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Month: November 2018

Recent research conducted by national poverty charity, Turn2us, estimated that around 400,000 people in the UK aren’t claiming the Carer’s Allowance they’re entitled to each year.

If you care for someone receiving certain types of disability benefit for more than 35 hours a week, you may be eligible for carer’s allowance, which is a benefit of £64.50 a week (an additional £3,359.20 a year).

This allowance is aimed towards helping unpaid carers, and claiming it means you will also automatically receive national insurance credits to fill any gaps you may have in your national insurance tax record and qualify you for other benefits such as the state pension.

Who is eligible for carer’s allowance?

In order to be eligible to claim for carer’s allowance, you must be aged 16 or over and earning £120 or less a week after tax and expenses.

What’s more, the person you care for must receive one of these benefits in order for you to be able to claim your allowance:

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment

We cover more about Carer’s Allowance and other benefits you may be entitled to here.

With over 7 million carers in the UK and many of those people being unpaid carers looking after a family member or friend, it’s more important than ever to ensure that you are claiming the benefits you’re entitled to in order to make life that bit easier.

David Samson, welfare benefit projects manager at Turn2us, said: “We implore anyone who cares for over 35 hours a week to do a benefits check to see what their entitlements are.”

Next Friday 30th November is Carers Rights Day, an annual event which aims to increase awareness of the needs of carers, as well as inform carers where they can get more help and support.

It is a day organised by the charity Carers UK, and is arguably more important than ever with recent news reports showing the increasing percentage of the population that have become unpaid carers.

A recent survey showed that there are currently an estimated 6.5 million unpaid carers in the UK (1 in 10 of the entire population), with 3 million unpaid carers juggling their caring responsibilities with work, family, and other roles.

In 2015, it was revealed that 8 out of 10 carers have felt isolated or lonely as a result of looking after a loved one, so the need to help carers find the support and help they need and to raise awareness of the social exclusion many carers experience is more important than ever.

Ahead of Carers Rights Day, we’ve collected some of the most important things you need to know as a carer and the benefits you may be entitled to:

Carer’s Allowance

Carer’s Allowance is the main welfare benefit available to support people who care for someone for more than 35 hours a week.  In order to be eligible for carer’s allowance, you do need to fulfil certain requirements, as does the person you care for.

You may be eligible for Carer’s Allowance if you:

    – Care for someone at least 35 hours/week
    – Are aged 16 or over
    – Are no longer in full-time education or studying for more than 21 hours/week
    – Earn less than £116/week after taxes, care costs, and 50% of what you pay into your pension.

Find out more about Carer’s Allowance in our full guide.

Carer’s Credit

Carer’s credit is available if you are caring for someone for at least 20 hours per week, and do not receive Carer’s Allowance. To be eligible you must:

    – Be 16 or over
    – Be under State Pension age
    – Care for one or more people for 20 hours/week minimum

Carer’s Credit is a National Insurance contribution that bridges gaps in your National Insurance record that could otherwise cause you to lose social security benefits in the future, such as the State Pension.  The person you care for must receive one of the following benefits in order for you to be eligible for Carer’s Credit:

    – Disability Living Allowance (middle or highest rate)
    – Constant Attendance Allowance
    – Attendance Allowance
    – Personal Independence Payment
    – Armed Forces Independence Payment

Direct Payments

Direct Payments are available from Health and Social Care Trusts and are available to people who are assessed as needing support form social services. If you are a carer aged 16 or over, you can usually receive a direct payment.

You can use your direct payments to buy services the Trust agrees you need in order to support you in your role as a carer, such as services from an organisation, or for employing someone to provide you with more help.

Respite for Carers

Aside from the benefits you may be entitled to, there are ways you can find respite as a carer and receive more support in your role.

Take a look at our guide to Respite for Carers: How to Get a Break for all the different ways you can find more support as a carer.

Carers Rights Day has organisations across the UK hosting events and activities dedicated to raising awareness for carers. Check out the Carers UK page for more information and to see how you could get involved.

Many people currently see self-storage as a temporary solution for holding their possessions while renovating, moving house, or when you’re in need of freeing up some extra space in your home.

However, with many affordable options, self-storage is actually ideal for more long-term use, and for the newly retired, it offers an ideal solution for any life changes you may choose to make.

Below, we’ve highlighted some of the top reasons self-storage could be a great option for you if you’re retired.

Protection from Theft and Fire

Self-storage provides a safe and secure place to store your valuable items if you’re worried about them being stolen or damaged in your own home.

Whether you are out the house frequently, or just worried about the safety of your belongings, most storage facilities are manned 24/7 with CCTV, locked gates, and security to ensure no authorised people get on-site.

What’s more, our storage insurance covers the value of your belongings so that if anything were to get accidentally damaged or even stolen, you’re covered.

More Room If You’re Down-Sizing

It’s not uncommon to downsize once you’ve retired, whether that’s because you need less space or because a smaller home is easier to maintain.

