Wednesday, November 13, 2019
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Mortel

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Your Life in Cars research shows the different car needs from young professionals to retirees
The typical motorist has owned 7 different cars
Fuel efficiency is the biggest priority when choosing a new car
From young professionals to retirees, new research from motor insurance provider Aviva has identified eight different ‘ages of motoring’ over a lifetime.*

While motorists of all ages have certain traits in common, a study of more than 1,500 UK car drivers shows marked differences towards purchasing preferences and types of journeys as people grow older.

The research reveals the typical UK motorist:

Owns their first car at age 23
Has owned seven different cars
Looks to change their car every three years and eight months
Drives five days a week or more (61%)
Prioritises fuel efficiency when considering their next car (64%)

But within there are many sub-sets of the ‘typical’ driver:

Young Professionals
Average number of cars owned: 2
With growing career success, 44% use their car mostly to drive to work, meetings and other office locations.

New Parents
Average number of cars owned: 3
43% of new parents consider safety as priority, 31% place comfort as a priority, and 26% prioritise having sufficient space, such as boot size.

Taxi For Teens
Average number of cars owned: 6
38% of parents with teenagers place safety as one of their key priorities. Car space and power are both equally important, with 20% of parents prioritising each of these.

Empty Nesters
Average number of cars owned: 7
43% of empty nesters consider the model of the car to be a priority. 20% focus on the car’s looks and design and 19% place high importance on the brand.

Retirees
Average number of cars owned: 9
Retirees mostly use their cars for doing the grocery shopping (33%) or to visit friends and family or drive for leisure (30%).

Aviva’s Motor Product Director, Adam Beckett, says: “It’s clear that people’s motoring habits and priorities change over time. Personal preferences often give way to practicalities, particularly when children come along.

“It’s also no surprise that fuel efficiency tops the list for all life stages. Fuel prices are high which hits peoples’ pockets hard, no matter what stage of life they’re in.”

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A nationwide survey of tenants by AXA Business Insurance reveals that many of the UK’s rental homes present serious security and safety risks this Christmas. The insurer also anticipates a spike in theft and severe weather damage claims, as many tenants and landlords are unprepared for December’s cold snaps, storms and opportunistic Christmas burglars.

Forty eight per cent – or around 3.9 million – rental homes will be left empty over the holiday period – yet few tenants will inform their landlords or take extra security steps.
Poor awareness of crime and weather risks mean that AXA anticipates a spike in burglary and weather claims from the rental sector this winter.
AXA warns that too many rented homes will rely on creaky, outdated heating systems this winter – two thirds of them lacking the basic safety checks required by law.
Most tenants may be unaware that they are paying too much on their energy bills due to energy failings in the property – only 1 in 5 landlords provide their tenants with energy efficiency certificates, despite this being a legal obligation.
AXA highlights that 57 per cent of private rental properties — equivalent to 4.7 million homes – are likely to have the wrong cover.
AXA’s survey of UK tenants revealed that 48 per cent of the UK’s private rental properties will be left empty for at least part of the Christmas season this year, as their tenants travel abroad or stay with friends/family.

Very few tenants – only 18 per cent – intend to inform their landlord that the property will lie empty, despite vacant properties running dramatically increased risks of burglary, fire and weather damage. This comes on top of relatively poor security arrangements in many rental properties: only 9 per cent have a burglar alarm installed, and only 26 per cent fit locks on all external doors and windows – despite this being a common condition of most insurance policies. Of course, when locks are fitted, there is no guarantee they’ll be used: 40 per cent of tenants admitted they wouldn’t lock all doors and windows before going on a trip!

Meanwhile, tenants are doing little to help their landlords prevent the winter hazard of burst pipes: only 26 per cent say they will leave the heating on low to prevent burst pipes in a cold snap! AXA reminds readers that during Britain’s historic cold snap of 2010, burst water pipe claims amounted to an estimated £7 million per day.

