Wednesday 22 February 2017

Check your small print for cover against gypsy curses

Many of your possessions, such as phones and bikes may be covered by other insurance policies, says Roisin Burke

Roisin

Published 16/05/2010 | 05:00

LONDON insurance broker Goodfellow Rebecca Ingrams Pearson famously sold alien abduction cover and an immaculate conception policy back in the Nineties and actually had thousands of buyers for both products.

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It puts the Nononsense.ie TV ads that joke about zombie and gypsy curse cover into perspective -- maybe there are people out there who want that kind of thing.

For most of us though, we'll probably sacrifice the abduction by ET provision for cheaper insurance, especially in this climate and with policies of all sorts rising steeply in price.

You could be paying hundreds more than you need to on insurance where you're either already covered or you're paying more than you should.

You don't ever want to be under-insured, but don't pay for something unnecessarily either.

Motor-rescue double pay

It can cost you almost €150 extra for motor breakdown cover you don't need. The AA's Roadside Rescue package starts at €146 a year, but you could have it already through your normal car insurance.

Aviva includes motor rescue on all its car insurance policies, and on some of AXA's it's also already built in. Others will add it for about €50.

Aviva's motor rescue includes driveway breakdown assistance, but the AA whack on another €48 on top of your €146 to cover a front door call-out.

If you are buying it separately, you can get cheaper motor breakdown than the AA's price. Aviva's starts at around €115.

IS THE CHEAPEST REALLY CHEAP?

For both car and home insurance there's no question, the online discounters such as Nononsense.ie, 123.ie or Chill.ie have cheap deals.

The big difference seems to be the excess -- that is, the money any claim will cost you before the insurance kicks in.

With the big insurance names the average home policy excess is just €125, but it can jump up to €500-€1,000 through a comparison website. Likewise, the car insurance excess with Quinn is around €300 and it's €250 with Allianz, but through Nonsense.ie it's way higher at €500.

"Like everything, the devil is in the detail," says Jim Power of Limerick firm Power Insurances. Naturally a broker has a vested interest here, but he has a point. "The sites might have a cheaper price but could have higher excesses on their policies, or they might take bonus protection off."

It depends what you can live with at the end of the day. "Somebody with a high-performance car might be happy to take the hit on the excess if it keeps their insurance down to €700 or €800 instead of over €1,000."

There can be all-frills as well as no-frills. On the home insurance front, Allianz can be pricey but it actually provides for a variety of scenarios including your dog biting someone or you injuring (or even killing!) someone with a golf ball while playing golf in the garden -- covering you for up to more than €3m damages!

Sites such as 123.ie have great third-party-only car insurance quotes, probably the best you'll find, but adding fire and theft or going for comprehensive brings the policy price higher.

There's also 123.ie's €40 "set-up fee" and an 8.5 per cent service charge equivalent to 24.77 per cent APR. With the most basic policy you forego no-claims bonus protection, and with the add-on policies the price goes up depending on the level of no-claims bonus you opt for.

These could be enough to knock out the difference between it and one of the big name insurers.

Plus with the big insurers you can bundle your policies to get discounts. You get 20 per cent off your travel insurance if you have already your health insurance with Axa, and Aviva's annual worldwide multi-trip cover costs 30 per cent less with its health policy.

Computer cover that doesn't compute

If you're paying €500 for a new PC, coughing up for the €150 accidental damage insurance product being pushed by one of the big name computer retailers at the moment might not make sense.

At almost one-third the PC's value, it's cover you might have on your home insurance. Some electronics retailers are notorious for flogging super expensive insurance.

Check your home contents policy before you let yourself be talked into any pricey in-store one.

WHAT rebuild price

Apartment owners, you could be paying as much as €200 home insurance you don't need.

It's not unknown for an insurer to sell building insurance for an apartment without so much as a murmur about the fact that it's likely to be already covered by your property management fee and the building insurance as a whole. So you usually only need contents insurance for an apartment, which could halve your policy cost.

For house owners, building costs have dropped by 20 per cent in the last two years, so don't just enter the same figure for rebuilding that you always do when you're renewing your home insurance. Revise it downwards and get some benefit from the property crash, even if it's €20 or so. Check out www.scs.ie, the Society of Chartered Surveyors' website. It will give you rebuild costs per square metre for your property.

People often over-estimate both their buildings and contents cover figure.

"We've often seen people with massive buildings and contents insurance," says Mr Power. Again you don't want to be under-insured, but give it some thought.

You could have lavish home contents insurance but still not get a payout above set limits, he warns.

"Watch out for single article limits -- meaning however much you're paying in insurance, each item is only insured up to a maximum percentage. So say a big flat-screen TV might not be covered in full, no matter how hefty your policy price."

You could cut your policy price by giving accidental damage cover a miss.

"If you're a couple with no kids, you might not need it as much as say a family with children and the 'Lego in the DVD player' hazards that go with them.

"The goal posts are being moved a lot on policies and you need to make sure excesses or other details haven't changed, that's a big thing," he adds.

"Since January or February some insurance firms have pushed their water, frost and flood damage excesses way up, by €700 or €800, so check the terms of renewal.

"For holiday homes and mobile holiday homes, new conditions are being latched on to the policy, such as water damage, or the excesses are going up."

Don't get peddled insurance you don't need for your bike

Unless you're cycling something very expensive, your bike could be covered by your ordinary home policy. Quinn Insurance cover provides up to €300 per bicycle, but with Allianz it's up to just €125 per bike, so check the fine print.

"However, many consumers do not receive an insurance payout if their bike is stolen because the excess is often higher than the price of the bicycle," says Mr Power.

Special bike insurance might also be worth it if you're a triathlete or a cycling nut with a bike worth hundreds or thousands. Chill.ie sells insurance for bikes worth between €40 and €5,000.

Mobile phones

Mobile phones are broadly covered by your home insurance, even if lost outside the home. That said, unless you have a very expensive one the average policy excess could wipe out any claim value unless loads of other stuff is damaged or stolen at the same time.

Cover might make some sense, but shop around.

Tesco sells mobile phone insurance, starting at €15 a year for a phone worth up to €150, and you get a new phone and SIM card delivered to you within 24 hours if they can't repair it.

Phonesonline.ie's policies start at double that, from €65.88 a year for a phone value of up to €375. It costs a pricey €143.88 to insure an iPhone, though.

Life insurance

You might not need it, even if banks and others are dying to flog it to you. If you are single with no dependents, then generally "you absolutely do not need it" says financial advisor Liam Croke.

You'll be about €300 a year better off giving it a miss if you're free and single.

Credit cards

Don't just tick the option on the credit card application form for €16 or so cover against its being stolen and used. Home cover such as Allianz's can already cover theft and fraudulent use of your plastic up to €1,300, so you can buy a bottle of wine instead

Travel insurance

Single-trip travel insurance is a waste if you travel even twice a year. It costs around €30 per trip for one-off packages for a fortnight's Europe-wide cover, while AXA's multi-trip cover starts at just €35.

Adding on extra cover for sports can hike the price up, however.

Golf-loving holidaymaker Noelle Norman is scathing about the extra cost her favourite holiday hobby adds on to her travel cover.

"You can pay €10 extra in order to play the oh-so-lethal dangerous sport of golf," she complains.

"Is this in case you hit a hole-in-one on the course and have to buy everyone in the bar a drink?"

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