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Expat Investor : October 2007
Over a third of UK homeowners admit to leaving their insurance documents languishing in a drawer unread instead of going through them to familiarise themselves with the level of cover and terms and conditions of their policy. Tesco Home Insurance's latest study shows that two out of five people (41%) concede that although they are aware of their contents cover limit, it might not be enough as they have never checked if it's sufficient for what they're actually insuring. Allan Burns, head of Tesco Home Insurance, comments, "We would urge all homeowners to read through their documents to familiarise themselves with the terms and conditions of the policy they have purchased. If they are unsure of any points, they should contact their insurer for clarification." Tesco's top ten tips for policy selection Decide what you need -- buildings and contents cover or contents only. Purchasing your buildings and contents cover together is usually better value than buying from two providers. When shopping around for the best price, check that the policy limits and extent of cover are adequate for your needs -- not all insurers are the same. Identify any valuables worth more than your insurer's individual article limit (jewellery, plasma TV). You'll need to specify these items on your policy. Read your policy documents when you receive them to familiarise yourself with the details. If you're in any doubt contact your insurer. Make a note of all your home contents and how much they're worth in total -- you don't want to be underinsured. Keep your insurer updated with any changes that you think might have an impact on your policy. Consider if you need personal belongings cover while out of your home. It may be a false economy leaving it off your policy. Consider buying family legal protection cover---it could save you hundreds of pounds. Consider buying accidental damage cover -- especially if you're a DIY enthusiast or have accident prone kids! STATISTICS AND ANALYSES Homeowners leaving policy documents unread IFAs warn of retirement under-funding Brits flush away mobiles worth £342m A medley of statistics and analyses revealing much about our responses to saving, investing and spending our money. Hidden accounts from loved ones Britain pours its heart out... to complete strangers Wedding bells should ring insurance alarm bells New research from Abbey Current Accounts reveals that 7.5m Brits -- that's 12% -- keep a sneaky CASHFLO (Current Account Secretly Hidden From Loved Ones). That equates to one-in-seven current accounts held in the UK. While Brits have long been known for their modesty, especially when it comes to money, Abbey questions whether the nation's obsession with discretion may have gone too far, especially since money is a common cause of conflict amongst British couples. Research from the Financial Services Authority (FSA) found that three-quarters of couples find money the hardest thing to talk about to each other. Further research, from the counselling service Relate, found that money is the most common cause of arguments amongst couples in the UK and usually centres on differences over spending. Abbey's findings show that those in their late twenties and early thirties are the most likely age group to conceal a CASHFLO, with confessions coming in from 14% of people in this age bracket. Sixteen- to-twenty-fours are least secretive, followed by the 55-plus age group. Abbey also found that keeping a CASHFLO is a unisex affair with both sexes admitting they do it. NFU Mutual is reminding newlyweds to review their home contents cover following the big day. Despite many couples receiving a gift list full of presents, less than one in 10 married people thought to check their level of cover following a wedding. Of all those surveyed who have ever been married, almost half did not review their home contents insurance after the big day and nearly a third simply do not recall whether they checked their cover after their nuptials. The gift list market, estimated to be worth £267.2m in 2006, continues to grow, and many brides and grooms are including everything from £500 plasma screen televisions to expensive crystal glasses and People in Britain are willing to pour their heart out and share personal details about their love life, family life and work problems with complete strangers, research by secure online payment provider PayPal reveals. The research looked at how much information people in Britain unwittingly reveal about themselves to people they have known for less than 24 hours. And it revealed that it's no holds barred, and Brits literally do not know when to shut If you've ever found yourself trying to fish your mobile out of the toilet, you're not alone. A staggering 855,000 handsets are flushed away every year -- that's roughly £342m going down the tubes. Research by SimplySwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service, found 4.5 million handsets are lost or damaged every year. Common