Millions of tenants could be facing an unsafe, or at least, very cold Christmas

AXA’s survey also revealed that almost two-thirds of UK private landlords do not arrange the annual gas safety inspection required by law. Having missed out on a service this year, many of these properties could be entering the winter months with potentially lethal faults. This is compounded by the fact that few rented homes have the final safety net of a carbon monoxide alarm.

Poor energy arrangements also mean that many tenants could be facing the choice between a cold Christmas or a larger than expected energy bill in January. The government estimates that a quarter of rental properties are running such outdated energy systems that they fall into the lowest energy efficiency bands (F and G).

AXA’s survey shows that many tenants may simply not be aware just how much their energy bills are being pushed up as a result: only 19 per cent say they have seen the property’s energy efficiency certificate. AXA reminds landlords that they are legally required to provide this certificate to tenants or run the risk of fines.

“Our findings show that millions of rental properties will be both empty and lacking basic protection from the two villains of the season – opportunistic burglars and cold snaps. December is a red letter month for both. Empty houses filled with new consumer goods are a huge temptation to thieves, while recent years have seen a series of Christmases marred by extreme weather, starting with the historic cold snap of 2010.

Of course, these are risks that you can cover with insurance. But are all rented properties insured? Just last month, the independent research expert DataMonitor revealed that a massive 57 per cent of the UK’s private landlords do not have landlord insurance, wrongly believing that normal home insurance covers a tenanted property. This means that many landlords simply may not be covered if the worst happens”.

*** AXA’s landlord checklist for Christmas 2014 ***

Above all, check your insurance policy! Is it a landlord insurance policy? Does it cover your property when it is tenanted? Many home insurance policies simply do not cover you if you have tenants.

Security

Call your tenant to find out their plans over the holidays; even better, visit them to review your security, winter weather and energy arrangements.
Check all external doors and windows (as well as internal doors if you have multiple tenancies in one building) you have robust locks in place.
Remind your tenant to lock all doors and windows before leaving the property, and activate any alarms too.
Remind your tenant to keep presents hidden from view. It may also do them a favour to remind them that they’re likely to need tenants’ contents insurance for their own items.
Safety

Check when your last gas and electrical safety inspections took place. If it’s more than a year for your gas inspection, you need to call out an engineer as a matter of urgency.
If you have open fires in the property, make sure the chimney has been swept recently.
If you have burglar, fire and carbon monoxide alarms installed – check they’re working and supply spare batteries. If you don’t have any alarms, maybe now is the time to think about them?
Christmas lights should be marked with a safety standard and switched off when the property is empty.
If you’re responsible for communal hallways, get a winter cleaning routine in place to prevent slippery floor surfaces or signpost them – you face a public liability claim if someone slips because the floor is in a hazardous state.
Winter weather

Check your guttering is in good condition and clear out any dead leaves or blockages.
Remind your tenant to leave the heating on low if the temperature is set to fall below +4ºC.
Ensure you and your tenant know the location of stop taps and shut off valves for electricity, gas and water on the property.
If your tenant has a portable heating device, check that your insurance covers you for its use on the property. Due to the fire hazard these devices represent, they are often excluded.
Monitor build-up of snow on rooftops and ensure someone visits the property regularly if it is empty during a cold spell.

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AXA Commercial Lines and Personal Intermediary has renewed a long-standing relationship with Essex-based Cherish Insurance Brokers, striking a deal to maintain its role as exclusive underwriter on a range of the broker’s personal lines products.

The deal, worth £20m in GWP over the next five years, sees AXA further cement its growing position as an underwriter of non-standard personal lines risks. The relationship between AXA and Cherish, which has existed for over fifteen years, will see AXA exclusively underwrite Cherish’s home (including B&B) ,second home and buy to let products as well as a range of kit and home insurance products marketed to the British armed forces.

Carolyn Scott, Head of Household and Lifestyle at AXA, said: “We’re really pleased that we have been able to come to an agreement that allows us to continue with what has always been a mutually profitable relationship.

