Friday 26 November 2010

An Insurance Broker’s Opinion of the ABI Flooding Conference – “Fighting Flood Risk Together”

First of all: Please see the following BBC News Interview with Neil Cook Flooded properties - November 2009 about their previous promise




The following comments were observed through the course of the event

The current statement of principles for flood victims expires in 2013 although the current version that in short, promises the following is not in fact fit for purpose and holds very little water.

1 Anyone who suffered a flood claim will be offered renewal

2 The premium offered will affordable and the excess sensible

3 If the property is sold the policy will transfer to the new buyer at same terms

Any insurer that is deemed to be a new entrant is excluded any so a major ABI insurer will often use several brand names such being the insurance provider for supermarket type chain or OAP organisation. This in fact to their advantage not yours!

So this will be reworked ! ?! YES BUT ONLY IN FAVOUR OF ABI INSURERS

Proposed methods of help
THE GREEN DEAL home owners with be rewarded if they fit flood defence, sadly most insurers wont give a dam!

During the meeting headed “sharing flood risk” a representative of one of the largest insurers in the world praised the UK method of offering flood insurance as part of the policy and commented that “the principle of insurance that everyone pays into the common insurance pot so that gets paid out from” that is the way insurance works the ABI disputed it!

The ABI muted that those who flooded or are in high flood risks areas will have to buy flood cover as a separate policy typically you will pay £1000 or much more extra to be protected against flood, flood victims and those in very high risk areas could be charged many thousands of pounds with flood excesses in excess of £10000

Home owners will be expected to fit flood defences to their property but will not be rewarded for doing in so. PLEASE beware of inflated prices for flood defences and discounted flood defences after various flood grants a typical flood gate for a door cost s around £250 so don’t be fooled into paying any more and don’t be fooled into buying too equipment the cost to defend a typical property should be no more than £1000

It was stated that in 2007 there were 180,000 properties flooded alone no that figures is now double that of course that includes property in the UK and Northern Ireland

Various flood groups etc fought these proposals but were ignored! They also commented that the UK economy is supported by property value without flood cover whole areas of the country will become ghost towns as those properties become worthless as without affordable flood cover they cannot sell

No reply was given

The point was raised that the under the agreement, cover should transfer to future buyers But does not no comment was given

In Keswick at least 1 in 12 property owners are refused insurance in Morpeth the figure is 1 in 10 that will increase around 5 fold within 2-3 years

Lets hope and pray that when the recent snow there are no more floods

Source Neil Cook Insurance Broker

See also: UK flood damage costs up 200%

Thursday 25 November 2010

UK flood damage costs up 200%

The ABI - Association of British Insurers issued a press release yesterday- 24th November saying "Massive rise in Britain's flood damage bill highlights the need for more help for flood vulnerable communities says the ABI"

The News release went onto say "Britain’s rising flood risk is further underlined today, with figures published by the ABI showing that the cost of flood damage since 2000 has leapt by 200% on the previous decade.

With more people set to be at significant risk of flooding, the ABI is calling on the Government
to ensure that spending on flood defences is targeted to the most flood vulnerable communities.

.One in six homes in England is currently at risk of flooding. Nearly 500,000 people face a
significant flood risk, and it has been estimated that this could rise to 840,000 by 2035
without adequate investment in flood defences.1

ABI’s figures highlight the huge financial cost of flooding:
• Since 2000 insurers have paid out £4.5 billion to customers whose homes or businesses
have been hit by flooding. This is up 200% on the £1.5 billion paid in the previous decade in
real terms.

• Major floods since 2000 have included the 2007 summer flooding which resulted in insurers
paying out £3 billion, the 2005 floods in Carlisle that cost £272 million, and the Cumbrian
floods in November 2009 costing £174 million.

• Reasons for the rise in flood costs include the increased frequency and severity of flooding
in the UK and the growing problem of surface water flooding (the Environment Agency has
estimated that 2.8 million properties are at risk of flooding from surface water). It has been
previously estimated that the total value of assets under flood risk exceeds £200 billion –
more than the current budget deficit.

These figures were released at the ABI’s flood conference “Fighting Flood Risk Together” held
today. At the conference over 100 representatives from the insurance industry, policy makers
and community groups discussed the impact of the Government’s recent announcement of a
cut in flood defence spending, and what needs to be done to tackle the UK’s flood problem.

Speaking at the conference, Tim Breedon, ABI Chairman and Group Chief Executive, Legal and General, said: “Flooding devastates lives and communities. Insurers play a key role in helping those affected recover, but prevention must be better than cure. The recent announcement of a cut in Government investment in flood defences was disappointing, and it is now vital that Government spends its money wisely to bring real improvements where they are most needed.”

Barry Smith, Chairman of ABI’s Property Committee and Chief Executive of Ageas UK, stressed at the conference that: “Millions of customers rely on the financial protection provided by flood insurance, and insurers are determined to do everything possible to ensure this continues. The insurance industry’s flood insurance agreement with the Government, under which insurers commit to offering flood cover to existing customers, expires at the end of June 2013. To ensure flood insurance continues to remain widely available and competitively priced, further investment in flood management is needed when the public purse is in better shape”.

1. Figures on properties at flood risk from the Environment Agency

If you live in area that is affected by flooding or have concerns about your insurance take a look at Flood damage property insurance from Equity and General Insurance Services HERE

See also:An Insurance Broker’s Opinion of the ABI Flooding Conference – “Fighting Flood Risk Together”

Importance of Pet Insurance

Came across this intertesting article about Endsleigh Pet Insurance this morning.

