Monthly Archives:August 2017

Startup Neos gives home insurance a smart makeover

31 Aug 17
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What if your home insurance provider was one step ahead and actually helped prevent problems, rather than just paying up after something goes wrong?

Neos, the latest startup under the This is Money spotlight, claims to do just that with the help of eight smart sensors and an HD video camera dotted around your home, all reporting to a smartphone app.

The aim of all of this tech is to catch anything from a burst pipe to a break-in or even a fire – before they spiral into a bigger problem – to make your home both safer and to avoid expensive home insurance claims.

A smart idea? Neos is the first insurer to take this approach to home cover

A smart idea? Neos is the first insurer to take this approach to home cover

Neos promises to send out a tradesman to fix any home emergency issues at your home for free for repairs costing less than £1,000. 

If it’s a bigger issue, you will need to make a claim on your Neos insurance.

The company has been testing its products for the past few months and launched earlier this month.

We spoke to Matt Poll, 41, chief executive and founder of Neos, to find out more

How did you come up with the idea for Neos?

I believe the existing home insurance model needs to do more for you, your home and everything inside it.

The problem is that traditional insurance only pays out once the worst has happened but does nothing actively to protect your home and your belongings. While payouts are certainly important, I believe that insurance can do more than just pay your claim – it’s in both the consumer’s and insurer’s interest to work to actively to prevent things going wrong.

That’s why I founded Neos, which is ‘smarter home insurance’ and a significant improvement over traditional home insurance. It’s the first UK-based company to combine smart technology and 24/7 assistance with home insurance, creating a policy that’s ‘always-on’, actively protecting homes and preventing the need for claims.

Many people already use parts of the package we offer, for example, monitored alarms, but no-one offers the complete package or brings it all together with a hub as good as ours.

What did your career look like before Neos? 

I’ve spent a lot of my career in insurance, working for 16 years in senior commercial roles at industry giants AXA and RSA. Most recently, I was managing director and commercial director at MORE THAN.

I decided to leave my job and develop a totally new way to actively protect your home. Combining the power of connected home technology and premium home insurance, all backed up by home assistance that’s always there for you, means you can now truly look after your home from your phone.

Clever sensors: Your insurance policy comes with eight sensors which alert you to problems via the Neos mobile app

Clever sensors: Your insurance policy comes with eight sensors which alert you to problems via the Neos mobile app

How did you kick start the company? 

I started the business with Krystian Zajac, my co-founder and chief technology officer. He is the tech brains in the partnership, having run successful businesses in the smart home sector for ten years.

Initially, we were backed by a team of private investors, all of whom have a track record of successful investment in technology and financial services companies.

Then in November 2016, we secured a strategic investment and exclusive partnership with Zoopla Property Group. And in May we were backed by a further £5million round, led by Aviva ventures. Raising investment is never easy, but there is certainly recognition amongst investors that the £7billion home insurance market has to evolve for the good of the end consumer.

So how exactly does Neos work? 

We provide eight wireless smart home devices (worth over £700) that detect intruders, fires and leaks , plus wireless indoor HD 1080p cameras.

All of these devices are linked to the Neos smartphone app, which alerts you if a sensor is triggered and provides a secure live camera feed for extra peace of mind.

Our goal is to provide peace of mind at the touch of a button.

Our app allows you to check the status of your home at all times, and view your live camera or arm/disarm your motion, window and door sensors at any time.

It also supports you with a 24/7 assistance service and provides comprehensive home insurance as a backup.

If you can’t respond to the alert because your phone is off or has no service, then our team are on hand 24/7 to help. 

They will reach out to make contact with you or your nominated emergency contacts to flag that there is a potential problem in your home. If the problem requires emergency assistance (eg a burst pipe) then they will also send out a relevant trades person to fix the issue. 

Tech pack: Customers also get a wireless indoor HD camera which only they can access the feed for

Tech pack: Customers also get a wireless indoor HD camera which only they can access the feed for

How much does it cost? 

We have three levels of plan customers can sign up for, each giving different levels of protection to your home.

Each quote is unique to you but prices vary from £15 to £50 per month approximately for the plans which all include technology and comprehensive insurance cover.

To give you a better idea, building and contents cover starts from just £180 a year with three different packages to choose from. 

For example, buildings and contents for a £600,000 flat in E1 London starts from £260 or £313 for a three bed semi-detached family home in Brentwood Essex.

So how does Neos make money? 

We make money in the same way as traditional insurance companies. We also believe in fair pricing, so we are committed to fixing customers’ prices for three years if they don’t claim.

We’re happy to provide the smart sensors at no extra cost as part of your home insurance because ultimately we’re helping you avoid making a claim by detecting potential incidents early.

By providing smart home tech we hope to reduce claims costs, and the savings from reducing claims costs subsidise the tech that customers get at no extra cost, whilst allowing us to remain competitive against standard home insurance.

Hidden protection: Neos sensors can be hidden around the home

Hidden protection: Neos sensors can be hidden around the home

What does the insurance actually cover? 

You’re covered by a comprehensive home insurance policy with high cover limits, which can be personalised to your needs – either buildings or contents cover, or both.

You can cover single items up to a value of £3,000 without specifically itemising them,  plus it comes with unlimited bike cover at home and unlimited worldwide cover for valuables that you travel with.

Our goal is to build the claims process into the Neos app, to streamline things for customers. 

For example, within the app you can already use your smartphone camera to create an inventory of your household contents, which we plan to use to speed up the claims process.

What does Neos do with your data? Is it safe? 

Where there is a camera, not even Neos staff have access to the feed. The only exception is if a homeowner invites a family member or friend to have access to their app as it has multi user functionality or they could specifically ask us to do so for a limited period – for example when they are on holiday.

In our experience, once people understand the protection we have in place they see the value of the technology. And we’ve invested a huge amount to ensure the tech and the app is user-friendly and easy to interact with.

We use the very latest bank-grade encryption technology to make sure data from your devices is kept safe and secure, meaning no-one but you and your family will be able to access information about your home. 

Even members of the Neos staff will never be able to see data that identifies you personally without your prior consent. Personal information is held separately from monitoring data. We use anonymised data to learn about usage patterns and improve the product – this is similar to how mobile phone companies use data.

What are your visions for the company for the future? 

It’s clear that smart technology has the potential to significantly improve people’s lives and customers tell us that their homes are great place to start.

Our vision is that Neos will soon be able to seamlessly protect our customers’ lifestyles (not just their homes) as they go about their daily lives.

Many consumers are already integrating smart technology into their homes, but no other company has brought all these devices together in an app and then added 24/7 assistance supported by a home insurance policy.

We believe that technology is the enabler to allow customers to get much more value for the hard earned money they spend on their insurance cover. The wider insurance industry is now waking up to this fact and I expect a lot of other insurers to follow in our footsteps.

INSURANCE BILLS: HOW TO CUT COSTS 

There is no getting away from it; insurance is an everyday essential, protecting your property, car, health, pets or even buy-to-let property in case disaster strikes.

Many people, however, simply fall into the trap of renewing policies year-in, year-out and see their policy premiums steadily climb.

They never benefit from the cost savings of shopping around.

You can read out complete guide to home insurance and how to get the best cover at the best price here. 

This is Money also has a regularly updated insurance guide, which highlights some of the best deals on offer.

In addition, you can compare the best deals using the comparison tool (above), to see if you can save money on your bills.

Financial start-up spotlight

At This is Money we hear from hundreds of new start-ups across property and financial services.