“Cherish understands its markets well which gives us the confidence to take an exclusive underwriting position on these risks. In particular, the non-standard aspects of its book are of particular interest to us as we make further inroads into what we see as a very valuable and profitable segment of the market.”

Neil Bresler, Managing Director of Cherish Insurance Brokers, added: “I am incredibly proud of the dynamic and fruitful relationship that both Cherish and AXA have enjoyed over the years.

“This agreement cements our commitment and allows Cherish to continue designing innovative products with extensive cover and give our broker partners something extra to offer to their Clients in these niche markets. This is a very exciting step for us all.”

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Commentators typically warn of the threat of theft over the Christmas season, with present-stuffed stockings, long nights and empty homes making for rich pickings for potential thieves. However, analysis of AXA’s home insurance claims over a 12 month period* has revealed that the Christmas period is one of the quietest periods for thefts – in fact there were fewer claims for theft on Christmas Day 2013 than on any other day that year.

Theft

The average number of theft claims made to AXA from 23 to 31 December was 39 per cent lower per day compared to the rest of the year, and on Christmas day there were 69 per cent fewer claims than the average for 2013.

The average value of these claims was £3,149 each, compared to £2,693 for the rest of the year.

Further analysis showed that Christmas brings an increased risk of other dangers; here are other perils that homeowners should look out for this festive period:

Accidental damage

Claims for accidental damage saw a significant spike in the days preceding Christmas in 2013, with 42 per cent more claims than average on 23 December and a 36 per cent increase on 24 December 2013. The average value of these claims was £563 and £625 respectively. The value of all accidental damage claims during the ‘Christmas Week’ of 23 to 31 December totalled in excess of £700,000.

Fire

Christmas typically sees a higher than average number of claims for fire damage, which are more than twice as likely during the Christmas week (23-31 December) than the rest of the year – an increase of 105 per cent. The average value of fire claims over the Christmas period in 2013 was £3,209 each, but these claims can easily exceed £50,000.

Sean Walkden, head of household claims at AXA commented: “While it is still important to take sensible precautions, this research goes against popular belief, and sheds some interesting light on what homeowners need to watch out for if they’re to have a perfect Christmas.

“If something does happen, it’s reassuring to know that home insurance covers a wide range of eventualities – an overexcited child knocking over your new TV could be covered as accidental damage, for example.”

Sean Walkden advises that basic precautions can help homeowners avoid a disaster this Christmas, suggesting the following:

“Fires are thankfully rare, making up a very small percentage of our overall home insurance claims, but don’t let one ruin your Christmas. If you have a working fireplace in your house, make sure you fit a fire guard, and don’t leave a fire unattended. Make sure your chimney is regularly swept to remove soot and any blockages. ”
“Our research shows that thefts are less likely over Christmas, but you should still avoid advertising your presents to opportunistic burglars: packaging for expensive items is a giveaway, so be discreet when you dispose of it. If you’re really organised and have all your presents wrapped, make sure they’re not visible to anyone looking in from the outside.”
“Christmas can mean long nights out socialising or even days spent away from home. Consider fitting motion-sensitive lights to make your house look like it is occupied, and if away for a number of days, ask a relative or neighbour to keep an eye on the property for you.”

“It’s a good idea to keep a record of expensive items for insurance purposes. When the initial excitement dies down, take the opportunity to take a photo of anything valuable that you might have received, and store it online on your email account or a cloud-based storage system. If you’re lucky enough to receive items of very high value, such as jewellery, you may need to notify your insurer. Check your policy wording for details.”

“If you do need to make a claim, get in touch with your insurer so that they can provide advice and assistance.”

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Almost two thirds (65%) of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) risk severe impact on their operations by having no protection insurance for their owners and key employees, warns leading insurer Zurich.

This is one of the latest findings of Zurich’s SME Risk Index, a quarterly survey measuring the perceived level of business risk faced by SMEs.

More than half (56%) of the SMEs’ decision-makers surveyed by YouGov for the insurer believe that the death or critical illness of business owners is the biggest risk to a company’s long-term success.

