Monthly Archives:May 2016

Securities watchdog bans former CFL linebacker Mark Allen Dennis

24 May 16
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The Ontario Securities Commission has permanently banned a former Hamilton Tiger-Cat football player from working as a registrant in the financial industry after the regulator concluded he committed “the worst possible abuses” of the capital markets.

Mark Allen Dennis, a former linebacker who later became a financial adviser, was accused of misappropriating funds from clients and was twice convicted criminally and sentenced to jail terms for fraud.

OSC staff relied on the criminal convictions to argue he should also face regulatory penalties, saying Mr. Dennis has admitted “to a pattern of conduct” for taking money from clients but failing to invest it as promised.

In a ruling released Wednesday, OSC commissioner Timothy Moseley imposed a lifetime ban on Mr. Dennis, prohibiting him from trading securities or being registered to work in the investment industry. He is also banned from working as a director or officer of an investment company or a company that issues securities.

“Taken together, all of the facts … easily qualify Dennis’s misconduct as among the worst possible abuses of the capital markets that an individual could commit upon numerous innocent and vulnerable victims,” Mr. Moseley said in his decision.

Mr. Dennis was sentenced to 42 months in prison in 2015 for a $5-million fraud in which he misappropriated money from clients. At the time of the sentencing, he was serving a separate two-year sentence imposed in July, 2014, for fraud related to taking $1.7-million from a widowed client.

Mr. Dennis’s victims have recovered little of their losses because his companies filed for bankruptcy.

Justice Alan Whitten, who oversaw his 2014 trial, said Mr. Dennis was “a fiscal predator” whose theft was “a horrific breach of that position of trust.”

Mr. Dennis played for the Tiger-Cats in the early 1990s, but left the game in 1993 after suffering a knee injury and parlayed his profile into a new career as a financial adviser in Hamilton. He worked as an investment adviser at TD Waterhouse from 2000 to 2008, briefly worked at Richardson Partners and then formed his own group of investment companies, called Dennam Companies, in 2009.

The OSC said his misconduct covered the period he worked at all three companies.

Also on The Globe and Mail



OSC director looks to Brad Pitt to boost regulators’ profile
(BNN Video)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Long-running Cinar fraud trial drawing to a close

24 May 16
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One of Canada’s longest-running jury trials involving former Cinar Corp. executive Ronald Weinberg is approaching a close, with jury members set to begin their deliberations this week.

Mr. Weinberg, once the celebrated co-founder of Canada’s largest children’s animation company, is accused of fraudulently funnelling $120-million (U.S.) out of Cinar and into offshore accounts.

He and two investment executives he dealt with – John Xanthoudakis of Norshield Financial Group and Lino Matteo of Mount Real Corp. – are facing 26 charges of fraud and falsifying documents between 1998 and 2000. The men all pleaded not guilty.

Cinar, founded in 1976 by Mr. Weinberg and his late wife, Micheline Charest, produced hit children’s shows such as Arthur, Caillou and Paddington Bear. The company went public in 1993 and had a stock-market valuation of $1.5-billion at its peak, but collapsed after an internal review in 1999 raised questions about accounting issues and funds that had been transferred without board approval.

The Sûreté du Québec conducted a decade-long investigation and issued arrest warrants for the accused in 2011.

At the launch of the trial in May, 2014, Crown attorney Matthew Ferguson called Cinar “a massive fraud of a successful public company from the inside and out” and said Mr. Weinberg, Ms. Charest and former executive vice-president Hasanain Panju treated the company like “a personal piggy bank.”

Mr. Ferguson alleged $120-million of Cinar funds were transferred to Bahamas-based companies controlled by Norshield without the knowledge of Cinar’s board. Mr. Xanthoudakis and Mr. Matteo were accused of orchestrating “the cleanup strategy” to try to cover the losses with backdated transactions.

Mr. Panju, Cinar’s former executive vice-president, testified as a key Crown witness in the case, according to by La Presse newspaper. The report said Mr. Panju, who was also charged with fraud, pleaded guilty before the trial began and testified for 23 days about events at the firm.

Lawyers began closing arguments in the case in April and Justice Pierre Labrie of the Quebec Superior Court is set to complete his instructions to the jury this week. The panel will then begin deliberations.