If you’ve come across one but you’re not sure whether to invest your money with them, purchase a property through them or entrust them with your personal financial details, get in touch with us. 

We’ll be putting financial and property start-ups under the spotlight in a new series to take a closer look at the detail.

Email sarah.davidson@thisismoney.co.uk with your ideas.

 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Government’s free childcare can cost parents thousands

30 Aug 17
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  • From September all three and four-year-old children will be eligible for 30 free hours of childcare a week
  • Providers say government funding doesn’t match cost of delivery
  • Some nurseries are adding on for extras to plug the funding shortfall 

Parents are furious that a new government scheme promising 30 free hours childcare a week will land them with nursery bills of up to £4,000 a year.

From September all three-and-four-year old children will be eligible for the ‘free’ hours but early years’ providers across the country have warned that parents will be charged additional fees to ‘plug’ the financial shortfall.

Goods and services which were previously included in bills are now being added as extras such as meals, nappies, sport, music and trips due to a lack of funding behind the initiative.

Nurseries are also being forced to hike up fees for non-funded hours and rates for children of other ages in order to balance the books.

Childcare costs: Parents are finding that free childcare is sometimes anything but

Childcare costs: Parents are finding that free childcare is sometimes anything but

Providers say the £4.30 an hour from government does not match the cost of delivery particularly since local authorities only have to pass on 90 per cent of this funding.

Sheffield mother-of-three Emma Wilkinson, 37, was shocked to discover that from September she would be charged £25.72 a day – a cost of almost £4,000 a year – for her three-year-old son to attend nursery three days a week.

‘We received a letter saying what the break down was and how the free hours were going to work. When I looked at it closely I realised we were being charged extra for meals and activities which never appeared on the bill before and there was no opt out. They have also put up the daily rate for my one-year-old son. We are going to paying £3,935 a year which is 46 per cent of the full cost – that is not free childcare.’

Although parents have been promised 30 hours of free childcare per week the government funding only covers this for 38 weeks of the year which is during school term-time.

The free entitlement is actually 1140 hours of childcare per year and childcare providers can deliver this in any pattern they wish such as spreading it across 52 weeks.

This means that if a child attends a nursery 10 hours a day, for three days a week, for 38 weeks of the year they can still be charged for additional hours.

Emma Wilkinson, 37, was shocked to discover that she would be charged £25.72 a day for her three-year-old son, Sam (pictured) to attend nursery three days a week

Emma Wilkinson, 37, was shocked to discover that she would be charged £25.72 a day for her three-year-old son, Sam (pictured) to attend nursery three days a week

Miss Wilkinson explained: ‘Sam’s nursery is spreading the free hours over 51 weeks and we have no choice over this. I am self employed so I could work around the holidays but I am not being given this flexibility.’

A survey by the Pre-school Learning Alliance in March (2017) revealed that half of early year providers were planning to charge for goods and services that were previously provided for free to off-set the funding gap.

Neil Leitch, chief executive of the Pre-school Learning Alliance said: ‘For those of us working in the sector, the fact that many providers have been forced to find ways to plug the ever-widening funding gap – such as increasing the cost of things like meals, nappies and trips – has come as little surprise, but it’s clear that those families that took the government’s promise of ‘free childcare’ at face value are likely to be feeling disappointed, angry and misled – and rightly so.’

Mandy Garner of Working Mums described the scheme, which has increased the free childcare funding from 15 hours to 30, as a ‘sticking plaster’ saying that doubling the free hours had increased the problems and created a postcode lottery.

As a result parents have been left frustrated and confused.

‘The way it has been promoted implies that you could pretty much go back to work full time,’ said Nottingham mother Zoe Barter, 40, whose three-year-old daughter is eligible.

‘We use the nursery three days a week so we thought this would be our 30 hours, but the nursery is capping it at seven hours a day and we have to pay for the rest. Our bill will be around £270 a month.

‘I don’t blame the nursery they are a business and they have to keep their heads above water but there is a misconception that there are all these free hours.’

‘If the government was giving them a better hourly rate they wouldn’t be charging me anything.’

Claire Schofield, a director at the National Day Nurseries Association, warned that all childcare bills could be affected even for children not entitled to the free hours.

For some, free childcare now looks as likely as a perfect nanny flying in on an umbrella (Pictured: Scene from the 1964 film Mary Poppins)

For some, free childcare now looks as likely as a perfect nanny flying in on an umbrella (Pictured: Scene from the 1964 film Mary Poppins)

‘Nurseries are putting up the fees for younger children or for the hours above the 30 free hours. It is having an inflationary knock on effect.

‘We need to be honest. For most parents it is a really significant saving on what they were paying before but it is not totally free.’

In some areas nurseries are even closing down or not offering the 30 free hours at all.

Juliet Blank, associate editor at Netmums said: ‘Nurseries are being put in a difficult position and have to pass on the shortfall. My own child’s nursery in Hertfordshire has not opted into the scheme. I am now going to be paying for free hours I am eligible for because I don’t want to change nurseries.’

Minister for Children and Families Robert Goodwill said: ‘Parents are already able to access 15 hours of free childcare but from September we are doubling that offer to 30 hours for working parents – saving them around £5,000 per child.

‘That 30 hour offer is already being delivered in several areas across the country, with over 15,000 children benefiting from a place. We know from our evaluation that providers are committed to offering 30 hours and the additional hours are having a really positive impact on families, taking huge pressures off families’ finances.’ 

Save money and get the best deals 

This is Money has carefully selected comparison partners that we believe can offer you the best service and round-ups of the best deals. These quick links will take you to them.

> Check the best energy deal 

> Compare broadband, TV and mobile

> Find a cheaper mortgage

> This is Money’s independent best buy savings tables

> Our pick of the best credit cards

> Five of the best current accounts 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Find the best-value films to buy, rent or stream

29 Aug 17
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  • Streaming and downloading revenue overtook DVD sales for first time last year
  • Odeon offers family tickets where adults ano children pay the same child rate
  • LoveFilm alternative Cinema Paradiso has categorically ruled out closing

Film fans were dealt a recent blow when internet giant Amazon said it was scrapping its DVD rental service LoveFilm By Post. 

Here, we assess the best-value ways to watch your favourite movies.

VISIT A CINEMA 

There is still no better way to watch a new blockbuster than on the big screen.

Although ticket costs can be prohibitive, there are some great discount deals available.

Odeon, the biggest cinema chain in Britain, is currently offering family tickets where two adults and two children aged 12 or under all pay the same child ticket rate. This means a £10.50 adult ticket can be purchased for just £7.95.

Sundae screening: Independents like the Picture House Cinema in Uckfield offer great value

Sundae screening: Independents like the Picture House Cinema in Uckfield offer great value

Those aged 55 or over can also become members of the Odeon Silver Cinema club and watch films during the day with tea and biscuits for just £3.

If you have a Cineworld complex nearby you should consider a Cineworld Unlimited Card. You pay £17.90 a month and can enjoy as many movies as you like. 

Those who visit Vue cinemas can enjoy a ‘mini mornings’ deal on a Saturday or Sunday. Film showings at 10am cost just £2.49.

Cinema chain Curzon offers ‘cult’ membership for £350 a year that gives the cardholder free entry to all its cinemas nationwide. 

Independent gem: Electric Picture Palace in Southwold

Independent gem: Electric Picture Palace in Southwold

Picturehouse, a 23-strong chain, offers those aged 60 or over free membership to the ‘silver screen’ club. Films shown during the day cost £5.50.

