by way of an account credit or set off against management fees that HMRC have now ruled as chargeable. As far as they are concerned, it is an income generated by your investment, so unless it’s in a tax-free wrapper like a Stocks ISA or a SIPP, it’s fair game.
Hargreaves Lansdown, who is the largest bonus re-bunger, is understandably unimpressed. “It seems the Government is now seeking to tax small savers and investors. This is effectively a second tax on their income,” grumbled chief executive Ian Gorham.
However, he didn’t stop there, complaining to the Telegraph that it wasn’t just sour grapes, he was merely concerned that “the government may have set a precedent in taxing such loyalty schemes and savvy shoppers could well be next with Multi-buys, cashback credit cards and cashback websites all possible targets in the future.”
So should we all be worried about our clubcard balances? Is the taxman going to be making honey out of your Nectar card? Should you start declaring your Quidco and TopCashback earnings on your tax return? Apparently not. HMRC are reported to have dismissed these claims as “complete rubbish”, and the taxing of additional income on an investment product (i.e. designed to make the holder money) does seem to be entirely different from earning 20p from buying a kettle at Argos.
Still, you can never say never with HMRC, and perhaps the good folks at Hargreaves Lansdown have just given them a great idea for next year’s Budget…