Almost anything can be insured these days: breasts, legs, your goldfish, your mental health, physical health, your own life, your child’s life. You can insure against the bad weather, good weather, political events….
This week in Scotland, triathlon competitors were insured for £1 million in case they were injured by the Loch Ness monster according to the BBC…. life insurance perhaps? It would seem that recent rumours of Nessie seeking a more exotic meal of wild venison and exploring the loch shores have finally reached the corporate world. ( http://www.lochnesstooth.com/ )
But is Nessie the real monster in this, what other terrible creatures lie hidden in the complexity of insurance documents? The insurance small-print is usually the last thing most people take to bed to induce a soporific state and who could blame those opting for Dick Francis, Gilly Cooper or Joan Collins?
In terms of personal insurance, there are eight general areas of insurance in which the consumer should be interested:
* Buildings insurance
* Contents insurance
* Life insurance or life assurance
* Health insurance
* Family legal protection
* Pet insurance
* Travel insurance
* Car insurance
Buildings insurance covers your property against damage typically caused by fire, flood, subsidence damage, temporary accommodation and the cost of replacing broken or lost keys. External buildings in the vicinity of the insured property may also be covered, such as sheds and garages. The website, yourable.com which provides insurance information for disabled people, makes the statement that building insurance should be the bare minimum people take out, not only to protect the property, but to protect the mortgage.
Alongside buildings insurance, contents insurance should also be considered. Contents insurance is frequently packaged with buildings insurance and covers your furniture, equipment and personal belongings against fire, lightning, flooding, theft or vandalism. Accidental damage can be included, but may be sold as an optional extra.
Yourable.com advises that the three main priorities when taking out building (or content) insurance should be:
* To decide how much cover you want – the more you want covered, the higher the cost.
* To decide what excess you’re prepared to pay – the site advises that in most cases, increasing the excess will reduce the premium
* To identify any particularly expensive single items in your home, including costly adaptations to the home
* To isolate any property which is regularly taken outdoors, as contents insurance may also protect bicycles, money and credit cards etc
Health / medical insurance typically covers private treatment for an operation or illness and may be extended to include specific circumstances or events such as specialist consultations and out-patient treatment like physiotherapy. Family legal protection may provide some financial assistance in the event of involvement in a court case. Such insurance normally covers contract disputes, personal injury claims, employment disputes and jury service. Pet insurance is often widely available for cats and dogs, though sometimes is less common for other animals, the cost of kennel and cattery fees are normally covered in pet insurance policies.
Travel insurance and the importance of shopping around for the best policy, has been widely publicised recently, with consumer website moneynet ( http://www.moneynet.co.uk/ ), in particular, urging consumers to shop around for the best deal, including undertaking some research online. Some of the high street players who offer travel insurance, such as Thomas Cook and Travelcare, levy premiums that are typically twice as expensive as purchasing cover online.
With regard to car insurance, there are three types of policy available: 3rd party, 3rd party (fire and theft) and comprehensive. Third Party is the most basic and will cover damage to third party property, usually with some protection for legal expenses. This compares to comprehensive, where additional protection is available for damage caused by theft, attempted theft, fire, lightning and other adverse weather conditions.
For further information:
http://www.moneynet.co.uk/insurance/index.shtml (Consumer information on life insurance, motor insurance, travel insurance, household insurance, student insurance and mortgage life insurance)
http://www.lochnesstooth.com/ (Some lighter reading post insurance homework)
http://www.cashzilla.co.uk/ (Some light hearted banter on personal finance issues)
http://www.youreable.com/TwoShare/getPage/09Money/Site/Introduction (Finance information for disabled people)
Rachel writes for the personal finance blog Cashzilla:
Cashzilla is a personalfinanosaurus and a source of personal finance wonder.