Insurance is a necessary part of everyday life for most people, whether it is for their car, home or health.

Pet insurance is another product that can provide invaluable cover for dog owners for a number of reasons.

The main reason for taking out a dog insurance policy is to pay for unexpected vet bills and help cover the cost of care should your four-legged friend fall ill.

While this is certainly the primary consideration for many people who take out dog insurance, there are other things that pet insurance policies cover which can be particularly useful.

Some insurance products will help when it comes to accidental damage to someone else’s property caused by your pooch and can also provide cover for third-party liability.

If your dog gets lost or stolen, pet insurance can also help towards the cost of advertising and providing a reward for its safe return.

When you start your search for cheap pet insurance, it is worth considering that some of these eventualities may not be covered by the cheapest policies.

One of the first ports of call for many people seeking cheap dog insurance is the internet and price comparison sites can be a useful tool in seeking out the best deals and helping you to compare providers.

If you are looking for pet insurance on a tight budget then you may find that a fee or time-limited policy is more appropriate than lifetime cover, as it will cost you less on a monthly basis.

However, when you are making this decision it is worth considering the breed of dog that you own.

Pedigree dogs in particular are susceptible to a number of health problems as they get older – from arthritis to diabetes – and a long-term condition of this nature could prove costly if you do not have adequate pet insurance.

Taking out a dog insurance policy will provide you with peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy every moment with your furry friend safe in the knowledge that you will be able to provide them with the best level of veterinary care should they need it.

If you’re in the market for dog insurance then check out leading insurer Endsleigh for pet insurance. Endsleigh offers cheap pet insurance to meet your needs.

Originally founded in 1965, Endsleigh has since grown to become one of the UK’s leading independent intermediaries. We specialise in providing insurance solutions for career people offering a product range that starts with students and continues through to retirement and beyond.

If you are looking for Pet insurance for your pet visit

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Commercial Insurance Guides

Neil Cook an Insurance Broker in the Specialist Risks Department at Equity and General Insurance Services Ltd has written some guides on Commercial Property insurance.

The four guides cover the following topics:

Insurance to protect your business: An unexpected event - such as a break-in, fire, flood or computer failure - could destroy your business. Insurance can cushion the impact of most risks. But if you are not insured against the risk, the effects can be disastrous.

There are many insurance options to protect your business against the unexpected. Analysing risks and carefully planning your insurance cover can give you the peace of mind that, should the unthinkable happen, the impact on your business will be minimised.

This briefing outlines:

• Insurance required by law.
• Protection for you and your business.
• Common insurance requirements.
• How to buy cover effectively.

Making an insurance claim: For most businesses it is not a case of if, but when. You will probably make a claim on an insurance policy at some stage, be it for a catastrophic fire or a minor theft.

Your insurance policy will compensate you for financial loss. This can include replacements,
repairs and even your lost profits.

But insurance cannot guarantee that your customers will wait while you get your business
back on its feet. You need to minimise the business disruption by ensuring quick and full
settlement of your claim.

This briefing looks at:
• What to do when you suffer a loss.
• How to make a claim.
• What your insurer will require you to do.
• How to speed up the settlement.
• Why your claim may not be met in full.

Managing insurance risks: All businesses face a wide range of risks every day. Careful planning can either reduce these risks to an acceptable level, or eliminate them completely.

While insuring some of these risks is essential, it should be seen as no more than a back-up
to an on-going ‘risk management' process.

This briefing tells you:

• What risk prevention you are required to carry out by law.
• The most common causes of loss or damage, and how to prevent them.
• How to identify the risks your business faces.
• How taking preventative action will affect your insurance policies.

and finally Litigation and insurance:- The cost of bringing or defending a legal action can put serious financial pressure on your business, whether you eventually win the case or not.
You could potentially be sued by an employee, a customer, a supplier or a member of the public. Or you could need legal help to resolve a dispute with a government agency such as HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC).

This briefing outlines:
• The most common reasons why businesses are sued, including breaches of legislation.
• The most common reasons why businesses sue.
• What you can do to reduce the risks.
• What insurance you can buy to cover the costs of legal actions.

You can view these four most comprehensive guides by visiting

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Complaints flood in

The Financial Ombudsman Service has a very good website that I just found when surfing the web about insurance problems, people experience.
Under their ombudsman news I came across this in 2008 archives "complaints involving buildings insurance"

Q: Whether insurer responsible for cost of remedying faults in building work carried out as part of a claim for flood damage

A:Mrs C lived in an old mill house which was badly damaged by winter floods, following prolonged rain and storms. She was insured by the same firm for both buildings and contents and she submitted claims under both policies.

The insurer accepted liability and appointed contractors to carry out repairs to the property. After a few weeks, however, Mrs C concluded that the contractors were making unreasonably slow progress. She discussed the situation with the insurer and said she would like to appoint a local surveyor to represent her and supervise the work. The insurer agreed to her proposal and confirmed that it would pay the surveyor’s fee.

During the course of the subsequent works, Mrs C’s surveyor replaced the existing contractors with a new firm of builders. And Mrs C asked for some additional work to be carried out, at her own expense.

As time went on, Mrs C became increasingly dissatisfied – both with the surveyor and with the standard of the building work. When all the work was eventually completed, she hired a different surveyor to prepare a report on what had been done. He identified a number of faults in the building work and estimated that it would cost just under £50,000 to remedy matters.

