With the roads set to get busy as people once again head abroad for the bank holidays research by Saga Car Insurance shows that a third (28%) of over 50s worry about having an accident when driving abroad and around half are unsure of motoring laws in popular European destinations.

The survey of almost 10,000 has revealed that many holidaymakers have concerns about driving abroad, including having an accident (28%), driving on the opposite side of the road (23%) and breaking down (23%).

Those concerns are backed up by analysis of Saga claims data which shows that in the last 12 months over 600 claims have been made by Saga customers driving abroad with 80% of incidents involving collisions and damage totalling almost £700,000. A further one in ten claims involved theft or vandalism. Almost half of all incidents occurred in France (48%), followed by Spain (26%) and Italy (9%).

Other worries for motorists on foreign roads include having to ask for directions, not understanding signs and negotiating roundabouts (7%).

Furthermore, whilst one in seven (15%) admitted to having concerns about understanding motoring laws abroad, the survey has revealed that in fact around half of over 50s would struggle to identify compulsory motor vehicle safety equipment for popular European destinations.

Whilst people were more likely to be familiar with French law – the majority identifying compulsory items such as a warning triangle, reflective jacket and breathalysers – around two thirds of respondents didn’t know that basic items like GB stickers and headlamp adjustments are compulsory not just in France but also neighbouring countries including Portugal, Italy, Germany, and Spain.

Roger Ramsden, Chief Executive of Saga Services, commented: “Whilst we know that the over 50s are keen and experienced road users, driving abroad is not without its risks.  Getting to grips with foreign motoring laws and driving on the opposite side of the road can be daunting no matter how many years you have been behind the wheel. I would urge people intending to drive whilst on holiday to check the motoring laws before they leave and also make sure they have appropriate insurance cover for their journey. That way they can get on with enjoying their break without worrying or falling foul of the authorities.”

More than one in three first-time buyers have missed out on potential home deals because their deposit was too small and around half had more than 10% of the purchase price saved, new research for the Nottingham Building Society (The Nottingham) shows.

Its study found 35% of would-be first-time buyers saw house deals fall through in the past year because their deposit was too small to secure a mortgage. Around 18% say they had a deposit of less than 10% while 17% had less than 20% of the house price they were planning to buy.

Council of Mortgage Lenders figures show total borrowing by first-time buyers hit a record of £53.2 billion last year with more than 338,900 loans completed and that the average loan-to-value is currently around 84.3% on loans of £132,400.

But The Nottingham’s research found first-time buyers are still struggling to buy the homes they want despite having saved deposits. More than half (51%) of first-time buyers say they have a deposit saved before looking to buy.

Ian Gibbons, Senior Mortgage Broking Manager at Nottingham Mortgage Services (part of The Nottingham), said: “Borrowers with small deposits have a wide choice of loans to pick from but clearly many are struggling to buy the houses they want with so many potential deals falling through.

“It is particularly worrying that borrowers with a 10% deposit or more are struggling. They should be able to secure a mortgage and not have to miss out on house purchases simply because their deposit is too small.

“The withdrawal of the Help-to-Buy mortgage guarantee scheme will have some impact but in general the advice is always to search the market and get specialist advice on the range of options available.”

The Nottingham’s research shows more than two out of five (42%) of first-time buyers would be comfortable borrowing 15% or more of the purchase price of their first home. Around 10% would be willing to borrow 100% of the price.

Research from Gocompare.com travel insurance has found that millions of holidaymakers are taking an unnecessary gamble with their holiday costs by ignoring valuable cancellation cover.

According to the comparison site, more than half (58%) of the UK holiday makers who purchased their single trip travel insurance through Gocompare.com last year arranged their cover within a week of their holiday start date. This includes more than a fifth (27%) who arranged their cover on the actual day of departure.

Just 15% of the single trip travel insurance policies purchased last year through Gocompare.com were bought more than a month ahead of the trip.

97%* of single trip policies provide some level of cancellation cover as standard which starts as soon as you purchase the policy, not on your date of travel. This cancellation cover provides valuable protection against events affecting you long before you even leave your home. Around three quarters of policies provide £1500 or more worth of cancellation cover.

According to statistics from the ABI, nearly one third of travel insurance claims made by UK holidaymakers are for costs related to cancellations. Insurers paid out £128m to 160,000 customers in 2015 to cover the cost of cancelling their holiday, an average of around £800 per person.

However, insurers will only consider cancellation claims for events travellers could not have known about before arranging their insurance. Therefore, the sooner they buy the policy, the more likely it is they’ll be covered if something happens between booking their holiday and going on their trip.

Cancellation cover would enable the holidaymaker to reclaim the costs of their holiday, up to the cover limit and minus any excess, should certain circumstances arise before going away. These may include a serious illness or injury affecting someone in the travelling party or a close relative, such as a parent or child, who isn’t travelling but with whom they would like to remain at home.

