Facebook and insurance premiums increase

Insurers have announced that they are taking more precautions when giving quotes on potential new customers. Instead of the routine questions of do you smoke, drink etc, questions such as ‘how much do you spend on petrol a week’ will also be included. Larger insurers such as Aviva are employing companies to monitor social networking sites so they can check what people are putting in their status update and check their photos etc.

Insurers are claiming that photos of you partying, staying out all night or going on holiday a lot will make a difference to how premiums are calculated. In total honesty how many people do actually tell the truth when answering the questions before you are given a quote? If you are a smoker looking for home insurance you won’t tell them that you are as you know the premium will go up. If you are a contractor and only work a minimum of 6 months a year then travel you won’t declare that either as they know the house is unoccupied for most of the year.

The solution is easy if you have a Facebook account then check the privacy settings so that status updates and photos are only available to view by friends only and not the whole public. It would seem like the most sensible option but most people forget that you can change the settings so the whole world can’t access your personal information.

If insurers will start snooping will it make a difference? I wouldn’t think so, most people will get up to speed of these things and they won’t be able to access everything on Facebook, but then again you shouldn’t be telling everyone that you are going on holiday or staying out all night etc. You can’t really blame insurers for taking on these extra measures as there are many articles that are giving tips on how to lower insurance premiums by lying. For example those that have more than one car but a driveway that allows parking for only one will lie and say that both are parked on a private driveway, just to bring the cost down.

Facebook is a great easy to keep in touch with family and friends that live too far to see on a regular basis, by having an account is allows people from all over the world to stay in contact. As many people have to save money on going out as people are being made redundant and jobs are harder to get and pay well Facebook is a way of keeping up to date with friends and their family as you may not be able to seem as often as you would like. If you have a Facebook account and are worried about snooping then check your privacy settings today to avoid having all your information made public.

Short term disability insurance

This insurance policy provides an insured employee a pre-determined percentage of its salary for a definite time period, while the employee is temporarily injured or sick or is pregnant and it is referred to as the short term disability insurance. While this insurance provides a sort of social security to the employees, it doesn’t come under the category of social security disability insurance.

How it is used?

Benefits of this insurance, i.e. a definite percentage of salary, can be availed after 1-14 days of medical declaration of temporary disability of the insured. But there’s a catch here; an insured employee is bound to use his entire available sick days first before starting to avail the insurance benefits. This policy/rule to use entire available sick days first is introduced in order to eliminate any difference between people availing insurance benefits due to a short term illness or a short term serious injury or pregnancy.

Short term disability insurance is paid for either by the company of insured employee or by employee itself. The former option is more frequent than the latter. However, a company can always leave it on employees to take care of their short term coverage that may come with some tax advantages. An employer has right to ask for some medical proof for said short term disability of an employee. Besides, an employer can also make an employee use his sick days first before letting the provision of short term disability kick in.

Eligibility Criteria

There are certain criteria for being eligible to this insurance cover, without which an employee can’t claim for benefits of this insurance. The two most important eligibility criteria include:

  • The insured must have worked as a full time (30 or more hrs/week) employee for the employer before the occurrence of his/her illness, injury or pregnancy.
  • The insured must have been working for employer for a considerable period of time.

Some Facts

There is a time period limit to the advantages provided by this insurance to an employee, which usually vary from 10-26 weeks. However, if an employee wants the advantages to be extended further then he or she must opt for long term disability insurance. There is one thing to remember that unlike short term disability insurance, the long-term disability insurance is much lenient with different regulations. Although, it is not necessary to have the insurance cover financed by the employer, it is imperative on the part of the employer to establish it for his employees.

Learner Driver Insurance

Learning to drive cars is the most important thing a person needs to do as this enables us to do so many things. However there are certain qualifications that one should fulfil before becoming a perfect driver.

People can’t just expect to drive cars without practicing as learners because it’s not so easy to understand how the controls work and how to properly use them. It’s quite necessary to gain expertise in your driving skills on roads so that you gain an insight into the actual driving conditions. It’s also important to get insurance because anything can happen once an inexperienced person sits behind the wheels, not to mention that it’s a legal requirement as well. Many people tend to opt for an annual learner driver insurance policy although that’s not mandatory. However with a yearly contract, you can’t get rid of your policy once your learning is complete and that’s why a temporary policy is better suited for learners.