Ms. Charest died in 2004 during a plastic surgery procedure and was never charged in the case.

Editor’s note: The timing of the judge’s instructions to the jury has been corrected in the online version of this story.

Also on The Globe and Mail



Raw footage shows controlled demolition of former American Airlines HQ
(Reuters)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Transport Minister to renew campaign against pointing lasers at planes

24 May 16
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The federal government is set to launch a social media campaign to shine a light on the ongoing problem of people pointing lasers at planes.

Transport Minister Marc Garneau is expected to unveil the details of the campaign on Tuesday in Toronto as the government tries to address what is fast becoming a serious danger for pilots and air travellers.

The number of laser incidents reported to Transport Canada has increased in the last few years: In 2014, there 502 so-called laser strike incidents on planes, a 43 per cent increase since 2012.

In 2015, there 600 incidents. And through to April of this year, there have been 148 incidents.

The concern is that one of those laser strikes distracts a pilot too much or affects their vision enough to jeopardize the safety of passengers and people on the ground.

The punishments for anyone caught are steep: A fine of up to $100,000, five years in prison, or both.

However, briefing materials for former transport minister Lisa Raitt, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, indicate that prosecuting offenders has proven difficult.

“While some stakeholders have suggested further legislative changes regarding directed light source…there is ample legislative and regulatory deterrents,” the briefing note reads.

“Any changes to existing behaviours and reduction in incidents will need to be supported through awareness and outreach.”

That’s why one year ago the previous Conservative government launched the “not a bright idea” campaign and website to try and curb the number of laser incidents on planes. The campaign targeted Canadians around the country’s three largest airports in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver.

The campaign Garneau is set to launch Tuesday will focus on social media instead of the traditional political ad campaigns of the past, but will continue to focus on areas near major airports.

Also on The Globe and Mail



Single-seat solar plane lands in Ohio
(Reuters)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Trudeau to celebrate wedding anniversary during Japan trip

24 May 16
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Justin Trudeau’s trip to Japan for bilateral talks and the Group of Seven summit will be about more than just business.

The prime minister isn’t planning to hold any meetings or events Wednesday, so he can celebrate his 11th wedding anniversary with his wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau.

The couple will spend the night at a traditional Japanese inn before Trudeau heads to the G7 summit on Thursday.

“The fact of the matter is we’ve been working extremely hard today and will be at the G7 meetings on Thursday and Friday, and in the middle of all this, I’m taking a moment to celebrate — on personal funds — my wedding anniversary with my wife,” Trudeau said of the down time when asked during a news conference whether it would cost taxpayers anything, including the potential financial burden of idle staffers.

“This is the kind of work-life balance that I’ve often talked about as being essential in order to be able to be in service of the country with all one’s very best and that’s certainly something I’m going to continue to make sure we do.”

Gregoire Trudeau accompanied the prime minister Tuesday in Tokyo during his visit to the Meiji Shrine and with the Japanese emperor and empress.

She will also join him when he sits down for dinner Tuesday evening with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Trudeau held meetings Tuesday with Abe and executives from the Japanese auto sector.

Also on The Globe and Mail



Justin Trudeau to talk trade and investment in Japan
(CP Video)

Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Trudeau in Japan: meeting leaders and celebrating a wedding anniversary

24 May 16
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This is The Globe’s daily politics newsletter. to get it by e-mail each morning.

POLITICS BRIEFING

By Chris Hannay ()

> Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Japan, where he met with the Emperor and Empress and to invest more in Canada. He and Sophie Grégoire Trudeau are to celebrate their 11th wedding anniversary, before attending the Group of Seven summit later this week.

> Last week’s incident on the floor of the House of Commons probably didn’t much affect Canadians’ opinions of their prime minister, according to . (John Oliver didn’t think much of it: after showing a video of the incident on Last Week Tonight, “I guess that’s a brawl by Canadian standards. To be honest, in New York, we just call that shopping at Trader Joe’s.”)

> Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion, meanwhile, is in Saudi Arabia, where he is being pressed to secure the release of . And a former U.S. ambassador to Russia is saying Canada is showing “” in not adopting a law to punish Russian human-rights violators.

> Parliament may have to be recalled in July to finish passing the assisted-dying legislation, if parliamentarians don’t wrap it up in June, .

