Tips to cut your home insurance premium

Posted: October 12th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Home Insurance

Although home insurance is not a legal requirement, it’s a good idea to insure your home and the things inside it so you’re covered in the event of a fire, burglary or natural disaster. Home insurance is a sound investment to cover you if the worst should happen, and some mortgage companies will actually make it a condition of your loan to at least have buildings cover.

Home insurance is split into two types: buildings insurance (which covers damage to the structure of the building) as mentioned above and contents insurance (which covers damage to or loss of personal possessions). The cost of a home insurance policy is based on the risk posed, so remove some of the risks and your premium will fall. Here are some ways you can cut the costs:

Make your house more secure

If you get a burglar alarm installed, this can make your home a lower risk in the eyes of insurers. There are a few different types on the market now, including audible alarms which emit a siren when an intruder is detected, monitored alarms which automatically alert a security centre and GSM alarms which can be controlled using your mobile phone. Make sure you test your alarm every few months and get it serviced once a year.

Fit approved deadbolt locks to all external doors and key operated locks to windows. Insurance approved locks will normally have anti-drill plates, anti-saw bolts running through the deadbolts and will carry the British Standard Kite mark symbol. If you’re unsure about your locks, you should ask a locksmith to check them.

Take preventative measures against fires

In the UK, there are around 300,000 residential fires each year, of which more than half start in the kitchen or are caused by smoking. For this reason it’s important to install fire alarms on every floor of your home. Many insurers will now also ask if you are a smoker, and you may find this could increase your premium. For your own safety, do not smoke in bed (as you’re likely to fall asleep) and make sure you extinguish cigarettes properly. Update old electrical wiring systems in your home as these could pose a potential fire risk too.

The Fire and Rescue Service offers a free home safety visit to offer advice on how to make your home safe, where to fit fire alarms and to help you devise an escape plan.
Join a Neighbourhood Watch schemec overing approximately 3.8 million households, the Neighbourhood & Home Watch Network (England & Wales) is one of the UK’s largest voluntary organisations. Its aim is to join together neighbours to create strong, friendly, active communities to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour.

Essentially, by joining your local Neighbourhood Watch, you’re investing in a few extra pairs of eyes to safeguard your home and you won’t be alone in your efforts to cut crime in your local area.

Investigate no claims offers

Much like no claims discounts offered by car insurance providers, some home insurers now offer you a considerably reduced premium if you haven’t claimed on your home insurance. So if you’re thinking about making a claim, consider whether it would actually be cheaper to pay it yourself to avoid an increase in your policies in the long run.

Increase your excess

The compulsory excess is set by your insurance provider, and is the up-front amount you must pay in the event of a claim. The voluntary excess is an amount you agree to pay in addition to the compulsory excess; the more you agree to pay, the lower your premium will be because it reduces the amount of money the insurer is liable to pay out.

Check your coverage

Fully read your policy documents to understand what you’re covered for – especially before you buy any additional coverage beyond the basic insurance. There’s no point paying to insure expensive jewellery if you don’t own any, for example. Similarly, underreporting the value of your contents and underinsuring can result in claims being underpaid.

Shop around

It pays to shop around – if you use a comparison website, you can type in all your details and get quotes from hundreds of insurers in one fell swoop. Even if your current insurance policy was the cheapest one around when you took it out, chances are your premium may have now increased. So don’t stick with your renewal quote, spend a bit of time getting a few more and you could save a lot of money.

Combine your insurance policies

Some companies will offer you a discount for taking out all of your insurance premiums with them. If your insurer offers car insurance as well as home insurance, get a quote for the two as it may be cheaper than buying the two policies from two different companies.

Move house

If all else fails, it could be your postcode that is to blame for expensive home insurance. One survey claims that Bournemouth homeowners pay the lowest home insurance premiums while Londoners have the highest premiums. If you are moving, check the Environment Agency’s website to make sure there is a low flood risk in your new area, as this will effect your premium too.

Five good reasons to have adequate home insurance cover

Posted: June 27th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Home Insurance

As a homeowner having adequate insurance in place should be high on the list of priorities, but unfortunately not everyone feels the same way. Last year a report found that almost 3.5 million UK homeowners don’t have sufficient cover – 1 in 10 had either buildings or contents insurance, not both, whilst almost 650,000 had no form of insurance whatsoever. This is something that needs to change, and in case you’re one of the few that don’t see the importance, here are five good reasons to have adequate home insurance cover at all times:

1. No insurance means you’re open to financial loss. You only need to think of how big the losses could be should your possessions be stolen, destroyed or damaged. And what about if the house itself suffered at the hands of a fire, flood or storm? Could you afford to cover the costs? Probably not, and that means not having any insurance is an expensive risk to take.

