Households can save on cover across the board...
You can cut costs on car, home and travel insurance, writes John Cradden
HOUSEHOLDS are missing out on hundreds if not thousands of euro of savings on household insurance products
Surveys throughout the year, every year, tell us of the financial strain parents feel around their children's back-to-school time.
Books, uniforms, and all the other associated costs add up to hundreds and often thousands of euro, and parents often have very little choice but to "find" this money from somewhere.
Obviously, having a savings pool in which you can dip into at these more expensive times of the year is the ideal - but the reality is that for most families, these rainy-day funds are just not financially feasible.
So what else can you do?
Taking credit from some source is often the first port of call for struggling parents - though sometimes ill-advised.
Before looking at taking on debt, households should be looking at where they can cut costs and save money - we are not referring here to cutting the essentials like food and heating.
But there are some household expenditures which can be reduced significantly and leave you no worse off, according to the chief executive of the Irish Brokers Association Ciaran Phelan.
"I am speaking now about household insurance costs - the top three of which are home, motor and travel," Mr Phelan said.
"Two out of three of these are absolute necessities if you own your own home and drive your own car. And the third is strongly advised if you go on holidays."
However, in all three there are huge variations across the board in terms of getting similar levels of cover but at difference prices, Mr Phelan said.
He asked IBA member McMahon Galvin Insurance Brokers in Dublin to run some figures to illustrate this.
What these cost comparisons show is that, in the main, shopping around will definitely lead to the best value and significant savings.
However, the cases we have used also show that insurance can be quite technical and variable - policies may look similar but will have slight differences in terms of excesses, additional cover etc, Mr Phelan said.
"It can be confusing for people when they are trying to select exactly what cover they need and what's the best value - often it's simply better to ask an expert (ie a broker)," he added.
It should also be remembered that these prices are correct at time of writing this but insurance prices change frequently so the cheapest and most expensive will vary with time and will depend on the exact circumstance of the individual. The figures are primarily for illustrative purposes.
The IBA and McMahon Galvin ran a household quote based on a three-bedroom, semi-detached property in Dublin 6, with buildings cover of €250,000 and contents cover of €50,000.
The assumption was made that that the house had normal, day-time occupancy, smoke detectors, standard locks and a burglar alarm. It was of standard construction and built in 2005.
The cost comparison analysis revealed the following:
No accidental damage:
Cheapest: Allianz Saver at €220.08 with an excess of €1,000.
Most expensive: Prestige Home at €534.77 with an excess of €250.
Including accidental damage:
Cheapest: Kennco Unique at €260.93 with an excess of €350
Most expensive: Hickey, Clarke and Langan at €738.76 with an excess of €250
The broker, however, said that maybe it would be wise for the client not to opt for either of these but to go with the following recommendations:
Cheapest: Zurich at €272.01 with an excess of €250. Includes accidental damage and unspecified all risks of €3,000.
Most Expensive: Aviva at €400.87 with an excess of €275. Includes accidental damage
We looked at two different scenarios when it came to motor insurance. Firstly, we took the case of two adults aged 50 and two children aged 25, with all drivers being able to drive other cars also and including bonus protection. We found that:
Cheapest: Clan Essentials at €395.18 with an excess of €500.
Most expensive: Sertus Standard at €2,157.56 with an excess of €200/ €325 for drivers aged 30 and under. With windscreen and breakdown assistance.
Then we looked at a family of two adults aged 50 and two children aged 19 and 20 with breakdown assistance included. We found that:
Cheapest: AXA Drive First Basic at €1,296.39 with an excess of €500.
Most expensive: AXA Motor First Plus at €1,649.79 with an excess of €250/€350 for drivers under 25.
Included was bonus protection and windscreen cover.
We based our travel insurance cost comparison on annual multi-trip worldwide cover including USA/Canada. Again, we looked at two different scenarios here.
Firstly, for two adults from the ages of 19 to 65 and two children from the ages of three to 18, Blue Insurance offers a "Premier" policy for €98.42 and a "Premier Plus policy for €119.90.
The variables between the two policies are primarily just the excess on things like baggage, cancellation, medical expenses etc.
To decide which level of cover is best for you, you really need to go through category and figure out what's most important in your situation.
For two adults from the ages of 36 to 54 and two children from the ages of two to 17, AIG Insurance also offers a "Premier" policy for €109.66 and a "Premier Plus" policy for €130.87.
Again, you need to read the policy details before you can make a choice on what elements you can or cannot do without.
"So as you can see there are a myriad of insurance products out there - and it can be very confusing to ascertain exactly what you need and how much you should pay," Mr Phelan said.
He added that what you can also see is the big difference in the price of policies and the significant savings that can be made if you do your homework.
"Or, better yet, get an expert to do the leg work for you," he said.