Friday 24 November 2017

Homeowners can save thousands by switching life insurance provider

Savings are high – so why are consumers still reluctant to change

There are some indications that this strict rule could be relaxed before the protocols are finally agreed
There are some indications that this strict rule could be relaxed before the protocols are finally agreed
Aideen Sheehan

Aideen Sheehan

If you have a mortgage, chances are you're spending hundreds or even thousands of euro a year on life insurance. And even though the bill could add up to tens of thousands over your lifetime, odds are you've never bothered looking for a better deal.

While Irish people are very clued in about seeking better value for groceries, electricity and phone, National Consumer Agency research shows that life insurance and mortgage protection cover are bottom of the list when it comes to switching provider.

Life insurance is a type of cover that pays out a lump-sum in the event of someone's early death while mortgage protection cover is a form of it – which your lender will often require you to get – which specifically pays off the mortgage.

The most recent National Consumer Agency survey showed just 3pc of people switched life insurance in the past year compared to a quarter who switched car insurance or supermarket.

That's even though you could save €5,700 over the lifetime of your policy if you do shop around, a recent NCA study found.

Differences of even a few euro a month may sound small but over a few decades they add up to thousands.

The savings can be even higher for smokers who quit because they're deemed to be a much lower death-risk after just 12 months off the fags.

But given the huge savings, why are consumers so reluctant to switch life insurance policy?

Peter O'Reilly of mortgage brokers Low.ie says that most people buying a home are so focused on closing that deal, they simply take whatever insurance policy the bank offers without shopping around or querying the cost.

"Most people are so caught up with buying a home, they just say 'where do I sign' when it comes to mortgage protection and, then once they have it, inertia sets in and they think it's going to be too much hassle to switch," he says.

"We would absolutely encourage people to consider switching as there's plenty of cheaper rates to be found, and you can get a new quote in two minutes online, so you've nothing to lose by seeing if you could make savings," he says.

Switching is generally straightforward. While a GP report on your health record – known as a PMA – is often requested, most people do not need to get a medical exam.

Even if they did, this is carried out at your convenience – sometimes even in your own home – and at the new insurance company's expense, he says.

The best savings are generally for those who are young and healthy as the cost of cover typically rises with age, particularly over 50, though it's still worth checking as you'll probably have a much smaller mortgage debt left by then. Ex-smokers who've managed to quit stand to gain most of all because all insurers load the policies of those who smoke because of the much higher risk of early death.

When switching, experts warn it's vital to check the figures and put your new policy in place before you cancel your old cover.

Irish Independent

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