> A law passed by the previous Conservative government to boost hiring of veterans in the public service . The Public Service Commission reports that just 146 of the nearly 20,000 people hired by the federal government were veterans who made use of the law.

> The senior ranks of the public service are going through major changes as deputy ministers retire in greater numbers and Mr. Trudeau on the executive level. (for subscribers)

> And takes a look at the difficult issue of , given their often poor treatment of First Nations.

WHAT EVERYONE’S TALKING ABOUT

: “Prime Minister Justin Trudeau plays host to U.S. President Barack Obama and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto at the North American Leaders’ Summit on June 29 and [Donald] Trump’s campaign is anathema to all of them, separately and as the Three Amigos. In particular, it’s Mr. Trump’s broad assault on a North American trading bloc that clashes.” (for subscribers)

: “[Bill] Graham served [as foreign affairs minister] when Ottawa said yes to war in Afghanistan, no to Iraq. How much did George W. Bush want Canada to take part in the latter mission? So badly that ‘at one point,’ Mr. Graham writes, the President ‘offered to come personally to Ottawa to brief the prime minister on secret evidence about the existence of the [weapons of mass destruction].’”

: “Like the tobacco tax, the ultimate goal of a pop tax would be to improve health outcomes. Already we know that the burden of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease are greater among populations of low socioeconomic status. In other words, a sugar-sweetened-beverage tax alone would likely do very little to improve population health outcomes if it fails to change behaviour among low socioeconomic populations. Unfortunately, there is currently no research that indicates otherwise and, unless there is, we should refrain from implementing the tax.”

: “We need several distinct political options in this country, for democracy to work well. We don’t need any of those options to be pro-harassment. This is not a wedge issue, people. It serves no one if a bigoted, sexist rump is given a free hand to define and control the political right in this country.”

: “Before the federal election last fall, the Liberals vowed that – should they get the opportunity – they would do things differently [on government advertising]. On this file at least, they seem to have kept their promise. ”

Welcome to the Globe Politics newsletter! what you think.


Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Crown will not appeal Mike Duffy’s acquittal

24 May 16
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The Crown will not appeal Senator Mike Duffy’s acquittal, a spokesman said Tuesday.

Mr. Duffy was found not guilty last month on 31 charges of fraud, breach of trust and bribery, and has since returned to the Senate.

“After a thorough review of the judge’s decision and the legal aspects of this case, the Crown has concluded that there is no legal basis upon which to appeal the acquittals,” Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney-General, wrote in an e-mail.

“The Crown’s right of appeal from an acquittal is limited to errors of law, and does not include errors relating to factual matters.”

Mr. Duffy’s charges related to his living and travel expenses in the Red Chamber, as well as Senate contracts for uses such as makeup, a personal trainer consultant and to pay a volunteer in his office.

In his April 21 ruling, Justice Charles Vaillancourt laid much of the blame for Mr. Duffy’s legal woes on the conduct of Stephen Harper’s prime minister’s office, which he called “mind-boggling and shocking.”

He said he found no “sinister motive” in Mr. Duffy’s travel claims and said his expenses were in accordance with Senate rules as they existed at the time.

The judge said there was no mandatory training on Senate policies and “senators were unreasonably left to their own devices.”

Mr. Duffy’s lawyer, Donald Bayne, said Tuesday the decision is “very reassuring” for Mr. Duffy and his wife, Heather.

He said Mr. Duffy is entitled to two years in lost wages as a result of his previous suspension from the Senate, as well as reimbursement for his legal fees.

“There are things I’m going to be discussing with him, definitely,” Mr. Bayne said.

On Friday, the Crown also dropped fraud and breach of trust charges against retired senator Mac Harb. A lawyer for Senator Patrick Brazeau, whose trial is set to start next June, says he also wants the charges dropped. Last week the RCMP ended its three-year investigation of Senator Pamela Wallin without pressing charges.


Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

Energy firms fail the vulnerable by not offering Warm Home Discount 

16 May 16
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  • Number of best buys offering discount has dropped from 6 in 10 in a year
  • Providers with less than 25,000 customers don’t have to offer the discount

Energy providers are failing vulnerable customers by not offering competitive deals that include access to the Government’s Warm Home Discount of £140.

