Ensure you’re not paying too much for your insurance needs

Insuring yourself against personal loss, be it having your car stolen or falling ill and not being able to work, is the best way to peace of mind – if the worst happens, you’ll need it. We take you through the risks…

Home Insurance – contents and buildings

One in three of us will be burgled at some point in our lives – and a quarter of all households don’t have home insurance. Nothing matters quite as much as your own home so it makes sense to protect it.

And break-ins aren’t even the half of it. Whether it’s flood or storm damage, a fire or even a simple accident, there are plenty of reasons why not having insurance could spell disaster.

So what should you look for in a policy? In both cases, the small print counts. Essentially buildings insurance policies should cover you in case you need to rebuild your home if it is totally destroyed.

Some policies only cover the market value – so watch out. But policies can also cover you against storm and flood damage, burst pipes, fire, subsidence and vandalism – so make sure you don’t go for the cheapest building insurance quote unless it meets all your needs as you could pay in the long run.

The same is true of contents insurance. This covers anything that isn’t a fixed part of your property. You should make sure that your policy covers the total value of your possessions – it’s often the case that people underestimate quite how much their belongings are worth.

If you’ve underestimated the value of your contents and then make a claim your insurer can refuse to pay out.

Travel insurance

Never lost your bags on holiday? Never had your foreign currency stolen? Well, the chances are you’ve been lucky and your luck will probably run out.

Travel insurance is increasingly important as more holiday nightmares come to light. If you need hospital treatment abroad it can cost you tens of thousands of pounds – and even if you’re in good health there are always unexpected accidents waiting to happen.

Travel insurance covers you against the worst and allows you to travel safe in the knowledge that if it does happen you’ll be well looked after. Whether you treat each trip individually or get year-round cover, some things to watch for are:

  • Do you want baggage and cancellation cover?
  • Do you want extreme sports or winter sports cover?
  • Would a family policy be cheaper?

Remember, find the best policy for you and your family and check you are completely covered – read the small print before you sign up.

Life insurance – What’s the price of life?

You may have decided that life insurance is the best way to protect your family’s future but getting the lowest possible premium, taking into account the right length of term and payout is not an easy process.

Premiums with life insurance quotes can vary enormously so it’s worth shopping around. There are two basic options: term or whole-life. Term life covers you for a specific period and whole-life, as you’ll have guessed, covers you for the whole of your life.

Most of us take out life insurance when we buy a house and in that case term life insurance is usually more than ample and can offer good coverage for the least amount of money. But if you want to create an inheritance and protect your family’s future for a much longer period then whole life insurance is the best option.

Your age and state of health are the main factors in how much you will pay. Generally the younger and fitter you are the less you will pay.

If you are a smoker you will pay more. But remember that life insurance premiums have fallen in the past five to 10 years so it may be possible to get a lower premium than the one you have now – so don’t forget to shop around.

Breakdown insurance

Nobody wants to be stuck on the hard shoulder when their car packs up. Nobody wants to miss an important meeting, or worse, a flight abroad. Breaking down can leave you helpless and vulnerable, but help is at hand with breakdown protection.

In simple terms, there are two main decisions. Firstly, do you want to cover your vehicle or yourself? Covering the vehicle means it’s covered regardless of who is driving it, whereas covering the person means you’re insured as the driver or passenger of any vehicle.

Secondly, decide on the level of cover – the more you protect yourself, the more you’ll pay. You can opt for a replacement vehicle, recovery to your home, protection against missing an onward journey and much more. Go to www.moneyexpert.com to find the best deals.

Pet insurance

A new pet can make the perfect present but it can also become the most expensive. A cat typically can live for 14 to 15 years and a dog can live up to 13 years or more.

Vet fees for treatment of common conditions include up to £500 for an abscess, £3,000 for injuries following a road accident, £1,000 for removal of a lump or tumour and £500 a year for arthritis, according to specialist insurer Petplan.

The best pet insurance should cover vets’ fees, treatment for long-term conditions, death by illness benefits, death by accident benefits, rewards and expenses for stolen or lost pets along with dental treatment cover.

It is important to be aware that pet insurance is designed to cover the unexpected so vaccinations, preventative treatment, spaying, castration, pregnancy or illnesses diagnosed before you take out the policy are normally not covered.

However vets also recommend insurance for pets because it allows them to do the best for the animal without the owner having to worry whether they can afford it.

Payment Protection

Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) pays out if you can no longer make payments on loans, mortgages and credit cards because you cannot work. It can be expensive and there is some criticism of it but it is worth considering.

No-one has money to waste so paying over the odds for PPI is not a good idea. Your loan or mortgage provider will probably offer you a PPI policy but they will not always tell you that you can shop around for a better deal.

You do not have to take one out at all so look at the small print in your loan agreement. It could have been added on already without you knowing and the costs can be high – policies could add more than £4,500 to the cost of a five- year £10,000 loan.

And look out for exemptions. Even once you’ve made a claim, policies won’t pay out until a certain point and may have restrictions on what they cover.

For example if you already had an illness before taking out a policy, you may not qualify for cover. And if you choose to leave your job, forget it – you won’t be covered.

Motor insurance

You have to have car insurance if you own a motor. On the whole, car insurance premiums are on the rise and in some cases they could increase by as much as 40%.

However, the marketplace is still very competitive with many insurers looking for your business, which means that by shopping around you might actually be able to cut your premiums.

You don’t have to change your car or wait for your next birthday to reduce your premiums. There are some simpler ways of doing this.

Buy online: Many car insurers offer a discount of 5% or more if you purchase your car insurance online

Avoid paying by direct debit: This can be a good way of spreading your car insurance payments but you need to bear in mind that some insurers believe that they are making a loan to customers when they let them pay by this method.

This means that the convenience of spreading your payments comes with a charge which can wipe out any savings that they have earned through research the market for the best deal

Specialist insurers: Some insurers are geared towards offering certain motorists a better deal than average. For example, some focus primarily on safe drivers or women and because of this claim to offer them a very competitive and hard to beat deal.

It really pays to shop around when buying your car insurance. You may feel that you already have a good deal but by not checking with other insurers, you cannot be sure. If you are looking for a new car insurance policy, we can help you find the right cover for you.

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