Half of Brits opting to holiday in the UK this summer could be doing so uninsured, leaving thousands of pounds worth of valuables at risk of theft, loss and damage, according to new research from home insurance provider Policy Expert.

The study of nearly 2,500 people found that half (50%) admitted they didn’t have away from home cover included in their home insurance policy. Just one in eight (13%) holiday-goers said they would take out travel insurance for their ‘staycations’ in the UK.

The research also revealed that day-trippers and holidaymakers travel with an average £676 worth of valuables, potentially risking hundreds of pounds.

While one in four (25%) opt to holiday in the UK to save money, failing to take out insurance could result in an expensive ordeal if personal items are pinched by opportunistic thieves. Almost 1 in 10 (8%) Brits holidaying in the UK has fallen victim of theft, loss or damage, of which a third (31%) didn’t claim on their insurance. The most common items were mobile phones, cameras, wallets/purses and jewellery.

Other reasons for staying in the UK included it being an easier option (42%), more spontaneous (25%) and a love for the great British countryside or seaside (53%).

Adam Powell, from Policy Expert commented: “Many holidaymakers are opting to stay in the UK for a variety of reasons, but whether you’re venturing to the other side of the world or to a seaside break on the coast, it’s important to ensure you’re covered. A fun family holiday could quickly turn sour if your valuables are stolen, lost or damaged. If you don’t want to take out a separate travel policy, check the small print of your home insurance to see if you’re covered when away from home. Having that small amount of extra cover now could go a long way should the worst happen.”

Tips from Policy Expert on preventing theft while on staycation:

  • Keep purses secure and don’t put wallets or mobile phones in your back pocket
  • Zip up hand and shoulder bags – carry bags in front of you with flaps against your body
  • Don’t display jewellery or money – keep it safely in a pocket out of sight
  • Always use your phone’s security lock or PIN number
  • If you’re camping, make sure you don’t leave any valuables in your tent
  • If you’re using a cash machine, be wary of who is around you and make sure your pin is covered.
  • Thieves often work in groups, so try not be distracted by commotion or attention which could be a ploy
  • Finally, check whether your home insurance policy includes away from home cover so if the worst does happen, you at least know you are covered financially

The average premium quoted for a comprehensive car insurance policy is at its highest ever level according to the AA’s benchmark British Insurance Premium Index.

Confirming the chorus of concern expressed by many commentators and the financial pain felt by families, the average ‘Shoparound’ quote rose by 8.3% over the three months ending 30 June and an eye-watering 19.6% over 12 months.

The average Shoparound* quote at the end of the second quarter is £690.35 according to the Index, compared with the first quarter’s £637.51 and £577.22 a year previously.

Regionally, East Anglia has seen the biggest jump, rising by 11% to £677.14 over the three months.  The smallest increase was in Northern Ireland, up 3.5% to £952.92.

Young drivers have taken the brunt of the premium increase, with a 10.6% rise to an average quoted premium of £1,770.92.

Michael Lloyd, the AA’s insurance director says: “This is depressing news for drivers and it’s completely unnecessary.

“The main culprit is the change in the government’s so-called ‘Discount Rate’ that applies to injury payments.  For many years the rate was set at 2.5% but in March this year it was reduced to minus 0.75% which has significantly increased the value of compensation payments.  The discount rate is based on returns from Government bonds and was overdue for review, but it was slashed by a much larger margin than anyone expected.

“The increase in compensation applied immediately to both lump sum pay-outs which can run to millions of pounds for very serious injuries, as well as to lifetime Periodic Payment Orders for life-changing injuries. As a result many insurers found themselves facing immediate financial losses because of the much larger reserves needed to meet future claims.

“Because young drivers are responsible for the greatest number and highest cost of injury claims, their premiums have taken the brunt of the rises.”

Lloyd also points out that increases in Insurance Premium Tax and the continuing scandal of false whiplash injury claims, encouraged by cold-calling law firms, has also contributed to the rises.

