Why you need a dedicated business bank account


As a small business owner, chances are you already know how important finances are to your business. You need to make sure you’re in a stable financial situation at all times, keeping a close eye on cash flow to maintain profitability and make better business decisions, but there’s one more vital ingredient you need to think about – your business bank account. Having a dedicated service is essential, but just why do you need one?

Well, the first and most obvious reason is that you need to keep your personal and business finances separate. It might seem like a small point, particularly if you don’t think your company’s established enough to warrant an entirely separate account, but it can make all the difference come tax time. You need to have a clear audit trail of all money going into and out of your account, not only being essential for cash flow management but ensuring all bookkeeping and accounting requirements (self-assessment, VAT returns etc.) are easy to complete. It’ll be easier to estimate the amount of tax you need to save too, avoiding the possibility of being caught unawares by a bill.

It’s all about being organised, but it can avoid the possibility of your personal finances being caught up in your business affairs too. This is something that’s particularly important to remember should your business (heaven forbid) default and owe money to creditors, because by keeping things separate your personal assets won’t be at risk of being swallowed up. It’s important to think about the various services a specialist account can offer too – overdraft facilities, for example, can prove essential for start-ups and can provide a valuable buffer when trying to get things off the ground, whilst preferential loan rates can often be provided as well. You’ll often find you can establish a good working relationship with the bank manager too, something that can make all the difference should you need to secure vital funding or grow your business.

Getting the right account may not initially seem like that much of a challenge or, indeed, that important, but it can actually be key to the success of your company. It can be difficult for a start-up to get off the ground without the services of a business bank account whilst improved organisation and a good relationship with the bank manager can make all the difference, so don’t go into it blindly – make sure to get a dedicated business bank account and you could have the kick start you need for your new journey.

New car sales at pre-recession levels thanks to vehicle leasing


It’s been a difficult few years for the UK car manufacturing industry. Sales of new vehicles were unsurprisingly hit during the economic downturn, but recent figures indicate that things have well and truly turned. In fact, new car sales are at pre-recession levels for the first time since the initial dip, and arguably vehicle leasing has been a core driver of that growth.

Figures released by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) indicate that vehicle registrations from private buyers were up a fifth in May 2013 when compared to the same period last year, and taking fleet and business cars into account there were just over 180,000 registrations in May alone. This made it the strongest May for car sales since way back in 2005, and the first few months of 2013 were equally as impressive – there were a total of 948,666 car registrations between January and May, a 9.3% increase on last year.

This increase in performance marks a significant milestone for UK car manufacturing, and whilst companies are still relatively cautious, particularly when you consider the continued uncertainty in the European market, the future looks promising. And, the vehicle leasing market is faring equally as well – April was a great month for new car finance with volumes up by 37% compared with April 2012, with 227,153 new vehicles being bought on lease, hire purchase or contract hire. It’s thought that these figures go a long way to explaining the boom in UK car manufacturing, and given the cost benefits it isn’t hard to see why vehicle leasing is becoming increasingly popular.

The combination of cheaper deals and people realising the long-term value of leasing over purchasing second-hand vehicles has meant sales of new cars have been pushed to decent levels for the first time in years, ultimately having a measurable impact on the manufacturing industry and the UK economy as a whole. Given that the popularity of leasing is only ever on the rise and at Leasing4Business we are pleased and that we’re slowly making our way out of the recession, it’ll be great to see how far sales figures can go.

Commercial Van Insurance Explained


There are over four million commercial vehicles on Britain’s roads according to The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). With each and every one of these vehicles legally requiring protection, the insurance industry has a lot to deal with.

While getting a quote and taking out a commercial vehicle policy is similar to regular car insurance in some ways, there are certain aspects that differ. So, here are the main points explained:

Business or private

Unless you use your van strictly for personal travel, you will need to take out a commercial vehicle insurance policy, even if this involves simply driving to your place of work. A regular car insurance policy will cover social, domestic, pleasure and commuting, however, van owners do not have these categories. There are three types of business van insurance:

  • Carriage of own goods – This covers your belongings, whether they are tools of the trade or personal items. This policy is for those who simply commute, or professionals who need their van to carry out a trade.
  • Carriage of goods for hire or reward – This applies to delivery jobs, particularly occupations that require multi drops at various destinations.
  • Haulage – This is more concerned with fixed deliveries to regular clients and locations.

These classifications are in addition to the usual options like comprehensive and third party fire and theft insurance. For the delivery and haulage options, the policy will cover accidents and incidents. However, additional insurance for the goods in transit may be required.