Mrs C sent the report to the insurer, together with a claim for the cost of putting things right. However, the insurer
refused to meet the claim. It said that as Mrs C had appointed a surveyor to oversee the work, responsibility for any faults lay with him. Mrs C then brought her complaint to us.

Complaint upheld in part
It was clear that there were a number of problems with the building work. Some of the faults listed in the report related to the additional work that Mrs C had asked the builders to carry out. We agreed with the insurer that it was not responsible for putting right any defects in this additional work.

However, we said that the repair work relating to the flood damage was a different matter. The insurer had authorised and paid for the work. And it remained responsible for ensuring that the work was completed satisfactorily, regardless of the fact that – with its agreement – Mrs C had appointed a surveyor to oversee the builders.

We said the insurer should pay Mrs C £20,000 to cover the cost of remedying the defects in the work carried out to repair the flood damage.

The section has some interesting situations like:

" insurer refuses to pay claim for storm damage when it discovers that policyholder is serving a prison sentence"

"claim for flooding and damp in basement after exceptional rainfall – whether policy also covered cost of repairing damaged damp-proofing in walls"

" whether problem with floorboards was caused by a relatively recent flood or by rot that had been spreading for some years"

To read the details of those complaints and the decision of the Financial Ombudsman Service you need to visit

If you need some help - quotes from a specialist insurance broker dealing with Flood damage property - Ex Offenders insurance and more Click Here

Insurance problems after flooding in Boscastle

Ian Cook an insurance broker, from the Specialist Risks Department at Equity and General Insurance Services Ltd sent us this letter from a client.

Hello Neil,

As requested a few lines regarding insurance renewal premium from A.... Insurance.

It was a feeling of total disbelief that I experienced when noting the renewal premium for my building and contents insurance policy, with A.... Insurance, for my two bedroomed cottage in Boscastle North Cornwall.

From a figure of £429 in 2009, the premium had been increased to £2,729.98 in 2010. The figure was confirmed by the broker at the time, C.... D...

C.... D.... were unable to place the cover with any other company on their data base due to my flood claim in 2004.

I then contacted several well known companies direct but to no avail. A visit to an insurance broker in person also failed to yield any success.

Searching the internet I eventually found a link to you at Equity Gi company details, which provided cover for £374.

This process finding you took considerable time and effort to complete with real concern and associated stress, that I was going to have to find a considerable sum of money to meet a totally unexpected bill from a 'reputable' insurance company!

I think it would be helpful if the alternatives to the likes of A... were more visible, to ensure people are aware that their are options available.

I thank you for your assistance. Kind regards, Ian

If you are looking for insurance for your property and are experiencing problems because you have claimed on it because you suffered flood damage or live an area that could have flods, follow this link to contact Neil Cook.

Monday 22 November 2010

Insurance broker Neil Cook still helping flood insurance victims

Just over a year ago on the 19th November 2009 the flooding in Keswick in Cumbria took place.
On the 28th November Nick Starling of the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Neil Cook (in left hand picture) Insurance Broker who works for the Specialist Risks Department of Equity and General Insurance Services Ltd took part in a BCC News studio interview that can be viewed here
One year on people still risk problems of flooding and only last Wednesday 17th November there was severe flooding in Cornwall.
The picture above on the right is of a lady in Keswick. She is badly disabled and was flooded twice the NFF (National Flood Forum) referred her to Neil Cook of Equity and General Insurance Services. Unfortunately she did not have money to buy flood defences. He arranged the insurance and a flood defence company gave the flood barrier free !
The lady wrote to Neil Cook

"I was flooded put in 2004 and the 2009 floods. Both times I lost everything all my memories, pictures, possessions my whole life. Its awful to be flooded its like someone has wiped out your life and existence.
To top it all my insurance company would not cover me any more for flood! Despite the promise insurance companies had made to help flood victims.
I tried everyone and everywhere but could not get anyone to insure me. I was feeling very low by this time with many sleepless nights like so many people across the country in the same position as me, just imagine my shock & horror when I found the out that the flood forum held a meeting at the Keswick hotel to sell flood defences at exaggerated prices they were quoting £3-4000 for defences I knew after I checked several suppliers, were only worth nearer £1000 and wondered why our local flood group leader was not recommending flood defence that are more beneficial to people who need them BUT wondered were the markup on the companies they recommended was going ?!!! It is a total rip off that a charity was behind .

For ordinary people on low wage or benefits what chance do they have the flood group should be for everyone not just the "FAT CATS" who can afford to pay inflated prices but also the cream on top of the prices should not be milked off by the flood group or should the people who in government who fund some of the flood defence grants be ripped off too. To this end I would like other people to no the real issues
But most importantly I would say a huge thanks to Neil Cook the insurance broker who helped me get flood cover again along with a flood barrier at a premium less than I Paid before because he has a great heart and soul so did not treat me like a real person not just another policy number .

Also I want to give hope to other flood victims or those living in flood plains I hope the flood groups are found out too.
Was stressed but NOW very happy of Keswick
For more information on Flood insurance, visit this Insurance Services advertisement page HERE

Saturday 20 November 2010

A complete rebranding of ARLA and NAEA?