“Despite these increases the insurance industry remains extremely competitive and, to a certain extent that has also contributed to the sharp rises we see today.  The culture of comparing prices online – which is the subject of a Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) investigation – has led insurers to offer unprofitable introductory rates to attract new business.  That that has been underlined by expert research last month** suggesting that for every £100 taken in premiums, insurers are now paying out £109 in claims and costs.

Nottingham Building Society is adding seven new branches to its portfolio in 2017 (ex Norwich and Peterborough Building Society) a strategy that has seen the mutual double its branch network over the past five years.

It is amongst only a small number of providers bucking the trend when it comes to assessing the value of an expanding branch network.

By delivering something different to the vanilla service offered by high street banking giants The Nottingham is able to offer a service that’s commercially viable whilst also providing a shot in the arm for local communities.

Digital banking may be the future and a cheaper operating channel but many people still value face to face contact and personal reassurance, particularly when it comes to dealing with complex financial matters such as arranging a mortgage.

While the established banking names continue to trim the size of their branch networks, innovators such as The Nottingham, Handelsbanken and Metro Bank still see the branch as a key part of their customer offering.

Handelsbanken has opened more than 180 branches in the last decade; Nottingham has doubled its branch presence to 67 offices in the last five years whilst Metro Bank has opened 51 branches since first launch in 2010 with up to 250 on the cards as a longer term target

A combination of a smart digital service backed up by a face to face option is a model that’s working for these players – each is offering the customer something a bit more than the norm.

The differentiators can vary – The Nottingham offers a one stop shop for whole of market mortgage searches plus an in house estate agency, Handelsbanken offers a local business banking expertise with flexibility to offer tailor made solutions and Metro Bank stands out by offering a 7 day per week service, instant debit card printing and safety deposit boxes as part of its highly customer centric strategy.

Branch closures can have a devastating knock on effect on our high streets and local communities as the closure of a branch means fewer visitors and less money being spent in the area.

We are quick to criticize big banks for the seemingly never ending programme of closures however even though post offices now offer a counter service to most bank customers, it’s too soon to write off the value of face to face banking.

This certainly rings true for many elderly UK consumers who are not comfortable using online channels due to a lack of understanding and/or an element of mistrust and apprehension due to the rise in cybercrime, phishing and financial scams.

As the summer holiday season heats up, new research from Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money (www.sainsburysbank.co.uk/travel/money)  reveals people plan to take around £836 million more in spending money – or £34 per holidaymaker – than this time last year. The reason for this is to offset the fall in Sterling’s value against popular holiday currencies.

The pound is currently worth around three per cent less against the Euro than it was a year ago, and one per cent less against the US Dollar.

The sum of the top five currencies bought from Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money in the first five months of this year was 26 per cent higher than the same period in 2016.

To help their money go further on holiday, the findings indicate  9 per cent of people have specifically chosen all-inclusive vacations this summer, and 6 per cent have booked self-catering breaks for this reason.

Nearly one in 20 people (4 per cent) say they will go on fewer excursions whilst on holiday abroad, and 3 per cent have decided to take their summer vacation in the UK this year.  In total, just over one in five (22 per cent) plan to make one or more changes to their summer holidays to ensure they get the most out of their money.

Simon Taylor, head of Travel Money at Sainsbury’s Bank said:  “A fall in Sterling against popular currencies has made holidaymakers shop around for the best deal. Sainsburys shoppers can benefit from better rates when they use their Nectar card to purchase instore and online from Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money.”

Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money’s findings reveal 21 per cent of people claim they have bought on average £455 of foreign currency at an airport travel money bureau over the past 12 months, despite offering some of the least competitive rates.

M&S Bank is urging holidaymakers to check their car insurance policy before hitting the roads this summer as research reveals that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of those planning to drive their car in mainland Europe believe they either aren’t, or don’t know if they are, insured to drive in the EU.

When it comes to breakdown cover, more than a third (34%) either don’t know, or say they wouldn’t be covered, if they broke down on one of mainland Europe’s roads this summer. While many policies will offer some form of cover when driving in the EU, the level of protection offered may not be the same as when driving in the UK.

