A Property Claim – A couple of useful points

If you are in the unfortunate position of making a claim on your property insurance there are a couple of points you would be wise to be aware of.  Firstly, upon reporting your claim, the insurance company will look to appoint you with a loss adjuster.  These are usually from an independent company whose remit is to assess whether your claim is covered in your policy, and also what the value of the claim amounts to.  Whilst the loss adjuster does operate as a separate and impartial organisation from the insurance company, they are ‘encouraged’ to keep the value of the claim to an absolute minimum in order to keep the insurance companies profit at a maximum.  Remember the insurance company isn’t necessarily your ‘knight in shining armour’ – they need to make a profit to survive as any other business does.  Whilst many claims are completed amicably through the loss adjuster route, a quick search on many insurance forums will quickly establish a feeling of distrust and imbalanced service provided by many loss adjusters.

However there is another option available to policy holders and one which some insurance companies fail to educate their policy holders on.  This is the fact that they are entitled to manage their own claim through using an independent loss assessor.

A loss assessor will represent you through the complete claims process by:

a)      Preparing the claim report and justifying the costs associated

b)      Meeting with insurance company representatives or their appointed Loss Adjusters

c)       Negotiate the best possible settlement of the claim – i.e. getting its true value

d)      Deal with cases where a claim has initially been declined by the insurance company or where problems or delays have occurred in agreeing settlement

An experienced Loss Assessor is a valuable asset during the claims process – they carry a lot of experience in dealing with insurance companies and have the technical knowhow to make sure you get the true value of your claim.

Peter Hargreaves, managing director at Allkare, a national disaster restoration company with 12 years of experience in dealing with loss assessing and insurance companies, says

“Over the past few years we have seen an increase in people wishing to use our services due to their lack of trust in the service provided directly by the insurance company. They appreciate the fact that we take away all the stress from managing a claim and make sure our clients get their property restored its full ‘pre-claim’ glory – something they are entitled to considering the premiums they pay”.

Guide To Car Insurance Claims

Being involved in a car accident can be a frightening and stressful experience whatever the severity of the incident. Knowing how to claim on your car insurance and being able to rely on trusted, professional legal representation is essential in making this experience as straightforward and stress-free as possible. Making a pursuing a claim involves a similar process for any incident: from seekingwhiplash compensation to something more serious, like a brain injury claim.

Immediately following an accident you should call 999 if someone has been injured, although if your vehicle is causing an obstruction on the road the emergency services should also be notified. Gather as much information as you can at this point: the exact time, weather conditions, speed limit and environment should all be recorded in addition to taking the other driver’s details. It is often useful to take photographs of the scene following an incident. Any type of car accident can mean that you are not thinking clearly and may find it difficult to recall details later on. Collating this information will all help when you are making a claim later. There is often a time limit on car insurance claims, so be sure to contact your insurance provider as soon as possible following an incident.

If you are in an accident which was not your fault, it may be possible for you to claim for a number of things, including damage to your vehicle or property, your insurance policy excess, loss of earnings and personal injury. Claiming for things such as damage to your vehicle may be relatively straightforward: your insurance company should send out relevant forms for you to complete and will assess the damage and how this may be repaired.

If you are involved in a more serious accident and have sustained an injury it is advised that you seek specialist, professional help in pursuing your claim. Your solicitor will begin proceedings by writing to the other party to state your intentions to hold them responsible. If this second party is also insured then the matter can be settled relatively quickly as the insurance company will take over and provide further details of if and when the claim will be settled.

Medical guidance will be sought by your solicitor in order to detail the injuries you received – this will help in determining the amount you propose to claim. This is then raised with the second insurance company, and negotiations can proceed. In more complex cases when the value of the claim is disputed or it cannot be agreed who was responsible for the accident and injuries, then the case may go to court.

If the other driver was uninsured you should still be able to claim for damages to your car, provided you have fully comprehensive coverage. However, this will mean losing your no-claims bonus. Those without this comprehensive cover can seek further help from the Motor Insurers’ Bureau, who may provide a payment subject to a £300 excess.

Provided you have comprehensive insurance and you act quickly following an incident, making a claim and receiving a payout can be a stress-free process. Even more complex cases involving disputed personal injury claims can be straightforward with the right professional and legal guidance.

Mortgage life insurance – your questions answered

Here is a selection of some of the more commonly asked questions on the subject of mortgage life insurance.

What is the difference between life insurance and life assurance?

Today the two terms are often used interchangeably though historically they were, and still are, technically different things.

Insurance relates to cover for an event that might be unlikely to happen.  That might typically include your premature death during a period you are still trying to pay off your mortgage. 

By contrast, assurance is something that relates to a certainty. That is typically regarded as your eventual death at some time in the perhaps distant future.