Type of van

As with regular car insurance policies, the type of van you drive will determine the price you pay. The Association of British Insurers gives a group rating based on factors including:

  • Vehicle value
  • How much damage could be done to the vehicle
  • How much repairs would cost, which includes replacement parts
  • Performance, including acceleration and top speed
  • Security systems installed such as alarms, immobilisers and trackers.

How a quote is calculated

In addition to the van insurance group, other factors specific to commercial vehicles will determine your policy premium.

  • Claims history on any vehicle – This is a requirement for all insurance companies, even if you weren’t to blame for previous incidents. If you have a no claims bonus on another vehicle, you may be able to mirror this with your van policy and get a lower premium.
  • Convictions – Regardless of what car or van you were driving at the time, this will apply to any quote you receive.
  • Mileage – The amount of miles you cover in a year is likely to be more in a commercial vehicle.
  • Occupation – A quote for a delivery driver will be different to that of a carpenter, for example.
  • Location – If you leave your van at secure company premises, this may mean a lower premium compared to your home.

If you are still confused by commercial van insurance, it is a good idea to get in touch with an established provider. Van insurance from The Co-operative Insurance is a well-respected and trusted option.

Most common types of fraud in the UK revealed


Whether we like it or not, fraud has become an inherent part of the societal norm. While certain types of fraud impact upon your daily life without your knowledge, in the form of increasingly costly insurance premiums or a diminishment in the quality of public services, you can also find yourself directly susceptible to fraud: whether you’re online, offline, at home or abroad.

Some of the most common types of fraud in the UK are…

Benefit fraud

 While some see benefit fraud as a faceless type of fraud, in that there is no perceived “victim”, it is one of the most common, and costly, types of fraud in the UK, costing the British taxpayer in excess of £1.2 billion in 2011-2012 alone.

The annual cost of fraud contributes greatly to the budget deficit, meaning that the Government must make cuts elsewhere, including in public service funding, such as healthcare. Benefit fraud, therefore, is something which impacts on the quality of all our lives. 

With over 166,000 cases of benefit fraud investigated in 2011-2012 and over 10,000 convictions, the trend towards seeing benefit fraud as an easy way to put a few extra pounds in one’s pocket is a worrying one that shows no sign of abating, despite the Government’s concerted efforts to crack down on the crime.

 Credit and debit card fraud

Credit, or debit, card fraud has been a part of our lives for several decades and, while 2011-12 statistics indicate that there has in fact been a decline in credit and debit card fraud overall, the same statistics merely indicate that the nature of card fraud is changing, not necessarily declining in frequency.  

While Financial Fraud Action UK reported a 7% decrease in card losses, year on year, for 2011-2012, translating into a figure of £341 million, the lowest figure in a decade, telephone banking losses increased by around a third over the same period.

Instead of stealing cards, fraudsters are making phone calls to customers, posing as employees of their bank andasking for secure card information. It seems that with technological advances making online payments more secure, fraudsters are falling back on more basic techniques, which customers are less vigilant about. 

 Accident claim abroad fraud

Accident claim abroad’ is another area that is being increasingly targeted by fraudsters.

Whether claims relate to illness while on holiday, damage to goods, or the theft of personal items, a growing number of people are making fraudulent claims on their holiday insurance each year. The rise in the number of fraudulent claims is a trend that is adding an average of £50 to the annual insurance premiums of regular customers.

The industry is using technology and incident investigators to clamp down on those intending to commit fraud, but the proliferation of ‘accident claim abroad’ claims is certainly starting to follow the trend set by fraudulent whiplash claimants in the UK.

A failure to nip the problem in the bud could see it spiralling out of control, not only increasing the cost of insurance premiums for regular customers, but also making it harder for genuine claimants to get the compensation they deserve, as their claims are increasingly met with inherent scepticism.

Reasons you might need a solicitor


While in most situations one can act as their own representative, there will come a time in everyone’s life when they require the services of a good solicitor. While hiring a solicitor may be seen by some as an unnecessary cost, good solicitors can often end up paying for themselves in the time, hassle and money that they save their clients.

Here are just a few reasons why, whether you know it or not, you might need a solicitor at some point in your life.

 You’re buying or selling a house

Purchasing a house is likely to be one of the most expensive investments that you will make. Upon making the purchase, however, there are a number of complicated legal intricacies that must be adhered to. While it is not illegal or impossible to undertake your own conveyancing prior to a purchase, many lenders do frown upon such a practice and have been known to refuse mortgages on this basis.