2. One or the other won’t cut it. You might think that buildings or contents cover will be sufficient, perhaps thinking it’ll be a good way to keep costs down, but in reality it could be a costly mistake. In a lot of scenarios you’ll need to make a claim for both – a flood could damage internal fixtures and electrics (buildings cover) as well as TVs and furniture (contents), so only having one or the other will leave you drastically out of pocket.

3. Thefts and burglaries are on the rise. That, in a nutshell, is why you need adequate contents cover.

4. The UK weather is becoming increasingly extreme. We’ve experienced unprecedented weather conditions over the last few years with storms and flooding being common, so you need to make sure you’re prepared for anything the good old British weather could throw at you.

5. Your mortgage requires it. The terms and conditions of most mortgages require you to have a suitable buildings policy in place, so at the very least, you need this level of cover. Make sure you’re getting a suitable amount too, and this applies to both buildings and contents – if you under-insure you won’t get a sufficient payout to cover the costs, and in the worst case scenario your policy could be null and void as you gave false information.

Ultimately, you need adequate home insurance cover because failing to do so means you’re putting your finances on the line. What if a storm destroyed your kitchen, your furniture and your possessions? What if your jewellery was stolen? What if a fire left you homeless? Without suitable cover you wouldn’t have any financial recompense, and of course, you could be violating the conditions of your mortgage too. It may seem like an unnecessary expense but it’s a small price to pay should you need it, so never underestimate the importance of adequate home insurance and you can have the peace of mind you need.

Homes at risk as flood insurance talks break down

Posted: May 10th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Home Insurance

Home insurers and the government have stepped back from crisis talks over cover for homes and businesses in flood risk areas.

Millions of properties are facing higher insurance premiums as negotiations have broken down.

Owen Paterson, the minister leading the government side of the talks, has announced no legislation is expected for about a year.

The row between insurers and the government is over a ‘statement if principles’ that ends in June 2013.

The statement basically states that if the government spends money on decent flood defences, home insurers will offer cover to homes owners and businesses in areas liable to flooding.

However, both sides have been arguing for months about new terms for continuing the agreement.

Meanwhile, the government’s chief scientist has warned extreme weather, including more rain and floods is here to stay as a result of pumping hothouse gases in to the atmosphere in previous decades.

Although hinting at legislation, the minister has given no indication at what the new law may say.

Home owners and businesses are left paying the price, as insurers have no cap on pricing under the agreement, which simply states they should offer cover to flood risk property.

The result is premiums could increase for all home and business insurance customers, while home and contents insurance for some properties could be too high to be affordable.

Insurers understand that this means some properties are unmortgageable because owners cannot afford buildings cover, which is typically a condition of a loan.

So it looks like while there may be a solution in the pipeline, the insurance industry and concerned homeowners will have to remain in limbo for a little longer.

For competitive flood risk insurance quotes from a leading independent broker get in touch with the specialist team at Quoteline Direct.

Five Ways to Reduce Your Van Insurance Premium

Posted: April 29th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Van Insurance

With the construction industry damaged by the economic downturn, traders and self-employed workers are feeling the pinch more than ever. Keeping insurance rates down is a great start to saving the pennies, so here are five ways to help reduce your van insurance premium.

Increase your voluntary excess

The simplest way to reduce your insurance premiums is to increase your voluntary excess. Voluntary excess is simply the amount of the claim you will have to pay in the event of an accident. Whilst this may save you money on your yearly expenses, you could end up having to pay significantly more if you’re involved in a serious accident, so balance this against the likelihood of needing to make a claim.

Pay Annually
Whilst it may seem easier and more convenient to pay your insurance premiums on a monthly basis, it can be more expensive. This is because insurance companies prefer their money upfront. When paying on a monthly agreement, your insurer could charge you interest rates. Price shouldn’t be your only consideration when you look for cover however, so look for a reliable provider such as The Co-operative Van Insurance for products at great prices.

Breakdown cover

Breakdown cover is essential for those who use their vans on a daily basis for business reasons. Having such cover however, increases your insurance premium, meaning if you want to save, you’ll have to do without. However, it’s important to consider the benefits of having breakdown cover. Not only can it be very reasonably priced, it also avoids you being stranded at the roadside or losing income from being unable to work as your van is off the road.

