Monthly Archives : May 2017


Time for an upgrade?

Time for an upgrade?

Have you upgraded your mobile phone in the past two years?
If the answer’s yes, your choice may have been driven by a change in your needs or wants. Perhaps you opted for a better
deal, a different contract, or a handset with new features that weren’t available with your previous model?

When it comes to updating your phone TV or even your car we all want to feel like we’re getting a good deal.

The question is: why don’t more of us do this with items like the financial products we pay for every month?

Are your current arrangements still right for you?

Take critical illness insurance as an example. If you have a critical illness policy:
• When did you last update it?
• Does it still provide the cover you need?
• Does it continue to provide the benefits and features you need?

When your needs change, it makes sense to update things
Life may have changed since you last bought or reviewed your critical illness insurance cover. You may have had children, moved house, or your income may have changed.

This means that even though you have a critical illness plan in place, it might not offer you the level of cover you’d need if the unexpected happened. However, it might also provide cover for certain conditions which may not be available on a new plan.

Insurance innovation
It’s not just mobile phone companies that compete to offer the most innovative products – insurance companies are constantly updating their products to reflect customers’ changing needs too.

Given that more of us are living longer and surviving serious illnesses like cancer it is perhaps unsurprising that products like critical illness insurance have changed in recent years. For instance, many insurers have introduced greater flexibility and extended their cover to cater for a wider range of illnesses. Some have even introduced completely new products offering partial pay-outs, or for an additional cost, allow you to claim for non-critical illnesses and injuries.

Protect your loved ones
Critical illness insurance can help you cover mortgage or rent payments, treatment, or any home alterations you may need to make as a result of an unexpected critical illness – so it’s important your cover remains up-to-date.

We can review your needs and make sure you have the right cover in place. To arrange your review, please get in touch

Pet Insurance

The importance of protection

The importance of protection

Millions of pet owners have purchased insurance in case of an expensive trip to the vet’s, but who will pick up the bill if something happens to you?

Many pet owners will know the stress and financial burden caused by an expensive vet’s bill and have taken out pet insurance to avoid having to make difficult decisions at stressful times. In fact, figures show 3.9 million dogs and cats are covered by pet insurance.

However, it seems we place more value on our pet’s wellbeing than our own, with almost 8.5 million people in the UK potentially needing some sort of insurance cover, having none.

Why aren’t we insuring ourselves?
One in four breadwinners does not have life insurance in place, risking leaving their families in financial difficulty if they were unable to work – or worse, died. It seems women are in a worse position than men, with 38% protected by some sort of policy, compared to 45% of men.

So what is it that puts us off buying insurance? Perhaps it’s the thought of paying out each month but not seeing any benefit from the cover.

Far from being a luxury, protection insurance should be considered essential. If you suffered a serious illness or injury you may lose your income, and this could lead to you losing your home. Similarly, if you died, would your loved ones be able to maintain their current lifestyle without your income?

If you think it’s not going to happen to you, you may be surprised to know:
• half of people in the UK born after 1960 will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetime
• In 2015/16 8.8 million working days were lost due to musculoskeletal disorders
• there are up to 175,000 heart attacks in the UK each year

Insurance policies can provide funds to help deal with the financial consequences of illness, an accident, unemployment or death. Whether that’s to help pay the mortgage, maintain your family’s lifestyle, or even help pay for medical treatment or specialist nursing support.

The next time you’re renewing your pet insurance, check our own level of cover too.

If you’d like more information on the types of cover available and whether they are suitable for you, please get in touch.

Contact us today for a Life and Protection Insurance review

downsizing your home

The downside of downsizing

The downside of downsizing

The decision to sell up and move to a smaller property could come as a result of children flying the nest, the need to free up cash, or both. Whatever the reason, there are costs to downsizing that are important to know about before you make the move.

The ‘hidden’ fees
Research from online estate agent OwnerSellers.com suggests it costs an average of £17,843 to downsize, thanks to estate agency fees, stamp duty, conveyancing fees, surveys and removal costs. These add up to a sizeable chunk that can eat into
any equity released from the sale of the house.

The figure is based on downsizing from a detached family home in England worth £381,211 to an average two-bedroom apartment costing £268,174. In principle the move would free up £113,037, but when you take into account the additional costs this drops to £95,194.

Reducing the cost of downsizing
If you’re thinking of downsizing, there are ways to reduce the fees you’ll incur. For instance, if you’re looking to relocate, you might be moving to a cheaper area where properties don’t attract as much stamp duty. Estate agency fees can vary so it pays to shop
around for offers; like free valuations, or no up-front fees, or perhaps choose an agent who’ll sell your property for a fixed fee.
If you still require a mortgage after downsizing, we can help you find the right mortgage rate for your circumstances, particularly as we have access to some exclusive deals that you may not be able to get on the high street.

Researching all the costs up front, from stamp duty and estate agency fees to conveyancing and finding the right mortgage can help make downsizing work out for you financially.

Please talk to us if you’d like any help or advice on your next property move

Your home/property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Business Protection

Surviving the loss of a key person

Surviving the loss of a key person

If something happened to you, your co-owners or employees, could your business survive?