Different policies exist to cope with these very different risks and circumstances.

How can I protect my mortgage through life insurance?

Broadly speaking, you may have options open to you including:

  •   a policy that would pay off your mortgage directly in the event of your (or other insured party’s) premature death;
  •   one that would pay a lump sum to your beneficiaries, which they may choose to do with as they wish including potentially paying off any outstanding mortgage. 

Why is my mortgage lender insisting that I take out such cover?

Your mortgage lender may wish to see that you are taking sensible steps to protect both your and their interests.

Contrary to some myth, mortgage lenders do not like repossessing properties, as they are in the business of lending money not managing the disposal of repossessed homes. 

They have, therefore, a perfectly legitimate interest in making sure that their investment in your property is protected through your beneficiaries being able to deal with any outstanding mortgage in the event of your premature death.

Following relatively recent legislative changes, what mortgage lenders now must not do is to insist that you purchase their insurance cover or indeed try to sell it to you at the same time they are offering you a mortgage.

Will I get a bonus or my money back if I do not die before the end of the policy’s term? 

There is now a very large selection of policies available in the marketplace, such as Drewberry mortgage insurance.

Typically, the simplest forms of mortgage life insurance are not savings and investment products – so you would not receive any bonus payments or money back at the end of the term.

What happens if I am critically ill but do not actually die?

That depends upon the type of cover you have selected.

If you have selected only a simple life policy then your policy would typically not pay out and you and your family may find yourselves in severe financial hardship if you were unable to work.

By contrast, it is possible to combine what is called critical illness cover together with a typical life insurance policy. 

It is a form of combined cover that might well be worth considering if you are seeking the maximum protection.

Compensation for accidents when should you make a claim?

An accident can catch us by surprise and so if you are unsure of what to do at the time of your accident it shouldn’t mean that you end up losing out.

Accidents can have serious consequences and could cause injuries that leave you unable to work and earn a living. Of course, in these turbulent economic times, being able to work is more crucial than ever.

Compensation is designed to help you financially if the worst happens.  The information in this article should make it clear when you should make a claim for compensation.

Can I make a claim?

When we have an accident it is only natural to be taken by surprise, so it’s not uncommon not to have time to think about whether you could claim compensation or not.

Basically, if you have been injured or suffered a loss because of someone else’s negligence, then you are justified in making a claim for compensation.

You need to be honest about who was at fault, as if the accident was your fault you will find it hard to make a claim if it wasn’t clearly the other party’s fault. The types of claim you can make differ, from personal injury claims, medical negligence claims to road accident claims.

When can I make my claim?

If the accident occurred in the last 3 years then you are able to make a claim. There are some exceptions for things like industrial disease, for example if you were a child at the time of the event or if the symptoms are only just becoming apparent. There are simple guides online that should give you an idea of time limits for different injuries.

What about the legalities?

Legal advice can be pricey, but most personal injury lawyers, such as Injury Lawyers 4 U, will act for you on a ‘no win, no fees’ basis. This means there is no financial risk to you. 

If you win, your lawyer’s fees will be paid by the losing side and so they will not take the case on unless you have a just claim. You should contact a good lawyer as soon as possible after your accident, so that they can give you expert compensation claim advice.

Personal injury claims only very rarely end up going to court. If the fault is clear, settlements will likely be made out of court.

Do your research

Compensation is there to help you when you need and deserve it. If you have had an accident that was caused by someone else and it has left you injured or with a loss, then it’s only fair that you seek the compensation you are legally entitled to.

If you are unsure, research online, or get in touch with the experts who will be able to provide personal advice about your accident.

Top 5 Van Insurance Tips

Whether your renewal is coming up soon, or you’re looking to buy your very first van, this handy guide will help make sure you get the cover you need.

It may seem obvious, but van insurance and car insurance are not the same thing, and are not interchangeable. Insurers have specific policies for your type of vehicle, and that’s a good thing, because van insurance is better tailored to your exact needs.

There are a few things to bear in mind when looking for van insurance, things that you might never have considered before, especially if you’ve only ever held car insurance. Here are some of the most important details to watch out for:

  • Tools Insurance – Let’s face it, if you’ve got a van, then you’ve probably got tools in it. It might even be piled high with trade goods. If you have, then tools insurance should form an essential part of your insurance policy. If your van is stolen, and its contents aren’t insured, then you could be left seriously out of pocket. There will be vans out there that aren’t worth as much as the load they’re carrying, so make sure you’re covered.
  • Legal Assistance – This goes for cars as well, don’t just assume that you have the necessary legal cover should the worst happen, make sure you do.
  • Foreign Cover – Are you likely to take your van abroad? If you think you might, then it’s a good idea to get a policy that allows European cover – adding it on at a later date can be expensive, and many insurers offer it as standard.
  • Modifications – You may think that insurance-increasing modifications are only for boy racers, but be aware that any kind of alteration to your van could up your premium, or even worse, void it if you failed to declare. Non-standard lifting ramps could come under this.
  • Private/Company Vehicle – How are you going to use your van? Is it going to be used as part of your job, or just to commute and move your own furniture? Make sure you’ve told the insurer, so that they can give you the correct policy.