Small independents also offer great value. John Bennett is house director of the Electric Picture Palace in Southwold, Suffolk. 

The 70-seater offers an eclectic mix of movies – from black-and-white classics such as Ealing comedy Whisky Galore! and Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday to modern hits such as Beauty And The Beast and The Lego Batman Movie.

Tickets cost from £6 though there is an additional membership fee that starts at £3.

Bennett says: ‘We try to make the most of the magic of the cinema, turning a trip to the movies into a special night out. 

The dynamic of sharing your enjoyment of a film with an audience, especially when there is laughter, cannot be replicated by sitting at home watching a film alone.’

The Electric Picture Palace has an interval in all its movies so the audience can enjoy an ice cream or glass of wine. It also has a musical organ, commissionaire and usherettes.

Special night: John Bennett, of the Electric Picture Palace in Southwold at the organ keys

Special night: John Bennett, of the Electric Picture Palace in Southwold at the organ keys

STREAM OVER THE INTERNET

The internet has transformed the way we watch movies and TV, with streaming and downloading revenue overtaking DVD sales for the first time last year.

Faster internet and technology improvements, such as internet-linked TVs, tablets and laptops used to stream movies, have fuelled the revolution. 

Total revenue from digital video was £1.3 billion in Britain last year compared with almost £900 million from the sale of DVDs and Blu-ray.

Online giant Netflix is the market leader with about a quarter of UK households subscribing to the service. Other major players include Amazon and Sky along with Sky’s Now TV service.

Alternatives that allow you to stream or download include Apple iTunes, Curzon Home Cinema and Mubi. 

It is also worth taking advantage of the online BBC iPlayer service to browse through its movie choices. This service is paid for out of the £147 annual fee households pay for a TV Licence.

The British Film Institute has a BFI Player service with unlimited access to hundreds of movies – many picked by film critic Mark Kermode – for £4.99 a month. 

They can be watched on your TV, smartphone or laptop and the contract can be cancelled at any time.

Edward Humphrey, director of digital at the British Film Institute, says: ‘We want to offer a diversity of choice, not just mainstream movies that people often associate with streaming services.

‘As long as you have a minimum download speed of two megabits per second on your internet at home you should be able to watch films with no problems.’

Those with a poor internet connection – perhaps a result of living in a rural area – may suffer lower speeds during busy times. 

This can lead to ‘buffering’ where frames freeze or the picture goes into pixellation meltdown.

For watching high definition films five megabits a second is often the recommended minimum speed.

Netflix allows you to stream as many films as you like for £5.99 a month – or £7.49 if you want sharper high-definition.

Amazon also offers access to a huge library of movies for £5.99 a month. Those prepared to pay a bit more – £7.99 – also get access to Prime, its fast one-day delivery service for goods bought through its website. 

Now TV sells a Sky Cinema Pass where viewers get access to Sky films for £9.99 a month. Mubi offers a wide range of movies that include world cinema and cult classics for £5.99 a month.

Apple iTunes focuses more on renting or selling individual movies rather than offering a monthly package where you access lots of films. Prices are usually £3.49 to rent – and stream – online or £4.49 for high-definition viewing.

Alternatively you can buy a movie where it is downloaded on to your laptop rather than streamed – but you may have to pay £9.99 for the privilege. 

Curzon Home Cinema allows you to stream a wide range of movies. You can rent films to view – paying between £2.20 and £10 each time.

Curzon cinema card members enjoy a 15 per cent price discount. They can also stream up to 12 films for free each month through the Curzon12 service.

COULD YOU PAY LESS, GET FASTER SPEEDS OR SPORTS TV THROWN IN TO YOUR BROADBAND DEAL?

A broadband connection is vital for most households these days, but that doesn’t mean you should let your broadband provider over charge you.

Most providers offer much cheaper deals or better perks to new customers, meaning it pays to switch.

For out pick of the top deals check out our guide here, or if you are a football fanatic or cricket nut check our ultimate guide to getting sport for less

Sky’s Broadband Unlimited deal costs £20 per month with a £19.95 set up fee plus it comes with a £100 prepaid Mastercard if you apply before September 9.

Talk Talk chargers £19.95 per month for its Fast Broadband package which offers standard 17Mbps speeds. There are no startup costs and the company pledges that there will be no mid-contract price hikes during the 12-month term. 

Vodafone’s Unlimited Fibre 38 deal costs £25-a-month if you already a customer (£28 for non-existing mobile customers) and comes with 38Mbps speeds. Plus you get a Sonos Play wireless speaker (worth £199) or a £75 prepaid giftcard when you sign up before September 11. 

 Virgin Media offers some of the top deals for those wanting fibre optic speeds. You can currently bag its 100Mbps deal with free weekend calls for £33 per month (£38 with a landline) and a £20 set-up fee. 

NowTv, owned by Sky, offers a  17Mbps speed connection plus a Sky Entertainment Pass (which includes 250+ boxsets and 11 pay TV channels) for £24.99 per month.

To find the cheapest price and best bundles in your area you can use This is Money’s broadband finder tool which compares the whole of the market, powered by our carefully chosen partner service Broadband Choices.  

Fan: Jemima Codrington uses Cinema Paradiso

Fan: Jemima Codrington uses Cinema Paradiso

RENT FROM A STORE 

The LoveFilm By Post DVD rental service will be axed at the end of October. Although marking the end of an era, it does not ring the death knell for DVD rentals.

The main alternative to LoveFilm is Cinema Paradiso. It has categorically ruled out closing, boasting ‘we are here for many years to come’. 

It also points out that unlike US giant Amazon – which owns LoveFilm – ‘we are proud of our British roots and we most certainly pay all our UK taxes’.

Cinema Paradiso has more than 90,000 titles in its film library. This means movie fans can enjoy classics, art house and world cinema films on top of blockbusters – providing a level of choice that is not always available from mainstream online providers.

For £6.98 a month subscribers can rent out two movies at a time – up to a maximum of four overall. Its most expensive package is £19.98 a month for which you can get three movies at a time with unlimited borrowing.

Jemima Codrington, 29, from Edinburgh, signed up to Cinema Paradiso two months ago after a friend recommended she watch French film Populaire.

The marketing manager says: ‘There is something appealing about curling up on the sofa with a glass of red wine and a DVD to enjoy rather than streaming off a laptop. With streaming there is also the risk of the screen freezing at a crucial part in the film.’

She adds: ‘I am a big fan of foreign films. You get a limited choice on streaming services against that available from DVD rentals.’

An alternative is to visit your local library. Struggling to attract bookworms into their premises, an increasing number now rent out movies. Library membership is often free and can enable you to take out films for up to a month.

There is often a charge of £2 a week for this service and you could be hit with a fine – typically £8 – if you are late in returning the film. Favourite movies can be booked for free in advance by calling the library, while those in isolated or rural communities who have a library service van that visits the neighbourhood can ask for their favourite DVD choices to be brought along.

There are also a few independent DVD rental outfits that have survived the invasion of the internet.

Among these are 20th Century Flicks in Bristol; The Film Shop in Stoke Newington, North London; TVL Allstar Video in Haverhill, Suffolk; Movieworld in Manchester and Vogue Video in Edinburgh.

These outfits offer more than just a rental service. They provide a movie buff guide on niche films and specialist genres. They will also scour the market for rare, hard-to-find films.