There has been a great deal of interest in the NAEA - National Association of Estate Agents in house magazine The Estate Agent and ARLA - The Association of Residential Letting Agents - Agreement magazine over the past couple of months.
The reason for this has been article by an estate agent John Pring who was saying that there is confusion of the number of brands now under the NFOPP - National Federation of Property Proffesionals.
A few years ago they were the NAEA - National Association of Estate Agents. Then got ARLA onboard representing letting agents, then Valuers and Auctioneers and Commercial Businiess Agents, not to mention inventory agents.
So where do they go from here. I personally think most of these brands will go within two years and the National Association of Estate Agents will be the dominant party.
I submitted a letter to both the Estate Agent and Agreement magazines recently and the November / December 2010 issues have just been published.
When will there be a complete rebranding?

Dear Editor

I was very interested to read John Pring’s personal opinion in the Sept/Oct 2010 edition of Agreement.

It would appear that within some three years of the NAEA / ARLA “Marriage” there are views coming through that there are too many names under the NFOPP umbrella.

Reading the comments from NAEA members in the Sept/ Oct 2010 edition of the Estate Agent it seems that many members think there should be a change to branding everything under the NAEA or very similar, they are of course estate agents.

I recollect in the 1980’s when I was an ARLA Council Member and was building up the membership, I contacted the NAEA and they provided me with the full membership list (on convenient to use sticky labels) to circulate information about ARLA and increase the membership from NAEA members involved in lettings. At that time the NAEA did not have any input on lettings hence the reason Neville Lee and John Birch established ARLA.

A year or so later ARLA was informally approached by someone from the NAEA suggesting that ARLA should become part of the NAEA. Fortunately that did not happen and ARLA was able to grow in its own rights. The NAEA then set up a lettings division, however the ARLA name was the one that was always the voice of the lettings business in the media.

I like, Paul Weller of Leaders was not in favour of the takeover of ARLA by the NAEA, however the larger organisation won the day. Since then ARLA has benefited from the management framework in Warwick, but most of the separate identity has now gone and even Agreement and The Estate Agent often share the same features. The NAEA is introducing licensing so maybe within a short while the same licensed estate agent would also be a licensed letting agent as well.

The question now is when will there be a complete re-branding? Had ARLA become part of the NAEA back in the eighties the ARLA name would have quickly disappeared. Today there are now thousands of lettings agents in the UK so the task could prove more difficult, however to save costs, will we be seeing the NAELA (National Association of Estate & Letting Agents) within in the next two years instead?

Philip Suter FNAEA, MARLA

It is interesting to see in the same Agreement magazine as my letter that there is a feature on Paul Weller, Managing Director of Leaders letting agents. Paul now runs one of the largest letting agents groups in the UK. A business his late father in law Neville Lee established in the early 1980's after establishing ARLA with John Birch.

I met Neville on several occasions and am not sure if he would have been too happy about ARLA under the NAEA's umbrella. His son in law Paul certainly is not and the article in Agreement says "Weller is a long-term ARLA member, but not an uncritical one. He opposed the merger with the NAEA, putting himself up as the 'no'proxy vote, meaning that members who were opposed to the merger but who could not attend the vote could vote through him.

In the event, one third of ARLA members voted against the merger, and Weller says he believes that were it to be put to the vote again now more would be against it.

He does remain the ARLA fold: However, we do evaluate it every year and look at the benefits he says. One difficulty is that over the years we have drummed into the staff all the pluses of ARLA membership and so it would be very difficult to reverse that culture. However, we are no longer putting staff through Technical Awards, but doing our own training courses"."

I personally have found the "New ARLA" far too bureaucratic and that is a great shame being involved in the UK letting business for more than 30 years.

Friday 19 November 2010

Scope for flood victims

Affects of the Association of British Insurers member’s failure to abide by the promises they made to victims of floods are draining the economy


It is reported that 300,000 home and business owners were affected recent floods with the repair costs running into billions of pounds

There are still major insurance issues faced by an estimated, 10 million UK, and Northern Ireland residents who have either been flooded or live in the revised Environment Agency flood risk zones.

Mainstream Insurers are either refusing them Insurance cover or applying vast unaffordable premiums with unjustifiable flood excesses. This is a direct disregard and abuse of the ABI pledge to help those affected by flood. That promise is failing to hold any water and would appear to be just a blatant lie.

If affordable cover and excesses and are not offered along with the promise to transfer the insurance cover when the property is sold whole areas of the country will become ghost towns like parts of the southern USA, property will become worthless, mortgages will default businesses will fail and residents will leave.

With Insurance becoming an automated process either being bought via the internet or at call centres manned by staff that may not have vast experience there is very little chance of solving this issue as true underwriting of each risk is not possible so that the vast premiums charged will increase.
The fact that the Internet type policies were offered at unrealistically low rates without checking the EA risk factors of the area did cause severe implications with insurers after Boscastle. This type of insurance sale was never truly underwritten but was based on a cut throat assault to acquire numbers of the policyholders with the potential profits to be made by cross selling insurance products. In short there was never enough premium in the kitty to cover major catastrophes of flood.

We have already seen major banking/insurance institutions crash and have to be bailed out by tax payer’s funds which have severe long term implications to the UK economy.

It has been proven by a number of flood support organisations and specialist insurance providers who actually fight to help flood victims and those in flood zones that ABI insurers will try any trick in the book and are working on a premium cartel basis so there is now hope for the policyholder to get affordable cover.

