• From This is Money:

    Hilary Messer, the respected solicitor fighting their case, has written to Sam borrowers warning that they will need to pay more if they want the battle to continue.
    Sams were sold to older homeowners during 1998. The lenders charge no interest but can claim most of the increase in value of borrowers’ homes on resale.
    Sams cause hardship because the rise in house prices means homeowners cannot afford to buy smaller properties as their share of equity in their home shrinks. Many remain trapped in big homes that they are unable to maintain or even heat.
    In 2008 Messer asked for £5,000 from borrowers to launch a group action against both banks and is thought to have raised a fund of about £1.6m.
    She won a significant pre-trial victory in 2009 when a judge agreed that Sams cases could come under a group litigation. However, both banks appealed and Messer says fighting the appeal has drained cash.
    ‘But for the appeal and attendant costs we would have had sufficient ca…

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  • From This is Money:

    Lenders issuing mortgages are being urged by easyroommate.co.uk to take into account the income a borrower expects to generate from renting out a room.
    Effectively, this ‘flatmate mortgage’ concept would reduce the initial deposit young property hopefuls need to find or extend their borrowing potential.
    And if the new thinking becomes part of general lending practice, it could provide a boon to the whole housing market by reigniting the depressed first-time buyer market, some mortgage experts believe.
    Why is it so tough for first-time buyers?
    The situation is pretty dire for first-time buyers ? and the sort of assistance a flatmate mortgage could provide would be welcomed with open arms.
    Since the credit crunch, banks and building societies have raised their home loan deposit requirements. For example, many commentators now believe that a minimum of 20% loan-to-value (LTV) is needed to persuade lenders to offer an decent borrowing rate.
    And it’s hit first-time buyers particu…

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  • From This is Money:

    After a sustained rally from recent lows seen last winter, the Nationwide’s house price index fell by 1% in February, with the average home losing just over £2,000.

    The building society said prices had dropped in February due to a combination of the severe winter weather during the early part of the year and the end of the Government’s stamp duty holiday.
    The fall brought to close nine months of successive monthly house price inflation, which had seen prices bounce back from 17.6% down on an annual basis a year ago to up 9.2% year-on-year today.
    However, the February dip meant that annual house price inflation failed to hit double digits, which Nationwide had forecast it would this month.
    The average property is now worth £161,320, according to Nationwide, up £13,500 on a year ago.
    Nationwide’s house price index is based on its mortgage approvals and its findings chimed with indications of a slowdown in property market activity in January, which would be expected…

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  • From This is Money:

    Unlike most of First Direct’s other mortgages this does not have an offset facility, however, it does come with no early repayment charges.

    Its real advantage is that it comes with no early repayment charges, so when the base rate starts to rise borrowers can jump ship at minimal cost.
    It’s just a shame this doesn’t have the offset facility that most First Direct mortgages have.
    The mortgage is a useful addition to the range of mortgages on offer for those with deposits of 15%. Borrowers looking for loans at this level may also want to check out those on offer from Yorkshire Building Society which has some good cashback deals available.

    This is Money rating: Four out of five stars…

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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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  • 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:

    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:

    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:

    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 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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