20th Century Flicks charges £2 a week to rent a film – or £4 for three days with new releases. It also offers a postal service for £12 that enables you to rent out up to three films for a fortnight, though this is primarily for locals.

The Film Shop has a ‘movie buffs’ club that allows unlimited rentals for £15 a month. TVL Allstar Video charges £3.25 a rental – or £5 for two films.

FIND A BARGAIN DVD AT LOCAL CHARITY SHOP OR CAR BOOT FAIR

Another cost-effective solution for those who prefer DVDs to streaming and downloads is to scour the local charity shop.

Good causes such as Oxfam, the British Heart Foundation and hospices – including the Isabel Hospice in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire – sell DVDs for just a couple of pounds.

Internet auction website eBay and its classified adverts offshoot Gumtree can also offer bargains. Car boot sales are great places to pick up a video cheaply, as the venues are used by traders decluttering homes.

The Car Boot & Fairs Calendar offers a full list of events held countrywide. It costs £3 and can be purchased via carbootcalendar.com. Shops that trade in second-hand DVDs include chain CeX.

For new DVDs consider music and film chain shop Fopp and online stores Zavvi and HMV.

For serious film buffs who are keen to fill gaps in their film collection The Criterion Collection is hard to beat. Despite being a US-based website, its DVDs can be bought in the UK.

Do not be tempted to buy pirate DVDs as quality is often poor. Although it is the person who copied it who has broken the law, it still means your bootlegged DVD could be confiscated.

Keeping a copy of a film in VHS format is perhaps not such a good idea. The players are obsolete and heading for extinction, much like Betamax was in the 1980s.

 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

What is the last point when I can buy travel insurance?

28 Aug 17
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  • Travel insurance is designed to cover you from the moment you buy it
  • As soon as the policy is bought, it covers you if you need to cancel your holiday 
  • If you forget to buy a policy, some insurers will let you buy one at the airport
  • A few specialist insurers allow consumers to buy cover while on holiday

Travel insurance is always best bought as soon as you’ve booked your trip to make sure you’re covered should anything go wrong.

But what happens if it slips your mind and once you’re on the way to the airport you realise you’ve forgotten to buy it? Or you need to make a last-minute trip and when you get there you remember you’ve not bought cover?

We contacted 12 UK insurers to find out what you can do if you’re forgotten to buy travel insurance and how to make sure you’re still covered.

If you forget to buy a policy, some insurers will let you buy your travel insurance at the airport

If you forget to buy a policy, some insurers will let you buy your travel insurance at the airport

Buying travel insurance is unlikely to be top of the list when you’re planning a holiday, but without it you could end up with a nasty bill when you get back home.

It covers you for worst-case scenarios and will pay out if your belongings are lost, damaged or stolen or you are injured and need to pay for hospital treatment.

The cover also starts from the moment you buy it so if anything goes wrong before you set off, you fall ill for example, it will also pay out if you need to cancel.

If you have an annual travel insurance policy, you generally won’t have this problem as it covers multiple trips made during the year. Although it’s always worth checking the policy you have will cover you for the country you’re visiting. 

Mark Shepherd, ABI head of property, commercial and specialist lines, says: ‘Buying travel insurance at the earliest opportunity (e.g. through an annual multi trip policy or when you book your holiday), provides peace of mind from day one that you have cover if the unexpected happens, for example if you or a close family member falls ill and you cannot travel.

Last-minute cover: A few specialist insurers allow consumers to buy cover while on holiday

Last-minute cover: A few specialist insurers allow consumers to buy cover while on holiday

‘A third of travel insurance claims in 2016 were for travellers who needed to cancel their holiday, with travel insurers paying out more than £130 million alone for these claims.’

Insurers vary depending on the last moment you’re able to buy cover, with some allowing it until you leave home on the day and others letting you buy while you’re in the departure lounge or even on the plane.

The reason the majority of insurers don’t allow you to buy insurance while you’re already away is because of fraud. This is because if someone is already on holiday, and then buys insurance, there is a high risk that the incident they are claiming for will have already happened. 

We spoke to 12 UK insurers to see where they stand on last-minute insurance. While it is possible to buy before you set off, all of the insurers said they would always recommend for people to buy cover early as anything that happens before the insurance is bought would not be covered. 

AA:

The AA told us customers can buy insurance up until they leave – provided their feet are on the ground in the UK. This means you could buy it online while standing in the queue to board but you couldn’t buy it once you get on the plane. 

Allianz:

With Allianz you will need to buy the travel insurance before you leave your home and the holiday has started. 

It also sells EasyJet Instant Mobile travel insurance, which can be bought after you’ve left home and up until when you are in the airport. 

Travel insurance is designed to cover you if anything happens from the moment you buy it

Travel insurance is designed to cover you if anything happens from the moment you buy it

Aviva:

Aviva says it considers a trip to have started when the customer leaves their home and wouldn’t be able to sell travel insurance after this point. 

AXA:

Axa told us its travel insurance policies need to be bought at the start of your holiday, so before you leave home.  

Columbus:

Consumers can buy cover up to the point at which they leave the UK, including being sat on the plane and buying it from their phone or tablet. 

The insurer also has ‘instant purchase kiosks’ at several UK airports to encourage people to buy insurance if they’ve forgotten.    

Direct Line:

If you’re buying travel insurance with Direct Line, the last possible moment you can do so is before you start the trip and leave the UK.  

HolidaySafe:

At HolidaySafe you can buy travel insurance up until the point you are at the airport, but when you’ve cleared passport control and boarded the plane you would be seen as being ‘in transit’ and would not be able to buy travel insurance. 

LV:

With LV a trip is generally considered to have started when the customer leaves their home, but it told us it is still possible to buy cover up until the point you leave the UK – so even on the plane. 

A few specialist insurers allow consumers to buy travel insurance while already on holiday

A few specialist insurers allow consumers to buy travel insurance while already on holiday

Post Office:

With the Post Office travel insurance policies can be bought while you’re in the airport, but not when you’ve boarded the plane.

There are a number of Post Office branches in some UK airports where insurance can also be bought.   

Saga:

Saga told us its policies are designed for people to buy before they leave their home. However, it did say it takes requests on a case by case basis and if someone got to the airport and realised they had forgotten to buy insurance they could call the insurer and ask about buying cover.    

Swinton:

Swinton says its travel insurance policies are valid from the moment you buy them and although it strongly advises against it, it says it is possible to buy a policy when you’re on your holiday.

It’s the only one of the mainstream insurers that allows this and a spokesperson told us ‘it is possible in theory to buy insurance while on holiday too, but if you do this, you would only be covered from that day and wouldn’t be covered for any events taking place before that exact point.’  

Virgin:

Travel insurance is available to buy from Virgin Money as long as you have not left the UK.      

Can you get insurance while you’re on holiday? 

Although all the mainstream insurers we spoke to told us you would need to buy insurance before you arrived at your holiday destination, there are a few specialist insurers who can help.

TrueTravellor and Towegate both sell insurance to those who are already on holiday, which is valid as soon as you buy it.

However, you can only claim if nothing has already occurred which is related to the claim, such as if you are already feeling unwell and then buy the insurance and claim for something related to the illness. 

TrueTravellor also says you are not able to claim for the first 48 hours after you buy the policy – although it does say it looks at claims on a case by case basis so if something did happen to you within this period, you should call it to find out if you can claim. 

HOW TO CUT THE COST OF YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE 

Travel insurance is essential for your holiday and booking early means if you have to cancel the holiday because someone in the party is too ill to travel, for example, you’ll be able to get your money back.

