Friday 30 November 2012

The NAEA advises on How to prepare your home for the winter floods

There is flooding in many places in Britain and mainland Europe and yet another day with heavy rain from where I am writing this blog reminds us of the problems of winter flooding.

At the time when the Government in the UK has just announced £120m of funding for flood defences, as households across Britain contend with the aftermath of heavy storms. According to BBC News "Ministers estimate that the money, which will be delivered between next year and 2015, will improve flood protection for up to 60,000 homes.

It comes just days after about 800 UK homes were flooded in recent storms."

The National Association of Estate Agents - NAEA have sent out their enewsletter earlier with a headline "Preparing your home for the winter floods"

They suggest that homeowners are  reminded to consider some simple yet important ways of preparing their homes in time for the winter, particularly in light of the flooding experienced in many parts of the UK.
Areas in the south-west, north-east and north Wales have all experienced high water levels with more than 200 flood warnings and 300 flood alerts being issued across England and Wales.

"A weather front will slowly move across north England and north Wales on Monday (November 26th), and it's here that we are likely to see some further serious flooding," said Chris Fawkes from the BBC Weather Centre.
Lloyds TSB have also been quick to issue advice on how best to avoid costly damage to your home.

Tim Downes, senior claims manager at Lloyds TSB Home Insurance, said: "In winter we tend to think less about our homes' exterior and like to retreat indoors, however there are some essential checks that need to be carried out to see it through the bad weather. Prevention is the key, as much of the damage could be avoided if householders spent a small amount of time preparing for the bad weather."
  1. The roof - A visual check should be carried out to ensure there are no loose or cracked tiles that could become dislodged, damaging the attic or rooms below. You should also check chimney pots, TV aerials or satellite dishes and anything else that could come loose in the wind.
  2. Guttering - Blocked drain pipes and gutters can cause serious damage once there is a build-up of rainwater which can leak into the roof cavity. Gutter leaf guards can protect against this quite easily and are widely available. In addition, it is important to check for ice in the gutters which can weigh down the pipes and gutters, eventually causing them to collapse.
  3. Damp proofing - All houses should have damp proofing, which is a black lining in the mortar around two or three courses above ground level. It is vital that this is not bridged with soil or debris which could make it ineffective.
  4. Water pipes - Another key area to be observant of is plumbing. The stop-cock is usually situated under the stairs or the kitchen sink. These are used to control the flow of water through a pipe. Many people are unaware of this and how it is used which leads to a large amount of insurance claims for damaged caused by water valves not being shut-off properly. It is also important to check the insulation of pipes and tanks since cold weather could cause them to freeze.
  5. Electrical goods - Homeowners should also make themselves aware of the fuse box and how it is used. It may even be prudent to get hold off an extra supply of fuses, particularly if you are in an area prone to power cuts during bad weather.
In the meantime, If you are concerned about being able to get insurance for your property then follow this link to insurance broker Neil Cooke of TR Youngs / Allstyles insurance brokers HERE

Staysure receives the award for ‘Best Travel Insurance Provider’ at Personal Finance Awards 2012

Staysure the specialist insurance company for the over 50s has just won an award.
The 15th annual Personal Finance Awards, hosted by The Money Pages, were held on 27th November 2012 in central London, attended by close to 100 guests from the finance world.
Staysure received the award for ‘Best Travel Insurance Provider’ out of the five finalists listed below.
  1. 1. Staysure
  2. 2. Insure & Go
  3. 3. Columbus
  4. 4. Thomas Cook
  5. 5. Holiday Safe
Gina Rudd, Marketing and PR Manager at Staysure Insurance, attended the awards ceremony and collected the award for Best Travel Insurance Provider.
"The votes cast by consumers, demonstrates our value-for-money products and high levels of customer service is giving consumers exactly what they want from a reputable and professional business. It is a fantastic achievement and a testament to all the hard work and commitment from all Staysure employees, so well done to everyone!"
Voting was carried out via website over a period of 12 weeks and close to 15,000 ballots were cast to determine the winners. The awards are regarded as a great barometer of success in the Personal Finance Industry and reflect the trust that consumers place in the nominees’ products and services.
Money Pages is controlled by Metropolis International Group Ltd.
Staysure Insurance offers a great selection of travel, property and holiday products.
You can find out more about Staysure Holidays Here
Staysure Travel Insurance Here
Staysure Holiday Home Insurance Here
Staysure Health Insurance Here
Staysure Motor Insurance Here

Talks stall on Flood insurance

Have just received a weekly newsletter from Cannon Moorcroft Chartered Accountants of High Wycombe, Bucks. One of the stories that caught my attention was "Households at potential risk as flood insurance talks stall"
26 November 2012

