Q: I am 42 years old and we are two months away from having our fourth child. My wife has taken the decision not to go back to work for a few years. Aside from the family aspect, it's not worthwhile financially when you factor in the cost of childcare. We have standard mortgage protection as necessitated by my lender, with another 20 years left on our mortgage. Would it be wise for me to look at boosting my insurance cover with some income protection? I have taken a cursory look at what's out there and it seems expensive.
A: The birth of a child is a regular trigger for evaluating one's financial well-being. Mortgage protection means your mortgage could be cleared if you were to pass away.
Income protection is designed to pay you a monthly amount, linked to your salary, if you were unable to work due to an accident or illness for a sustained period, according to Sara Murphy of Royal London.
It can be more expensive compared with a mortgage protection policy, as it does not just pay out one lump-sum amount. Rather, it pays out a monthly amount and continues to pay out until you are fit to return to work or you reach your retirement age, she said.
There are ways to control the cost, however, such as linking the time for the claim payments to start with any sick pay you may be entitled to from your employer. Ms Murphy recommends contacting a financial broker, as they can give you a personalised quote based on your specific circumstances and occupation.
Q: I am booking travel for a three-week trip for my husband and our two children in November. We are going to Germany primarily but will also spend a week in the Lake District. I was thinking about getting family travel insurance, but am I right in thinking I don't really need it if I am travelling in Europe because of the EHIC?
A: Many people assume this is the case, but the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is not a replacement for insurance, according to Deirdre McCarthy of InsureMyHoliday.ie.
An EHIC allows you to access necessary healthcare in the public system of any European Union/European Economic Area member state, and Switzerland, if you become ill or injured while on a temporary stay in that country, Ms McCarthy said.
If the need arises, your EHIC grants the same access as citizens of those countries to whatever levels of state-provided free or subsidised healthcare services are available there, she said.
However, there is a wide variation in the level of state healthcare available in countries covered. Even with an EHIC, you may still face charges for treatment you receive, as well as ambulance or A&E costs. An EHIC will not cover other expenses relating to an accident, such as travel and accommodation costs.
Q: I went back to college three years ago as a mature student on a part-time basis and paid my fees for my time there. I am back working full-time now and just found out that it's possible to claim back tax on third-level fees. Is it too late for me to make a claim, and am I eligible if I only attended on a part-time basis?
A: If you are paying for tuition fees for a full or part-time third-level course, be it for yourself or for your child, then you may well be entitled to tax relief. Third-level fee payers can claim relief on tuition fees paid for eligible education courses, according to Joanna Murphy, CEO, Taxback.com.
Generally speaking, eligible courses are all those in Ireland that are provided by publicly funded universities, colleges and institutes of higher education, she said. The relief is available to whoever is paying the cost of the fees. Note that you cannot claim tax relief on examination or administration fees, nor any part of the tuition fees that is met directly or indirectly by a grant, a scholarship, or where fees are reimbursed by an employer. Tax relief is granted at 20pc - the standard rate of tax.
However, there is a limit of fees, €7,000 per course, on which you can claim relief.
This doesn't mean you can claim relief up to a maximum of €7,000 per course, as before calculating the relief, you must also factor in the 'disregard' amount. For the past three years, the disregard amounts have been €3,000 for full-time and €1,500 for part-time courses. You can make a claim for a tax refund for fees paid within the last four years. You will need any and all receipts, Ms Murphy said.
Income protection cover is designed to pay you a monthly amount, linked to your salary, if you were unable to work due to an accident or illness.
A European Health Insurance Card allows you to access healthcare in the public system in the EU, but it is not a replacement for insurance.