Q What are the problems faced by flood victims looking for insurance?
ABI insurers will not offer any consistency premiums do vary by house to house or business to business in the same street so spreading fear and illusion so that people find no solution in getting premiums they can afford thus they have to utilise money that would be spent on purchases that will benefit the economy


My house at Bennetts Walk, Morpeth was flooded on September 6, 2008 in exceptionally prolonged torrential rainfall. I had only changed my insurers to CXXXX, underwritten by AXXX GXXs, in January of that year. The claim for restoration came to £96,000. Though I felt this was high, I had little control over it & was on the whole very satisfied with the service given by the Loss Adjuster, Surveyor & the builders.

My cover was renewed on 16 January 2009, with the premium for house & contents increased from £216 (this should have been higher – I'll spare the details) to £398, including an excess of £2500 for flooding. The tone of the letter was reassuring, though I realised they had no option as the claim was ongoing at renewal date.

I was therefore shocked when I received a letter of 10/12/09 saying they would not be renewing my cover as “the value of the claim no longer comes within the underwriting criteria for our low risk policy – apologies for any inconvenience caused”.

I contacted a local solicitor who advised me to check whether my insurer was a member of The Association of British Insurers & if so, to ask why they had withdrawn cover when the
Statement of Principles agreed between the ABI & the Government says it should not be. Unfortunately, neither CXXXX nor the underwriters are listed as members.

I obtained a report from the Environment Agency giving flood risk information for the area in which my house lies, which classified it as “Significant – greater than 1 in 75 chance in any year”. Since then, they have announced measures to reduce the risk to 1:115, to be implemented between 2011 & 2013.

Armed with this, I contacted my bank HSBC, where I am a “Premium” customer and obtained a quote from AXXX – cover would cost £1443 per annum with no mention yet how much the excess would be. I had to provide further information such as the EA report, before they could confirm cover. The reaction of the bank’s customer service manager speaks for itself - “disgusting”. I own a modest 2 Bedroom terraced house.

I received a telephone call from a company called HXXXXX – Web MXXXX who said CXXXX had told them about me. I gave them full details of the house, flooding history, claim etc. & they asked me to state how far was my property from the river, it’s height above the river level and to give details of the existing flood defences (there is a wall approx. 4 metres high). I heard nothing further – I felt uneasy as they had contacted me – and didn’t pursue it.

The Christmas holidays were approaching, when businesses would close down & I was panicking – it would soon be January 16th and would I even be able to get insurance, or sell the house in the future? I felt really distressed; it was all happening again.

I rang the National Flood Forum, who referred me to Neil Cook, head of specialist risks at Equity & General, who is actively campaigning for people like myself who are having difficulties obtaining flood cover. To cut a long story short, he has found me affordable cover, £643 pa. with a flooding excess of £2500, on condition that I take steps to protect areas where water got into the house. I have had installed “Smart” airbricks, which keep water out and 2 good quality steel flood barriers for front & back door, which can be put in place in a short time – I had by this time intended to do this anyway.

The door frames had to be modified to accommodate the barriers but a reliable local builder who had done my neighbour’s restoration did this. It cost well over £1000 altogether but has given me peace of mind – well, as much as can be expected.

The whole episode has been extremely stressful – I suffer from intermittent anxiety & depression & have had to resume drug treatment. I realise that I choose to live in an area with a more than average flood risk but what are people living in such areas to do? They cannot all move lock stock and barrel to a lesser risk area - someone has to live in these properties. I appreciate it may cost more but feel it is unreasonable for insurance companies to hold people to ransom & am grateful to specialist insurance broker Neil Cook and others who are fighting to remove the stigma existing at present with flood victims. That is what we are - we’ve done nothing wrong.

Due to these insurers relying on high volume sales they have adopted, rather than the traditional policy method of actual underwriting to ensure sufficient premium reserves they are struggling and forcing vast premiums on flood victims are making retrospective excuses that the EA are now reassessing flood areas as justification to quickly collect more premium from those that have not actually been flooded.

. The problem this causes is that it compounds the confusion of the policyholder by making false promises that they will help flood victims a better solution would be that they pass the flooded or flood affected risks they obviously do not desire and trying to dispose of by pricing the premiums at unjustifiable premiums and excesses to a pool of specialist providers who will offer affordable solutions. It is appreciated that the ABI insurers will be if required remunerated for these leads

Source: Neil Cook

If You are looking for insurance for a property in a flood affected area - Click Here to Contact Neil Cook

Scope for ex offenders



There are still major insurance issues faced by an estimated, eight million UK, and Northern Ireland residents who have a current unspent criminal conviction that may stop them starting either a business or going about their every lives thus contributing to society.

Similar issues are faced by bankrupts and those with adverse credit history
Mainstream Insurers are either refusing them Insurance or restricting cover including Employers Liability which is a requirement by Law

For those venturing out with a new enterprise, or still trying to get the correct cover including Public Liability cover, as well as cover for the business assets

Many would be clients of insurers maybe unsure or unaware that there is a DUTY OF THE POLICYHOLDER TO DISCLOSE MATERIAL FACTS THAT COULD AFFECT THE POLICY
For example a MATERIAL FACT that must be disclosed relates to criminal convictions
With Insurance becoming an automated process either being bought via the internet or at call centres manned by staff that may not have vast experience the important issues of disclosing material facts is often never pointed out
The fact that the Internet type policies are offered at perhaps slightly unrealistically low rates without checking on convictions etc is also affecting the Insurance Premium Tax revenue as well

It is muted that insurers may be taking on risks that will be invalidated when claims occur and the conviction is brought to light.

