New research from Go.Compare home insurance has found that 65% of the population currently has a shed or outbuilding at home – and despite the fact that the average UK shed is used to store around £455 worth of valuables, 55% of shed owners didn’t have insurance to cover their sheds or outbuildings, hadn’t thought about it, or didn’t know if they had the right cover.*

The new research quizzed more than 1,300 shed owners about how they currently use their outbuildings – and found they aren’t just for storage. The results revealed that men are the main shed owners in the UK (69%) and are almost three times as likely (13%) to use them as a “man cave”, compared with just 5% of women using their sheds as a “woman cave”.

One in ten shed owners use them as a “hobby space”, and a further 13% use them for their original purpose – as a potting shed for gardening. Eight percent of those questioned have converted their sheds into gyms and 6% use them as a games room.

When it comes to the younger generations, those aged between 18-34 are nearly twice as likely to use sheds/outbuildings as a gym (15%) compared to the general public (8%). And it seems the home bar hasn’t gone out of fashion four years post-pandemic, with those aged 18-24 THREE times as likely to have converted their sheds or outbuilding into home bars.

According to the data, the average value of the contents that UK householders keep in either a shed or outbuilding is £455, though for 1 in 6 people (16%) it’s more than £1,000. However, despite the high value of these items, only 44% of those surveyed are certain they have insurance cover in place.

Ceri McMillan, home insurance spokesperson for Go.Compare, said on the research: “We did a similar survey in 2021, during the pandemic, where we found that UK adults had spent an average of £1,976 on their gardens during the pandemic. We wanted to find out if the way people are using these spaces has changed four years on, and whether or not these former havens were now defunct – so it was heartening to see people are still making the most of these spaces.

“It’s clear many people are keeping quite valuable items in their sheds. But whether you’re using your shed to store gardening tools or gym equipment, it’s important to know if it’s properly protected. Many of us may not think about the value and security of our garden contents in the same way as we do about our homes, but when you start adding up the cost of garden structures, furniture, BBQs, lighting, and ornaments, even the average garden can house several thousands of pounds worth of items.

“Sheds and other outbuildings are often covered under your buildings insurance – but this just covers the structure, not what you keep inside.   Instead, these items – along with any patio furniture, BBQs, garden planters and ornaments – can be covered by home contents insurance under ‘contents in the open’, which provides cover for loss or damage to contents left outside but within the boundaries of your home.

“While there’s often a degree of cover for gardens and outbuildings in a home insurance policy, the amount and level of cover can vary significantly.  So, if you’re keeping valuable items in your shed, you may want to check your insurance cover and make sure it’s right for your requirements, or even buy additional garden cover.”

Go.Compare Home Insurance has provided some tips below to help secure your garden and its contents:

  1. It’s a good idea to keep boundary hedges and fences maintained as this will help to deter opportunistic thieves.
  2. Where it’s practical to do so, keep outdoor possessions in a locked shed or garage and consider installing security lighting or CCTV.
  3. You can also secure expensive plants with wire pegs dug into the ground around the root ball.
  4. Use a security pen to mark valuable items that are left in the open with your postcode (e.g. garden furniture, ornaments and trampolines).

For more information on garden and shed insurance visit: https://www.gocompare.com/home-insurance/shed-and-garden-insurance/

TotallyMoney has calculated the cost of using some of the most popular credit cards to withdraw cash when travelling, and warns the 2 million UK holidaymakers heading abroad this Easter to use the right card:

  • Some providers will charge a huge £4.59 in fees on £20 withdrawal. In real terms, this represents a 22.95% charge
  • For larger transactions, the representative charge decreases, but can still add a huge £7.99 on a £100 equivalent cash withdrawal
  • Two million people plan to go away this Easter†, and more than half of Brits are setting their sights on jetting off later this year, with the average person spending £227 per week abroad
  • There are alternative options available, which offer customers free withdrawals abroad

Below, TotallyMoney calculates the cost of credit card cash withdrawal fees and provides three top travel money tips, with supporting insights from independent personal finance expert, Andrew Hagger.