It’s also tough to get the right kind of insurer who can cover such risks. Most of the times, companies hate to cover such learner drivers as they don’t have a full fledged driving license. Such new drivers also face so many expensive insurance quotes owing to their lack of experience. But, some companies do provide a reasonable insurance through which it’s possible for a person who is yet to imbibe driving skills to drive anyone’s car. Although one might think about not taking such insurance, accidents can happen and you also don’t want to have the police after you before you even get your driving licence.

Private driving practice is necessary and the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) of UK recommends it to learner drivers. It believes it can help them in clearing, the driving test for acquiring the license and will make them better drivers as well.

Any learner driver in UK should have a supervisor if they haven’t yet received their full UK driving licence. The supervisor’s job is to watch over the learner as he starts driving on roads. This supervisor should be more than 21 years old. Apart from that, he should possess a valid driver license and he should have been driving for a minimum period of 3 years. If somehow, you can’t drive in any situation during your private practice sessions, he should be able to tell you how to stop the car safely.

The claims of learner driver insurance can also include replacement of the vehicle driven by the learner in case of a mishap if it had been acquired only a year back. Its owner should only be its registered keeper. The replacement only applies if the mishap happens in UK. A courtesy car can also be made available if the vehicle has gone for repair to a garage after sustaining some minor damages. Apart from substitution of damaged vehicle, such policies also cover the medical expenses of those injured.

The claims for such damages can vary with various insurance companies. After a learner has cleared the test, his insurance ends. His last coverage under the insurance includes his return trip from the centre of the test to his house or wherever he keeps his vehicle. He can also get an insurance refund for the days in which he has not driven his vehicle. Some of the policies don’t allow such refund. After this insurance has ended, a learner should get any other driving insurance for safe driving if he continues to do so.

Driving Instructor Insurance

Driver instructor insurance is not much different from personal car insurance cover. It covers all the different aspects, like theft, accidents, liability, etc., which are insured under any general car insurance. The only difference lies in the cover that driving instructor insurance provides to the students of insured instructor. It doesn’t matter if you are teaching your students full-time or part-time, you always need to possess this insurance for taking up the teaching job.

In fact, the need of this insurance is much greater than any other driving insurance due to higher possibility of claims associated with the students. While a personal insurance covers your personal liabilities only, driving instructor insurance covers entire liability of all of your students. You never know when your students will get into an accident and claim or something like that and you might get dragged into a lawsuit too. So, you always need to be prepared beforehand and for that you must possess this type of policy.

But, as the number of people being insured under this coverage, it is much more than a single person in case of personal insurance, you also need to pay comparatively a large sum for purchasing the insurance and for paying the premiums. If you are finding this insurance cover to be a little more expensive for your pocket, more so if you have just started out your teaching endeavour, then you can go with the insurance carriers that offer month-by-month insurance plan. However, it is wise to opt for a yearly plan instead of a monthly plan if you are already an established instructor. This will cost you less.

Although this insurance policy includes each and every student under its cover, it doesn’t require you to name any of them in your policy. This insurance will cover any accident, occurred during the period of driving lessons, along with any hospital bill and legal fees thereof. But there are certain rules of this insurance that an insured must adhere to, like not to bring any item or people that are not directly related to the driving lessons. This is because such items or people will not be covered under driving instructor insurance. If you violate this rule, you could end up losing your claim even if your claim is completely genuine. Besides, you could also end up losing your insurance cover and your instructor license once and for all.

There is one more important thing that you must know about and that is to know the limitations of your policy. If you are an independent individual instructor, then you can make do with single person driving instructor insurance. But when you grow into a driving instruction company, your insurance protection should also change accordingly. This new insurance policy should not only cover you and your students but also your employees.

Landlord insurance

At the moment having insurance for properties that are let is not required by law but there are very good reasons to have insurance, to be on the safe side. The majority of householders already have home insurance but if you were to let the property the insurance in place will not usually cover any damages that re made if someone else was to inhabit the property.

Do I really need landlord insurance?
Its good practice to have it as you may only require minimum requirement such as building cover. Building cover will insure your property against any damage that might require the property to be rebuilt. If you would like further coverage such a fire, theft and damage you can opt for this too.

What is covered in landlord insurance?

As all insurance companies differ in what they cover it is worth checking what you want is realistic and affordable. Although when you let out a property a deposit is given for any damage that may be caused so you are covered in some way, the chances that the deposit would cover all damages are very slim. If you have insurance you could claim and have the property ready for rental again in no time.

Some of the things that landlord insurance covers

  • Fire damage
  • Theft
  • Contents insurance
  • Loss of rent insured
  • Alternative accommodation insured

As all policies vary its best to check with your quote thoroughly to see if there are any clauses. For example some insurance provide you with accidental cover for free. The clause is this is only available if your tenant is a professional or is retired. So it may be best to make sure you would still be covered if you were not housing a professional or a retiree.