Perhaps this is an explanation as to how those insurers can cut the premiums is that there are a substantial number of the total policies sold that will not pay out in the event of a claim as they can just be invalided due to the conviction. Figures from the Financial Ombudsman Service are indicating a greater number of complaints of this nature

. This matter has been raised with insurance industry via the Financial Services Authority, the British Insurance Brokers Association and the Association of British Insurers But no real action is being taken to solve the problem OF NOT TREATING POLICYHOLDERS FAIRLY

. It has been proven by a number of ex offender organisations that this issue is in fact a reality, either the main stream insurers go out of there way to hide the fact that convictions are to be disclosed or when the policyholder does disclosure they are refused cover or given a poor service .

Q What are the problems faced by ex offenders looking for insurance?
Many ex offenders are unaware that they must disclose any unspent criminal conviction no matter how minor on an insurance proposal form. Do not be fooled, just because an insurer does not ask if you have any convictions, does not mean you do not need to disclose them. Unless all your convictions are declared and agreed in writing with an insurer, any claim against the policy may be refused. You could even be charged with attempting to defraud the insurers for non-disclosure of a conviction and potentially face another conviction.

Anyone who has, or lives with anyone who has, any unspent conviction should always read insurance policies carefully. Be on the lookout for the phrase “DO YOU OR ANY MEMBER OF THE FAMILY HAVE UNSPENT CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS?” Remember it is when you come to make a claim that things can go very wrong.
When insurance cover is cancelled for non-disclosure of a conviction you will be unable to make a claim on the policy.

Q Why do ex-offenders face issues with insurance?
It has long been considered that someone with a conviction is a bad risk, although this attitude has never been proved. It just seems to be an unwritten rule in insurance. A more enlightened approach to insurance not only for ex offenders but also individuals with adverse credit has been hard to find. Mainstream comparison websites have offered little or no assistance in this area.

Q What can ex offenders do to help reduce their insurance premium?
Firstly do not waste money buying a worthless policy without disclosure! Be honest disclosing convictions to the right insurance broker should not cause a problem. Correct disclosure does not always mean increased insurance premiums but it defiantly means you are insured.

Q What do you think the future holds for ex offenders facing insurance issues?
The Financial Services Authority has been aware of the bad practice of unfairly treating ex offenders and other socially or financially excluded groups. Current figures suggest there are 8 million people in the UK with unspent criminal convictions, which consequently affects other family members.

.Due to these insurers relying on high volume sales they have adopted, rather than the traditional policy method of issuing a comprehensive proposal form for the policyholder to complete they use what is referred to as assumptions. A standard statement set that the policyholder should read and understand prior to purchasing the policy. Within this assumption there are words similar to “Neither you nor any member have an unspent criminal conviction” as well as other facts that will affect the validity of the policy.

. The problem this causes is that it compounds the confusion of the policyholder as rather than making clear from the outset that the insurer will not or cannot accept risks where a Criminal or bankruptcy situation is disclosed it is done at final point of sale. Also at that late stage a point the policyholder cannot understand

. A better practice will be making it compulsory with all online/telesales insurance purchased that the “standard statement” is highlighted before the purchase even begins and when the policyholder confirms they do not comply the quote process ceases and they should be re directed to a specialist provider who will cater for them after full disclosure . There was a working party group formed by the consortium of online insurance aggregators and insurers who had this matter on their agenda after regulatory pressure. The group did not last very long and in fact did not ever actively function

. Private sector/ Government departmental misconception
Those organisations working with ex offenders cannot or do not understand the issue actually exists as it is not part of their operating remit or practice

.Public misconception. The public in truth only have a vague understanding of the insurance process ridded with hearsay and miss conception/ urban myths so a great need of re education is needed about DISCLOSURE OF MATERIAL FACTS, also that it is possible to obtain insurance with criminal convictions and that importantly when dealt with by specialist providers who are socially aware and are truly ethical.

Also that in truth it should cost the same premium with disclosure as it does without the public fear is that if they do disclose the premium will become un affordable which is in fact should not be the case

The mainstream insurers must be forced to act fairly with clients and cease using public lack of awareness or ignorance as means to sell them worthless cover and be more forthright about the risks they can accept and those they cannot IE ensuring the “standard statement” precludes any cover purchase and that they work with specialist providers who can

There is also a huge need for organisations working with ex offenders to understand the issue so that the correct guidance is given at point of prosecution & rehabilitation

Source: Neil Cook - Insurance Broker

If you are looking for ex offenders insurance find out more Here

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Homes could be hit with a 'flood tax'

On the anniversary of the flooding in Cumbria last November and in the same week that there has been flooding in Cornwall, The Independent ran a story on Sunday 14th November 2010 -"Minister plans to hit homes with 'flood tax'"

The report says "Millions of homeowners living near the sea or rivers face being hit with a new "flood tax" under controversial coalition plans to plug a £260m shortfall in spending on flood defences"

"The Independent on Sunday has learned water minister Richard Benyon believes the cost of protecting homes and businesses from the elements should be "shared" between the government and those who benefit from defences directly. From April 2012, the government wants to see a new structure in place which combines public and private funding."

"In return for paying the levy – which would be on top of higher insurance premiums already imposed on flood risk areas - local communities would get a greater say in which areas are protected."

