Is it a good financial move to upgrade my delivery vans to electric?
Q How does health insurance work with travel insurance? I am being advised by a friend to have both in place prior to travelling. However, I am not sure this is necessary.
A If you have a good health insurance plan, this will normally include up to €100,000 cover for 'emergency medical cover while abroad' (depending on the plan held). However, this is not a substitute for full travel insurance, where the cover for medical expenses can be €5m or higher, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie.
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Also, a travel insurance policy will cover things such as flight delays, flight cancellations, loss of luggage or passports, legal expenses, etc.
If you have to make a claim for hospital treatment while abroad, you will normally claim first from your health insurer and then if the costs exceed the €100,000 limit, your travel insurance kicks in.
Usually, the travel insurer will give you a small discount for 'linking' the two policies.
Mr Goode recommends that you keep both policies in place, and you should always contact both your health insurer and travel insurer prior to travelling abroad, to make sure that you are fully covered for all aspects of your trip.
For good travel cover, there are numerous providers in the market. Mr Goode said he likes VHI's Multi-Trip and cover from Blue Insurance.
Q I have a small flower business based in Dublin city. I have two small Ford delivery vans on the road at the moment and I am considering replacing these with electric models. Are there any financial benefits to going electric?
A There are many advantages to choosing electric vehicles. In your case, being city-based is one of the major ones.
This is because electric vehicles are perfectly suited to the shorter distances involved and will bring significant cost benefits in terms of fuel consumption, as well as helping in lowering emissions and pollution, according to Shauna Fogarty of broker InsureMyVan.ie.
Budgetary changes in 2018 mean that there are now more incentives than ever for businesses to make the change to electric.
The Government's latest introduction is a grant of up to €600 that is now available to electric vehicle users who install a fast-charge point at their home or business premises.
As many electric van manufacturers nowadays claim a fast-charge time of as little as two to three hours, having your own fast-charge point could make a huge difference to the efficiency of your business.
You could also avail of a purchase grant of €3,800 as you are buying the van for commercial use, and it is worth knowing that vehicle registration tax relief of up to €5,000 is also available.
Electric vehicles have the lowest rate of motor tax, at around €120 annually, and the lowest operating costs per kilometre, when compared with diesel.
Another big plus when it comes to EVs is the low maintenance involved.
An electric motor has far fewer moving parts than an internal combustion engine. This means the servicing is easier and cheaper, Ms Fogarty added.
You might also be surprised at how nippy these vans can be, especially in urban areas, she said.
Electric motors generate instant torque, which allows quick acceleration and a smooth ride.
If you want to stick with a similar van size, there are a good number of electric options out there from the major motor manufacturers, including Fiat, Ford, Renault and Peugeot.
Q We have health insurance in place for the family, but my eldest daughter has now turned 26. Do we have to remove her from the policy or can we continue to insure her on the family plan? Will it cost more if she has a policy in her own name?
A The good news is that you can continue to insure your daughter on your policy with no changes, if you wish.
Also, the cost will be the same, irrespective of whether she remains on your policy or if she takes out a policy in her own name, according to Dermot Goode of TotalHealthCover.ie.
He adds that it is worth noting, in many cases, the insurer will only discuss queries relating to your daughter's cover with her directly, even though you are the policyholder.
For this reason, you may wish to consider placing her on a policy in her own name, Mr Goode said.
Alternatively, your daughter can give her consent to the insurer for its staff to discuss policy and claims issues with you on her behalf.
A travel insurance provider will usually give you a small discount for linking the policy to your health insurance cover.
Budgetary changes last year mean that there are now more incentives than ever for businesses to make the change to electric vehicles.