And 45% highlighted the death or critical illness of key employees as a major risk.

Half of the respondents who said that the death or critical illness of a business owner or key employee would have a negative impact on the business also believed that it could create a significant gap in the business management structure.

44% said this could lead to a significant skills shortage, and 43% were concerned about the difficulty in finding a replacement of similar calibre.

Chris Atkinson, Retail Protection Proposition Manager, Zurich UK Life, said:

“These are stark findings which show too many SMEs are taking a gamble by not taking out protection insurance for their business owners and key personnel.”

“These companies rely on the talent, know-how and experience of a few people who are vital for the business success. In the event of the death or serious illness of one of them, the survival of the entire company could be at risk. It is crucial that these companies take adequate measures, such as Key Person insurance, to be able to cope with these tragic events, which sadly are not as rare as we think.”

As well as covering the loss of profits suffered by the business until a replacement is found, Key Person protection can also pay for the costs of recruitment and training of a replacement.

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At a time when the number of single parent families has tripled in the last 40 years*, research undertaken on behalf of AXA Self Investor reveals that single parents demonstrated greater confidence in making a range of lifestyle purchases than any of the other family groups surveyed**. This is in spite of the possible pressures of living from a single income and potentially not having a partner to consult on financial decisions.

These figures come from the latest ‘Buying Britain’ research commissioned by AXA Self Investor, part of AXA Wealth, a study which explores consumer confidence and shopping strategies across a range of lifestyle purchases.

As the traditional 2.4 family evolves, the study compared responses across a range of family units – single parents, civil partnerships, multi-generation homes, couples with no children and larger families with three or more children. The research explored how these groups spend and save their money and what their financial plans and concerns are for the future.

Perhaps out of necessity, the research suggests that single parents are the most self-reliant when it comes to trusting their own judgement in many of the significant purchasing decisions they make. This assurance starts with the weekly food shop and plays out in all other major purchasing decisions.

The research also suggests that this self-reliance could result from single parents having the most concerns about their financial future. Overall, single parents were most likely to worry about having some sort of financial burden 10 years from now (73 per cent). They were the group most likely to worry about repaying their mortgage (15 per cent) and university costs (18 per cent) – and they were also those most likely to fear they would never be able to retire (14 per cent).

Gordon Hull, director, AXA Self Investor, commented: “This research dispels notions that a good financial planner has a specific profile. Single parents emerge as extremely shrewd and self-reliant in the purchasing decisions they make – despite not always having a ‘significant other’ to consult, they are not falling behind when it comes to making investment choices. They broadly match the national average in confidence when buying investments and more than half of them would choose to invest their own time researching what decisions to make.

“Unlike single parents, many British adults that are confident buying lifestyle items, lose this assurance when it comes to financial planning. Single parents are a role model for others on how to apply the budgeting savviness they have with everyday purchases, such as the weekly food shop, into the world of investment. I believe that the financial industry needs to simplify things to help more people become self-assured investors.”

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Aviva Premiership Rugby fans benefit from exclusive content

Aviva is launching a new app for its customers, allowing them to view all their policies across life, general and private medical insurance all in one place.

And – just in time for the Aviva Premiership Rugby Finals on 31 May – the app also features exclusive Rugby content, giving rugby fans a great way to see highlights of the weekend’s action, get insights into the final and catch interviews with their favourite players.

To encourage Aviva customers to download and explore the benefits of the MyAviva app, Aviva is giving away a free hot drink from Caffe Nero to the first 40,000 customers who download the app and register their customer details.

Heather Smith, Marketing Director, Aviva UK, said, “The new MyAviva app brings together the products that help you protect your life, your health, your loved ones, your future and your possessions into one helpful, secure and easy-to-use place.

“The app also gives customers access to a wealth of special offers and rewards, including exclusive rugby news and highlights – a perfect compliment to the upcoming Aviva Rugby Premiership Finals.”

