• From This is Money:

    One former boss of a comparison site warned that as a result of the collapse, many consumers could be misled by false claims and misleading information.
    Sites such as Moneysupermarket.com and Confused.com, which sell millions of insurance, mortgages, phone and internet deals, led a boycott of the new voluntary code.
    The Comparison Consortium was set up to provide a recognisable stamp of quality for the sales practices of price comparison websites.
    The voluntary code was viewed as a last-ditch attempt to stave off compulsory Government rules on sales practices.
    But so few firms signed up, the consortium has collapsed. Now firms can continue displaying information about their products with minimal controls on their activities.
    Sean Gardner, former managing director of the Moneyexpert website and head of the Comparison Consortium until its demise, says: ‘Trying to bring many of these people together felt like herding a group of angry cats.
    ‘It is hard to avoid the conclusion…

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  • From This is Money:

    Spare bedrooms, garden sheds and even the kitchen table are becoming the new base for working Britain.
    More than 3.5m people work at home for some or all of the week, according to the TUC – about one in eight of the working population.
    The wave of redundancies triggered by recession has prompted thousands more to set up on their own. But recent research by insurer Direct Line found that almost a third of people running a business from home had no specialist insurance.
    Many basic policies offer cover for business equipment used in the home, typically between £3,000 and £5,000, but this is designed only to protect those who occasionally do screen-based work at home.
    Graeme Trudgill of the British Insurance Brokers’ Association says: ‘If you have customers visiting you at home regularly, or if you pay someone else to work with you, get in touch with an insurance broker and discuss a business policy.’
    Small traders who keep stock at home – for example, the growing ar…

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  • From This is Money:

    Supermarkets, meanwhile, cash in on our desire for a fresh start in the New Year by packing shelves with special deals on fruit and vegetables. And in January, sales of nicotine patches and inhalers boom as hundreds of thousands of smokers struggle to stub out their cigarettes for good.
    Of course, many of these New Year good intentions evaporate within a few weeks, but there can be hidden rewards for those who stick to their new healthy regime.
    As well as the obvious benefits, there is a financial bonus as lifestyle factors such as diet and exercise are increasingly used by insurers to calculate the cost of life and health cover.
    Prudential has led the way, setting up PruHealth five years ago. Customers participate in a Vitality programme and by exercising regularly, eating well and looking after their health they can benefit from medical insurance premiums that are up to 25% lower.
    Shaun Matisonn, chief executive of PruHealth, says: ‘After five years, we’re convinced this is…

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  • From This is Money:

    Hebden Bridge, in West Yorkshire, and Glasgow were placed second and third in the list. Once again males in their early twenties were the main offenders.

    A surprise addition was London’s posh W11 postcode, where offenders were also older than the norm.

    The cost of uninsured drivers

    ‘The cost of running and insuring a car can be expensive-especially for younger drivers- however it is quicker and easier than ever to find a good deal for your car insurance by shopping around.’

    The AA says that fortunately the advent of automatic number plate recognition equipments (ANPR) on police cars is meaning that numberplates are being constantly cross checked against data taken from the MID (Motor Insurance Database).

    Some, like Germany, have about 1 in 500. However, in the UK we are making inroads into the problem and at the forefront are the police who have power to stop and confiscate cars they suspect of being driven without cover.

    The MIB exists to compe…

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  • From This is Money:

    When you buy a phone directly from a shop or network provider you may find that the salesperson does their best to sell you mobile insurance at the same time.

    But it can cost around the same to replace your handset as it does to pay for and make a claim on your insurance.
    Alternatively, you may also find that it is cheaper to insure your phone as part of your home contents policy or even as part of an added value bank account.

    We’ve investigated all the options and spoken to some This is Money readers about their choices to help you decide which insurance is best for you, and if you need it at all.

