Make sure you've got insurance covered
We don't always have a choice about taking out insurance, writes Charlie Weston, but by shopping around you can save hundreds
A TYPICAL family can save €700 a year by getting better deals on home, life and motor insurance, according to the Irish Brokers Association. Ciaran Phelan, chief executive of the IBA, says households are now more financially savvy than ever.
"People no longer adopt a laissez-faire approach to financial products and services and are much more willing to put time into planning their financial affairs and putting the necessary protection in place."
He said this means consumers will invariably save money on their household expenses in the future.
In the case of motor and mortgage protection, consumers simply have no choice as to whether or not they take these policies - so the only real choice they have is the type of policy and the insurer they go with, he says.
And although life insurance is not always necessary, it is often advised.
The similarity that exists in all general and life insurance products is the variation in premiums across the board - and the significant savings that can be made by simply doing your homework.
"We estimate that a family paying around €2,400 on insurance premiums a year could save an estimated €700 in 2014 by taking the time to scour the market for the best deals or by engaging an expert to do so on their behalf," he says.
Consumers are generally more active in reviewing the cost of this class of insurance and rightly so, Phelan says.
He says savings of up to €250 a year are possible. This is because there is a difference of 40pc between the highest and lowest premiums quoted in the market.
"With such huge price differentials existing across the market, the best tip for saving money is, of course, to shop around," he said.
For consumers that do not have the time or the inclination to trawl through the market in search of the best deal, engaging the expertise of a broker to do this on your behalf can pay dividends in the long run, he adds.
The following tips can come in very useful when looking for car insurance:
] Declare all material facts as this could affect any future claims, for example, penalty points, previous claims.
] Your job title can have a significant influence in the cost of your insurance premium.
] Many people could truthfully describe their job role in a number of different ways - administrator, secretary, clerk - and there are a variety of pay levels for different occupations. Obviously, you must be entirely honest but it's worth asking an expert about this, Phelan says.
] Married couples are often better off both being insured on the one car - even if one spouse doesn't usually drive the vehicle - this can result in a reduction in premiums.
] When buying your car, always take into account the fact that a bigger engine is likely to result in a higher premium, the IBA boss says.
] Be sure to get any discounts you are eligible for. Ask about any "advanced driver" or other special discounts. For example, some insurance companies allow a discount for reduced mileage.
Many consumers are still paying over the odds having incorrectly insured the value of the building, rather than the rebuilding cost of their home.
For those who did adjust downwards, it is worth noting that building costs are on the rise and some may now be under-insured, Phelan says.
A house is generally a family's biggest asset and should be properly protected.
"We would urge consumers to ensure that the insurer you're dealing with will also be there to assist you should you have a claim, as it is always worth having an expert working on your side."
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.
Most consumers need mortgage protection and term assurance to replace their income in the event of their untimely death.
A 40-year-old couple spending €900 a year can typically afford €250,000 in insurance cover.
With increasing longevity resulting in falling insurance prices over the last few years, and the introduction of price pledges from some insurers, a saving of up to 30pc is achievable, says the IBA chief.
That should amount to at least €250 a year.