Solicitors are generally instructed by house sellers and buyers to undertake the change in Title Deeds, with the seller’s solicitor charged with applying for the Title Deeds, while the buyer’s solicitor registers the changes in Title at HM Land Registry.  

House buyers and sellers can save much time, money and be confident that all legal obligations have been met by hiring trusted solicitors to operate on their behalf, such as those at Co-operative Legal Services. While it may be tempting to save money, the hassle and legal complications that could arise make hiring a solicitor the far more sensible option.

Divorce

While the divorce process is far more simplistic than it once was, there is still a great deal of paperwork associated with divorce proceedings, which must be completed to the satisfaction of the court.

When divorces are not amicable, conflict over property, money and custody of children can arise. In any of these scenarios, a solicitor is absolutely essential.

Personal injury claims

Personal injuries that weren’t our fault are an inevitable part of life. While on most occasions the damage and inconvenience caused may be minor, some accidents can have distinctly longer term implications on our quality of life.

Solicitors can help people to claim much needed compensation for accidents at work, on the road or trips and falls that were caused by someone else’s improper adherence to safety regulations.

Writing a will

While writing a will may be the furthest thing from most people’s minds, failing to do so could see your loved ones left in a state of emotional and financial despair. Failure to complete a will means that your estate will be split up in accordance with the arbitrary laws of the State, which could see your family, friends or beloved charities not receive the inheritance that you intended for them.

By employing a solicitor to help with the completion of a will, you entrust the will’s executors, designated by you, to apply to the court for a Grant of Probate after your death and administer your estate in accordance with your wishes.

Many firms specialise, or have specialist departments that specialise, in wills and probate law. Contacting a team like the Co-op probate service could help save you time, money and emotional hardship, as trained advisors will help walk you through every step of the process.

How to make money from a minibus


With the economy in the shape it is, everyone is constantly searching for new ways to make money on the side, when they are not working their regular jobs. A good way of making money is if you happen to own a minibus, or if you’re thinking of buying one.

If you own a minibus, you’ll find that it can be used in a diverse range of situations to make you money. Of course, you’ll need to investigate minibus insurance before you start on any of these business ventures. This article seeks to illuminate some of the ways in which you can make money from this vehicle.

Start a moving business

All you need to start a moving business is a minibus. That’s all it takes! Well, you’ll have to do some online advertising, and maybe set up a website, but you can do that very easily and for little money. Once you’ve done a few moves, the advertising should take care of itself through word of mouth.

Before you start, make sure you’ve got some private hire insurance, just in case of accidents. You’ll also want to make sure that you’ve worked out a bit beforehand so that lifting the heavy stuff isn’t going to be too backbreaking. Do some research into safe carrying practices as well.

Start carpooling

Carpooling has been a popular measure that people often take against rising fuel prices and bad economic conditions. It makes far more sense to carpool than for everyone to spend extra money by driving individually to work or school.

If you live in a neighbourhood populated by families with children, go around knocking and find out what everyone’s transport needs are in the mornings. Parents will be thrilled to have an alternative to driving their kids to school, as they need to go to work in the mornings. It’ll save them time and money.

Alternatively, if you live in a neighbourhood where most of the residents work for the same company or corporation, the principle is the same: go to the company and offer your services as a shuttle van.

Other methods of making money

While you’re carpooling, you can also make extra cash by offering your minibus to others for advertising. By selling advertising space on the minibus, you can make cash for doing essentially nothing. Don’t underestimate the amount of money you stand to make through advertising; a lot of companies pay a lot of money for it.

Apart from advertising, you can also perform deliveries for individuals, like the elderly, as well as for companies, such as greengrocers for example.

Why to Insure your Holiday Home


Your holiday home is a place of respite from the world. However, getting insurance for you vacation getaway is not as straightforward as it seems.

Holiday home insurance is generally tougher to get because the home itself is only lived in for part of the year and may be poorly maintained. Plus, a guest who might cause damage to the home can become a complicated issue. While these are certainly reasons for getting holiday home insurance, they are also why it is more difficult to obtain.

However, there are a number of steps you can take in order to find the right holiday home insurance for your needs. Your efforts should start with examining the different holiday home insurance policies offered by different insurance companies. Also, if you have family or friends that use holiday home insurance, ask them about their policies, what they cover, and the expense.

Holiday Home Requirements

In obtaining holiday home insurance, you may have to meet certain requirements in order to get the policy you want. What follows are some of the potential requirements needed to obtain the insurance policy that best fits your needs.