 As for actually finding the ideal cover, it’s easier than you might think. You could trawl through the dozens of insurer websites, or spend hours on the phone, or get someone to do it for you. Once you know exactly what you need, then you can hand the information over to a broker and they’ll do all the legwork for you.

Brokers such as Autoline have strong partnering relationships with a great many leading insurers, which means that not only can they find you the perfect policy, they can get it at a preferential price too. For cheap van and cheap car insurance NI, they are a great choice if you’re looking for less hassle at a better price.

Whiplash claims making insurance costs rise for everyone

 Getting whiplash through a car accident can be painful and upsetting and it is important that people can be compensated when this has occurred. However, there are certain people out there trying to trick the system in order to make a quick buck.

It is suspected that fraudulent whiplash claims occur regularly and this is leading to insurance premiums increasing for all drivers. If an insurance company has to pay out for excessive levels of injury claims, they have to make up the shortfall somewhere.

According to The Telegraph whiplash injury claims cost British insurers £2 billion last year, so it makes sense that this would push up premiums. This is bad news for all drivers who have to take the brunt of this and pay more to insure their vehicles.

The average annual car insurance premium has risen to over £1000 and this price increases for young drivers, with young men of 17-22 having to pay an average of £2,792 for insurance, according to the AA.

It is still possible to find decent premiums and Axa car insurance in Northern Ireland and elsewhere offers premiums based on people’s driving history and circumstances, but unless the so called ‘crash for cash’ scams are ended, prices could continue to grow out of proportion to accident figures, inflation and other factors.

According to the director of AA Insurance “significant inroads” are being made to remedy this problem, so hopefully insurance premiums will return to the levels where they should be.

The AA believes that whiplash claims are adding around £90 to the cost of the average car insurance policy, so this is something that people obviously want to stamp out, for all our sakes.

Keeping you landlord insurance claims low

It’s great having your landlord insurance policy in place; it will really help if you should have to claim, but obviously not having to claim, or minimising any damage to reduce a claim will save you time and stress, and prevent your premiums from being increased due to your large amount of claims.

Let us look at some ways to help you do this. Some landlord insurance policies come with an emergency help line number. If yours does then make sure your tenant has this to hand. Personally I laminate it and tape it to a door so it’s always there. People can panic in an emergency so making the rules of what to do really clear can really help.

If your policy does not provide you with this service, it’s a good idea to give your own number to your tenants and tell them to call you immediately if there is a problem. It may be a pain being called in the middle of the night to deal with a leaking water pipe, but it could save a lot of time and money compared to if a tenant decided to leave it and deal with it in the morning. You really can’t count on a tenant having any DIY skills, or even any common sense, especially in a crisis! Also the impetus to fix things quickly is not as great in a rented home, some people think it’s not their problem, and as long as they’re not in any danger will not hurry to fix a problem. An example of this from my own experience, I once had a tenant who I visited for a six monthly house check; I spotted a bucket under a leak on the top floor. I asked how long it had been like that, and they told me four months! “It’s not a problem” they said, “I empty the bucket twice a day” It turned out to be a problem with the roof, but by that time a lot of water had got in and done some damage to the timbers. It would have been a much simpler job to fix if I’d known about it straight away.

A lot of insurance claims are filed for malicious damage. The best way to reduce these types of claims is to thoroughly vet your tenants. Meet them in person, ask for references and check them.

For peace of mind always make sure you have a suitable landlords insurance policy in place. Find out how you could save on your landlords insurance.

Caravanning insurance in Northern Ireland

Caravanning is a fantastic way to spend your holiday or simply a long weekend but sometimes the insurance implications are not always well understood:

  • if you are towing a caravan, there is a moderately complicated set of requirements and regulations governing the licence needs vis-a-vis things such as the size and the weight of the caravan.  You will need to ensure that you are complying with these in order for your insurance to be effective;
  • your insurance for a towed caravan may come under two headings – the cover required by the law for your caravan when on the road and your own financial cover for your vehicle and its contents;
  • typically, you may be able to ensure that your caravan is covered by the legal minimum of third party liability insurance, when on the road, through your own motor vehicle cover – but you should check this carefully to be sure;
  • by contrast, that insurance might not cover your caravan for fully comprehensive risks nor when it is unhitched and being used as accommodation on a site.  You may need special caravan insurance cover to protect you in such situations;
  • insurance quotes in Northern Ireland might also be available for motorhomes – these are essentially vehicles where the accommodation comprises an integral part of the chassis and typically cannot be detached;
  • in those circumstances, motorhome insurance may cover both on the road and other forms of risk;
  • of course, whether you have a touring caravan or a motorhome, it is advisable to think through your insurance requirements carefully and to pay equally close attention to the exact details of any insurance you are considering purchasing;
  • whether you are talking about motor vehicle or caravan insurance, where the two things are separate, remember to make sure that your cover is valid for use in the Republic of Ireland or on the UK mainland (if you plan to visit either).  Some forms of caravan cover might not be applicable if you are taking your caravan on ferries or outside of Northern Ireland.  Such policies may typically be easily extended but it is worth checking to be sure.

At the risk of stating the obvious, before setting off on a journey with a touring caravan behind you, make sure that you have extensively practiced towing a caravan, cornering and particularly reversing.

These are all slightly different skills to those normally required to drive a car and they are better practiced somewhere quiet than for the first time on a busy road!


Insurance quotes – the available channels

If you are looking for an insurance quote, today you are fortunate enough to have a number of potential ways of engaging with your insurance provider.

The stroll along the high street

For many decades this was virtually the only option available for securing insurance quotations.

Today it is still available, though perhaps a declining percentage of the marketplace as people switch to technology engagement channels.

It has the obvious advantage of face-to-face personal contact coupled with perhaps the benefits of getting some exercise!

On the downside, choice may be rather more limited than through other channels and getting down to the high street in bad weather can be both time-consuming and unpleasant.

The telephone

Telephone service centres have been around for a long time and in their day were quite innovative and even revolutionary.

The advantages are built around the fact that you can have contact directly from your own living room.

The negatives are that it may not be easy to collect multiple quotations and compare them by telephone, as well as that not everyone is able to communicate clearly and effectively by phone.

Some people find the phone inhibiting to an extent that may apply less in face-to-face communication or when using other technology channels.

The internet

For insurance companies, Northern Ireland is no different to anywhere else in technology terms, as we are all connected to the World Wide Web.

The advantages of the internet are clear – fast access to multiple options, the possibility to sometimes be able to easily compare them and the absence of the need to engage in discussions with others.

Not everything is a positive though.  Of course, if you do not have a PC and internet access at home, you may be restricted in terms of how easily you can access the net.

It also has to be acknowledged that some people are technophobes and not at all comfortable with keyboards etc.

Mobile computing and the social media

Increasingly, access to the internet is available through various forms of smart phone.

This gives potential policyholders the possibility to obtain quotations on-the-go, something which is arguably the ultimate in flexibility and facility but the disadvantages mentioned above for PCs and internet probably apply to this channel as well.

The bottom line is that there are many options available now for people seeking insurance quotations and there is bound to be one to suit your temperament and requirements!

Getting insurance deals in Northern Ireland

Some of us may occasionally have given into the temptation of simply automatically renewing our insurance cover.  It may have seemed the easiest option, particularly if we were pressed for time and simply uninterested in the thought of wading through piles of insurance quotations – particularly if many of them had ended up not relating to Northern Ireland.

Yet it might be worth making a little effort:

  • the situation in Northern Ireland has changed.  Now, if you wish to compare car insurance, Northern Ireland offers real potential for finding multiple offers that may be significantly different to each other in terms of both cover and price;
  • of course, trying to find insurance proposals that are valid for Northern Ireland postcodes can sometimes still be something of a challenge. Fortunately there are now specialist sites that consolidate information from insurance providers that happily offer their policies to Northern Ireland residents;
  • some of these policies may offer interesting options for discounts covering things such as opting for a higher voluntary excess, increasing the security of your vehicle or simply garaging it overnight.  Different policies may offer different options in these areas – which is another good reason why it is worth making the effort to compare one against another, as it may result in improved savings for you;
  • policies may also not adopt identical positions in terms of younger drivers.  It may be a fact of life that if you are a younger or inexperienced driver, you may have to pay more for you insurance cover until you have established a significant no claims discount.  Having said that, some insurance providers may have more attractive pricing structures in this area than others;
  • however good your existing policy was at the time you first selected it, markets change.  New products may have arrived, providing improved cover or more cost-effective prices – you may be unlikely to know that unless you make the effort to compare your existing policy to other options that are now available;
  • there is little doubt that technology has now made the business of finding options and comparing them, so much easier than it was even just a few years ago.  No more wearing out shoe leather walking around the high street if you do not wish to!

None of the above may make comparing car insurance necessarily interesting or exciting.  Nevertheless, it might result in you feeling happier with your cover or happier with your bank balance – and possibly both!