Provider Cash withdrawal fee Non sterling fee Cost £100 of currency withdrawal
Virgin Money 5% (no min) 2.99% £7.99
Fluid 5% (min £4) 2.95% £7.95
Aqua 5% (min £4) 2.95% £7.95
MBNA 5% (no min) 2.95% £7.95
Lloyds Bank 5% (no min) 2.95% £7.95
Tesco Bank 3.99% (min £3) 2.75% £6.74
Vanquis 3% (min £3) 2.99% £5.99
M&S Bank 2.99% (min £3) 2.99% £5.99
HSBC 2.99% (min £3) 2.99% £5.99
TSB 3% (min £3) 2.95% £5.95
NatWest 3% (min £3) 2.75% £5.75

TotallyMoney’s travel money trifecta

TotallyMoney CEO, Alastair Douglas shares three top tips for making your travel money go further:

  1. Pack the right card
    “Before you go away, double check how much your bank will charge you for using your card abroad. If you’re lucky, you might already have a fee-free option in your wallet — so make sure you stick to using that one. If not, and you’re planning on using credit, then consider applying for a Halifax Clarity or Barclaycard Rewards card —specifically for overseas use. Both offer fee-free purchase and cash withdrawal transactions abroad. Alternatively, current accounts with Chase, Starling and Monzo will all let you withdraw cash for free when abroad.”

  2. Go large
    “If you need to use your credit card for ATM withdrawals abroad, avoid using it for multiple, low value cash transactions — and instead consider taking out fewer but larger amounts. That way, you can avoid lots of withdrawal fees, which quickly adds up. Let’s say you take out £200 in one go, to cover you for four days, you might incur up to £15.98 in charges. On the other hand, if you take out £50 per day over the four day long weekend, you could end up paying the bank £31.96 — which is twice as much!”
  3. Shop local
    “Whenever you’re paying by card, or withdrawing cash, and you’re asked if you’d like to pay in the local currency, you should almost always pick the local currency. Choosing to pay in pounds sterling will lead to currency conversion fees set by the ATM operator or vendor — and worryingly, there’s no limit to how much they can charge.”

🦉 Andrew Hagger, Personal Finance Expert, and founder of Moneycomms adds:

“Although credit cards are useful in helping you manage your day to day cash flow and cope with unexpected expenses, using them to take cash out at ATMs overseas can be an extremely expensive way of funding your holiday spending.

“Consider a fee-free credit card or a low cost debit card as an alternative if you don’t want to see a big chunk of your overseas holiday budget swallowed up by cash withdrawal and non-sterling charges.”

A new survey has officially crowned the Volkswagen Golf as the country’s favourite car from the noughties. One in 10 picked the Golf as the car they love the most from the decade, placing it above every other model on the list. It was closely followed by the MINI (7.4%) and the Ford Focus (5.3%).

Car-changing marketplace Carwow asked car enthusiasts about their favourite vehicles from the noughties that are still on the road today. The results suggested that the nation has an affinity for the Golf, as well as other cars by VW, Ford and Vauxhall. The top 10 contained two models by each of these manufacturers, including the VW Polo, the Ford Fiesta and the Vauxhall Astra.

The UK’s top 10 favourite noughties cars:

  1. Volkswagen Golf

  2. Mini hatchback

  3. Ford Focus

  4. Land Rover Freelander

  5. Ford Fiesta

  6. Toyota Yaris

  7. Vauxhall Corsa

  8. Vauxhall Astra

  9. Volkswagen Polo

  10. Honda Jazz

While most drivers declared the Golf as their favourite, older motorists felt more affection for the Land Rover Freelander. Overall, 7% of over 54s picked it as their favourite from the decade, more than any other model. Women preferred the Mini, with 10.1% naming it their first choice, and only 7.9% selecting the Golf.

Carwow also investigated which of our noughties favourites are now worth the most. It says that fans of the Golf can expect to pay an average of £1,651 to get hold of a noughties model, with one of the most valuable versions being the 2009 hatchback, which has a median Cap value of £6,100.

However, it found the Honda Jazz to be one of the most valuable noughties favourites overall, holding an average value of £2,052.

In contrast, the Vauxhall Corsa was named the cheapest car out of the top 10 with an average value of £691, closely followed by the Vauxhall Astra at just £759. Carwow said that some versions are available for even less, revealing that the 2002 Corsa Hatchback has a median Cap value of just £340, perhaps showing that Vauxhall is the decade’s champion of cheap and cheerful wheels.

