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Lots of freebies are on offer - but take care

v INSURANCE companies are getting desperate for your business. With many seeing their premiums down by 25pc according to latest figures, and the mortgage market decimated, they're trying to get you to sign up to their products by offering freebies.

One brokerage has offered free life cover for a year, another will pay your gas bill but the prize for inventiveness goes to Dublin-based First Credit, run by former RTE presenter John McGuire, which is giving away a free television to the first 1,000 life assurance customers.

While the recession can be great for bringing out the special deal, do beware. Although freebies are fantastic, they're not a reason to buy what you don't need. Financial products are long term, expensive commitments. They require careful planning and good advice.