It’s worth looking into as soon as you have the holiday booked as if you don’t have it and need to cancel you’ll lose the money.

There’s lots of websites around and the quickest way to find a policy is by checking a few comparison websites, plus insurers that do not list on them such as Direct Line and Aviva.

Once you’ve found a policy make sure it has the correct cover amounts for your family and that you’ve told the insurer about anything affecting the policy – such as if someone has a pre-existing health condition. 

Watch out for the excess, often the overall price will look like a bargain but if you have to pay a huge excess than it may not be such a good deal. 

> Try This is Money’s MoneySupermarket-powered insurance finder tool  

 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

NDP leadership candidates Confront Throughout French-language debate in Montreal

28 Aug 17
alibhai
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The four NDP leadership hopefuls tread carefully on Sunday when they were asked to weigh in on Quebec’s ongoing discussion over faith and identity during a French-language discussion in Montreal.

Manitoba MP Niki Ashton, Quebec MP Guy Caron and Ontario MP Charlie Angus and Ontario legislature member Jagmeet Singh were asked concerning the Quebec government’s proposed legislation which sets guidelines for adapting religious requests.

The bill attempts to enshrine into law the policy that all people giving or receiving a service from the nation has to do so with their face detected.

Caron chose to handle the problem in his opening statement, saying it was important to fight racism and Islamophobia but also to support Quebec’s right to make its own decisions about the matter.

“Rejecting secularism because we think it is only racism is fundamentally misunderstanding Quebec,” he told a packed room at Montreal’s Club Soda.

Singh, who has said he is against the bill, said he does not think the state should be in a position to dictate what people wear, but he believes that the state has laws in place to ensure rights are protected.

In his opening statement, he also seemed to admit critics’ fears that Quebec voters will reject him because of his own visible symbols of religion.

“I am not here to convince you to take my turban, nor my beard,” said Singh, who is Sikh. “What I wish to convince you is that I am somebody who shares the same values as you.”

Ashton and Angus also disagreed with the notion that the state ought to be in a position to dictate what a person wears but refrained from criticizing the Quebec government.

“It is absolutely crucial that we stand up for people rights and the people’s liberty. Additionally, it is important we honor Quebec,” Ashton said.

Angus expressed a similar sentiment, saying it was important to know’s Quebec’s struggle for the separation of church and state during the silent revolution of the 1960s.

“I am confident that the dialogue in Quebec is going to cause a balance between the rights of people and the need to keep the secularism of society,” he told reporters following the discussion, while falling to state precisely where the line ought to be drawn.

The question of faith and identity was a thorny problem for the NDP in the last federal election, and one which could have contributed to the party’s slide in a state that had formerly helped vault it to official Opposition status.

Thomas Mulcair’s insistence that women should have a right to wear a veil at citizenship ceremonies is considered by some to have cost the party crucial support.

The NDP now holds 16 seats in Quebec — well below the 59 it claimed in its historical breakthrough in the state in 2011 under Jack Layton’s leadership.

Early questions centered on the tide of asylum seekers crossing from the USA, the government role in supporting the state’s aerospace business, and Premier Philippe Couillard’s plan to resume cross-cultural discussions on Quebec’s role in Canada.

All four candidates criticized Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for rejecting any possibility of re-opening the constitution, together with Caron and Singh accusing him of “slamming the door” on the state.

All the candidates expressed themselves fluently in French, with Singh and Angus sometimes having to look for words.

Caron is the race’s only francophone and the only candidate from Quebec.

Members of the NDP will vote for the successor to outgoing leader Thomas Mulcair on Sept. 18.

Also on the Planet and Mail

Mike Duffy litigation about therapy after acquittal: attorney (The Canadian Press)

Quebec tuning out NDP leadership race, Survey finds

27 Aug 17
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The NDP came closest to forming government as it almost swept Quebec in 2011, however, the state has largely turned its back to the social-democratic party and tuned out of its continuing leadership race, a new Léger poll has found.

Asked who they would like as the next leader of the NDP, 80 percent of Quebeckers said they didn’t understand (58 percent) or refused to pick (22 percent) among the four candidates in the race.

While a high number of Quebeckers were unaware of Ontario MPP Jagmeet Singh’s candidacy, a large portion said they’d be more reluctant to encourage a Sikh who wears a turban in the next election. While 55 percent of respondents said they wouldn’t be impacted by Mr. Singh’s religious headgear, 28 percent said it would “discourage” them from supporting him.

The survey found the only Quebec MP at the race, Guy Caron, was the favored candidate of 10 percent of respondents in his home state, ahead of Mr. Singh (4 percent), Ontario MP Charlie Angus (3 percent) and Manitoba MP Niki Ashton (2 percent).

NDP members will begin voting for a new leader in mid-September, but 68 percent of Quebeckers said they weren’t interested in the race to replace Tom Mulcair.

The poll is being published just prior to the NDP holds a French-only discussion in Montreal on Sunday. The figures stand to dampen the hopes of anyone hoping to replicate the party’s breakthrough in the state six decades back, when then-leader Jack Layton struck a chord with Quebeckers with his folksy demeanour.

“These are extremely discouraging numbers for the NDP in Quebec,” said Christian Bourque, executive vice-president in Léger. “The least we can say is that the 2011 Orange Wave is a distant memory.”

The NDP won 59 seats in Quebec in 2011, but that number fell to 16 in 2015 since the Liberals came back to power.

Over all, the Liberal Party of Canada remains the dominant political force in Quebec with 43-per-cent support, well before the NDP (19 percent), the Bloc Québécois (16 percent) and the Conservative Party (15 percent).

Mr. Caron released a stage centered on Quebec issues this week, saying his party suffered in the 2015 election from a deficiency of a certain policies to attract support in the state. He said a future NDP government ought to be ready to enter into constitutional negotiations with Quebec and should honor the state’s right to enact laws to prohibit face coverings for those giving or receiving government agencies.

“Being strong in Quebec is vital to being able to convince people throughout the nation that we’re in a position to form the next government,” he explained in an interview. “Losing our roots in the state are a clear setback and negate the work that has been accomplished by Jack.”

Mr. Caron, who’s bilingual, said Sunday’s debate is going to be a clear test for the other candidates from outside Quebec to showcase their skills in French.

Ms. Ashton said she’s convinced her aid in progressive circles, namely one of various activist groups, can grow across the province.

“I have definitely seen a desire for rebuilding the party, and especially rebuilding the party based on progressive values,” stated Ms. Ashton, who’s a product of French-immersion classes.

Mr. Angus said he’s convinced he can win the support of Quebeckers which was first obtained by Mr. Layton, who represented a Toronto riding in the home.

“Jack chose to build the party in Quebec, and I am dedicated to carrying that vision forward,” said Mr. Angus, who’s still working on his French-language abilities. “What the Quebec part [of the party] and the Quebec people are searching for is a leader who knows the Quebec perspective, but who can also bring that perspective to the rest of the nation.”

The Léger poll of 1,002 Quebeckers was conducted between Monday and Thursday of this week, offering a margin of error of three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Also on the Planet and Mail

Feds increasing processing capacity for Quebec asylum seekers (The Canadian Press)

Why loyalty to your insurer gets you nowhere

26 Aug 17
alibhai
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  • Probe finds shows widespread disillusionment among customers of top firms
  • Customers who stuck with their insurer believe their loyalty has been abused
  • Home or car insurance is being routinely offered to new customers cheaper

The multi-billion pound insurance industry, which ridiculously badges itself as a national success story, is discriminating against millions of loyal customers in the relentless pursuit of new business.