John Rawlings, Consumer Editor at Carwow, said: “Now that we’re over 10 years removed from the noughties, it’s enjoyable to look back on our favourite cars from this era and see which are holding their value. The VW Golf is clearly a favourite of the decade, with some versions now being worth over £6,000, although it looks like the Honda Jazz is generally the most valuable on average.

“If you own one of these noughties favourites and are considering changing your vehicle, now may be a good time to sell up, as there’s plenty of money to be made based on their current valuations. Don’t worry if you were hoping to snap up an old classic from this time though, as there are many with a lower price tag available, too.”

Out of the UK’s favourites from the noughties, Ford has the most vehicles still on the road today. There are currently around 328,519 Ford Fiestas on UK roads, more than any other noughties car, as well as 276,629 Ford Focuses. The VW Golf is close behind with 245,111 still on the road, while the Vauxhall Corsa and Astra each have just under 200,000 vehicles in use.

Find out more about the nation’s favourite noughties cars on Carwow’s website.

Data from Hodge  reveals 80% of Brits are most concerned about the increase in energy prices, 72% are worried about everyday costs and 61% are struggling with rising inflation.

Although concerns about the rising cost of living have eased slightly, it continues to impact over three quarters (76%) of people surveyed.

From a regional perspective, top worriers are in the East Midlands (35%), followed by West Midlands (34%), and North East (33%).

Additionally, over a third (38.2%) of Northern Irish residents expressed worries about fuel and electricity costs.

Surprisingly, despite these concerns, they boast the highest confidence in managing their own money.

Meanwhile, the housing market continues to present challenges for first time buyers with skyrocketing mortgage rates, which is reflected in the 10% of Brits that are actively saving towards owning a house. Instead, many are choosing to save for leisure activities.

From an age perspective, 57% of people below 20 years old are most concerned by the escalating costs of fuel.

However, over two thirds (69%) of 20-30 year olds are deeply worried about the increasing cost of everyday items.

Interestingly, residents aged 31 and older are struggling with energy costs. This financial landscape underscores the shifting worries and priorities experienced throughout different life stages.

Biggest money worries in the UK

  •  Energy prices – 80%
  •  Cost of everyday items – 73%
  •  Rising inflation – 61%
  •  Fuel prices – 52%
  •  The effect on pension/retirement income – 32%
  •  The effect on wages – 22%
  •  Rising interest rates – 22%
  •  Fall in the value of the pound – 22%
  •  House prices – 18%
  •  Increased loan payments – 12%

Christie Cook, managing director of retail at Hodge, said:

“Over the past few years, the UK has faced economic uncertainty, making financial planning a challenge.

“It’s evident Brits are actively taking steps to manage their finances amidst these challenges with the majority reducing their electricity usage to cut back on costs.

“Additionally, nearly half (49%) of the UK population are preparing for their future by setting aside money in emergency savings.

“Others are choosing to enjoy their money by saving for a holiday, while more than 4 in 10 (46%) are dipping into their savings.

“With fluctuating interest rates on savings accounts, it’s understandable that consumers aren’t staying loyal to their bank.

“More than half (54%) of individuals say they would consider moving their savings if they found a more competitive rate.”

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) urges households not to be caught out by the distress and expense of frozen or burst pipes as the cold snap takes charge.

A cold winter snap can lead to a surge in pipe problems – our members paid out an estimated £804 million in 2022 for issues related to burst pipes in people’s homes.

The average cost of burst pipe damage can run into tens of thousands of pounds and can cause significant disruption and serious damage to properties, even if only a minor rupture.

Louise Clark, General Insurance Policy Adviser, said: 

“As the cold snap bites and temperatures plummet, taking a few simple measures can reduce the disruption, distress and expense caused by frozen or burst pipes this winter, while keeping your heating bills as manageable as possible. Of course, insurers are poised to help if the worst happens but prevention is always better than cure.”