Using the MyAviva app, customers will also be able to perform a range of actions, wherever they are:

Check the value of their pension or bond
Access Aviva Advantages, Aviva’s exclusive selection of special offers and rewards
Access the new Aviva Life cover estimator tool, helping customers understand how much life cover could cost
Renew car and home insurance, and set up renewal reminders
Easily exchange policy details after a car accident
Access loyalty discounts on a range of Aviva products
Access to helpful tips and information

The MyAviva app is now available for download on iTunes, and includes car, van, breakdown, motorcycle, travel and home insurance policies as well as life, investment bonds, pensions and annuities, and private healthcare policies.

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Fitch Ratings-Hong Kong-10 June 2014: Fitch Ratings has affirmed China-based Huaxia Life Insurance Company Limited’s (HXLF) Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) rating at ‘A-‘. The Outlook is Stable.

KEY RATING DRIVERS

The rating reflects HXLF’s good distribution capabilities, dynamic new business growth, significant increase in value of in-force business, and adequate capital cushion. However, continued operating losses and high concentration on single-premium participating and universal life products will continue to constrain the company’s rating.

Despite the challenging market environment, sales of universal life insurance policies have remained strong for HXLF. The company became China’s third-largest life insurer in terms of new premiums for universal life products, seizing a market share of about 10.3% in 2013. Its new business value and value of in-force business (after the cost of capital) increased by 89% and 129% respectively in 2013.

Persistent operating deficits due to expense overruns associated with non-recurrent expansion costs and rapid premium expansion have weakened HXLF’s local solvency ratio to about 180% at end-2013 (end-2012: 203%) despite the infusion of CNY5bn of fresh equity by its shareholders in 2013. HXLF will maintain its solvency adequacy in 1H14 through a further increase in shareholders’ equity and planned issuance of subordinated debt. The additional capital will also support its growth and provide a buffer against asset volatility.

RATING SENSITIVITIES

Negative rating triggers include a decline in HXLF’s local solvency ratio to below 200% on a sustained basis, an increase in financial leverage to above 25% (end-2013: 6.1%) and a significant reduction in persistency rates and mortality profits.

An upgrade is unlikely in the near term unless the company is able to consistently achieve positive operating earnings, optimise its business composition, and further improve its new business margin.

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Link to Fitch Ratings’ Report: German Life Insurance Dashboard: 2014

Fitch Ratings-Frankfurt/London-11 June 2014: Fitch Ratings says in a new report that German life insurers will continue to face the challenge of low investment margins, even if interest rates start to rise.

Fitch does not see the downward trend in investment income being quickly reversed, as new investment yields will likely remain below the yields of maturing bonds for several years. However, the agency believes German life insurers will be able to meet their policyholder minimum guarantees for a prolonged period, even if low investment yields persist. Hence the Rating Outlook for the German life insurance sector remains Stable even though the sector outlook, an indication of fundamental trends, is negative.

Fitch expects new business to grow moderately in 2014, supported by product innovations. This follows a decline in regular-premium new business in 2013 after new sales had been boosted by one-off factors in the previous two years, namely, a planned reduction in the guaranteed rate in 2011 and the introduction of unisex tariffs in 2012.

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Fitch Ratings-London-10 June 2014: Fitch Ratings says it is evaluating the strategic importance of Milleniumbcp-Ageas’s operating entities (MBCPA; Insurer Financial Strength (IFS) rating BBB-/Positive) to Ageas Insurance International NV (Ageas; Long-term IDR:A-/Stable) following the recently announced deal with Millenniumbcp (BB+/Negative).

Fitch views the transaction as potentially positive for MBCPA’s non-life operations. Under the terms of the deal, MBCPA’s parent company Ageas will own 100% of Ocidental-Companhia Portuguesa de Seguros S.A. (Ocidental Seguros) and Medis – Companhia Portuguesa de Seguros de Saude S.A. (Medis), Ageas’s non-life entities in Portugal.

