Wednesday 28 September 2016

You could save €1,000 a year on insurance products alone

From planning ahead to shopping around, there are many ways households could save €1,000 a year on insurance products alone

Published 15/10/2015 | 02:30

Working mum: Andrea Mara with her daughters Elissa and Nia. Photo: Ronan Lang
Working mum: Andrea Mara with her daughters Elissa and Nia. Photo: Ronan Lang

Is it possible to save more than €1,000 a year on the insurance products that most households buy? Chief executive of the Irish Brokers Association Ciaran Phelan believes it is possible.

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"We estimate that a typical family could save approximately €1,150 by putting the following tips into practice," he said.

He outlines for us eight tips for households that will help with budgeting and ensure money is saved.

Get active

Do not be apathetic in your approach. Most household insurance premiums fall due for renewing on a yearly basis. As a policyholder, this is your opportunity to shop around and move to another provider if there's one on the market.

People often believe they may face penalties if they do not stick with the same provider - this is simply untrue, Mr Phelan says.

Forget loyalty

Loyalty will get you nowhere, and will probably cost you in the long run, he says. Just because you have taken out your mortgage, have a savings account with, have life assurance etc with a certain bank and have done so for years, does not mean they will take all this into account when calculating your renewable premium.

Maybe there was a time when "loyalty" to a bank or insurance company might benefit the consumers, but those days have long since passed. Banks have moved on from this and consumers should follow.

What for an excess

Excesses can be contentious. This is the amount of money you have to pay before you can claim off your insurance when you have suffered a loss.

It can be worth agreeing to a small excess to reduce your overall premium, Mr Phelan says. But there is no point taking an excess on the policy if it's so big that should you need to make a claim you have to shell out a significant amount of cash before you can make a claim.

Talk to an expert about these before you agree to anything. While immediate gratification and a reduced premium can be attractive, you need to be sure it won't end up costing you in the long run, Mr Phelan said.

Plan ahead

You can actually impact the amount your premiums are going to cost you for certain insurance products.

With car insurance the variation in cost for some cars and certain engines is huge. So take this into account before you purchase a car.

How much you will end up paying in tax and insurance should certainly be factored into your decision.

Get your full licence if you don't have it. This will certainly reduce your premium.

Also, you can lower your life assurance costs by making lifestyle choices. For example, if you stop smoking for one year this could reduce your premiums by as much as 50pc, Mr Phelan said.

Avail of the deals

Even those that may not be highlighted to you are worth seeking out. This is particularly applicable to health insurance.

Often many health insurance plans are marketed towards "corporate" clients. However, the rule is that all plans must be available to all consumers. These corporate plans often offer better value than other mainstream plans so it's always worthwhile inquiring about these.

"Can you quote me for the corporate version of my plan, thanks?" is something you should say to your health insurer.

Discounts

Increased competition across the board when it comes to general and life insurance products means that providers are often willing to provide consumer discounts for certain things just to retain their customers and/or to attract new customers.

Always ask for these, Mr Phelan advises.

Price matching is a common practice in the life assurance market, and certain insurers will give you discounts if you have more than one policy with them, or if you ask for them, Mr Phelan said.

Don't over-insure or under-insure

Both of these situations could cost you dearly in the long run. This really applies to all types of insurance.

In terms of life assurance be careful of the amount you insure yourself for. You need to ensure it will be fit for purpose should the need arise.

Mr Phelan asks: "How much will your family need to live off in the event of your untimely death?"

When it comes to home insurance, many consumers are still paying over the odds having incorrectly insured the value of the building, rather than the rebuilding cost of their home, he said. For those who did adjust downwards it is worth noting that building costs are on the rise and some may now be under-insured.

Contents insurance should also be re-evaluated on a regular basis to ensure valuables are adequately insured, and it should be noted that some items need to be specifically added to the policy.

Tax saving

While not an insurance policy in its strictest term, pension saving is one of the most tax-efficient forms of household saving there is, and cost and charges vary significantly, so get good advice.

Irish Independent

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