Inspections: The insurer you choose may require frequent inspections of the home by a licensed agent or inspector, sometimes as often as once per week depending on the conditions of the policy.

Maintenance: Your holiday home may have to be maintained to a certain level in order to qualify for certain types of insurance. Each individual policy may have their types of requirements.

“In-Occupancy”: In addition, the insurer may require that the “in-occupancy” of the holiday home shall not last longer than a pre-set time period, which is usually four weeks over a calendar year. This can affect your ability to rent the home to guests when you are not in residence.

What to Look for in Holiday Home Policies

Getting the best holiday home coverage starts by examining different quotes from insurance companies, but there are certain factors you should be looking for when starting your search.

Theft & Forced Entry: The biggest risk to your holiday home is having thieves breaking in and stealing the items kept there. You may be able to lower the rates if you keep little of value in the home, apart from the furniture and necessary appliances.

Infrastructure: Does your holiday home have a swimming pool or perhaps a large deck, patio or even a storage building? You will want to check and see if the policy covers those areas as well.

Accidental Damage: One of the biggest issues in holiday home insurance is when something happens to a guest in your home. Look for policies that cover this important aspect of holiday home insurance. Also, any damage that might be caused by servants or employees should be covered as well.

Renting: If you rent your holiday home, you may have even more difficultly finding good insurance as the damage the occupants cause may not be covered.

 You can find more information about holiday home insurance from Tower Gate Insurance, the professionals with years of experience in handling insurance for vacations homes.

How mortgage life insurance works


Mortgage life insurance is a common type of insurance to protect your property and your dependents should the worst happen to you. Your home is one of the biggest investments but also the largest source of personal debt. Therefore, protecting your loved ones and property is very important.

A sudden disability or a premature death can enormously stress your family as they will be looking for ways to pay off the mortgage. If something happens to you, mortgage payments may become unbearable and your family may face big financial hardships that may require them to sell the property. By purchasing a mortgage policy, your dependents actually buy a means to protect themselves in case of a sudden loss of income. Should you pass away before the mortgage is paid off, your mortgage life policy will provide your dependents with a fixed death benefit for immediate financial protection. In fact, your loved ones can use the lump sum to make their mortgage payments or pay off the loan.

Mortgage life insurance declines in value as the policyholder pays higher premiums to the insurance company. In other words, the more money you pay the less coverage you get as you grow older. On the other hand, in the event of your death or disability, your dependents do not have to worry about making their mortgage payments.

Here is how a mortgage policy works:
You can determine the level of coverage so that is in line with your outstanding mortgage and the number of years the policy will be in place. The first five years, the value of your coverage is fixed and equals the outstanding balance on your mortgage. The expiry date must be the same as the date that your final mortgage payment is due.

In year six, the insurer determines the annual rate at which your coverage will be decreasing to equal the outstanding balance on your mortgage. Even if you are behind in payments, the insurer will proceed to decreasing your insurance coverage. At the same time, your premium increases. For instance, if you bought a 30-year mortgage policy in your 25s with a monthly premium of 1,000 GBP, in your 40s with 15 years remaining amortization you can pay as high as 1,400 GBP.

The mortgage policy ceases as soon as your dependents collect the lump sum against your death or disability. If you survive the term and the lump sum has not become payable, the policy ceases and your dependents do not collect anything as the policy has no cash value to borrow against or withdraw.

There are two types of mortgage life insurance to consider:

  1. Decreasing term life insurance: the amount of coverage declines over the specified term of the policy in line with the outstanding balance on your mortgage, so you are only paying for the life coverage you need.
  2. Level term life insurance: the amount of coverage remains fixed over the specified term of the policy to align with the fixed level of outstanding mortgage. 

You can also purchase a mortgage policy on a single or joint life basis, with the lump sum being paid out on the first claim only. You may also add critical illness benefit for a higher premium to cover for cancer, heart attack or stroke. In this case, the lump sum is being paid out on death or the diagnosis of a particular critical illness, whichever occurs first.

In short, the underlying concept of mortgage policy is that if you pass away or become incapacitated, mortgage insurance will pay off the outstanding balance of your mortgage. However, given the paradox mechanics of the product you should be careful with the chosen level of coverage to avoid higher premiums. Also, keep in mind that the coverage provided by a mortgage policy typically ranges between 15 and 30 years. So, the sooner you start, the better.

