Insurance can at times be somewhat of a minefield for many people; with so many different products available, choosing the right one and making sure that we are properly covered can be a challenge. Although this may be the case, it is also an essential part of our everyday living.
Your home is likely to be your most valuable possession so it is important to ensure that adequate buildings insurance cover is set in place.
Buildings insurance covers the structure of the building plus anything you would normally leave behind when you move. This will include things like patios, drives, fences, walls and permanent fixtures like kitchens and bathrooms. Accidental damage caused by fire, storms, or burst pipes, for example will also be covered.
Having buildings insurance cover in place is not if fact a legal requirement although nearly every mortgage lender will insist that cover is taken out as they look to protect what is their asset too, albeit temporarily.
Many lenders will offer a block building insurance policy arrangement. The cover provided and premium rate are agreed between the lender and insurer, but instead of issuing each borrower with an individual policy number a master policy is set up, with both the lender and insurer having copies.
These premiums are not always the most competitive in price so it is advisable to shop around for quotes also.
The amount that each property will need to be insured for will of course vary. The valuer will provide a figure for the re-instatement value of the property, ie the cost of rebuilding in the event of total destruction. There is no specific link between this figure and that for the valuation for mortgage purposes, or the price that the purchaser has agreed to pay.
Contents insurance offers cover on the household goods and possessions inside your property and will often include the garden too if applicable. In other words, contents can be defined as everything that you would normally take with you when you move.
The lender will not insist that you take out a contents insurance policy however in many cases it is advisable. Not doing so could see you unable to replace your belongings in the event of disasters such as fire, flooding or burglary.
Many policies offer cover on a ‘new for old’ basis which means should anything happen to your possessions such as the TV or washing machine; you should be able to replace the damaged goods for a new model.
Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance (MPPI)
Mortgage Payment Protection insurance (MPPI) is also known as accident, sickness and unemployment (ASU) insurance and, as the name suggests, it covers your mortgage repayments if you have an accident, fall ill or lose your job.
Most policies will provide cover for a period of 12 months. Your policy should cover the full amount of your mortgage and linked expenses such as other insurance policies and pension plans.
Many providers of payment protection insurance will offer modular coverage. For example, you can choose unemployment only option if job loss is your main concern or an accident & sickness only module depending on what you feel is more important to you.
You won’t be able to claim money against your policy immediately after you make a claim. Typically, you have to wait three or four months – what is known as the deferral period before you begin to receive insurance payouts.
Often however, for an additional charge, some insurers will provide back-to-day-one cover that covers you from the first day you make a claim.
Payment is made 30 days after you made your claim and you need to have been off work for at least a month. In addition most policies have an excess period usually 30,60 or more days that is excluded from the payout should you make a claim.
Life cover pays out a lump sum when you die, or earlier if you are diagnosed with a terminal illness. This lump sum payment may be used to pay off an outstanding mortgage or simply passed on as part of an inheritance.
There are two types of life insurance: Level term and decreasing term.
Level term insurance will often run alongside an interest only mortgage. It lasts for a set period and pays out the set amount you chose at the outset in case of death during the term.
Decreasing term insurance often run alongside a capital repayment mortgage. It offers a smaller payout year on year as the outstanding mortgage debt falls.
With both types of insurance there are many factors that the provider will take into account when calculating the premium. These factors will include; your age, weight, whether you a smoker or non a smoker and your medical history amongst other things.
A Five Point Plan When Taking Out Insurance
1. By speaking to a specialist adviser before you buy insurance could pay off. Ensure that you adviser is able to offer a range of policies from a variety of different providers.
2. Shop around for mortgage payment protection insurance (MPPI). Don’t just agree to take out the policy offered by your lender without doing some research of your own. Policies offered by the lenders are not always the most competitive in the marketplace.
3. Don’t forget to budget for your monthly insurance payments. For MPPI & Life insurance, the younger & healthier you are, the lower your costs, however payments can still easily add up to over 50 per month.
4. Never forget to find out what your excess is, or how much you need to pay before your insurance will pay out. Many policies have exclusions so don’t forget to find out what these are too.
5. Many people fail to adjust their insurance policies accordingly when their circumstances change. If you insurance policies are not reflecting your current commitments then you could find that you and your dependents are underinsured.