See the full story Here

If you are looking for insurance for your property in an area that is affected by flood problems CLICK HERE to contact Equity and General Insurance Services

Flood insurance enquiries at Equity & General Insurance Services

Equity and General Insurance Services have told us that they are getting numerous enquiries for insurance for properties in flood affected areas.

Here is a recent example from earlier in November 2010.

We live in a two bedroomed terraced house in Cockermouth, Cumbria, and are looking for buildings and contents cover.

The property has flooded three times in recent years, in 2005, 2008 and 2009.

A flood embankment is in the process of being built for our street, which it is hoped will eradicate the type of low level flooding experienced in 2005 and 2008. The 2009 flood (which was the worst of the three by some margin) is deemed to be a 1 in 500 year event.

Our current insurer has agreed to cover us for another year, at a reasonable premium of £348, but with an excess of £20,000 for flood damage to the building, and £2,500 for flood damage to contents.

We would like to know whether there are any other options open to us, as we believe the hike in the excess from £0 to £22,500 is completely unreasonable.

Earlier enquiries

October 2010
Contents Insurance £50,000 required at XX XXXX Kenton Devon for ourselves as tenants at the property from 1st January 2011 - approximately August 2011.. We previously resided (as tenants) at No4 from May 2007 - May 2008. On 30 May 2008 the whole area was hit with a flash flood from excess run off from surrounding land caused by a localised cloud burst.

The area or property is not designated as at risk by the Environment Agency. This gave rise to an insurance claim of £28K Contents & £7K Alternative Accommodation which was settled in full. I am able to supply further information and have supporting documentation which confirms original incident and remedial works which have been undertaken as a preventative measure.

October 2010
My home was storm damaged in 2007

My property is a detached 3 bedroom house built in 1938

October 2010
Flood insurance for house that was flooded in 2007 due to flash flooding

September 2010
Buildings insurance cover for a holiday home that was flooded six years ago. Have owned the property for over twenty years and this is the first time it flooded. A high tide coincided with inadequate surface water drainage - more drains have since been installed and the problem has not happened again.

September 2010
House and contents insurance for a home in Morpeth which we are looking to purchase. The house was flooded in 2008 (September). Claim 25k contents and 30K reinstatement.

If you are looking for insurance for your property in an area that is affected by flood problems CLICK HERE to contact Equity and General Insurance Services

Double Whammy for Flood Victims

On the 17th November 2010, the day that Cornwall has experienced severe flooding, Neil an insurance brooker who specialises in assisting those with properties in flood areas has sent this information:

If you have been flooded you can expect to see your insurance premiums hiked by 500 % and excess costs loaded by around £5,000.

That’s one of the findings of a survey carried out by the National Flood Forum following the floods of 2007 and 2009. Too many people dealing with insurance companies is more traumatic than the flood itself.

Loss adjusters were slated for being hard to get hold of and not answering calls. In one case a loss adjuster was based in the United States and knew nothing about the UK. Another was flown in from Norway. Builders also came in for a panning for bringing in unskilled sub-contractors.

AXA, Aviva and the Halifax were most criticised for raising premiums and one in ten of the 295 households canvassed on-line had flood insurance excluded from renewal quotes. But, over half of the households said they would stay with their existing insurer.

Mary Dhonau, chief executive of the NFF said: “Some of the stories are heart-wrenching. We need to look at better ways of handling the trauma flooding causes to families and the insurance and building industry need to get their acts together.”

She said the insurance industry resisted supporting flood resilient options when repairing flooded homes, even though many owners said they would pay for the work.

“Raising electrical sockets is one of the simpler solutions,” said Ms Dhonau, “but one in five families were either forbidden to make improvements or told not to bother. And only a few that did saw any drop in their premiums”

Ms Dhonau said the NFF would challenge the insurance industry to develop a longer term strategy. “Insurers shy away from increasing pay-outs to improve flood defences as people are free to change insurers after a year, so there is no guarantee of a payback.

“If insurers offered policies of 18 months and longer, we believe everyone could benefit and four out of five people in our survey agreed,” she said.

Respondents from across the country completed the survey with the majority of people living in Worcestershire, the East Riding, Cumbria and Oxfordshire-Berkshire. The summary of findings is available in PDF format to download here
To find out more about insurance for flood damage property contact Neil Here

The BBC News websit is running a story this evening "Cornwall floods force evacuation of more than 100 homes"

More than 100 homes have been evacuated after floods and gale-force winds caused disruption across Cornwall. People were trapped in their cars and homes by the rising floodwaters, which reached up to 6ft (2m) deep in places. St Blazey, St Austell, Mevagissey and Lostwithiel were the worst hit areas. The Met Office said a further 10mm (0.4in) of rain could fall overnight.

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Acquistion of Rentshield by Barbon Insurance

Left: One big happy Barbon family
As Rentshield Direct Insurance agents and promoters of their Landlord and Tenant insurance products on line at , we were interested to see an email yesterday morning 1st November from Felicity Morris the General Manager at Rentshield.

As of 29th October 2010 Rentshield Direct, Trading as Rentshield Direct Ltd, are now owned by the Barbon Insurance Group Ltd.

Rentshield Managing Director, Gary Abraham comments “This is a great opportunity for Rentshield to benefit from the investment and management expertise of a bigger, well-respected business with substantial expertise in the lettings sector.

Under Barbon's devolved business model Rentshield will continue to operate autonomously from our Devon offices. We are looking forward to being part of the Barbon Group, to having its backing and support and to continued growth in the marketplace.”