According to research by Legal and General, if a business suffered the loss of a key person:
• 40% of businesses would cease trading in less than a year of the death or serious illness of a key person
• 63% of sole traders would cease to trade immediately
• 46% of new businesses (less than two years old) would cease to trade immediately

The loss of a key person within a small or medium-sized business can cause unexpected costs and disruption. Not only would the business have to fund the cost of recruiting and training a replacement, but it would also risk suffering from a:
• loss of profits
• loss of important business contacts
• loss of knowledge and expertise
• Customers and suppliers losing confidence in the business


Business protection insurance can help mitigate or even avoid these risks altogether
As a business owner, you should know there are three main types of business protection: Key Person Insurance, Shareholder Protection Insurance and Business Loan Protection.
• Key Person Insurance – provides a lump sum to the business on the death of an important member of the business.
• Shareholder Protection Insurance – provides a lump sum that will allow remaining shareholders to buy the shares of a deceased shareholder.
• Business Loan Protection – provides a lump sum to help a business pay any outstanding business loans.

Deciding on the right type of cover depends on the circumstances involved and the events the business wants to insure the key person against.

People are the biggest asset to any business and Business Protection Insurance is designed to keep your business trading should the worst happen.

For further information or advice on setting up a business protection policy please get in touch.

Find your local Adviser

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Money worries

Just about managing

Just about managing

Two thirds of working households in the UK consider themselves to be ‘just about managing’ financially, according to research.

The Resolution Foundation, which researches the living standards of those on low to middle incomes, has identified six million Jams (as they have become known) spread across Britain. Jams tend to have at least one person in work and most work full-time. Some will earn higher salaries, but typically they will be low earners receiving top ups from the welfare state, such as tax credits.

A priority for the government?
In her first speech as Prime Minister, Theresa May addressed the Jams directly, suggesting that the government would be working hard to help improve their lot. But the impact of years of flat wages, coupled with cuts to working-age benefits and increased rental and property prices, makes this is a huge issue to tackle.

What’s more, the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggests that the weak growth will continue, which means the situation won’t get easier for these families in the short-term.

The increasing financial pressure the Jams are under is worrying, and an unexpected change in circumstances could make their situation a lot worse. What would happen if the main breadwinner was to lose their income, or fall ill and have to take time off work?

If you’re in this situation, the first step is to understand what you’ve got coming in and how you’re spending your money. Once you’ve got your budget under control you can look for ways to save money and, if you can afford to, consider how you might protect your income in the event of sickness, ill-health, or worse.

Just about managing
Two thirds of working households in the UK consider themselves to be ‘just about managing’ financially, according to research.

JAMs tend to:
• over two thirds have have less than a month’s salary in savings
• spend 24% of their income on housing
• three quarters are likely to be in rented accommodation
• have at least one person in work
• have at least one child

If you’d like help with your financial planning, please get in touch.

First Time Buyers

Buying for the first time

Buying for the first time?

For first time buyers, getting onto the property ladder may seem like a daunting process, but there is help available.

With demand outstripping supply in many areas, the average UK house price has been pushed beyond the reach of many of the UK’s estimated 335,750 first time buyers. A report from The Land Registry (based on data from November 2016) shows an annual price increase of 6.7%, taking the value of the average UK property to £217,928.

When you consider that first-time buyers would typically put down around 20% against their first home, it’s no wonder that finding a sufficient deposit is becoming increasingly difficult – especially for those currently renting. In fact, one of the major lenders reported the average first-time deposit has more than doubled since 2007 to more than £32,000.

If you’re struggling to save a large deposit you may be able to find a mortgage rate of 90% or 95% – provided you can meet the lender’s affordability criteria.

The bank of mum and dad
Meanwhile research by the Social Mobility Commission has found an increasing proportion are turning to their parents for help buying their first home. In fact, over a third of first-time buyers in England (34%) are relying on the bank of mum and dad, compared to one in five in 2010.

The ‘bank of mum and dad’ has been a useful financial foot-up for many, but what about parents who want to help their kids but don’t have savings?

Government help
Although the Help to Buy: mortgage guarantee scheme ended in December 2016 the Help to Buy: Equity Loan is still available. The Government lends you up to 20% of the cost of your newly-built home, so you’ll only need a 5% cash deposit and a 75% mortgage to make up the rest. Equity loans are available to first time buyers as well as homeowners looking to move. The home you want to buy must be newly built with a maximum price tag of £600,000.

Other initiatives to help first-time buyers include The Help to Buy: ISA which helps you boost your savings by 25%. For every £200 you save you receive a government bonus of £50. The maximum government bonus you can receive is £3,000.

Sound mortgage advice can take the complexities out of the home-buying process and maximise your chances of getting an affordable mortgage.

At a glance:
335,750 first time buyers in the UK
x2 first-time buyer deposits doubled since 2007
34% of first time buyers rely on parents
£217,928 average value of a UK property

If you need help getting onto the property ladder please get in touch

Your home/property may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage

Do you run your own business?

Do you run your own business?

If you do, you probably have one or more key employees that are integral to its success. They may even possess the skills, knowledge, experience or leadership that makes a vital difference to your bottom line.

But have you considered what would happen if they suddenly died, or suffered a critical illness that forced them to be absent from work for a long period of time? If the unexpected happened, it could pose a serious risk to your business, so make sure you have the relevant safety nets in place to avoid any financial difficulty.

Protect the most important assets
You may have covered the tangible assets of your business, but have you protected the most important assets: the people that directly contribute to your profits?

Key Person Protection is a simple way for you to insure your business against the losses you might suffer as a result of the death or critical illness of a key individual.

To find out more about our full range of Business Protection products, please get in touch.