Ageas agreed to pay EUR122.5m to acquire the 49% of Ocidental Seguros and Medis currently indirectly owned by Millenniumbcp. Ocidental-Companhia Portuguesa de Seguros de Vida S.A. will continue to be 51% indirectly owned by Ageas.

Fitch believes that the planned acquisition fits into Ageas’s strategy to focus on non-life business and allows the group to broaden the scope of distribution agreements in Portugal beyond Millenniumbcp.The announced price is a small percentage of Ageas group’s shareholders’ funds (EUR8.5bn at FY13) and does not affect the group’s credit profile.

The deal reinforces the degree of support from Ageas to its Portuguese non-life entities, which Fitch views positively. MBCPA’s ratings already benefit from a single-notch uplift from Portugal’s ‘BB+’ sovereign rating due to Ageas’s ownership.

Fitch will re-evaluate the strategic importance of MBCPA within the Ageas group and the implications for MBCPA’s ratings stemming from Ageas’s acquiring full control of the non-life entities. In its analysis, Fitch will apply its Group Rating Methodology and determine the strategic importance of the Portuguese life and non-life operations to Ageas. This analysis is expected to be completed over the next few weeks.

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Generations of explorers and investors have identified Africa as a continent with a big business potential. The sheer size of the continent has often proven to be an obstacle. The invention of one small device now can change everything: the mobile phone. For a company like Allianz mobile microinsurance holds a lot of promise. In our featured interview, Ben Oumar shares his experience in what it is like to sell insurance without all the paperwork. His job: Mobile insurance promoter for Allianz.

65 percent of adult Africans now own a mobile phone, while insurance penetration still lingers below four percent. Reaching low-income people via mobile phone is an emerging trend in Africa, and a game changer to the industry. In 2012, Allianz Ivory Coast started to promote insurance by leveraging mobile technology. Together with Mobile Telephone Networks Group (MTN), a leading communication service provider in Africa, Allianz Ivory Coast offers two mobile insurance products, a mobile funeral insurance and a mobile savings plan. Ben Oumar works as an Allianz mobile insurance promoter in an MTN branch in Abidjan, the country’s capital.

allianz.com: What is your job as a promoter of Allianz mobile microinsurance?

Ben Oumar: Since one and a half years I am deployed to branches of our telecommunications partner MTN. In the MTN branches, I try to explain our two mobile insurance products to MTN customers who come to these branches. I help them enroll through their mobile phones. They don’t have to sign any papers. And the premium payment also happens through the mobile phone by using MTN mobile money.

allianz.com: How successful have you been so far?

Ben Oumar: It is quite tough to catch peoples’ attention and convince them about the benefits of insurance. People come to the MTN branches on some other business, for example to pay their phone bill or to get some technical questions resolved. Many are in a great hurry and insurance is not their current priority.

With less than four percent insurance penetration, many Africans are still unfamiliar with the concept of insurance. Having to part with some of their limited money today for an uncertain payback in the future eludes many of them. Therefore, pressing current needs such as phone bill payments, education fees or simply getting enough food on the table are more top of mind for them than insurance.

allianz.com: How many people have you convinced so far?

Ben Oumar: About 500. About one out of twenty persons I talk to finally asks me to help with registration. So you can imagine how many people I have already talked to [laughs].

allianz.com: What is the most popular product?

Ben Oumar: Our mobile savings plan is more popular than our mobile funeral insurance, although it is more expensive. People like to get something back from the insurance. To many, it still sounds strange that they don’t get their premium back if they don’t make a claim, as happens with our funeral insurance. We only have these two products, and they are actually very simple.

allianz.com: What helps you to convince people of the benefit of insurance?

Ben Oumar: It helps me a lot when people already know Allianz. About four out of ten are already familiar with our brand. It also helps if people have bought insurance before, so they know the concept. It is very good that our products are so simple, that there is no paperwork and premium payment is very convenient. People like that. It is also important to approach people at the right moment. I usually wait until people have had their main business with MTN resolved, so they are more relaxed when I talk to them.

allianz.com: And what makes your insurance promotion more difficult?