Having a serious fire or flood at home may be another reason why you might want to cancel or postpone your holiday, but may be covered for under your travel insurance policy. Also, you can’t usually refuse jury service because of a holiday booking, but if you didn’t know about it before you arranged your insurance you may be able to reclaim some or all of the costs of cancelling or postponing your trip.

Charter Savings Bank continues to extend its support for savers with the launch of market-leading bond rates.

It is raising rates for its 1 Year and 18 Month Bonds by up to 0.09%, further enhancing options for savers across its range, and making them as much as 0.19% higher than at the start of the month.

These increases follow recent improvements to its Easy Access account for new customers and the launch a 120 Day Notice account which immediately became one of the market leaders. Rates on its 2 Year and 3 Year Fixed Rate Bonds also remain among the most competitive available.

Paul Whitlock, Director of Savings, Charter Savings Bank said: “Recent announcements may lead to some saver uncertainty over the coming weeks and months. We want to reassure our customers, and anyone looking for savings products, that Charter Savings Bank will continue to offer simple and straightforward products at competitive rates”.

 

Rate increases:

  • 1 Year Fixed Rate Bond paying 1.55% AER (previously 1.46%)
  • 18 Month Fixed Rate Bond paying 1.58% AER (previously 1.52% AER)

Households on a range of fixed energy deals coming to an end this month risk price hikes of up to £414 – a staggering 54% a year – according to uSwitch.com, the price comparison and switching service.

Seven suppliers have 16 popular fixed deals expiring on 30 April, after which their customers will be rolled onto expensive standard variable tariffs. If they take no action, the customers facing the biggest hikes are those with npower (£414), First Utility (£397) and ScottishPower (£373). 

The price hike will be a double whammy for consumers following recently announced price hikes from the big six. Six out of the seven suppliers with deals ending this month have announced price rises this year, the most recent being EDF Energy who announced their second price rise of 2017, adding a further £78 to its standard variable tariff from June.

The average increase these customers are facing is a whopping £361 per year – £93 higher following the recent energy price rises.

Ofgem’s rules allow customers to switch suppliers without paying exit fees from 42 days before their plan end date, so consumers are free to shop around without penalty.

A company spokesman said: “With many popular fixed deals ending this month it’s more important than ever to avoid being rolled onto sky-high tariffs. Not only do some consumers face a hefty price hike after their fixed deal ends, but they could also be stung by recent price rises to standard variable plans if they take no action.

“Customers on these deals can switch now without incurring any exit fees, avoid expensive standard tariffs and safeguard against further price hikes.”

A new study has revealed the growing tendency of older people, and in particular women, to frown at the thought of entrusting their money to financial organisations.*

The study, by Saga Investment Services reveals that the problem rests with the notion amongst the over 50s that financial companies deliberately complicate issues, with a quarter confessing to being intimidated by financial organisations.  All of this is means that they are not making the most of their nest eggs for the future.

Women were found to be generally more risk averse, with over half  saying they are not willing to take any risk with their money at all in comparison to only 36 per cent of men who feel the same.  For the 14% of women now widowed  or divorced this could be attributed to the fact that their partner made all the financial calls.

Life changes such as becoming widowed or divorced forces many women to have to think about finances for the first time, one in seven women who had been widowed or divorced said that their spouse used to make the financial decisions.  Tackling finances for the first time is worrying or intimidating for many people, Over a quarter of all those who have been widowed or divorced, overall agreed that they were worried about making the decisions for the first time – but the number of women who felt this way (30%) was significantly higher than men (19%).

Whilst women are very comfortable on the whole dealing with everyday  banking and budgeting, they are far less confident than men when it comes to making decisions about their pension or about making investments.  This is particularly true of people in their 50s; three quarters of men in this age group said they were happy making investment decisions, but under two thirds of women felt the same. One in eight women said they are not confident about making decisions about their pensions

The study of over 10,000 over 50s, reveals the overarching apprehensiveness amongst over 50s to talk about money and what to do with it, particularly when left large sums of money through inheritance from parents or partners.

And this reluctance to talk leaves nearly half of women (47%) more likely to decide what to do unilaterally, not consulting with financial advisers, family or friends, compared to 33% of men.  While at first blush, this might seem like a sign of confidence, the survey suggests that it is because women might be more intimidated than men to engage or talk about finances with anyone – neither professionals nor friends and family.

Nearly a quarter of Brits in their 50s also confess to being intimidated by financial organisations, with nearly 28 per cent believing that these companies deliberately make things more complicated for their age group and one in ten women feel that financial services companies are set up more to help men than women. It is no surprise then that a majority of over 50s have savings in the form of the property that they live in (87%), cash (44%) or pensions (82%), rather than other investments.