Up to 200,000 households and small businesses could be left without flood protection insurance as talks with the Government reach a stalemate, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has said.
The ABI wants the Government to reconsider its refusal to provide a temporary overdraft facility to ensure that households at high risk of flooding can afford cover when the current state-backed agreement comes to an end next year.
The temporary overdraft facility would be used to pay claims if there were a repeat of the 2007-style floods over the next couple of years, before insurers have had time to build up reserves.
The ABI is now asking for the Government to commit to a joint solution to ensure long term affordable flood insurance.
The warning comes as the Environment Agency (EA) says more than 500 properties have flooded across the UK since Wednesday due to the recent bad weather.
Nick Starling, Director of general insurance at the ABI said: "The severe floods experienced by many areas of the UK this year are a reminder of the rising flood risk facing the UK."
"It is therefore vital that insurers and Government tackle this issue together - this is not just a problem for insurers. No country in the world has a free market for flood insurance with high levels of affordable cover without some form of Government involvement."
Under the existing Statement of Principles between the Government and the insurance industry, insurers are obliged to offer flood cover as a policy standard in most instances. In return, the EA has pledged to continue improving flood defences.
The current agreement is due to expire on 30 June 2013.
Around 70,000 properties at risk of flooding have been sent warnings from the EA as heavy rain continues across the UK over the next few days.
The ABI is advising businesses and properties at risk of flooding to:

·         Check bad weather warnings on local radio and TV

·         Have emergency contact numbers including utility companies and insurers close to hand

·         Move valuable items to higher places if possible and to move cars away from expected flooding areas

·         Check what is covered by household or business insurance policies.

If you are concerned about being able to get insurance for your property then follow this link to insurance broker Neil Cooke of TR Youngs / Allstyles insurance brokers HERE 

Saturday 24 November 2012

Landlords and tenants need to get ready for winter

Received the UK Landlord magazine for November/December 2012 from the National Landlords Association (NLA) earlier this week.

Inside was their "Spotlight - Guide for Landlords" which has a most imformative seasonal guide in it. No with only a month to go to Christmas it was not a gift guide, but some tips on getting ready for winter.

Winter has come rather early this year and so have the old condensation situations. Unfortunately there are so many apartments being let now (which is not bad news of course) that are very well insulated, have double glazing and not a lot of ventilataion.

Tenants also tend to have a lot possessions in a small place and a lot do not realise that if you don't let in some fresh air from time to time those fantastic double glazed windows will be wet, then there will be a build up of black mould and they will be complaining of "damp problems".

Some of these situations are not of the tenants doing, a roof leaking can cause such problems too.

Tenants are however living in a sealed environment and it is very important for landlords to leave some guidance notes for tenants when they let a property.

I have come across let flats with lots of clothes being dried by radiators. This does not help the situation a lot. They should be dried on an airer in a well ventillated room with the door shut according to the Spotlight article.

Tumble dryers should be vented.

Extractor fans should be used when cooking. The article says that if an extractor fan cannot hold a postcard they are not working properly.

Although most new double glazing units have trickle vents at the top of the windows, a lot of tenants do not know about these or how to open them and keep them opened. Condensation is a major issue and even when people have double glazing they don't always know they have. I visited a flat a couple of years ago and the tenant had carefully covered all the windows with cling film, thinking it would make the place warmer. Naturally it did not help and was only causing a big condensation problem.

Apart from condensation, there are other areas for both landlords and tenants. 

When I was working full time in the lettings agency business we used alway write to tenants before Christmas advising them to leave the heating on low over Christmas if they were going to be away. We used to often have a warm period before Christmas and a sudden drop in temperature at the start of the New year. The site of being greeted with the ceiling on the floor is not good. The Sotlight article also suggests that doors between heated and unheated parts of the property should be kept open to allow warm air to circulate and even leaving the loft hatch open.

Tenants should also know where stopcocks are in case they have to turn off water in an emergency.

Spotlight suggests to Landlords that they should ensure that all pipes are properly lagged (both inside and out), overflow pipes are properly connected and gutters and downpipes are clean and free from cracks and splits. Although in many cases a tenant has a responsibility to keep them cleaned, they don't have one to repair them on a domestic residential let. 

It is also most important to make sure that there are no damaged tiles or slates. Get those repaired before the situation gets worse.

Finally a landlord should make sure when the property is unoccupied between lets, it is regularly checked and if the water supply has to be drained down, it is does properly. I have come across landlords who said in response to the question to it being drained dowm "I turned off the stopcock". The property is like a time bomb then as the water tanks will still be full, if it has a radiator system for central heating, the pipes and radiators will be full of water and then the big freeze comes. All is ok till the weather gets warmer and then....burst pipes and ceilings on the floor and water in your neighbour's property!

So are you properly insured? At the jml Property Insurance website there are a lot of insurance companies advertising.

For Landlords: Rentguard - Letsure - Endsleigh - HomeLet - Intasure - Quotezone find out more Here 

For Tenants: Rentguard - Letsure - Endsleigh - HomeLet - Intasure find out more Here

Insurance is one essential you cannot afford to be without today. 

Friday 23 November 2012

Floods put UK property at risk

It has been raining a great deal all over the UK in the last few days and the rivers are bursting their banks again. I have just received the November/December ARLA (Association of Residential Letting Agents) Agreement magazine.