    Cost of insurance vs cost replacing your phone
    The first decision you need to make is whether or not you need insurance for your mobile at all.
    A small monthly premium may seem good value compared to the full price of replacing a handset, but once you’ve factored in the excess, and the fact that networks have been known to cut deals to keep customers if they lose a phone, it…

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  • From This is Money:

    I have had a bill for £113.55 from my car insurance company because no monthly direct debit payments went to them for April, May and June last year. I was not told about this problem though I had to make a separate payment for July, August and September after they said my bank refused them the money even though the direct debit was in place. I recently cancelled the policy as I’m getting rid of the car. Am I obliged to pay this amount and if so do I have to pay it all at once? R.F., Stockton-on-Tees, Cleveland
    You were insured with Aviva who have accepted responsibility for the problems with your regular payments.I was told: ‘During the period between April and June 2009 there was an isolated system error which meant we did not take payments for Mr F’s motor insurance premium. ‘As this fault was an error on our part, under the specific circumstances we have decided to waive the money owed and we have apologised for any inconvenience caused. We have taken steps to ensure an inci…

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  • From This is Money:

    When I claimed on the policy, I was told that Car Care Plan would not accept liability because the tyre I had replaced was not insured.
    Margaret Stone, the Daily Mail’s Money Doctor, replies: You described Car Care Plan’s practice as little short of a fiddle. I wouldn’t go as far as that, but agree it was shabby.
    As each new tyre has to be separately identified for insurance purposes, this was a significant feature of the policy.
    A small number of other car owners have been complaining to Inchcape about this policy, and it has now decided to review it.
    The Car Care Plan name remains, but the underwriters have been changed – and so have some of the policy terms. In future, the policy will now cover five repairs or replacements, regardless of whether the tyres are originals or replacements.
    For the benefit of existing policyholders, the claims process has been changed to allow claims where the tyres have been replaced but not registered….

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  • From This is Money:

    A large number of homeowners need something more individual than a standard policy. Graeme Trudgill, technical executive at the British Insurance Brokers’ Association, says: ‘Up to a quarter of householders have insurance requirements beyond the average. When you analyse big events, such as floods, you find that about one in four claimants do not have enough insurance for the possessions in their home, or they have gaps in their cover.’
    Being willing to pay a little extra for insurance with more generous policy limits or wider coverage can save thousands of pounds and a lot of heartache when making a claim.
    Financial Mail highlights the circumstances when you need cover that is a cut above the average:
    Distinctive homes and house improvements
    Underwriters like to put properties into standard categories where they can predict how much a repair might cost, but some homes defy categorisation because of how they are designed or constructed.
    Thatched homes, for example, can be at…

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  • From This is Money:

    Figures from the latest benchmark AA British Insurance Premium Index reveal that motor insurance premiums are up by an average of 19% in the last year alone, and rose by more than 7% between October and December 2009.

    And insurers claim they are paying out more than they are taking in. A survey carried out by industry experts EMB, revealed that last year for every £1 the retail motor industry received in premiums, it had to pay out £1.20 in costs and claims.

    Analysts warn that this is a knock-on effect from the rise in personal injury claims fuelled by no-win no-fee lawyer adverts on television and the competitive nature of online insurance. This made 2009 one of the industry’s least profitable years on record.

    Premiums for law-abiding drivers are also being pushed up because more people are choosing to drive uninsured. About 1.6m are believed to be driving without insurance, which leads to a ‘surcharge’ of £30 per policy for drivers who do pay….

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  • From This is Money:

    They may also be required by law to have a microchip implanted on their pet under Government plans to curb the use of dangerous dogs.
    Another measure being considered is the use of Dog Control Notices for misbehaving animals – known as ‘Dogbos’.
    They would allow police officers and council officials to force miscreant owners to muzzle, leash or even neuter their pets. In extreme cases the dogs could be confiscated and given to new owners.
    The measures, part of proposed changes to the Dangerous Dogs Act unveiled today, are aimed at tackling the growing problem of vicious animals being bred for use as weapons, particularly on innercity estates.
    Ministers are also considering making it a criminal offence for a dog owner to allow their animal to be ‘dangerously out of control’. Currently they are breaking the law only if the dog is out of control in a public place.
    The change would extend the law to private residences, and could provide extra protection for postmen. Insurance fo…

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