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A switch in time can save you a tidy amount

Smart customers who keep an eye out for better deals often change service providers, knowing there are sizeable savings to be made by simply lifting the phone. Timing is vital, though -- get it wrong and you could end up out of pocket.Would you like to receive a better service from your phone or TV provider? How about saving €100 on your home insurance policy? I bet you would. But the number of people switching providers has fallen in the past 12 months from 43pc to 32pc, according to new National Consumer Agency (NCA) research. So it's time to get switching.

Keep switching

New deals and better prices are introduced all the time. Once your 12-month electricity deal comes to an end, you'll automatically be placed on the standard (higher) tariff. That means it's time to change again.

Get your switching date

Find out the dates when all your contracts expire, from energy, phone, broadband and TV to insurance. Then mark a month before each expiry date.

Those dates are either your time to start searching for a new deal or to give notice to quit.

Give proper notice

Don't risk paying an extra month because you didn't give the required notice to end your TV, mobile phone or landline contract.

Read the contract, or call your provider, and ask when your contract ends.

Don't switch at the wrong time

You must get those calendar dates right. Let's say you switch your health insurance today because you've seen a better deal, or maybe you're fed up with your phone provider so you sign up to a new one immediately.

Then you get a bill from your previous provider for a large amount and wonder what's going on. You've left your contract early, that's what's going on.

Avoid penalties

Not quitting your contract early is the only way to be sure of avoiding penalties. Let's say your phone deal was for €40 a month and you quit with six months to go. That means you will have to pay €240.

Or you switch your health insurance with three months left. Health insurers impose penalties, and depending on the insurer (and when you joined) you may have to pay for those three months plus an admin fee. On the other hand, some energy deals do not have fixed terms so there won't be any penalty if you leave.

Get help

Of those who haven't switched in the past year, the NCA research shows most (58pc to 67pc, depending on the area) hadn't checked better deals. Could it be because researching better deals can feel like double maths homework on a Friday night?

Check online comparison sites that will help save you money: callcosts.ie (landline, mobile, broadband), hia.ie (health insurance) and bonkers.ie (electricity and gas) are worth a visit.

For financial product comparisons check out that section on the NCA's website at nca.ie.

Irish Independent