catastrophes include leaving mobiles in the pub (810,000 handsets) in a taxi (315,000) or on a bus (225,000). More bizarrely, pooches chewed their way through 58,500 handsets last year and 116,000 went through a spin cycle with the dirty laundry. The research found that over a quarter of mobile owners had lost or damaged a handset, with men more prone to carelessness than women -- 28% of men admitted to breaking or losing their phone compared to 26% of women. There is some hope,however, as people become more careful with age. Although 40% of under-34s admitted to losing or damaging their handset, this dropped to a mere 16% among the over-55s. up. Three million people (7%) admitted that they open up about what is wrong with their love life to almost complete strangers, whilst double the amount of people reveal problems at work, and 11% open up about their private medical problems. Wo rryingly for Brits,however, 6.6 million say they regretted sharing their secrets the next day, and over a quarter say they were not even sure why they chose to talk about their problems to people they do not know. A further 15% said too much because they were drunk. The research also revealed that 20% of people in Britain divulged their secrets to strangers they met on the bus and will never see again, with 46% opening up to a stranger at a party, and with 36% telling all on a first date. Cristina Hoole, from PayPal, comments, "There is, of course, a serious point to be made; people need to be careful about giving away too much information, such as financial or medical details, to people they do not know, which can leave you open to unscrupulous people out there." Wedgwood dinner services running into thousands of pounds on their wedding lists. However, most do not check their insurance to reflect these changes. In order to reduce the stress in the lead-up to the big day, NFU Mutual automatically increases the amount of home contents cover in the household by 10% or £5,000, whichever is the greater, for the month before and after the nuptials. David Oram, Personal Insurance Underwriting Manager at NFU Mutual says, "There is a great deal of excitement in the run up to a wedding and naturally, the practicalities of checking your home insurance can sometimes be forgotten. "Although NFU Mutual offers newlyweds the luxury of a temporary automatic increase, once the honeymoon period is over, we urge couples to review their levels of cover. "You can check whether your insurance is of the right value by using the NFU Mutual home insurance contents calculator. By simply typing in the value of the items you have around your house, including your brand new wedding gifts, the calculator will help you check whether you have enough cover in minutes. "It might not be the most romantic way to begin married life, but it should give you peace of mind and guarantee you are covered." October 2007 EXPAT INVESTOR 5 Friday 13th - not unlucky for some Friday the thirteenth is not as unlucky a date as folklore would have us believe, reports Barclays Home Insurance. According to its records, the number of claims made to Barclays Home Insurance on Friday 13ths since 2005 has actually been lower than the number of claims made on other Fridays -- on average decreasing by approximately 15%. This includes a decrease in the number of claims for accidental damage, theft, water damage and fire. Mark Till, Product Director, Barclays Insurance, said: "As the figures show, this so-called unlucky day in fact seems to have been luckier for UK homeowners than most other days. Maybe it's the threat of bad luck causing people to be more cautious and aware of potential accidents or perhaps it's just that the myths are wrong and Friday 13th is not actually unlucky; our statistics would certainly seem to support that theory!" AEGON's third IFA Insights Survey highlights the changing nature of retirement planning and saving for the future. Results show that almost nine out of ten IFAs (88%) believe an increasing number of people will be unable to retire at the age they wish to and the same overwhelming majority said they expect the average age of retirement to rise significantly in the next 10 years. IFAs see an extension to the savings gap opening up for people currently planning for retirement due to the extra financial pressures they face. Eight out of 10 IFAs say parents will be expected to support their children for longer and 74% believe people will receive less inheritance and will therefore have to save more to provide for the future. And 71% report that people are already resigned to a significant reduction in their standard of living in retirement. Addressing the savings gap, almost nine out of 10 IFAs said they recommended investing more in pensions, though the same number say they recommend finding alternative means of investing for retirement indicating a desire to create a balanced portfolio. Confidence in pensions is clearly an issue, with 91% believing pensions are suffering from a lack of consumer trust and need to be promoted more.