A major probe into the seedy world of insurance by The Mail on Sunday, based on the views of hundreds of readers, shows widespread disillusionment among many former longstanding customers of some of the biggest insurance brands in the country.

Customers who until recently have religiously stuck with their insurer through thick and thin believe their loyalty over the years has been abused. 

Our probe, based on the views of hundreds of readers, shows widespread disillusionment among many former longstanding customers of some of the biggest insurance brands

Our probe, based on the views of hundreds of readers, shows widespread disillusionment among many former longstanding customers of some of the biggest insurance brands

They are angered by the fact that the cover they have or had – typically home or car insurance – is being routinely offered by their insurer to new customers at a far cheaper price.

They are also annoyed that some of the worst offenders are firms marketing themselves as elderly friendly, such as Rias and Saga, which sell cover to the over-50s.

Though a rising number of people are now wise to the anti-loyalty stance adopted by most insurers and either shop around at renewal or bargain with their provider, they remain aghast that companies are not interested in rewarding loyalty. 

Some customers – such as Steve Taylor (see box) – now rotate their insurance providers so as to extract the keenest priced premiums.

James Daley, a consumer champion at website Fairer Finance, says our analysis highlights the ‘dysfunctionality’ of the insurance market and confirms the need for a major overhaul of its practices.

Recent regulatory action, he says, has been directed at encouraging customers to shop around more for insurance. Although welcome, he fears that those customers who remain loyal – either through a sense of duty or inertia – will be discriminated against more than ever.

CASE STUDY 1: I SWITCH TO KEEP MY PREMIUMS DOWN

Strategy: Steve Taylor with his Aston Martin DBS and classic Jaguar SS 100

Strategy: Steve Taylor with his Aston Martin DBS and classic Jaguar SS 100

As a management consultant, Steve Taylor saw with his own eyes the money firms waste soliciting new business through the front door – while leaving the back door open for rivals to poach their customers.

Steve, now retired, has witnessed staff being incentivised to sell while no encouragement was given to provide an adequate service to loyal customers. The insurance industry, he says, is among the worst in this regard and has failed to learn the lesson that it is far more cost effective to retain rather than recruit customers.

It is why Steve, 61, always shops around for car insurance for his three cars – a Jaguar SS 100, an Aston Martin DBS and a Range Rover Vogue SE.

Steve, from Orsett in Essex, says: ‘I have yet to find an insurer who is prepared to cover my three cars on a single policy. As a result I have three separate policies.

‘My approach is to find an acceptable insurer for each vehicle. Then on renewal I invariably switch. In year three, I switch again, usually back to my first insurer, which has all my details, and tends to offer a premium close to what I paid first time around.

‘In year four, I revert to the insurer in year two. It is an approach I find works well and keeps costs under control.’

For example, with his Range Rover Vogue, Steve was insured with Saga in 2014, then Privilege a year later before going back to Saga last year.

On the Aston DBS, he has rotated between insurers Saga, Admiral and Flux. He is currently with Admiral.

‘Loyalty just does not pay,’ he says.

Insurance costs are on the rise generally, a result of tax hikes (insurance premium tax) and, in the case of car cover, Government changes that have resulted in insurers paying out more for personal injury claims.

Experts state motor premiums are rising on average by between 11 per cent (Association of British Insurers) and 18 per cent (comparison website Confused). 

Increases for home cover are gentler, at seven per cent. But these averages hide some shocking rises insurers are trying to pass on to longstanding customers, who are usually elderly.

Dennis Herbert is a retired train driver from Tyseley, Birmingham. Now aged 83, he is proud of the fact that in 65 years of driving he has never made an insurance claim.

For the past 35 years he has tootled around in a Mini Clubman Estate, a car that regularly draws admiration from people in the street who want to buy it.

He says: ‘Nobody apart from myself and when it goes in for an MOT has ever put a spanner on it.’

Despite Dennis’s exemplary driving record and the fact he drives no more than 250 miles a year – a result of having to care for his wife who is stricken with Alzheimer’s – his longstanding insurer LV= took a different view.

In May it quoted him £456 to renew his cover – a jump of nearly 19 per cent on the year before and an increase over two years in excess of 25 per cent.

Annoyed, he rang LV= to see if he could get the quote reduced but it refused to budge. So he went to classic car specialist Lancaster Insurance which offered him equivalent cover for £255.

 

HOW INDUSTRY RESPONDED TO OUR FINDINGS 

We asked the industry to respond to our findings of widespread dysfunction in the market.

The Association of British Insurers said: ‘Insurance is a competitive market with many existing customers shopping around to get the right policy for their needs at the best price.

‘We recognise that no competitive market is perfect and relies on customers shopping around to get the best deal, including taking advantage of any introductory discounts.

‘We and our members want a market that operates in the best interests of customers. This is why we pushed for the changes brought in earlier this year by the regulator, such as showing the existing premium on renewal notices. This should encourage customers to review their cover and consider other deals.

‘We continue to work to support a market that remains competitive, with choice and transparency for both existing and new customers.

‘This includes engaging with the regulator as it continues to look at how the general market operates.’

Pleased with his success, he challenged his home insurer Co-op Insurance when his policy came up for renewal. 

Despite being with the Co-op since 1968 when he bought his house, it wanted to increase his premium 19 per cent to £238. Again, when it refused to reduce the quote, he found alternative cover with the Post Office for £197 – less than he had paid the Co-op last year.

Dennis says: ‘My years of loyalty meant nothing to either Co-op or LV=. Changing providers was a bit daunting at my age, but I was not going to have my finances impaired by inflated insurance premiums.’

A Number of insurers market themselves as being elderly friendly or catering for a specific profession. But this does not mean customers get a fair deal. Far from it. 

Retired police officer Brian Hodgson has always trusted Police Mutual for insurance. It was set up nearly 100 years ago to look after the financial welfare of police officers, serving and retired. 

But when he recently received notice of sharp premium increases for both his home and car insurance, he decided enough was enough. Having never made a claim in more than 50 years of being with the insurer, he made enquiries elsewhere and found cheaper cover. 

Now aged 82, Brian – from Whickham in Durham – feels as if he has been exploited. ‘All the time I thought I was being treated favourably when I was not,’ he says. ‘Shame on them for failing to reward my loyalty.’

He is not a lone voice. A recent letter in the magazine for members of the National Association of Retired Police Officers raised similar concerns about officers thinking they were getting special deals when they were not. ‘Buyer beware,’ it warned.

Readers have also complained about big price hikes at over-50s insurers Saga and Rias. John Todman, who has been with Saga for 15 years, was shocked to be told his car insurance premium would increase nearly 52 per cent this month. 

When he contacted Saga, he was told the increase was a general rise throughout the insurance industry.

John, from Salisbury in Wiltshire, has now found cover cheaper than he had been paying with Saga. ‘It is irksome that 15 years of loyalty counts for nothing,’ he says.

Peter Smith, from Broadstairs in Kent, is angry about his treatment at the hands of Rias.

Aged 63, he is proud that he has a longstanding record of no claims on car insurance. When he bought a second car late last year – a Kia Sportage to complement his Kia Magentis – he asked Rias whether it did multi-car discounts. 

He was told no. The result was a quote for £993. If he paid monthly, he would have paid an effective surcharge of 24 per cent.