To reduce the risk of frozen pipes this winter, we recommend:

  • Taking some simple steps like insulating water pipes and water tanks in the loft, using draught excluders around doors can help keep your home warm and reduce energy bills. More information here: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/
  • If you have a smart thermostat, most will have an anti-frost setting to keep your home heated to a very minimal temperature that will stop pipes from freezing. If you do not have a smart meter, most radiators will have a setting with a snowflake symbol – turn to this setting to allow minimal water flow between pipes and radiators to prevent freezing. Consider setting the heating on a timer if you are going away.
  • Know where your stopcock, that turns off the incoming water supply, is and test that it works. It is usually found under the kitchen sink. If you cannot locate it ask a neighbour or seek advice from an approved plumber.
  • If you are going on holiday, or leaving your home unoccupied, consider turning off the water at the stopcock to reduce the risk of pipes freezing and bursting. See below on if your home is unoccupied.
  • Repair any dripping taps. This will help prevent water from freezing.

If your pipes freeze, our advice is to:

  • Immediately turn the water mains off via the stopcock. Wait for the pipes to warm up or you can try and thaw them with a hot water bottle.
  • Do not attempt to dislodge the ice using a hammer or melt it with a blow torch. It is highly likely that this will cause more damage.
  • Move any possessions, such as furniture or clothing, which are near frozen pipes in case the pipe bursts.

If your pipe bursts, we advise:

  • Turn off the water at the stopcock. Switch off central heating and any other water heating installations. Open all taps to drain the system.
  • Move any possessions, such as furniture or clothing, to prevent further damage to property.
  • In both instances, contact your insurer straight away to seek advice, many insurers operate 24-hour helplines. They will advise on next steps and help to arrange professional repairs to be carried out.

If you plan to leave your home unoccupied check your home insurance policy to see if there are any restrictions in cover or specific requirements if your home is left unoccupied for more than a specified period of time, such as 30 days or more.

Heating your home safely. Open fires and candles may seem like a good way to keep your heating bills down, but they will significantly increase the risk of home and possessions being damaged or destroyed by fire. https://www.london-fire.gov.uk/safety/the-home/candles/

If using an open fireplace, ensure that the chimney and flues are inspected by a specialist and cleaned if they have not been used for some time. Make sure you use a fireguard.

Your local fire brigade should be able to give you some advice about heating your home safely.

 

American Express has launched an enticing offer for Cardmembers to help them save money when eating out this Bank Holiday weekend and beyond.

Cardmembers could get 10% back in statement credits anytime they spend at any of nearly 100 eligible restaurant brands. The extensive list – which includes hundreds of outlets across the UK – spans eateries such as Tortilla, Yo! Sushi, Carluccio’s, Stable Pizza, Gaucho, Honest Burgers and more. The special offer is running until at least 3 July.

Cardmembers simply need to save the offer to their Card via the Amex App or online at americanexpress.com and the offer will be applied when they spend at eligible restaurants using their Card. They will know they are eligible if they see the offer displayed. They can also browse dozens of other offers that are available to them across popular dining, shopping, travel and entertainment brands.

As the savings market continues to surge, Cahoot, the UK-based online bank, has today announced increased rates on its Fixed Rate Bond range, including ‘top of market’ rates on two year and three year Fixed Rate Bonds.. 

 

Fixed Rate Bonds are available immediately: 

·        1 Year Fixed Rate Bond: 4.30% AER/Gross from 3.70% AER/Gross 

·        2 Year Fixed Rate Bond: 4.70% AER/Gross from 4.10% AER/Gross 

·        3 Year Fixed Rate Bond: 4.80% AER/Gross from 4.20% AER/Gross 

 

Cahoot savers locking away £10,000 in a 3 Year Fixed Rate Bond product will see annual returns of £480.  Savers can check what returns they can get by using the Bank of England savings calculator

 

Check all the latest best buy savings deals on Moneynet.

 

A Fixed Rate Bond can be opened with only a £500 deposit and with a maximum balance of up to £2 million. All accounts are protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS)1 up to £85,000, to provide customers with peace of mind.

Nearly one in five (17%) properties received an offer within one hour of a viewing, with one in 14 (7%) buyers making an offer on a house without even visiting it, according to data from the past five years.

This trend is far starker in 2022 as 31% of properties now receive an offer in an hour compared to 7% in 2018. Properties receiving an offer in a day is up over the same period from 26% in 2018, to 48% in 2022. One in eight (12%) properties have received an offer without a viewing this year, up from 7% in 2018.