M&S Bank research into car insurance amongst British motorists planning to drive on the Continent this summer revealed that, of those planning to drive in mainland Europe, the vast majority (96 per cent) said that their main purpose for taking to these roads was for a holiday, mini-break, or to visit friends / family.

Paul Stokes, Head of Products at M&S Bank, said: “As British holidaymakers get ready to take to Europe’s roads this summer, it’s important that they check whether they have adequate car insurance, but also breakdown cover in place, before they go on holiday, as some policies don’t offer like-for-like cover outside of the UK; only then will they have total peace of mind, should the worst happen.”

In addition, more than a quarter (26 per cent) either don’t plan to, or don’t know if they will familiarise themselves with the driving rules and regulations of the country they are in, with more than one in ten (11 per cent) saying they don’t have time and six per cent believing that driving in the mainland Europe is the same as driving in the UK.

However, many drivers may be surprised to find that driving regulations can differ widely across many EU countries. For example, if you are travelling in France, vehicles driving through Paris, Lyon and Grenoble must display a ‘Vignette’ (sticker) in the windscreen due to recently introduced low emission zones; failure to purchase and display the vignette when driving in these areas could result in fine between €68 and €135.

In addition, if you are travelling in Austria or Croatia, you would need to carry a first aid kit and warning triangle at all times, while those who require glasses for driving must always ensure they carry a spare pair with them when driving on Portuguese roads.

Paul Stokes continued: “Self-drive holidays are a popular option for many British tourists, so we would urge motorists to do some research into the driving laws of all the countries they will be travelling to before setting off.

“As part of their research, drivers should also consider the length of time they will be away; while some insurance policies include extended EU travel cover as standard, drivers should not assume this is always the case. By taking the necessary precautions before setting off, motorists can help to avoid unnecessary stress and further delays on the roads.”

Top tips for driving overseas this summer:

  • Check the car before setting off, ensuring the oil, screen wash, coolant and tyre pressures are at the correct levels
  • Plan your journey beforehand so you know exactly which regions / countries you’ll be travelling through and then familiariseyourself with the local driving laws
  • Have a travel guide to hand that contains local phrases in case you need to ask for directions or for recommendations of places to stop
  • Make sure you have some local currency to pay for toll booths etc.
  • Bring games / entertainment when travelling with children to ensure they are kept occupied and do not distract the driver
  • Have refreshments in the car to avoid dehydration in the heat

 

The UK’s smaller businesses are facing a total bill of £2.16 billion to chase overdue payments, according to Bacs Payment Schemes Limited (Bacs), the company behind Direct Debit and Bacs Direct Credit in the UK.

That’s in spite of a dramatic drop in the overall late payment debt, with new figures showing that UK small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) are owed £14.2 billion in contrast with five years ago when the total was double that, at £30.2 billion.

Out of the 1.7 million SMEs in the UK, almost 640,000 say they have to wait beyond agreed terms for payments. Scotland has the highest percentage of SMEs reporting late payment issues (46 per cent), followed by Northern Ireland (39 per cent), England close behind (37 per cent) while just over a third of Welsh SMEs (34 per cent) say they experience late payments.

Thirty nine per cent of companies are spending up to four hours a week chasing late payers, while 12 per cent of SMEs employ someone specifically to pursue outstanding invoices.  But there is light at the end of the tunnel – more than two thirds of those who don’t have a late payments problem say being paid by Bacs Direct Credit helps, while 29 per cent say the same about collecting monies owed by Direct Debit.

Almost one in five (19 per cent) of SMEs affected by overdue settlement admit that being owed between £20,000 and £50,000 would be enough to drive them into bankruptcy, with seven per cent of businesses saying they are already in that danger zone.