However, you may not want to part ways with all of your belongings just because you’re moving into a smaller home – and storage is the perfect solution to keeping your things safe without taking up valuable space in your home.

Keep Your Items Safe When Travelling

No more work means a lot more spare time – and many newly retired couples make plans to see more of the world.

If you’re concerned about the belongings you’ll be leaving behind while you travel, opting to keep them in an affordable self-storage unit will give you the added peace of mind that your possessions are safe and secure at home.

At Surewise.com, we pride ourselves on providing affordable storage insurance to cover you against a range of unexpected incidents, from fire and flooding to theft.

What’s more, 99% of people find they save on Storage Insurance when shopping with us rather than going directly through a storage provider. Click here to get your customised quote today.

InsuranceInsurance premiums take a chunk out of your wallet over time. But they pale in comparison to the loss you’d suffer for being uninsured in the event of an accident or theft. Insurance is worth the price, especially as certain types are required by law.

Insurance premiums, however, are not set in stone. You can reduce your payments in a number of ways while still benefitting from the safety net. Most of them revolve around reducing your risk to the insurer, but there are some other policy loop-holes that you may not even be aware of. Let’s take a look at some important insurance types, and what you can do to get yourself a better deal.

Car Insurance

  • Get your details in order

The following information affects your insurance premiums:

  • Your job
  • Your mileage

The objective is not to manipulate this information to suit your ends, but rather to be as accurate as possible. While it’s true that lower mileage per year will result in a lower insurance premium, deliberately misrepresenting your mileage will result in harsh penalties, so it’s not worth the risk.

On the other hand, being precise about your job description can be beneficial. For example, according to Moneywise.co.uk, a restaurateur would pay £800 on their premiums while a café owner would pay £707. So if you run a café and you’re wondering what’s the difference between writing ‘restaurant owner’ and ‘café owner’ on the application form, the answer is about £100 per month.

  • Reduce risk

It works like this, the lower the perceived risk to insurers, the lower your insurance premiums. Now, telling your insurance provider that you’re a “really good driver” may not have the desired effect. Fortunately there are tangible ways to reduce your risk profile. For example, improving your car’s security will convince the insurer that there is less risk in approving your policy application.

Some ways in which you can improve your car security include installing an alarm system, and parking it in a garage rather than on the street. You can visit the Thatcham website to see whether your car complies with expected security standards.

  • Put someone else on the same insurance package

It doesn’t even matter if the person is a younger, less experienced driver than you, nor does it matter how frequently they actually use the car. Just having an additional person driving the car is perceived as a reduced risk by the insurance company.

  • Go old-school

Insurers offer lower premiums on ‘classic’ vehicles. The reasoning for this is that if you own a classic, you’re more likely to drive it carefully so as to avoid damaging your prized possession.

Now you may be thinking, well that’s all very well and good, but then I’d have to drive a battered old vehicle. Well, it turns out that definitions of what constitutes a “classic” are quite lenient, and may even extend to some modern vehicles. According to specialist broker Footman James, Jaguars more than 5 years old are ‘classic’. BMWs need to be more than 10 years old to earn the classic label.

So you could end up driving a rather modern, snazzy looking vehicle with even cheaper car insurance than your friend’s newer model.

  • Raise your excess

Excess is the amount you agree to contribute towards claims. For example, if your excess is £100, and you make a claim for £300, you have to contribute £100 towards the claim while the insurer covers the rest, which in this case would be £200.

The insurance package will usually have a compulsory excess, but you can volunteer to raise your excess, which will in turn lower your insurance premiums. The downside, of course, is that you’ll get less back on a claim, but on bigger claims the insurer will still be covering a significant proportion.

  • Less is less

Pay careful attention to what your new insurance package includes. Some of the coverage may be things for which you are already insured on a different product. For example, some banks might offer car breakdown cover as part of their service, so don’t be lured into paying for optional extras on your insurance policy that you’re already covered for elsewhere.

  • Pay insurance premiums annually rather than monthly

A tried-and-tested method of reducing your insurance premium is to pay annually rather than monthly. This has a lot to do with whether or not your insurance company charges you interest on instalments.

According to MoneyAdviceService.org.uk, you can save up to £125 on a £700 premium by paying annually rather than monthly.

  • Make fewer claims

It’s best to wait until the damage or loss incurred is high before making an insurance claim. Paying for minor accidents yourself will save you in the long run, as any accident you claim for increases your risk in the eyes of the insurer and will increase your premiums. You will have to report the accident to your insurer, but you can specify that you do not wish to make a claim for it.

Home Insurance

  • Pay attention to the policy

House in a bubbleYou may assume that certain aspects of the home, such as your personal belongings, are automatically included in home insurance coverage. But most insurance policies don’t cover the theft of items from the home, nor do they cover accidents brought about through your own actions. Pay special attention to what exactly is covered as well as the optional extras available for the insurance policy so you know what you need and what you don’t need.