Sally Merritt from Saga Invest Services commented: “With rising inflation rates slowly eating away their nest eggs, the over 50s still holding cash are losing money in real terms on their savings. That people are put off dealing with financial services companies as they find them intimidating shows that companies need to work harder to engage with people in a language they understand, and earn people’s trust through building meaningful long-term relationships with them, in order to help them make the most of their retirement savings.”

Sainsbury’s Bank is launching mortgages especially designed and developed for the Sainsbury’s customer. The bank will offer residential home purchase mortgages and remortgages for first time buyers, lending into retirement for certain customers and for the self-employed, across the whole of the UK.

The range of fixed and variable rate products offers flexible features that allow overpayments, underpayments, and payment holidays.

Sainsbury’s Bank are also introducing a mortgage that comes with an added shopper reward. Both home purchase and remortgages include a unique reward scheme for supermarket customers. The mortgages reward the customer loyalty of Sainsbury’s shoppers, by letting them earn up to £200 a year (in vouchers) off their shopping, for two years.

The new range, which can be seen in detail at sainsburysbank.co.uk initially includes a two (fee and no fee options), and five-year fixed rate product, and a two-year tracker with loan-to-values (LTVs) of up to 90%, and it will also consider customers aged up to 70 years old.

Customers can contact the Bank direct over the phone and speak to our team of mortgage advisers, or apply through initial intermediary pilot broker partner, L&C Mortgages. Direct, non-advised online applications will be launched later this year.

Catherine More, Head of Mortgages Sainsbury’s Bank said: “Mortgages and grocery shopping are some of our customers’ biggest household expenditures and we’re uniquely placed to help them out with both.

“We’ve built our new mortgages in response to our customers’ needs, they told us they wanted to feel supported through the whole process, that they wanted the flexibility to pick the advice that suits them, and to receive a good deal.”

The launch marks the start of our expansion into the mortgage market. Over time we will review and add to our mortgage range, this will include launching buy-to-let as well as refining our entry product offers.

The intermediary channel is a preferred route for many of our customers and crucial to our expansion, so we’re also partnering with Legal & General’s Mortgage Club with a view to welcoming more brokers on board over the next twelve months.

Mortgage pricing has been set to ensure Sainsbury’s Bank products are competitive and affordable with rates starting from 1.34%. The range includes fee-free products. Remortgage customers will benefit from free-assisted valuations and legal advice.

Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms said: “It is good to see a provider entering the mortgage market with such a competitively priced range of products across the full range of LTVs. The added bonus of a shopper reward is an innovative move that makes the deal even more appealing for Sainsbury’s shoppers – the option to earn up to £400 vouchers off shopping over two years is not to be sniffed at.”

David Hollingworth of L&C Mortgages, said: “We welcome more competition in the mortgage market and particularly from those entrants that have put real customers at the heart of their design. We’re delighted to be working with Sainsbury’s Bank as initial intermediary pilot partner.”

Customers applying over the phone can call 0345 111 8005 between 8am and 9pm Monday to Friday or between 9am and 4pm on Saturdays and 10am to 1pm on Sunday.

Does it annoy you that your bank doesn’t pay you interest when you’re in the black, or that it charges you the earth if you go slightly overdrawn? – If the answer’s yes then maybe it’s time to up sticks and sign up for a more suitable bank account.

With the official Current Account Switch Service now bedded in, it’s much quicker and easier to take your custom elsewhere – just choose your new bank and they’ll look after the rest.

The process will take a maximum 7 working days and there’s also a guarantee that you won’t incur any charges during the switch over.

Too many of us have put up with sub-standard products and poor service for too long, but now it’s much less hassle to vote with your feet and switch to an account that mirrors the way you manage your money.

Although each bank and building society has its own tariff and rate details clearly displayed in marketing literature, working out which account is best can be a big headache.

There is not one account that works out as the top choice for everybody, it’s more about weighing up the individual elements of an account that are most important to you.

For some a low cost overdraft will be the priority, while for others interest on credit balances or a debit card offering low cost transactions abroad will be key.

Personal Finance Expert, Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms.co.uk carried out some research to try and establish which accounts are strongest in each of the different areas.

If it’s a cheap overdraft that’s most important, then take a look at First Direct (first £250 interest free), M&S Bank (first £100 interest free) or the FlexAccount from Nationwide Building Society.

If you’re looking for interest on your credit balances, then consider TSB which pays 3% up to a maximum balance of £1,500 or Tesco Bank 3% up to a maximum £3,000.

For larger balances Santander 123 is tops, paying a very competitive 1.5% gross up to a maximum balance of £20,000.

If you’re seeking a cheap debit card for use overseas then Metro Bank offers this facility for free in Europe whilst Nationwide Building Society is much cheaper than the main banks wherever you travel in the world.