The competition for landlord insurance is high but many of the insurance companies are not known. It would be best to do some research before you accept a quote blindly and if possible go with a well known insurer as you know they won’t be filing for bankruptcy anytime soon. If you have more than one property you may benefit from further savings as the more you insure the bigger discount you get.

How much does landlord insurance cost?
Depending on the level of cover needed it should cost less than insuring your home, there is the added benefit that the excess for claims can be as little as £50.

Car insurance for first time drivers

As newly qualified driver you need to sort out car insurance if you will be driving. If you already have access to a car i.e. your parents then they can add you as an additional driver. If however you have your own car then you will need to get quotes from at least 5 different insurance companies and compare them.

Getting car insurance for the first time drivers can be exciting as well as annoying. As a new driver you will find that in most cases the insurance costs more than the car itself. The best thing to do is to find a car that you like and get some quotes for it; you may find that the car you want is actually costing too much in car insurance premiums. This is the biggest problem new driver’s face after passing their driving test. In the news recently was a 17 year old teenager who just passed his driving test, he bought a Vauxhall Corsa for £1,400 but was quoted £17,000 for insurance. He managed to get the quote down to £2,000 but even then the insurance cost more than the car.

If you can hold on to your licence for a few years then start driving as some licence holders do not actually drive a car as soon as they pass, instead they wait a few years. Age as well as licence held is the factor when it comes down to insurance quotes. So if you have held your licence for a few years you are at a lower risk of having an accident to someone who is just qualified even if you haven’t driven since passing your test. You could however be put on a driving policy as an occasional driver so you can still have some practice in the mean time.

Japanese car insurance

It’s a well known fact that Japanese car manufacturers are the most reliable and parts are fairly easy to get hold of.  Japanese cars have a very good reputation when it comes to getting your money’s worth as they are voted ‘least likely to break down’. When you compare SUV’s, Japanese car makers also have an impressive range that are much cheaper than other top of the range models and due to the advance in technology, Asia have a stronghold on environmentally friendly cars.

Years ago the car insurance industry started to provide insurance for car manufacturers individually, so if you own a Porsche, Lamborghini or Lotus it makes better sense to pay insurance to a company that understands the top of the range models and expensive parts. Japanese car makers on the other hand have an excellent reputation when it comes to reliability, practicality and affordability. So by opting to get insurance from a company that specialises in your car make, you should in theory save money when it comes to accidents, thefts and annual car insurance premiums. So if you own a Honda, Toyota or Nissan, japanese car insurance makes sense then.

Saying that, if you know that the car you have is reliable and the chance of anything going wrong is slim, is it really worth it then? In some ways yes as most Japanese cars have a lot of advance technology, so in some models there’s no need for a key while others operate on hybrid technology. So if you were to have a problem, a standard garage may not have the up to date knowledge and tools to help you whereas your insurer will have an extensive list of all approved garages nationwide. For models that are not as hi-tech as the newer models, going with an insurance company that specialises in your car make/model may not be the best solution financially.

There are many Japanese cars that appeal to the younger first time buyer such as the Nissan Micra but with car insurance premiums averaging £2k or more for these inexperienced drivers, it’s not really worth it and therefore going with a standard insurance company may be better. After no claims have been built up and you now own a top of the range car from Japan manufacturers, then Japanese car insurance will be well worth it.

Travel insurance and the Iceland volcano

As we all know there are many benefits to having a travel insurance policy and with many people arranging their own holiday itinerary, you will not have anyone to turn to should anything go wrong. If however you book as part of a package then the tour operator will advise you on what to do should anything go wrong; you will then also be able to claim from your insurers for things that are part of your policy. This includes delays, lost baggage and hotel problems. Depending on the policy you choose, you may or may not be covered for even the most simplest of things like flight delays so it’s well worth checking beforehand.

Since the eruption of the volcano in Iceland April 2010, this has caused many flights to be delayed for up to a week and even more in some places. When this natural calamity happened, everyone just assumed that the travel insurance will pay up for things out of pocket like arranging another week of accommodation but all travel passengers were left shocked to find that the volcano was a natural calamity so is not covered in the travel insurance policy. For those who booked with a tour operator, they would’ve have arranged everything so you don’t have to. If however you booked your own flights and accommodation, you would have to sort out another week’s worth and pay for it yourself.