Of the ten cheapest energy tariffs available on May 1, only two came from suppliers participating in the scheme, according to comparison site uSwitch.com, a significant drop from six last year.

Under current rules, only suppliers with 250,000 or more customers have to offer the discount on energy bills to pensioners receiving the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, low-income households who have pre-pay or pay-as-you-go meters and other vulnerable groups. 

The elderly and those on low incomes are missing out on the Warm Home Discount of £140

The elderly and those on low incomes are missing out on the Warm Home Discount of £140

This means the Big Six’s newer and smaller rivals that often feature in the best buy energy deals don’t have to participate in the scheme, such as IRESA and Avro Energy – whose 12 Month Fixed Direct Debit and Simple and Power tariffs were sitting in first and second place on the list of cheapest deals on May 1. 

These new entrants still building their customer base with table-topping tariffs can choose to sign up to the Warm Home Discount but as yet none has done so.  

The comparison site is calling on the Government to extend the Warm Home Discount to all energy suppliers from winter 2017/18 ‘to improve choice and provide more targeted support to those in need’. 

Ann Robinson, director of consumer policy at uSwitch, said: ‘Energy prices are felt most acutely by people with the least to spend, including the elderly, disabled people and low-income families. 

‘They have the most to gain by switching energy supplier, yet many will feel forced to remain with larger providers to avoid losing their £140 Warm Home Discount. It is simply not fair that vulnerable customers face barriers to switching to the market’s best deals.’

Source: uSwitch.com. Top ten deals based on Ofgem average energy use profile for dual fuel tariffs paying by Direct Debit. Extra Energy joined the scheme on 1st April 2016

Source: uSwitch.com. Top ten deals based on Ofgem average energy use profile for dual fuel tariffs paying by Direct Debit. Extra Energy joined the scheme on 1st April 2016

While energy bills have fallen over the past couple of years, they still remain a big chunk of many households outgoings – and one on which many could still save money by switching. Another key factor is to ensure that you are getting any help that you are entitled to, such as the warm home scheme.

Anne Robinson said: ‘The Warm Home Discount scheme has provided important financial support to around two million people since it was first set up, but more can be done to build on its success. The Government should set out a timetable for extending the Warm Home Discount to cover all energy suppliers, increase funding for the scheme, and make better use of data to provide more targeted support.’ 

The comparison site also wants to see Winter Fuel Payments – which give those born or before 5 May 1953 up to £300 tax-free to help pay for heating bills by Christmas each year – to be integrated into the Warm Home Discount scheme. 

These payments aren’t means-tested and are issued to all elderly consumers, ‘meaning they fail to help millions in fuel poverty under pensionable age’, according to uSwitch. 

‘Significantly increasing the pot of money available through an expanded Warm Home Discount scheme would help significantly more vulnerable people across society.’

SUPPLIERS WHO OFFER THE WARM HOME DISCOUNT 

Atlantic

British Gas

Co-operative energy

EDF Energy

E.ON

Equipower (Ebico)

Equigas (Ebico)

First Utility

Manweb – see ScottishPower

M&S Energy

npower

OVO

Sainsbury’s Energy – see British Gas

Scottish Gas – see British Gas

Scottish Hydro

ScottishPower

Southern Electric

SSE

SWALEC

Utilita 

Utility Warehouse 

(Source: Gov.uk)

SUPPLIERS WHO DON’T OFFER THE WARM HOME DISCOUNT

Avro Energy 

Axis for Business

Bulb

Economy Energy

Ecotricity

Extra Energy

E (Gas & Electricity) Ltd

Flow Energy

Future Energy

GB

Go Effortless

Good Energy

Green Energy UK

Gnergy

Green Star (Pioneer)

Isupply

loCO2

Places for People Energy

Robin Hood Energy

Spark Energy

Symbio

Tempus Energy 


 For more information on the Warm Home Discount and eligibility, click here






Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Britain’s experience economy on the rise as consumers choose holidays over shoes

16 May 16
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  • Spending on recreation and culture increased nearly 8% in the year 
  • Advance online bookings driving rising spend on activities, data shows 
  • Consumers spending less on clothes and shoes in social media age 

The UK’s ‘experience economy’ is on the rise, with people spending more on eating out, days out and holidays than they are pounding the high streets for more possessions.