Shocked, he found cover a third of the price from LV=. Then when his Kia Magentis came up for renewal in May, he decided to move away from Rias, again in favour of LV=.

‘Rias seemed put out when I upped sticks,’ says Peter. ‘But it was a no brainer. I now have my two cars insured for a price less than it wanted to cover just my Magentis. Of course, loyalty should be rewarded but it is a word lost on insurers.’

CASE STUDY 2: I’M BETTER OFF AFTER RENEWAL WAS BLOCKED

When Pat McLaughlin’s car cover came up for renewal last month, he assumed all would be fine.

He had built up 11 years of no claims bonuses and had cut his mileage in his Seat Alhambra people carrier from 13,000 to 10,000 a year.

All seemed tickety-boo. Yet his insurer, Direct Line, was not interested. It declined him cover.

Bewildered, Pat, 66, who has retired after running a successful exhibitions firm, sought an explanation, only to be told that the underwriters ‘don’t like it’.

Subsequent phone calls got him no further, so he took out cover with A-Plan. 

Then, when his home insurance, also with Direct Line, on his house in Ringwood, Hampshire, came up for renewal this month, he took great pleasure in moving it, again to A-Plan.

‘The nice thing,’ he says, ‘is that now my wife and I have car and home insurance which costs us £60 a year less than last year.’

Insurers are now required by the regulator to provide policyholders with details of their existing premium when they give a renewal quote. It means customers can see the price hike they face without having to search for old paperwork.

Armed with the renewal notice, all policyholders should then use a comparison website – the likes of Confused and Gocompare – to see if they can find equivalent cover elsewhere at a cheaper price.

If they can – invariably policyholders will – they should go back to their existing insurer and ask if it is prepared to match or slightly undercut the price offered by the cheaper provider. Some firms will relent at this point. If they do not, move away.

This strategy is now employed by many policyholders, including Steve Lewis, a retired 64-year-old management consultant from Alvechurch in Worcestershire.

Steve, married to 59-year-old Jo, shops around for all his main household bills as a matter of course – home and car insurance, car breakdown cover, boiler breakdown insurance and gas and electricity supplier.

‘It’s simple,’ he says. ‘When cover comes up for renewal I compare it against rivals to see if I can get the same cheaper. 

‘I then ring my existing provider and ask whether it will reduce the renewal quote on the basis I am a valued customer.’ 

It is a strategy that pays off handsomely. After insuring the home with Castle Cover for five years, he moved this year to Legal & General saving £137 in the process – the L&G cover is also slightly better.

After 20 years of car breakdown cover with the RAC, he switched this year to the AA, paying £139 instead of the £191 the RAC wanted. On car insurance he stuck with Castle, but only after getting the original quote reduced from £332 to £290.

Steve says: ‘It took me many years to realise a phone call with a threat to move cover – or an actual move – could be so financially rewarding. I hope that with the advent of comparison websites and growing computer literacy fewer of the older generation will be milked dry.’

He would also like all renewal notices to be more transparent. Steve says: ‘The letter should state: ‘We’ve reviewed your claims history and length of time with us and this is the lowest quote we can offer. 

‘Please contact us ONLY if you want to renew your insurance. If you can find a lower quote elsewhere we are sorry to see you go’.’

 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Trudeau could use a few more experienced Cupboard hands

26 Aug 17
alibhai
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For a time prior to the previous federal election, it seemed that Justin Trudeau’s candidate ranks in Ontario would be overrun with high profile provincial Liberals.

But despite considerable interest from former members of ex-premier Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet in making a move to Ottawa, all but one — Peter Fonseca, a small player provincially who’d made an unsuccessful federal run earlier — were absent from ballots come election day.

That wasn’t an accident: Mr. Trudeau’s campaign staff, despite its top members having cut their teeth Mr. McGuinty’s backrooms, signalled they were interested in having new faces in their front lines. A similar lack of excitement has been conveyed to prominent members of national Liberal governments past as they mulled comebacks: It wasn’t time for retreads tainted by scandal or overly used to old ways of doing things.

As an election strategy, it was a great call. And the Liberals recruited well enough from the private sector and non-political corners of the public sector which Mr. Trudeau didn’t lack for talent when putting together his cabinet.

But while the Liberals approach the halfway point of the first mandate, they have reason to sometimes want their caucus included a couple more experienced political hands. Then they may have a couple more ready-made troubleshooters — individuals who, having waded through political and bureaucratic muck when running big ministries before, understand what to do when they encounter it today — at a time when they are really beginning to need them.

That need was brought into sharp relief this week, as Judy Foote announced she won’t be returning as Public Works and Procurement Minister, after leaving the job in April for family reasons.

Courtesy of the Phoenix payroll system — a {}300-million debacle that the Liberals inherited from the Conservatives, originally underestimated as a issue and are now fighting to mend — there are few messier articles into that a minister could now measure.

Cleaning up that new system, which has caused tens of thousands of federal workers to be underpaid or not paid in any way, is essential if the Liberals need a co-operative public support at their disposal (not to mention if they care about fundamental fairness). Additionally, it claims to be unglamorous, exceptionally complicated and often unpleasant until those affected have less cause to be angry. To put it differently, it’s precisely the type of thing into which a government might throw a veteran fixer unlikely to be swallowed whole by it.

The Liberals, however, don’t have lots of those. One of the handful of long-time MPs who served in the cabinets of Jean Chrétien or Paul Martin, the only one who really springs to mind is Ralph Goodale — along with his present job at Public Safety is probably too important for him to be transferred elsewhere.

The majority of the rest are still learning at work. That is fine and healthy in several ministries, energizing even, but it makes them ill-suited to something like Public Works in the present time.

Additionally, it means that, inevitably, there’ll be more cleanups needed at some point — either to issues ministers have created in their own, or to people that arise from circumstance. (The current wave of asylum seekers across the Canada-U.S. boundary may be an instance of the latter, even though it’s too early to judge either that issue’s longevity or Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen’s ability to contend with this.)

A few of the novices may soon prove invaluable problem-solvers, and possibly some are already. There is a reason why Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr has been doing double-duty in Public Works — serving as a stop-gap, if not having enough time to actually take ownership of the documents. The more complex the issue, the longer it often takes to materialize, so other prospective troubleshooters may yet have time to collect experience. And perhaps the amount of leeway Mr. Trudeau is giving his ministers to do their jobs, certainly relative to his immediate predecessor, will help with that.

But it should not be completely written off that through the majority of Stephen Harper’s time in office, he leaned heavily on Jim Flaherty, John Baird and Tony Clement — three ministers currently cabinet-tested in Ontario. The latter {}, while occasionally their own sources of controversy, were deployed to browse postings that bemused colleagues.

It would be too late, and possibly misguided, for the Liberals to rethink their emphasis on new faces. Without it, they may not have gotten the opportunity to govern. Handling the drudgery of authorities, they just might regret it was not more palatable to enlist an additional person or two who’d been there before.

Also on the Planet and Mail

Trudeau forecasts winner in McGregor-Mayweather bout (The Canadian Press)

A fifth of spend money they don’t have because of FOMO

25 Aug 17
alibhai
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  • Two-fifths claim to regularly dip into their savings to finance their nights out
  • People in Leeds are biggest spenders on socialising, forking out £3.5k a year
  • Londoners spend the most on taxis, while Mancunians the most on presents

So-called FOMO, or fear of missing out – the contemporary anxiety that someone else, somewhere else, may be having a good time without you – does not only make you feel miserable.