Jacob Chapman has been working in the financial industry for years when in 2009 he decided to focus his experience on helping individuals better understand the plans and policies they are offered. You can read his articles on mortgage life insurance on http://www.mortgagelifeinsurance.org.uk and life assurance on http://www.lifeassurancequotes.org.uk .

What does the growth in new car sales mean for the wider motor trade?


This year, new car sales in the UK have been on the increase, pleasing many involved in the motor trade in the UK. According to statistics, new car registrations have been increased by 11.3%, to around 149,191 new vehicles being sold to customers in November alone.

 Overall, this adds up to a 5.4% increase, adding to the total figure of 1,921,052 vehicles sold in the UK, between January and November.

 Given the recession that has plunged the UK’s economy into a downward spiral over the last two years, this article has been written to illuminate what these figures exactly mean for the wider motor trade in the UK.

 The UK Motor Trade’s status in Europe

 The rise in registrations for new cars by British drivers has propelled the British car market into the second top position in Europe, a positive sign and massive improvement from the year before.

 Although the waters for next year still remain arduous, this recent improvement will give car manufacturers and retailers to keep providing hard work to deliver new cars successfully to customers.

 Working around the problem

 Manufacturers and retailers both have worked hard to accommodate the differences in the market following the recession. They have focused on ‘value for money’ deals as opposed to sinking without adapting to the current climate.

 Of course, although the year has been mostly a success for car manufacturers, success hasn’t been universal – alternative fuel vehicle sales have fallen by 10% this month alone, although this may be due to marketing hitches.

 The strength of the UK motor industry

 The other reason for the rise in sales this year by 10%, and the 5% increase in November alone, is due to a number of reasons. The British motor industry is truly set apart from other competitors by its strenuous productivity, and its strong workforce.

 There is also an industry-wide understanding that these sales increases shouldn’t give rise to a feeling of complacency or comfort in the wake of good news. The recession shows little signs of letting up, and the industry understands that they need to work harder to sustain the big steps they’ve made this year.

 The heads of the industry coming together to make long-term plans in light of the recession has also supported the increase in sales, and has ensured further growth for next year.

 Higher business costs

The growth in sales is good news for the motor trade industry which, like all business, has been hit with a rise in business costs that outstrips the rate of inflation.

While motor trade and fleet insurance has remained stable, energy and fuel costs have rapidly risen, putting many industries under pressure and prompting the government to cancel a planned 3p rise in fuel duty for the new year.

That new cars are driving off forecourts at the rate they are is testament to the industry’s strength, and dealers will hope the cancelled duty rise will help keep things on an upward curve.

If you are involved in the motor trade industry and want to find competitive business costs, look no further than motor trade insurance from Quote Me Today. Quote Me Today are one of the UK’s leading specialist motor insurance providers, with the experience and expertise to offer a product perfectly suited to your needs.

Is it Worth Having Breakdown Cover Included with Car Insurance?


These days, car insurance companies will offer you all sorts of incentives in order to get your business, from special discounts to cuddly toys. You might think you’ve found some great quotes, but then you have to look through all of these extras to work out which one is best; it can be a real pain. Breakdown cover is one of these things, but is it worth looking for an insurer that offers it with the premium?

Breakdown cover is something that everyone should have. It’s generally inexpensive, but comes in very handy when you need it. There are however, a huge range of companies to choose from, and different levels of cover. One of the main issues with ‘free’ breakdown cover that insurance companies offer is that it often doesn’t include a good level of cover. It’s far better to have what you need than get poor cover because it’s cheap. There’s nothing worse than breaking down and finding out that you aren’t covered because you’re too close to home.

The other problem is of course that it might say ‘free’, but this isn’t always the case, especially when you take into account the cost of the insurance premium. The breakdown cover should only really be a bonus. Because of the price difference between breakdown cover and insurance, free cover shouldn’t really influence your decision. If two prices are very similar, but one company offers breakdown cover, it’s probably a better idea to choose by the reputation of the company. Think about how much it would cost just to buy breakdown cover separately; it’s not worth a lot.

If you do choose to get breakdown cover by your own means, then it means that you can get exactly what you want, rather than settling for what you get. You can specify European cover for instance, and you can look through review sites to make sure you’re choosing a company that is going to be reliable and will give you a good level of customer service.

If you go to www.breakdowndirect.co.uk, you’ll see that the cost of cover starts from less than £30, so it’s really not worth deciding on an insurer by whether or not they offer breakdown cover. If they do, it’s a bonus, but don’t take it into account unless there really is nothing else to choose between two insurers.