With the recent demise of high street staples BHS and Austin Reed fresh in people’s minds and the once seemingly unstoppable Apple recently posting its first revenue decline for 13 years, it seems people’s priorities are changing, Visa Europe suggested. 

Clothing and footwear sales are down, while spending on ‘recreation and culture’ climbed nearly 8 per cent year-on-year last month.

More meaningful: People are spending more on eating out and holidays than on clothes, data shows

More meaningful: People are spending more on eating out and holidays than on clothes, data shows

With ever-greater numbers vying to out do one another on the ‘experience’ front via social media, much of the UK’s experience economy is driven by consumers pre-booking activities online.  

Kevin Jenkins, UK & Ireland Managing Director at Visa Europe, said: ‘Growth in consumables remains evident, but consumer spending is increasingly focused on the experience economy. 

‘Eating out, booking holidays and discovering new experiences are all driving spending growth at a time when the lower cost of living is creating higher disposable incomes. 

‘In a month of mostly growth, the only sector to disappoint was clothing and footwear, again highlighting this shift’.

Expenditure on clothing and footwear fell by 2.8 per cent year-on-year last month, while spending on food and drink slowed to a five-month low of 1.7 per cent. 

Across all categories, total consumer spend increased by 2.5 per cent year-on-year in April, up from 2.3 per cent in March.

Online spending grew 8.4 per cent year-on-year, the fastest pace of growth over the last 16 months, while face-to-face expenditure figures were broadly level compared to the same period in 2015.

Idyllic: With ever-greater numbers vying to out do one another on the 'experience' front via social media, much of the UK's experience economy is driven by consumers pre-booking activities online

Idyllic: With ever-greater numbers vying to out do one another on the ‘experience’ front via social media, much of the UK’s experience economy is driven by consumers pre-booking activities online

Fun time: Spending on recreation and culture increased by nearly 8% year-on-year last month

Fun time: Spending on recreation and culture increased by nearly 8% year-on-year last month

Earlier this year, Ikea’s head of sustainability, Steve Howard, said that the consumption of many goods, including home furnishings, had reached its limit.

He said: ‘In the west, we have probably hit peak stuff. We talk about peak oil. I’d say we’ve hit peak red meat, peak sugar, peak stuff … peak home furnishings.’

Carla Buzasi, of trend forecasting service WGSN, said: ‘Brunch with a friend followed by a yoga class might cost about the same as a new pair of jeans, but you don’t get that warm glow of a shared experience with the latter. 

‘Crucially, it is also down to the fact that experiences have got so much better. Stuffy restaurants, which cost a fortune, have been replaced by hipster street food trucks, which are accessible to a much broader group of people. 

Taking fun seriously: For now, at least, consumers' insatiable appetite for more and more belongings seems to have been overshadowed by our desire for more meaningful experiences, which, coincidentally, also provide perfect fodder in an era of over-sharing on social media

Taking fun seriously: For now, at least, consumers’ insatiable appetite for more and more belongings seems to have been overshadowed by our desire for more meaningful experiences, which, coincidentally, also provide perfect fodder in an era of over-sharing on social media

‘Exercise classes take place in cool studios with lavish products in the showers, rather than your boring gym. The mundane has become an experience. And, for many people, that’s much more fun than buying another piece of clothing.’ 

In December, the Office for National Statistics published data revealing that average household weekly spending on recreation and culture increased to nearly £70 in 2014. 

For now, at least, consumers’ insatiable appetite for more and more belongings seems to have been overshadowed by our desire for more meaningful experiences, which, coincidentally, also provide perfect fodder in an era of over-sharing on social media.

High street slump: Spending on clothing and footwear fell by 2.8 per cent year-on-year last month, Visa Europe said

High street slump: Spending on clothing and footwear fell by 2.8 per cent year-on-year last month, Visa Europe said

Changing habits: Growth of spending on recreation and culture in the UK, according to Visa Europe

Changing habits: Growth of spending on recreation and culture in the UK, according to Visa Europe

 






Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Holidaymakers who use their phones freely still face hefty bills despite EU cap

16 May 16
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Holidaymakers who use their mobile phones like they do at home still face bills of almost £50, despite a cap on charges in the EU.