If you succumb to it often, it can break your wallet too. A survey of 2,000 people looking at Britons’ spending on social occasions across UK regions revealed that a fifth said to spend money they don’t have for fear of missing out.

Peer pressure also plays into the equation, with a similar proportion splashing out on friends to avoid looking stingy even though they don’t really have enough money. 

FOMO and peer pressure often push people to overspend in social situations, survey suggests

FOMO and peer pressure often push people to overspend in social situations, survey suggests

One in ten, or 13 per cent, say they often spend more money than they are comfortable with and two-fifths claim to regularly dip into their savings to finance their packed social calendar, according to the survey by Barclays.

But FOMO or not, going out with friends or colleagues for drinks or dinner, buying them presents or going out partying can take up a big chunk of your money.

Surprisingly, the biggest spenders on social occasions are not those living in expensive London, but people living in Leeds, who fork out £3,500 a year, which makes it a whopping £213,000 over the course of a lifetime.

Londoners come only in third place, after Bristolians, spending on average £3,180 a year, compared to their peers in Bristol, who spend £3,300.

This means that over the span of a lifetime, which is calculated by the average length of ‘adult lifetime’ (60.3 years) provided by the Office of National Statistics, Londoners spend £192,000 on socialising, while Bristolians £199,000.

Londoners are the biggest spenders on taxis and most likely to dip into their savings to afford nights out

Londoners are the biggest spenders on taxis and most likely to dip into their savings to afford nights out

Social spending in all these three cities is above the UK average, which stands at £150,000, while residents in Cardiff, Newcastle and Manchester spend a bit less than the country’s average – £128,000, £135,900 and £143,900 respectively.

Bristolians fork out the most on nights out with friends, admitting to paying an average of £2,576 a year.

Londoners, on the other hand, are the biggest spenders on taxis, racking up a total fare of £38,700 in a lifetime, and on work nights out, which cost them almost £53,000 over their lifetime. 

10 cities that spend the most on socialising

1. Leeds £213,245 

2. Bristol £199,617 

3. London £192,028 

4. Edinburgh £180,119 

5. Birmingham £170,068 

6. Liverpool £161,012 

7. Glasgow £150,372 

8. Manchester £143,910 

9. Newcastle £135,951 

10. Cardiff £128,572

UK AVERAGE: £150,00 

Londoners are also those most likely to dip into their savings to afford nights out with friends and feel the most pressure to spend money on their partners, according to the survey. 

Mancunians are the biggest spenders on presents, about £70 a year, while those living in Leeds spend the most on parties, about £81 a year. 

Pressure and anxiety are often behind a big chunk of money spent on going out and meeting friends, Barclays survey seems to suggest.

The people of Edinburgh, for example, worry the most about appearing tight with money, with over a quarter thinking their friends will judge them if they attempt to be frugal.

Those living in Newcastle feel the most peer pressure, with a fifth claiming friends often coerce them into overspending on nights out, while those in Birmingham are the most likely to fall out with friends over money.

And residents of Cardiff, who believe themselves to be the most popular, are also the most guilty of spending money for fear of missing out, with a fifth admitting to dishing out the dough due to FOMO.

Barclays also found that Mancunians are the least conscious of friends with less money than them, with a quarter not bothered if their friends can afford social occasions, so long as they themselves can.

People in Cardiff are the most guilty of spending money for fear of missing out, with a fifth admitting to dishing the dough due to FOMO

People in Cardiff are the most guilty of spending money for fear of missing out, with a fifth admitting to dishing the dough due to FOMO

Clare Francis, savings and investments director at Barclays, said the research highlighted the impact that peer pressure and FOMO can have on people’s finances, particularly during this period of high inflation. 

She said: ‘But popularity doesn’t need to come at a cost. For anyone feeling under pressure to overspend, take the time to consider whether you’d rather be putting that money towards your long-term financial goals.

‘True friends will be considerate when you say you can’t afford something, and there are always cheaper alternatives when it comes to having a good time.

‘Voicing your concerns now could make a big difference to your finances in the long term, as there is no time like the present to start saving for your future.’ 

TOP FIVE TIPS FOR BUDGETING FOR SOCIAL OCCASIONS

Claire Francis, savings and investments director at Barclays, has these five tips

A night in with friends

Social occasions can be a considerable drain on your finances and if you’re not careful, the cost can get out of control – a new outfit, drinks, food, taxi fare, it all adds up. Instead of going out, why not try staying in? This doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a dull affair. You could host a cocktail party and ask everyone to bring a bottle of spirit or mixer, or have tapas and TV party and ask each friend to bring one dish. There are lots of ways to spend quality time with friends without breaking the bank. After all, a good time indoors is still a good time.

The friends sharing economy

In a recent survey, Barclays found that a third of people living in the UK would be interested in having a monthly cap on the amount they could spend in their favourite stores. This is because we are a nation of impulse buyers, but while it might be tempting to buy a new outfit for every night out, the cost can often be too high. Instead of buying that new dress, why not swap one of yours with a friend’s? Open up the conversation and find the people in your group that are open to making an exchange and roll with it. You never know, your old ‘rag’ might be just what they’ve been looking for.

Free activities

There is a tendency among Brits to spend a lot of money when they go out with friends, but it’s not always necessary. With summer officially here, why not spend an afternoon in the park. Or for rainy days, take a trip to a free museum or an art gallery. Try going out without spending money anything – you’ll discover there are lots of ways to have fun without breaking the bank. If you’re looking for inspiration, head online and find recommendations on local websites and money saving forums.

Plan ahead and start saving early

If planning a big social event with a group of friends (say a holiday or a hen or stag do), consider setting up a standing order. You and your mates can make regular monthly payments over a period of time so that when the time comes to go away, your trip will already be paid for. And importantly, it will be paid for in a regular way that won’t leave you feeling cash-strapped. Another great way to save is by setting up a flexi-saver account or Cash ISA to run alongside your regular savings account. Putting away even £50 a month can make a real difference when it comes to paying for those big social occasions.

Set a monthly budget

Our research found that a significant number of people often spend money with friends due to fear of missing out or because of peer pressure, but there are easy ways to avoid this. Create a monthly budget (based on your incomings and out-goings) and set aside a figure that is specifically saved for social occasions. If you want to go a step further, then create a separate pot for ‘last minute invitations’. If you’re really struggling for cash though, don’t be afraid to say no. Your friends will forgive you! 

 

 





Courtesy: Daily Mail Online

Scheer suggests designating illegal border crossings as official

25 Aug 17
alibhai
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Opposition leader Andrew Scheer says the Liberal government must designate the illegal entry points into Canada being used by tens of thousands of asylum seekers as official crossings.

Scheer says that is one way the government can stop a scenario that’s created havoc not only at the border but within the Canadian immigration system as a whole.

Nearly 10,000 people are apprehended crossing illegally into Canada in the U.S. since January, with a significant spike since July in individuals crossing at one specific spot in Quebec.

The reason they’re opting to come through unofficial openings at the border is an agreement between Canada and the U.S. that precludes individuals from making asylum claims at official land border points.

Scheer says if the crossing in Quebec and another in Emerson, Man., were designated official, that would deal with the issue and send a signal to people in the U.S. they can not simply cross and receive asylum.

The Conservative leader says Canadians are quickly losing faith in the government’s capacity to deal with the situation, regardless of the prime minister’s contention that it is all under control.

Also on the Planet and Mail

Trudeau: No ‘shortcutting’ immigration measures for asylum seekers (The Canadian Press)