Picking the wrong bank when it comes to debit card costs abroad can cost far more than you’d imagine.

Your two week summer holiday could easily see you shelling out an extra £50 or more in charges – for many of us that will saving will more than outweigh the total interest you’ll earn on your bank account in a whole year.

Yet for some of us, all we really ask is for the ability to talk to a human being at a UK call centre 24×7 and to receive a consistently good level of customer service. Current top performers for service continue to be First Direct and The Co-operative bank.

The decision to switch is not something people undertake lightly or want to do on a regular basis, so it’s important to do your homework and pick an account that reflects the way you run your finances.

M&S Bank research reveals that more than a quarter (26 per cent) of those with a garden shed admit to leaving it unlocked, with nearly one in five (17 per cent) saying they never secure it, despite the contents of a typical shed being valued at £567. Nearly a fifth (19 per cent) of respondents revealed that their shed contained more than £1,000 worth of gardening goods and equipment.

More than a quarter (28 per cent) of shed owners say either they and/or someone they know has fallen victim to theft or damage to items stored in their shed; rising to 35 per cent for those in the Midlands. Nearly half (47 per cent) of shed owners with home insurance said items stored in their shed either weren’t covered by their home insurance, or they didn’t know/hadn’t checked their current policy to see if they were covered.

It isn’t just sheds that are targeted by thieves or vandals; more than one in ten respondents with a garden (14 per cent) say either they and/or someone they know, has had their garden greenery damaged or stolen.

Despite the average garden containing £424 worth of plants, bushes, trees and shrubs, it’s perhaps surprising that two thirds (66 per cent) of garden owners didn’t know or haven’t checked whether their garden is insured. Only eleven per cent were confident that their plants, bushes, shrubs and trees were covered under their home insurance.

In addition, nearly a quarter (22 per cent) of those with a garden estimate that they typically spend between two and four hours per week on its up-keep during the spring and summer months (March to August). Just over one in ten (11 per cent) spend more than ten hours per week maintaining their garden during this period.

Paul Stokes, head of products at M&S Bank, said: “People often invest significant time and money into their garden, and the value of items, whether in the shed or in the garden itself, can quickly mount up.

“That’s why it’s surprising that a significant proportion of homeowners still don’t know whether they have adequate cover for theft or damage to both the shed and garden, should the worst happen. As we head into spring, we would urge households to review what measures they may need to secure their garden, as well as what is included within their policy, to ensure they are covered.”

M&S Home Insurance Premier cover provides unlimited cover for theft of property from a shed or garden, as well as cover for loss or damage to plants, bushes, shrubs and trees in the garden. In addition, customers purchasing a new M&S Building and Contents Insurance policy will receive a £40 M&S gift card.

Cautious over-55s are putting hard earned pensions at risk by ignoring inflation and placing money in cash, Fidelity International’s Class of 2015 research reveals.

Two years since the pension freedoms began, Fidelity spoke to people who had accessed their pension since April 2015 to see how this group had made use of the new flexibilities; particularly the cash lump sum.

Fidelity found that the Class of 2015 had used their cash lump sum for everything from paying off debt to financing holidays, the most popular choice by far was stashing money away in a current account with over two fifths (41%) choosing this option.

Yet, these actions didn’t seem to tally with concerns as nearly three quarters of those who’d accessed cash and gone into drawdown (73%) went on to say that low interest rates were far and away the biggest worry for their pension monies.

With even market leading accounts only offering a maximum of £122.25 in interest payments for just £2,500 in the first year only the biggest risk is not taking any risk with overly cautious retirees guaranteed to lose out as UK inflation continues its march upwards.

 

Maike Currie, Investment Director at Fidelity Personal Investing comments:

“Rising inflation and low interest rates is a toxic combination for retirees. Beyond the rise of day-to-day living costs like food and fuel, inflation also wreaks havoc with your pension savings. It erodes the spending power of future interest payments and chips away at your capital.

“It’s concerning that retirees worry about low interest rates but then still choose to leave their hard-earned pension savings languishing in cash. Most soon-to-be retirees look forward to their 25% tax-free cash lump sum with anticipation and excitement, and should enjoy this pension sweetener as they see fit, however, leaving it dwindling in a cash account could leave them short changed in the future.

“Considering that a healthy 55-year old could expect to live for another 30 or 40 years, most retirees can afford to give their tax-free cash sum room to grow by moving further up the risk spectrum, investing in bonds issued by companies rather than the Government or moving into stocks and shares. Putting this money into a stocks and shares ISA will also protect any future income payments and capital growth from the tax man.

“Our calculations show if you had invested £15,000 into the FTSE All Share index five years ago, you would now be left with £23,288. If, however, you had invested £15,000 into the average UK savings account over the same period, you would be left with a paltry £15,122. That’s a difference of over £8,166.”