So-called roaming charges have been capped and will be abolished altogether in the EU by June 2017.

This means using your mobile in Europe will cost no more than when you use it at home. But until then you can still clock up high costs.

Caution: So-called roaming charges have been capped and will be abolished altogether in the EU by June 2017. But until then you can still clock up high costs

Caution: So-called roaming charges have been capped and will be abolished altogether in the EU by June 2017. But until then you can still clock up high costs

Under the new cap, calls made to numbers inside the EU should be no more than 4.3p a minute on all networks. Texts cost 1.6p each and using the internet is 4.3p per megabyte.

The maximum amount mobile providers can charge you for using the internet abroad is £40 a month. But there is no cut-off limit for calls and texts.

A modest user sending five texts and making ten minutes of calls a day would rack up an extra £6 bill in a fortnight’s holiday.

Several of the mobile giants have launched new deals to cut the cost of using a phone abroad.

With Three’s Feel at Home offer you won’t pay extra to use your phone in Europe, Hong Kong, the U.S., New Zealand, Sri Lanka, Macau, Israel and Indonesia.

Vodafone customers paying monthly on Red and Red Value bundles pay no roaming fees in 40 European countries.

While Tesco Mobile is scrapping extra roaming charges for its customers travelling to any of 31 European countries from May 23.

Holidaymakers with a Tesco Mobile contract or pay-as-you-go bundle travelling to one of the 31 destination in Europe will now use their existing UK calls, data and text allowances when calling home.






Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

As insurance firms offer ever more bizarre policies are ANY worth it?

16 May 16
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  • Shop staff pressured to push deals in a process known as cross-selling
  • Online shoppers often accidentally take them out by clicking on boxes
  • Financial Ombudsman getting a stream of complaints from customers

There was once a time when the only insurance you could buy was for your car, home, life and maybe a holiday.

Policies were supposed to be a lifeline in the event that disaster struck and an unforeseen circumstance left you drastically out of pocket.

But after squeezing as much money as possible out of these customers, insurers have started to look at other ways they can cash in on the way we live our lives.

These days firms are flogging cover for anything and everything — from the risk that your suitcase might bump someone on the head during a coach journey to payouts for damaged parcels. You can even buy cover for your Sky TV box.

Drama: Ticket insurance for shows such as Charlie And The Chocolate Factory might be unnecessary

Drama: Ticket insurance for shows such as Charlie And The Chocolate Factory might be unnecessary

These policies may cost only a few pounds each, but they make a mint for firms — up to £4 billion a year.

Shop staff are under huge pressure to sell these deals in a process known in industry jargon as cross-selling.

Shoppers online are tempted into taking them out by accidentally clicking on screen tick boxes.

But a Money Mail investigation has uncovered that many policies are riddled with sneaky exclusions. Some are virtually worthless because customers have the same protection for free under consumer law.

The Financial Ombudsman says it is getting a steady stream of complaints from customers duped by misleading and complex terms and conditions — or frustrated by harsh exclusions.

James Daley, founder of consumer website Fairer Finance, says: ‘Firms are trying to sell insurance wherever they see an opportunity.

‘In most of these cases, the claims rates are incredibly low and the margin is incredibly high, which is why everyone is tripping over themselves to sell these policies.’

TRAVELLING BY TRAIN OR COACH

It can often work out cheaper to buy coach and train tickets online before you travel.

But popular websites such as National Express and Trainline are seizing the opportunity to offer passengers insurance policies — with levels of protection that can be unnecessary. 

National Express Coach Travel Insurance costs £1.50 per person per journey and covers you for personal accident costs of up to £20,000, personal possessions up to £750 and personal liability up to £1 million.

But when you drill down into the detail there are a number of caveats.

For example, you have to pay a £30 excess if you claim for lost or damaged personal possessions.

And if you can’t provide the receipt for the original purchase, the maximum it will pay out is £50 for one item — or £200 in total.

Dubious: Popular websites such as National Express and Trainline are seizing the opportunity to offer passengers insurance policies — with levels of protection that can be unnecessary

Dubious: Popular websites such as National Express and Trainline are seizing the opportunity to offer passengers insurance policies — with levels of protection that can be unnecessary

You can also claim for only £200 of valuables — which isn’t enough to cover today’s typical £500 smartphone. And if you break your phone while you’re using it, the cover is void.