MPowered Mortgages, the fintech mortgage lender, has launched the inaugural House Pace Index to shed light on buying behaviour, which is motivated by market conditions, government intervention on the housing market plus consumer behaviour of wanting to “buy now”. 

The study found 38% of properties that have been put on the market in the past five years received an offer within the same day of a viewing. Only 14% secured an offer after a second viewing.  

This trend is most prevalent in London with more than a third (37%) of properties receiving an offer on the same day as a viewing. One in seven (14%) homes in the Capital secured an offer without the buyer seeing the property in question.  

Furthermore, 18-34 year olds are most likely to adopt this approach to house buying with 11% admitting to making an offer before seeing a property, compared to just 5% of 35 – 54 year olds. The average age of a first time buyer is 34 in the UK1, suggesting that being quick to act could be down to inexperience coupled with fewer mortgage deals on the market.2  

Buyers see an average of three properties before making a first offer and 40% of buyers view only two properties before deciding they have found the right home for them. Despite buyers being quick off the mark, making a speedy offer is not always rewarded. Half (50%) of buyers have an offer fall through. The top reasons why an offer fails are that the seller received a higher offer (32%), problems appeared on the survey (25%) or there was a break in the chain (15%).  

The study also found that 10% of offers fell through as the buyer couldn’t secure a mortgage. More than half (51%) of sellers also reported they insisted on any first time buyers having a mortgage in principle before accepting an offer. 

Stuart Cheetham, CEO, MPowered Mortgages, comments:  

“We are seeing lots of activity in the market as buyers race to lock in deals given the pace in which they are rising in the current climate and this data shows that offers are being made extremely quickly, despite a large proportion of these falling through. Our House Pace Index shines a light on changing consumer behaviour against a backdrop of rising mortgage rates and aims to prompt more consideration in the house buying process. 

“The race to find a home can be a daunting prospect even more so now in an environment where mortgage rates are rising as part of the cost of living. Of the many hurdles a homebuyer faces, one element that can be largely controlled is the certainty of their mortgage and this will be even more important as rates continue to rise. MPowered Mortgages uses AI and intelligent data to provide mortgage decisions quickly and make the mortgage journey for homebuyers and re-mortgagers as pain free as possible.”  

MPowered Mortgages uses AI to enable homebuyers to secure a fast mortgage that works for them. It can underwrite mortgage applications in real-time and achieve mortgage approvals in a matter of hours. Supporting homebuyers through the cost of living crisis is also a key priority for the firm which is why it has launched cashback options aimed at reducing the overall cost of buying a home as well as 10 year rates so that people can lock into rates for longer in an environment where mortgage rates are increasing at pace. To find out more about MPowered Mortgages visit mpowered.co.uk.  

E-bike owners are being warned to be on their guard as insurance claims for cycles and accessories climb.

Aviva data reveals UK theft claims for e-bikes rose by 37% in 2021, compared to the previous year.

The growing popularity of e-bikes is also reflected in the insurer’s figures. Theft claims have rocketed in recent years, rising by nine times (or 815%) between 2016 and 2021.

The average value of e-bike claims has also grown substantially during this period. Aviva reports that a claim for an e-bike was typically less than £1,500 in 2016 but is now around £2,000.

The insurer warns that cycle accessories are also being targeted through domestic burglaries. These can add up to several hundreds of pounds, as the table below reveals.

Cycle accessory Approximate typical claim cost
Helmet £70
Lights £90
Pedals £80
Mudguards £60
Multi-tool £45
Mini-pump £20
Inner tube £5 each
Bike computer £30
Bags and panniers From £20
Dropper post £100
Padlock £40

Claims for cycles and accessories are fairly consistent throughout the year, although Aviva data suggests there may be a small uplift during summer months.

Consider your cycle cover

Aviva also urges bike owners to check their insurance policies, to make sure they are suitable for their needs. Home insurance policies usually cover pedal cycles and e-bikes when in the home, although this may not extend to taking the bike out and about.

Many insurers offer a pedal cycle add-on to contents insurance which covers cycles when they are not at the home address, but there are often requirements that the bike should be secured when it is not being ridden. There are also stand-alone products available, such as Ripe Cycleplan which provides specialist cycle protection.