Of those facing late payments, some 16 per cent struggle to pay their staff on time, while 28 per cent of company directors reduce their own salaries in order to keep essential working capital inside their businesses. And nearly a third (32 per cent) say that overdue invoice settlement forces them to pay their own suppliers late. A quarter (25 per cent)  rely on bank overdrafts to make essential payments, and  15 per cent find it difficult to pay business bills like energy, rates, and rent when they’re due.

A significant issue for SMEs is the amount of time they are being kept waiting beyond their previously agreed payment terms. Almost a third of companies face delays of at least a month beyond their terms and nearly 20 per cent are having to wait more than 60 days before being paid.

Mike Hutchinson, from Bacs, said: “Falling late payment totals is welcome news for small to medium size businesses and for the wider economy. It’s good to hear that relatively simple measures like collecting money by Direct Debit or insisting on payment by Bacs Direct Credit are helping to keep SMEs out of the late payments trap. We’d advise all businesses to investigate if automated payments can help them control their cashflow more effectively.”

As Brits count down the days until their summer holiday begins, a new study by American Express has revealed that holidaymakers are likely to spend an average of £273 before they have even left their front door, stocking up on holiday items ranging from goggles and gadgets to games.

As a nation, Britons take an average of two holidays a year, either abroad or in the UK, equating to an average £546 spent on holiday preparations – more than the average UK weekly wage.

Holidaymakers spend the most on looking the part for their trip, spending £69 on clothing, shoes and accessories. This is followed by purchases on toys to keep the children occupied (£36), and then make up (£33).

More than two thirds (67%) of holidaymakers start buying treats a month before they depart for their trip. Popular items include clothing, magazines and snacks, and one in five (20%) purchase their loved ones or themselves a treat to celebrate the start of a trip.

Jenny Cheung, Director at American Express says “As the holiday season approaches, suitcases are already being piled high with travel related goodies as Brits prepare for their getaways. With many people working hard all year to earn their break, it’s understandable that special treats make it onto the shopping list. These little luxuries can go even further by putting related expenditure on a card that earns rewards or cashback, so you can treat yourself a bit more either during your holiday or after you return.”

American Express offers the following tips for those heading off on holiday:

1)     Plan in advance: if you are planning a holiday several months ahead, make a list of all the practical items you need and buy them ahead of time. After all, we usually book flights or train tickets in advance, so there’s no reason why you can’t gradually build up your holiday supplies, while having time to shop for bargains in the sales.

2)     Ask for holiday contributions: if your birthday is before, during or even after a holiday, ask family and friends to contribute towards items for your trip, such as clothes, travel guides or headphones.

3)     Don’t leave packing to the last minute: packing at least two days before your departure means you’re less likely to forget basic but useful essentials. Even if you are departing late in the day, travel schedules can always change so it pays to be organised in case the plan changes.

4)     Don’t panic: if you forget something, remember that it’s likely you will be able to buy the item on your travels, or borrow from one of your companions!

5)     Points make presents: check how many rewards points you have on your credit, charge or store card. You may have enough to treat yourself with your points at the airport or on your holiday.

Lloyds Banking Group has announced that it is revamping the overdraft charges for customers of Halifax, Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Bank with effect from November this year.

The banking giant has decided to ditch the £6 monthly overdraft charge for Lloyds Bank and Bank of Scotland customers and will no longer charge unauthorised overdraft fees for these two banks and customers of Halifax too.

Although the revised charges tariff for overdrafts is easier to understand it doesn’t mean it’s the best value account if you’re someone who dips into the red now and again, as the table at the bottom of this article shows.

Personal finance expert, Andrew Hagger of Moneycomms said: “The new overdraft tariff is quite different to anything else on the market as it will charge 1 pence per for every £7 of overdrawn balance per day – plus the charges will be debited to the account at the end of each day rather than as a lump sum a once a month – a move that should help customers with their budgeting.”

“Although 1p per £7 may sound a small amount, it actually equates to an equivalent interest rate of around 52% so it’s definitely worth shopping around to ensure you have the cheapest overdraft for the way you manage your bank account.”