Only £50 of lost cash is covered — after you’ve paid the £30 excess.

But under National Express’s conditions of travel, if the firm’s at fault for damage to your luggage it pays out up to £500, regardless of whether you buy insurance.

A National Express spokesman says: ‘As outlined by the policy itself — which explicitly advises people to check it provides the cover they need — in certain circumstances an excess fee and some exclusions apply.’

Trainline’s policy costs £1 per journey, so £2 for a return trip.

Underwritten by Columbus Direct, it covers customers if they miss their trains as a result of sickness or other specified reasons. It also includes compensation for delayed journeys.

Yet passengers are automatically entitled to compensation for delays from rail companies.

In fact, you’re more likely to get a refund that way. For delays over an hour you’re entitled to at least 50 per cent of the price you paid for single journeys and 25 per cent for a return. If the trip is cancelled and you decide not to travel, you can claim a full refund.

By comparison, to claim on Trainline’s policy you need to be delayed for at least four hours.

James MacColl, of the Campaign for Better Transport, says: ‘It’s a poor state of affairs that so many passengers are not getting the compensation they should by law for delays and disruption. Passengers should not have to pay extra for insurance on top of the already high cost of a ticket.’

A Columbus Direct, spokesman on behalf of the Trainline, says: ‘If customers are entitled to compensation they can claim £50 in addition to any compensation being paid by the train operator for the delay.’

BOOKING TICKETS IN THE WEST END

Most theatre ticket booking websites urge customers to take out insurance policies. Ticket Factory and ATG Tickets offer policies that will pay out if you miss a concert or if it is rescheduled.

The Ticket Factory — which sells passes to music and theatre shows — urges customers to pay an extra £2.25 per ticket for a ‘worry-free purchase’. But customers without insurance can usually get their money back if an event is postponed.

You are entitled to a refund of the ticket price, though not booking fees.

See Tickets pushes its Ticket Plan Cancellation Protection policy to customers when they book.

Ticket protection: Most theatre ticket booking websites encourage customers to buy ticket insurance 

Ticket protection: Most theatre ticket booking websites encourage customers to buy ticket insurance 

This says it will refund you if you miss a show because you have an accident, fall ill or suffer a ‘specified unforeseen circumstance’.

But there are several glaring exclusions. It will not cover you if you miss a show due to an existing illness or what it considers ‘normal’ pregnancy symptoms.

And you must be able to provide a doctor’s report as proof you were ill. Hazel and Stephen Barker are £92 out of pocket after falling foul of this catch. The couple, from Kettering in Northamptonshire, had hoped to mark Hazel’s 60th birthday with a trip to London to see The Mousetrap.

They booked through See Tickets and paid £4 for the cover.

Four days before the show, Hazel’s 90-year-old father, Frederick, lost his two-year battle against cancer.

They cancelled and Hazel tried to claim back the cost of the ticket under the plan.

But a brief letter from Ticket Plan refused her claim, saying that cancellations caused by the death of someone suffering from a pre-existing illness were not covered.

‘I thought it was so insensitive that they could not even allow us to rebook our tickets,’ says Hazel.

‘My father had many ups and downs while he was ill, so we had no idea that he would pass away imminently.’

A Ticket Plan spokesman says: ‘The terms and conditions of the refund protection facility are always presented clearly at the point of purchase.’

He adds that the Barkers’ case was ‘extremely unfortunate’ and that it tried to deal with refunds ‘as sympathetically and sensitively as possible’.

SENDING PRESENTS IN THE POST

For an extra charge, delivery firms offer insurance that pays out if your parcel is lost or damaged

For an extra charge, delivery firms offer insurance that pays out if your parcel is lost or damaged

You can get parcels delivered by a host of courier firms, not just Royal Mail. How much you pay will typically depend on how much your package weighs.

For an extra charge, firms including CollectPlus, myHermes and ParcelHero offer insurance that pays out if your parcel is lost or damaged while in its depot or out with a driver.

Parcel giant myHermes, for example, charges £5.80 for cover worth up to £250. Customers who refuse this are eligible for compensation of only up to £25, even if the contents are worth much more.