The possessions kept within your home are actually covered by a separate policy, known as contents insurance. You can usually negotiate a better deal if you purchase both home insurance and contents insurance from the same provider.

  • Secure your home

As with car insurance, anything you do to reduce risk will reduce your premiums, and one of the best ways to do this is to invest in better security. Some security investments that could have a positive impact on your insurance premiums include:

  • An alarm system. Installing burglar alarms will help, although most insurance providers will insist on it being an approved system before they agree to lower premiums. For example, according to MoneySupermarket.com, having a NACOSS standard alarm installed can reduce premiums by as much as 7.5%.
  • Outside lighting that activates when an intruder is detected also reduces the risk factor sufficiently to have an effect on premiums.
  • Joining a neighbourhood watch scheme can reduce your insurance premium by up to 5%.
  • Installing better locks, and changing the locks regularly

Taking extra precautions to ensure your home is secure even when you are away on a trip is also a good way to convince companies that you’ll go the extra mile to keep your home safe.

  • Fire safety

Taking measures to improve the fire safety of your home will help convince insurers that you are a lower-risk client. Some ways you can do this include:

  • Installing good quality smoke alarms. Eighteen people die a year because their smoke alarms were faulty or the batteries were flat, so check your smoke alarms regularly to make sure they work.
  • Faulty electrics cause 7,000 fires a year. Make sure the wires and electronic devices in your home are well maintained and, if necessary, call in an electrician to check the state of your wiring.

You should also ensure that all electronic devices are turned off at night, and that any candles or cigarettes are properly extinguished.

  • Maintain your home

Make sure your home is in good condition to reduce the risk of accidents that would necessitate an insurance claim. Some maintenance suggestions include:

  • Insulating your pipes and water tanks to prevent them from freezing in cold weather. Burst pipes are one of the most frequent causes of home insurance
  • Evidence of subsidence may prompt the insurer to raise your premiums. Subsidence refers to the gradual sinking of land, which lowers elevation and may lead to cave-ins. In many cases, subsidence is attributed to unstable soil. So check the state of the soil around your home and watch out for any cracks.

Always consult a professional if you plan to do anything (renovations or landscaping) that might destabilise soil.

  • Build up your no claims discount

Check if your insurer offers a no claims discount. If they do, you can reduce your premiums if you avoid making any claims for a few years. This can result in a reduction of about 50% after five years in some cases, which is another good reason to consider paying your own way when it comes to minor repairs.

  • Shop around for guarantees

Look around to see if any insurers are offering any price match guarantees. Some insurance providers pledge to beat any insurance quote by up to 10%.

  • Raise your excess

As with car insurance, raising your voluntary excess will lower your home insurance premiums.

  • Pay annually

Home insurance premiums are higher than other insurance products, so annual payments aren’t always possible. Annual payments are still recommended, however, because they usually come with significant discounts. And then you don’t have to think about it for the rest of the year.

  • Postal code

Certain postal codes have higher insurance premiums because they are considered high-risk areas. This is because of crime or proximity to rivers or lakes, which increases flood risk. Buy a house in the best neighbourhood you can afford, watch crime stats and increase safety measures to lower your risk. You can find out whether your area is high-risk, and how to reduce that risk at the Gov.uk website.

Travel Insurance

  • Research the policies

Plane under an umberellaAgain, ensure you’re not paying for coverage that is included in another product. Insurance that covers you for loss of possessions will also cover lost baggage. So you won’t have to incorporate that into your travel insurance package.

  • Risky activities

A trip with high-risk activities such as skiing, bungee jumping, and scuba diving has higher premiums than low-risk holidays. We’re not saying you need to take boring holidays, just bear the risks in mind.

  • Annual cover over single-trip cover

According to MoneySavingExpert.com, if you travel more than three times a year, an annual policy is more cost-effective than purchasing insurance for each trip.

  • Don’t buy insurance from travel agents, tour operators or airlines

According to the Guardian, these packages will almost always cost more than products from niche insurance providers. They are also often not as comprehensive.

Health Insurance

The NHS makes health insurance less critical in the UK than in some other countries. Private health insurance does have it’s place, however. For example, concern about a particular illness or condition the NHS can’t treat. In that case, factors that affect your premiums include:

  • Your age
  • Your weight
  • General state of your health
  • Whether or not you smoke
  • No claims bonus

Income protection insurance covers you if you can’t work due to illness or disability. Insurance premiums depend on the above factors and the type of job you have. Low-risk jobs, for example, office management where you spend our day behind a desk, have lower insurance premiums than high high-risk jobs (construction) because they are less likely to result in injury.

Bear in mind that health insurance usually does not cover you for the following:

  • Routine check ups
  • Pregnancy
  • Cosmetic surgery
  • Pre-existing medical conditions
  • Chronic illnesses (for these you can acquire critical illness cover)

Life insurance

Life insurance is worth considering if you have dependents. This includes ailing parents or a sibling who never learnt how to hold down a job. If you’re married or in a lifelong partnership, a joint policy will cost less than buying a separate policy each.