There is not one account that’s best for everybody – in fact the account which offers the best overdraft will depend on how much you need to borrow and for how long – if you’re not sure which account would be most suitable, this table should help.

Overdraft comparison table

The regulator, The Financial Conduct Authority has been focusing on the cost of short term credit, so son’t be surprised if other banks follow suit in the coming months.

Four out of 10 UK holidaymakers have lost, or had stolen, an item of value while on holiday, a study from Aviva insurance reveals.
A survey of 2,000 UK adults who have taken a break in the last two years found that 18% had lost an important personal possession while on holiday, while 17% had had something stolen. An unlucky 3% of holidaymakers had experienced both mishaps during their travels.

The average value of items lost or stolen on holiday in this study was £249, although one in five (19%) respondents who had seen possessions disappear said their item was worth more than £300.

Half of holidaymakers (50%) who had experienced losing items or having possessions stolen on holiday said they had claimed on home or travel insurance to help recoup their losses. However, 41% said they didn’t make a claim and one in 10 (9%) said they didn’t have insurance.

Simon Warsop, Chief Underwriting Office, Aviva General Insurance says: “Holidays are a time to relax and enjoy life away from home, but unfortunately this doesn’t mean people can let their guard down completely. Losing a possession or having one stolen can really spoil a trip, particularly if the item is costly or has particular sentimental value – and it can be quite the holiday headache if important documents such as tickets or passports go missing.

“Prevention is the key, so it really pays for people to be aware of their surroundings, keep an eye on their possessions and leave valuable items in a secure place such as a safe whenever possible. It’s also a great idea to have suitable cover in place, such as baggage cover within travel insurance or personal belongings as part of home contents cover. It’s better to be safe than sorry, but insurance can help to cover the cost and put matters right if items do go missing.”

 

Aviva hints and tips for holidaymakers

  1. Keep your wallet, purse or phone in a zipped-up pocket – not in the back pocket of your trousers.
  2. Use a safe. Many hotels and apartments have them, so keep your valuables and important documents locked away when you don’t need them.
  3. Use a handbag with a strap that goes across your body and over the shoulder – muggers can quickly snatch a shoulder bag.
  4. Put purchases in a back pack when shopping on holiday – it’s easy to put down shopping bags and forget to pick them up.
  5. Put your camera on a strap around your neck.
  6. Avoid carrying large amounts of cash and share it out so it’s not in one place.
  7. Don’t take valuables to the beach and only take enough cash for the day. When going for a dip in the sea, tie or clip your bag to something like a sun lounger and put a padlock on the zip.
  8. If you hire a car, keep your belongings locked in the boot.
  9. If you do experience a theft, report it to the local police – don’t wait until you get home. You should also let your insurance company know as soon as possible, ideally within 24 hours.
  10. Only leave luggage with the hotel if it is kept in locked luggage storage. Unlocked luggage rooms are vulnerable to anyone walking it and helping themselves.

 

Nearly one in six adults rely on their plastic for financial survival as debt worries grow, new research from financial services insight specialist Consumer Intelligence shows.

Its study found that 80% of the population has a credit card. Of those, 19% of credit card customers admit they cannot get through a month without their cards with around 31% juggling three or more cards.

The shock figures show 11% of card holders are maxed out to the limit on one card, painting a picture of growing financial strain for millions of households.

Bank of England figures show total unsecured debt on credit cards, car loans and overdrafts is now £198 billion – the highest level since the 2008 financial crisis.

Consumer Intelligence’s research found 42% of adults worry about unsecured debts they have in addition to mortgages with 11% admitting they worry a lot about how deep in the red they are.

Around one in five adults (18%) have debts of £10,000 or more, on top of their mortgages, the study found, with one in four owing at least £5,000

One in six adults (17%) have exceeded their agreed overdraft limit in the past three years, while a fifth (19%) admitted they have had to borrow money from family or friends in the past three years.

Debt problems affect higher earners just as much, the study found. Around 23% of adults with a household income of more than £50,000 do not usually clear their credit cards.