Turning to page 6 there is an article "Floods put UK property at risk" the article reports on recent flooding in Weston-super-Mare - "The flood warning system is not infalliable and despite the efforts of the Envrionment Agency and the MET office there was no adequate warning and the unexpected bad weather struck with severe consequences for local business owners"  Ian Paton a partner of Cluttons, project and building consultancy division added several comments including "If properties are not individually assessed for their own flood defences, we will see people and businesesses struggling to protect themselves against the devastating effects of flooding".

During the course of the last 24 hours there numerous flood warnings and alerts and features on radio and TV. Yesterday's Radio 5 Live, Drive programme had an interview by Peter Allen with  Mary Dhonau a a flood consultant and a victim of flooding herself.

The flood problem is not getting any easier and what is worse so many people are now finding it harder and harder to get insurance, or insurance that do not have sky high premiums and excess levels. At the jml Property Insurance website we have created a special feature on flood insurance (Details here) with features and information on flood defence products. One of the specialist advertisers is TR Youngs (Allstyles) Insurance Brokers. Their specialist department is headed by a long established broker, Neil Cook.

If you are experiencing problems trying to get insurance cover make contact with Neil Cook at TR Youngs using this enquiry form here.

Meanwhile many parts of the country are experiencing a lot of sunshine today, but for how long?

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Problems for ex-offenders getting insurance

Specialist insurance broker Neil Cook has sent us another article concerning the problems individuals who are ex-offenders can incur when trying to obtain insurance. He is someone who would like to help those people who do experience difficulties. Find out more here 



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." Article source Neil Cook Insurance broker 

The Prison sentence starts when you are released

That is the message that has just been sent to us by specialist insurance broker Neil Cook. It is to insurance companies who are not interested in people who are known as "Ex offenders"

The following is what he has supplied us with subject to some grammar, wording changes and names of companies in this article etc.

"Imagine, you have come from a broken home age 14 years of age, have been abused, you are living rough in the streets for years, you drink and shoplift to "Survive", cos you have no fix abode, you then "sofa surf" with friends that are providing you warmth from the snow, in return to go on to better funding to crime, i.e. commercial burglary, smash and grab, you are now aged 21.

You are  arrested and spend time, along with the higher experienced, professional, prisoners, you learn welding, or whatever they decide to teach you, you take the courses, that are offered in H.M.P, then you are released into a hostel, trying for employment, you meet a new "beau", and move in.

You've completed your parole, you've abided the rules, you start to try to turn your life around, by living without your old ways of life before, you apply for work, you may even get a reply, if your accepted by informing them of your past, you arer nearly in the final three applicants, until your told I’m sorry, sir or madam, you were not accepted.

Years have gone by, you are scrimping by, do the odd decorating job, window cleaning, although, by "rights you are supposed to declare, your paltry earnings, but you don’t because of, setting you back, with the beaurocratic system, that we have, in allowing, say a six months grace of what "I believe would be long enough, for any person that does not want to join, "what I call, "We I be employed next year, brigade!"

You then start a college course and you get your diplomas, you start to find job, you get a reply, and then accepted, your life has started to turn around, aged 25, you buy a small house, you decide now things are looking up, a mortgage first with your "highly, professional partner, things are going well, then all of a sudden, whilst your away, on holiday on a package holiday you've been burgled, you call the police, you report everything, from the Ford Mondeo to the flat screen TV, plus, personal damage to your home.

You think well at least, we were not in, when it happened, as you know your work leaves your partner on their own, whilst your working," thank god we were insured", you call up your insurance broker to report with crime number, "You arrange for the assessors for appointment as they want to inspect your premises, ok they say you will be hearing from us via a letter, the letter arrives, with them saying I’m very sorry, but we are not going to pay out, reason being you never declared in your application that you were an ex-offender.

"Well there were no questions to that effect, you say, the answer comes back, well you should have read the small print. This did happen to me many years ago, with a car, because, I was in employed, but when I was unemployed and had the claim,  my claim was not carried out!

So you see, apart from the "ex- offender, of whom was a commercial burglar and thief, he or she had paid their debt to society, most people say of prison life is easy, maybe, but I believe, that the legalise crooks, are the ones that should be in debt to society, i.e, banks, insurers, pension schemes that take our money, or is it a clever way, if we as a society support majority of the prisoners, when they come out, with resettlement programmes would, there be a lot of courts, and lawyers, offices, with "closing down signs, or prison officers queuing up in the in the job centres. "It really makes me wonder", we are the smallest country, in Europe, with highest prison population, at £50,000 per prisoner per year, that’s without the court bills, think about it

Let’s not let financial exclusion from insurers destroy ex offender’s lives! Charities and organizations need to help address this issue and give correct advice to their clients about this issue. Details Neil Cook specialist Insurance broker who can be contacted Here. He specialises in a range of insurance solution for Ex offenders, people living in flood risk areas and more.

Tuesday 6 November 2012

Just found Dave the Disco

Just came acros this site. "Dave the Disco" Great for someone in the Berkshire and Buckinghamshire looking for a disco this Christmas or New Year.

He has music to cover all tastes playing party music from the 50’s 60’s 70’s 80’s 90’s the noughties and current music.

Dave the Disco is ideal for a child's party, or one for grown ups or even a wedding.   Contact Dave Pering the disco man on 07836 640 430 or email him at to discuss your next event.