Barbon Insurance Group Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority. It has a gross written premium of more than £150 million and is committed to delivering innovative insurance solutions, as well as risk management and consultancy services.

It has built an impressive reputation through knowledge, experience and a commitment to understanding its customers’ businesses.

Barbon is wholly owned, through Caley Limited, by leading banks HSBC and Lloyds Banking Group.

Barbon Insurance has other well known Landlord and Tenant insurance brands in it's portfolio including Letsure and HomeLet. If Barbon is going to keep Rentshield separate as it does with Letsure and HomeLet it should mean that they will still be competitive in todays market place. Interesting times ahead.

Barbon chief executive Martin Oliver said: “Although part of our lettings division, HomeLet and Letsure operate as competing businesses. As a result, they have driven up service standards and are now widely recognised as market leaders.

“The acquisition of Rentshield will accelerate our earnings in line with Board objectives, further increase market share and reinforce Barbon’s unrivalled position at the top of the lettings industry.”

Mundys estate agency in Lincoln wins an award for third year in row

Mundys estate agency in Lincoln which has won a UK Property Award for the third year in a row!

Senior Partner Philip Barnatt and his colleagues will be going to a
prestigious gala dinner in London on 26th and 27th November during which they will find out whether they have won a top 5* Award or a Highly Commended.

If you want to find the ultimate property professionals across the length and breadth of the UK, where better to look than the winners’ list of a highly acclaimed industry competition?

The results of the UK Property Awards in association with Bloomberg Television have just been announced, putting a chosen few leading companies firmly in the limelight, both nationally and internationally.

One of these rightly proud winners is Mundys which has won an Award in the Estate Agency category of the UK Property Awards 2010 for Lincolnshire.

The event is part of the International Property Awards, the world’s most prestigious competition dedicated to finding the best real estate professionals across the globe.

The highest scoring five-star winners from each category of these awards will be automatically put forward for re-judging against the five-star winners in other regions of the world: Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific, Arabia and Americas.

Following this re-assessment, the 2010 International winners in each category will be identified as the ‘World’s Best’. These winners will be announced on the same day but in the evening at the Lancaster Hotel in London.

The fact that Mundys has won one of these coveted awards is proof that Lincolnshire is capable not only of competing at this level but also of triumphing within the highly competitive UK property arena.

Mr Barnatt said of winning the award: “As winners of the Best Estate Agency award for Lincolnshire in 2008 and 2009 we are delighted to complete our hat-trick in 2010

“Over the past three years of difficult property market conditions we have striven to improve our service even further so we can make sure our clients get the maximum benefit whatever the situation. In the 2010 awards we hope we can go one better and be judged the best in the UK.”

Much of the judging has been carried out by the International Property Awards’ panel of judges at the London offices of Bloomberg Television but entries were also outsourced to leading experts in each particular field throughout the world.

This year’s judges included Luke McKend, industry head property markets of Google UK; Peter Bolton King, Group Chief Executive of the National Federation of Property Professionals; Christopher Hall, President Elect of FIABCI; Thijs Stoffer, International Consortium of Real Estate Agents Association (ICREA); Fiona Nixon, Chairman of the Australia Institute of Architects, Hendrik Nelde, President of FIABCI Belgium; Helen Shield, Editor-in-Chief of International Homes Luxury Collection magazine and Sven Johns, CEO of the German Real Estate Association.

More Information:
• Mundys was named the Best Estate Agency in Lincolnshire for the second year running after winning five stars in the prestigious Daily Mail UK Property Awards in October 2009.
• Mundys’ Residential Lettings Department was ranked as the third best letting agent in the East Midlands region at the recent UK Estate Agent and Letting Agent of the Year Awards 2010.

Talking of Lincoln, Andy our HomeLet landlord and Tenants insurance representative has just emailed to say "Lincolns premier fireworks display on Friday night where apparently they have spent £20,000 on fireworks" - Sounds like Lincoln is going to have a great November 5th this year. Details about HomeLet insurance can be found at

Monday 1 November 2010

More flooding in the south of France

Heavy rain has hit the south of France again this weekend as illustrated in the picture on the left. The occupants of the car were able to procced through this flood because they had a 4X4.

Today 1st November, Nice Matin reported that 50 inhabitants at Villeneuve-Loubet were evacuated because of the risk of flooding. Part of Cagnes sur Mer was also affected.

The A8 exit for Villeneuve Loubet (47) has had to be closed.

According to the Riviera Radio website "Authorities are surveying the banks of the rivers Loup and Cagne. In the Grasse area, six properties have been cut off on the chemin du Pilon de la Malle by a landslide. Several hundred tonnes of mud have fallen onto the road and residents have no landline telephones.

The official Meteo France Orange Weather Alert passed at 6 am this morning but more rain is forecast for this evening and tomorrow across the Alpes Maritimes and the Var. Meanwhile, the torrential rainfall on the coast over the past 24 hours has been accompanied by abundant snowfall inland."

The area has had a lot of flood and sea storm damage this year starting on the 1st January, then later on the 4th May and June when flash floods killed at least 19 people.

If you own a property in the south of France do make sure you have proper insurance cover. A policy written in English is a bonus if you are not fluent in French and you can find out more about insurance from Andrew Copeland International and Intasure by visiting this site Here

Of course flooding also occurs on a regular basis in England. If you need to contact a specialist insurance company contact Equity and General Insurance by following this link here