A previous Aviva study of cycling habits revealed the most popular places for storing bikes when not in use as follows:

Storage place Proportion of cyclists who store bike here
Garden shed 37%
Private garage 34%
Inside my house / flat 32%
Outside in the garden 20%
Public bike storage / rack 18%

NB: Respondents were able to select more than one storage place.

 

Kelly Whittington, Property Claims Director, Aviva says: “Pedal cycles – and e-bikes in particular – can cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds, so people should consider their cover carefully. Home contents insurance often covers bikes and e-bikes while in the home, but there may be a single item limit for possessions stolen or damaged. More expensive models may need to be listed separately to ensure they are fully covered. Similarly there may be a limit for items stored in sheds and outbuildings – often around £2,500.

“Some home insurance providers also offer a cycle add-on option to cover bikes away from the home, while stand-alone special policies are available. However, thefts may only be covered if the bike is in the customer’s control or locked or secured in accordance with the policy terms, so it’s always best to check with the insurer if in any doubt.”

Aviva has the following advice for people to protect their cycles and themselves:

  1. Prevent thieves from taking your bike by locking it to a fixed object such as a bike rack or a ground anchor. These are often found in designated bike parking areas.
  2. Use a good quality lock such as a D-lock, which is strong and difficult for thieves to cut through.
  3. Ensure the lock is around the wheel, frame AND anchor to which it is attached. Otherwise thieves may be able to remove parts of your bike and lift the main frame away.
  4. Invest in a well-fitting quality cycle helmet. You may wish consider knee and elbow pads – even seasoned cyclists have mishaps.
  5. Remove easy-to-steal parts or accessories like the saddle and post, pumps, or clip-less pedals.
  6. Leave your bike in a well-lit area with CCTV cameras where thieves are less likely to loiter.
  7. Register your bike with a tracker website such as www.immobilise.com so police authorities can trace and identify your bike if it does get stolen.
  8. Photograph your bike and note down the serial number, make and model. If it does get stolen, this will make it easy to identify.
  9. Security-mark the frame using an ultraviolet marker. If it is stolen and found again, it could be identified as yours and possibly returned to you.
  10. Familiarise yourself with your insurance policy and make sure your cover is adequate for your needs. Home insurance may be suitable for some, but more expensive models may benefit from more specialist cover.

Digital bank Chase today announced it is offering 3% cashback on Amazon.co.uk spend until the end of 2021, to help customers make more of their Amazon purchases this festive season.

The Chase current account already offers customers 1% cashback on all eligible debit card spend for 12 months*, but beginning today, Chase customers can benefit from an increased cashback offer of 3% on online purchases** from Amazon.co.uk. The promotion will run from 18th November through to 31st December, and will be applicable to up to £5,000 spent on the site.

Customers can earn the 3% cashback when they use their Chase debit card to make purchases at Amazon.co.uk, including digital downloads, Amazon Prime subscriptions, and items sold by third-party merchants through Amazon.co.uk’s marketplace.

In order to start earning this additional cashback, customers must activate the offer in the Chase app via the Rewards hub.

Deborah Keay, Chief Marketing Officer of the digital bank says: “The festive season is fast approaching and we know consumers are already busy shopping for the holidays.  We want to help everyone to have an even more rewarding festive season this year, so we’re delighted to be expanding our fuss-free rewards programme so Chase customers earn a little extra back while they spend with Amazon in the run-up to the holiday period.”

JPMorgan Chase launched its new digital bank in the U.K. under the Chase brand earlier this year, offering a range of simple, rewarding features to help people budget, manage money, spend and save.

Additional rewarding features include:

  • Small change round-ups on which customers can earn 5% interest: customers can save as they spend by rounding up their debit card purchases to the nearest £1, and depositing the small change into a separate account where it will earn interest at 5%***.
  • Fee-free debit card use abroad: customers won’t be charged any fees by Chase when using their card while travelling, including for cash withdrawals at ATMs abroad.
  • A U.K.-led customer support team: with just a few taps in the Chase app, customers will be connected to a specialist – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

New customers interested in taking advantage of the Amazon offer can open a Chase current account quickly and simply by downloading the Chase app.

For more detail on Chase’s Amazon offer see Chase.co.uk/Amazon.