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May 25, 2012

Income Protection Insurance: Should you Get It?

The first quarter of 2012 brought grim news from the Office of National Statistics, which reported an unemployment figure of 2.6 million. A third of this figure is made up of people who have been out of work for a year or more and are therefore classed as long-term unemployed.

With such high levels of unemployment, many workers are considering more seriously the consequences of job loss. In addition to familiarising themselves with their employer’s redundancy terms and looking for areas where they can tighten their belts, many people are investigating income-protection cover as a way of providing some additional security.

What is Income-Protection Cover?

Income-protection cover pays a regular tax-free sum when you experience a loss of income due to illness or injury, with some policies also covering unemployment and redundancy. There are a number of policies available, all offering varying periods and levels of cover.

Points to Consider

It’s important to make sure you understand the full terms and conditions of a policy you are considering taking out to ensure that it is the right fit for your own circumstances. For example, some policies may only pay out for a set period of time, while others may defer payment for a few months after a claim is made.

This delay may be fine if your employer has a generous compensation plan or you have savings, but if your employment contract only covers you for the statutory minimum you may wish to seek out a policy that either pays out right away or backdates payments to the date of a claim.

Similarly, different providers will have different exclusion criteria and rules around how long a policy has to be in effect before a claim could be made. Check if there are any special rules covering self-employment or certain medical conditions in the policy you are considering.

Income protection will pay a regular sum based on a percentage of your total monthly income. This is different to other forms of insurance, such as payment-protection insurance, which only covers the repayment costs of one particular debt or purchase.

If you are made redundant and have payment-protection insurance for your mortgage you would still need to cover the rest of your living expenses either with personal savings or an income-protection policy.

A critical-illness policy will provide you with a tax-free sum if you are diagnosed with a listed illness. However, it does not pay out for every illness in the way that an income protection policy does. Consequently, if illness or health issues are of particular concern to you and your family it may be worth spending some time researching the various income-protection policies available.

Do I Need Income-Protection Cover?

When deciding whether income protection cover is the right choice for you and your family, it may be useful to look into the terms of your employer’s redundancy cover and whether your employer will pay a percentage of your salary if you are off sick indefinitely.

Look at any other insurance policies you may have and make a note of what you would be covered for and how long you would be covered if you lost your job unexpectedly. Are there any gaps and how would you fill these gaps?

Most importantly, take time to consider the various policies available, ensure your chosen policy is right for you and your family and make sure you fully understand the terms and conditions before purchasing any insurance plan.

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March 7, 2012

Five Tips to Reduce Home Insurance

Home insurance is a vital component of any home owner’s finances. However, many people still dismiss the benefits of such a policy, mainly due to the cost and the admin work involved when making a claim. As minor damages are usually dealt with and paid by the home owner independently to avoid the tedious process of making a claim, many assume that home insurance is unnecessary. However, this couldn’t be further away from the truth.

Buying a property is already a huge investment. Couple that with the cost involved in maintaining it and you are faced with an incredibly expensive responsibility. Home insurance is designed to financially stabilise home owners and support them in the event of theft or damage. Finding a suitable and affordable home insurance quote is easier than you think. Due to the large number of providers, prices vary significantly from company to company.

Price comparison sites are particularly popular amongst insurance seekers across the country. Although these search engines are quick and easy to use, it is not advisable to accept a deal without visiting the insurance company directly first. Minor changes within the policy may occur which may mean that the cover is not specific or relevant for the home owner.

There are, however, other ways to ensure that you get a good deal:

1. Increase Security

Installing security and safety systems in and around the home will help bring premiums down. Insurance providers recognise the measures a property owner has taken to ensure they are both safe and protected. The ‘behaviours’ will be rewarded and thus monthly payments will be lowered.

2. Join Groups

Joining community groups can seriously boost the chances of receiving cheaper home insurance. Neighbourhood Watch programs are seen by insurers as a positive behavior that needs to be rewarded.

3. Review Contents

Expensive and sentimental belongings will all need to be covered by insurance to protect them against theft or damage. However, many people fail to inform insurers of changes in circumstance that can change the amount of monthly repayments. If a piece of jewellery, electronic device or appliance is no longer used or owned then providers need to be aware, otherwise they will continue to charge for those contents.

4. Increase the Deductible

The deductible in insurance is the amount of money that is needed to be paid before a claim can be made. The general theory is that the higher the deductible the lower the monthly payments. For those who decide to pay for minor repair work with their own earnings, this is ideal. In some cases, households can save up to $200 a year.

5. Combining Policies

Contacting an existing provider of insurance is a sure fire way of improving the likelihood of a discount. Most companies will reward existing customers with a substantial reduction on their policy if they combine two or more types of insurance with them. For this reason, existing providers should be the first port of call when gathering home insurance quotes.

This is a guest post by Nicola Winters on behalf of LV, a leading provider of home insurance.

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