There have been many passengers that have praised their tour operator for looking after them and their family while this natural calamity happened but there have been many that have been left stranded and massively out of pocket. As all policies vary, the majority will state clearly in the terms and conditions that all natural calamities such as volcanoes, hurricanes and earthquakes are simply not covered. It is unfortunate that the country you may be holidaying in does not contain any natural wonders but they can affect neighbouring countries such as ash clouds from volcanoes.

Although many have been affected by the Iceland volcano, the likelihood that insurers will pay out for anything is very slim. In most cases there are reports of insurance companies levying a tax of £40 as the volcano continues to release ash clouds. Since the volcano eruption, more people are now aware of the possibility of weather related problems all over the world. There are still some travel insurers that are compensating travellers who have their plans affected by the volcano even if they have booked after 14th April, but there is a chance that the premiums will be slightly higher than other travel insurance companies.

Why travel insurance does not really insure your DSLR camera

Having bought my first DSLR camera for nearly £650 like a week ago and preparing to go on holiday now, I was very anxious that anything bad would happen to my precious camera and decided to look into some sort of insurance cover to give me peace of mind. Although you will take reasonable care of your digital camera during your holiday period, sometimes there are things which are just out of your control and you may find yourself in a situation where your valuable camera is lost, stolen or damaged.

Usually people hope for the best when they go abroad expecting the locals to be nice and very welcoming but as in every country, you sometimes get the bad guys and your digital camera may be snatched from you and leave you several hundred pounds out of pocket. Therefore it is important that you have proper insurance in place for things like that.

If you haven’t purchased extended warranty for your DSLR camera (standard manufacturer’s warranty only covers for faults), you may be taking a huge risk. You might drop the camera in water while trying to take a good shot and having accidental damage cover is therefore crucial. This is why you need to keep on renewing your camera’s warranty if you think the camera is still worth a lot of money.

As I was buying annual travel insurance for my holiday trip, I wanted to know whether my DSLR camera was covered under the policy. So I called up Virgin Money Travel Insurance and talked to an advisor who told me that if I go with their Silver package, I would be able to claim upto £1500 on baggage. Now since my digital camera would be considered as personal belonging carried in the suitcase, I should be able to claim it.

My other option was to have the camera as an endorsement. This means that it would be covered under a separate insurance policy just for that trip that I was going to make. The cost to insure my £650 DSLR camera would be around £30 for a single trip! Although it would cover it even if it is lost, stolen or damaged, this was too expensive considering that I could get annual cover for my camera for that price and settling for a holiday trip period would be silly.

So I was thinking of going with the standard travel insurance policy when I decided to read the policy wording. It states that you can only claim upto £200 for a single item (some companies allow upto £400). What this really means if that since my camera is worth £650, they would assess the usual wear and tear and come up with a current price tag and the maximum they would pay me is £200 even if the current price for the camera comes at £600. This is just insane and this is what the advisors don’t tell you. You can claim a total of £1500 for baggage but for any single item, you can only claim upto £200. This is not what I wanted and does not cover anything really because I wouldn’t be able to replace my DSLR camera if anything happened to it.

So if you’re thinking of insuring your DSLR camera under travel insurance, think again! You are better off purchasing extended warranty for your precious belonging if you’re really worried about it.

Car insurance for eighteen year old drivers

It is known to many that car insurance for 18 year old drivers are very high since they are associated with the 17-21 group which has a very high risk profile. It is quite common for a person within that age group to receive quotes in excess of £2,500 and when you think that the young driver has only spent £1,200 to buy a car, the premiums are quite significant compared to what the car is really worth. So the question is whether the young drivers should go ahead and purchase the insurance cover at this extortionate price or find an alternative.

Driving without insurance is not an option because it is illegal and if you’re caught, you can face a prison sentence and lose your licence. It’s not worth the trouble and what drivers who are only 18 years old should be focussing on is how to make their insurance affordable. Many of these young drivers under-estimate the importance of doing the pass plus course which can potentially reduce their premiums by upto 40%. The reason for not doing the course is probably because they no longer want to be learning again and just want to go ahead and drive. If that’s possible, then by all means, do so but if you’re struggling for a reasonable car insurance quote, then don’ t forget that the pass plus course can be really beneficial.

There are other things which you can do to help lowering your quote like adding extra security devices to help prevent your car from being stolen or make it easier to track if stolen. You can also increase your voluntary excess in an attempt to bring your quote further down.

As with everything else, patience is a virtue and by driving safely over a period of time, 18 year olds can get cheap car insurance quotes when they’ve accummulated enough no claims bonus to reward them.