CollectPlus will insure items up to £50 for free. It then charges £1 if you want the package signed for, £3 for deliveries worth between £50 and £150 and £5 for those between £150 and £300.

But some firms have a long list of exclusions that can catch you out.

In myHermes’ terms and conditions 40 items are exempt, including electrical goods, antiques, jewellery, food and anything made from metals, ceramics or glass.

It means barely any items will be insured under the policy.

Its website does ask for details of what will be included in the parcel, but it won’t stop the customer buying a policy if they list an item that’s excluded.

A myHermes spokesman says: ‘Customers are presented with several clearly visible prompts to check whether the contents of the parcel are prohibited or excluded from compensation.’

By contrast, other parcel firms’ websites warn you if you’re sending an item that’s not covered.

Critics say these policies may not be necessary as you are typically covered by the law.

If you are using a courier company to send a present to someone and it arrives broken, complain to the company. The firm has a legal duty to deliver the item and should compensate you for any loss. Complain to the retailer if you bought the item through a shop’s website.

Marc Gander, of campaigners Consumer Action Group, says: ‘Surely it should be a parcel firm’s responsibility to ensure a parcel is delivered without being damaged?

‘It seems completely wrong that you must pay for insurance to cover against them not doing the job that you are paying then to carry out.’

WATCHING SPORT ON TELEVISION

When you take out a Sky TV deal, you’re sent a box to connect to your television. Like any gadget, these can break down, so Sky urges customers to take out insurance to cover the equipment.

The policy — called Sky Protect Plus — will cover customers for ‘unexpected breakdowns and faults’, as well as accidents.

But it costs up to a whopping £192 a year. And what is not made crystal clear is that customers are covered by a Sky warranty for a year after the box is installed.

Argos sells a replacement care policy to cover electrical goods and gadgets if they break or need repairing

Argos sells a replacement care policy to cover electrical goods and gadgets if they break or need repairing

Many customers complain they are bombarded with calls from salesmen at Domestic & General — which provides the insurance — pushing the cover as soon as they receive their box.

If you don’t take out the insurance and have to pay for a callout after the 12-month guarantee is up, you will have to pay £65. 

A spokesman for Domestic & General says: ‘We would like to make it very clear that we do not ‘push’ customers into buying policies and take our responsibility to treat customers fairly very seriously. 

‘We always ensure that we only speak to customers who have consented to be contacted.’  

A Sky spokesman says that customers are charged for only one year of cover, even though the policy runs for two years.

‘The policy covers accidental damage and mechanical breakdowns, as well as offering priority engineer visits and unlimited repairs.’ 

SHOPPING FOR THE LATEST GADGETS

Stores selling electrical items and gadgets are on a massive sales drive to flog insurance.

The policies are huge money- spinners — but not necessarily for you. They’re frequently riddled with exclusions or double up on your legal rights as a consumer.

In some cases, policies cost almost as much as the item they protect, such as bike lights or torches.

Argos’ Replacement Care policy is supposed to pay out if your item is faulty or breaks down.

It costs 99p to cover an item that costs between £3 and £4.99 — that’s up to a third of the cost.

There are also a huge range of exclusions, including vague terms such as refusing to cover ‘failure to follow manufacturers’ instructions’.

In any case, under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, you are entitled to a refund if an item is faulty and you return it within 30 days. After 30 days you can ask for a repair or replacement for up to six months.

Once you’ve had the item for six months you still have a right to ask for a repair or replacement, but the retailer can deduct money for the use you’ve had from it.

You are not entitled to a refund or exchange just because you’ve changed your mind.

If you shop online, you benefit from extra protection because you can’t see and check the goods before you buy. In this case, you have a 14-day cooling-off period to inform the retailer you want to return the item and get a full refund — regardless of the reason. You then have another 14 days to post it back.

The seller must also refund the cost of a standard delivery. If you paid extra for a fast delivery, you won’t get this back.

An Argos spokesman says: ‘We endeavour to ensure our Replacement Product Care represents good value for money.

‘We make our terms and conditions available to customers prior to and after the sale takes place.’

A spokeswoman for the Association of British Insurers says: ‘The insurance sector is constantly innovating to suit the needs of customers, and products will develop in response to new trends.’ 






Courtesy: Daily Mail Online