Pick up the phone

If you’ve been with the same insurer for a couple of years, you could reduce your premiums by switching. Loyalty doesn’t get you very far in the grand scheme of things. Explore alternatives by picking up the phone to insurers or visiting their company websites to get more information. Remember: don’t just go cheap – go for what you need.

Make your van more secure

Insurers offer the best prices to customers that are less likely to claim. Making sure your van is more secure is a great way to show insurers that you’re a ‘safe bet’. To make your vehicle more secure, there are a number of things you can do, such as fitting wheel locks, immobilisers, trackers and so on. Storing your vehicle in a safe place can also reduce your premiums, so if you own a garage and store it in a safe place, always notify your insurer.

Guide to Business Insurance for Beginners

Posted: April 24th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Commercial Insurance

We look at the basics of business insurance from buildings and contents to business interruption.

Business Insurance: Need to Know

Homeowners know that buildings and contents insurance are must-haves, but not all business owners are aware of the importance of similar cover for their work premises.

As with any insurance, the point of business buildings insurance is to compensate and help ease the difficulties of repairs, temporary relocation or rebuilding if the worst should happen.

So when looking for business insurance, consider any and all buildings your company owns or uses, and how you would pay for and replace everything inside them.

Buildings and contents insurance

All buildings and everything inside – which means stock, equipment, office furniture and everything down to the last pen or staple – are an integral part of your business.

Protect them with insurance, so in if the unexpected happens, you could claim to quickly put the problem right so you can carry on with your business as quickly and smoothly as possible.

When insuring a building, cover is not for the current market value of the property, but the rebuild value – which is the cost of clearing and putting up an identical building on the site less the cost of the land.

For business contents insurance, consider everything. This means all fittings and equipment, from office desks and chairs, computers and photocopiers, to pens and paperclips. Do not forget to include exterior features too, like security gates and signage.
Buying business insurance

Business insurance firms will want details of the property and contents, including value, and demonstrate that you have the proper security measures.

Some insurers set minimum security standards, such as a five-lever mortice deadlocks on doors, keypad or card operated entry systems, locks on all windows and so on.

Buying business insurance is the same as buying any other policy. Shop around for the best cover at a value-for-money price – and if you have a large business, think about handing the job to a specialist broker.

Business interruption insurance

Business interruption or ‘loss of income’ insurance kick in when you cannot open for trading for some reason – think flood, fire or some other major disaster.

The cover reimburses loss of earnings following damage to your premises or property and can take away some of the stress while you work to reopen the business.

Bicycle Road Accidents

Posted: March 28th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Claims

Cycling accidents once again hit the headlines last year as Bradley Wiggins, the winner of 2012’s Tour de France and multiple Olympic gold medal winner, was knocked off his bike whilst cycling and subsequently taken to hospital with minor injuries. The BBC reported that there was a 16% increase in the number of serious cycling accidents last year. Therefore, despite cycling becoming more popular in Britain as a result of the Olympics and the general public being urged to get outdoors and cycle, there are very real concerns over the safety of Britain’s roads for cyclists.

Cycling is not an intrinsically dangerous sport, however, and often accidents are not the cyclist’s fault. A study by the Department of Transport found that two-thirds of accidents involving cyclists and a vehicle were deemed to be the vehicle driver’s fault and just one in five accidents were blamed solely on the cyclist. Accidents can also be caused by poorly maintained roads. Cyclists should also avoid cycling on the pavement, as this is illegal, and should try to use cycle lanes wherever possible.

Safety should be a paramount concern to any cyclist who cycles on both urban and rural roads. Cyclists can take certain precautions and safety measures to reduce the risk of an accident and the severity of an injury if an accident does occur. Cyclists should wear visible and reflective clothing, wear a helmet, not cycle too close to the kerb, make eye contact with drivers of cars and make their intentions on the road known.

If you are a cyclist and have been injured in an accident on the road then you may be able to claim compensation for being knocked off your bike. Solicitors at Bolt Burdon Kemp have a specialist cycling injury team who can help you recover compensation for your injuries, the damage to your bike, physiotherapy and also financial losses from time off work. BBK solicitors also refer their clients for a welfare benefits check to ensure that, if their clients are unable to work as a result of their injuries, they are receiving the correct benefits.