Ben Oumar: If people have never heard of Allianz or even of insurance. Unfortunately, here in Ivory Coast that is still the majority of people. I also don’t approach people who had to wait a long time in the cue. They are usually not in the right mood to talk about insurance.

It would also be great if there was more marketing for our products and for insurance in general, like big posters and banners that catch people’s attention.

allianz.com: What are the most frequently asked questions from customers?

Ben Oumar: The number one question on the savings plan is how much interest is being paid. The top question on the funeral plan is how long the claim process takes. Many people also ask to shorten the contract length because one year for funeral and minimum three years for the savings plan is a very long time for them.

allianz.com: What was your most memorable experience with mobile insurance so far?

Ben Oumar: I once had this very enthusiastic customer. A woman who took out both mobile products, the savings and the funeral plan. Then she sent her friend to me to also subscribe to the mobile insurance. Right in the moment when I was explaining the products to her friend, that lady called and reported that she just had an accident. Fortunately, she was not hurt, and she reminded her friend immediately again about the importance of insurance.

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Although the UK has yet to see any really cold weather this winter, AXA Business Insurance is warning small businesses to be prepared for the problems that winter weather can bring. Estimates vary as to the true cost of cold snaps, but during the 2010 snowstorms it is believed that close to a quarter of small businesses had to close.

AXA, which is one of the largest insurers of SMEs in the UK, has put together the following tips to protect your business.

Get winter maintenance work done as soon as possible – don’t wait for the freeze to arrive before checking your boiler, pipe lagging or roof tiles.
Prepare an action plan for bad weather so that your business can continue to operate even if you or your employees can’t make it into work.
Make sure you/your employees have access to emails/contact numbers/documents if they need to work from home.
But if you do find you have to work from home when you are normally in business premises, check that your business cover extends to equipment used in your home.
If you have business premises that are going to be left vacant over the weekend or because employees are unable to make it in, ensure that the heating is left on low. Burst pipes are a huge risk once the temperature dips below freezing and can cause tens of thousands of pounds worth of damage, not to mention destroying important documents and equipment. Added to which, the clean up process can mean continued disruption to your business for several weeks.
If you need to leave your premises unattended during poor weather, ensure you lock up properly and set intruder alarms. A savvy thief will make the most of your absence if you don’t secure it.
If the winter weather comes in the form of heavy rain and your business is at risk of flooding, ensure you move any important/valuable items above floor level – or even store them elsewhere if possible.
Ideally, avoid driving anywhere if there is snow and ice on the roads. But if you absolutely have to be on the road for work, leave extra time and drive with extra care. The numbers of accidents in poor weather are double that of normal conditions.
And if you are out and about in your vehicle, ensure you pack a shovel, blanket, and something to eat and drink in case the worst happens. And ensure your windscreen wash is topped up, your mobile is fully charged and your tyres are fit for winter weather.
Avoid slip and trip accidents. These accidents increase in the winter due to ice and snow. Public liability insurance can provide cover for customers slipping on your premises, but it’s best to avoid accidents by gritting walkways and driveways and keeping floors dry.

Darrell Sansom, managing director of AXA Business Insurance said: “Winter weather can mean real problems for small businesses and while the focus might be on simply keeping things going during the bad weather, there are many other potential hazards that business owners should be prepared for. We would urge people to spend just a bit of time ensuring that they protect themselves and their business as best as possible.”

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Consumers in many Southern and Plains states will have to look harder than their counterparts elsewhere for information on how new online health insurance marketplaces work.

In Republican-led states that oppose the federal Affordable Care Act, the strategy toward the marketplaces launching Tuesday has ranged from largely ignoring the health overhaul to resistance.

Most states across the South have declined federal grants to advertise the exchanges and ceded the right to run the marketplaces themselves. Governors from the Carolinas to Kansas have decried the exchanges and the rest of the law.

That contrasts with several of the 14 Northeast, Midwest and Western states running their own insurance exchanges. Residents there have seen weeks of marketing and advertising campaigns to help them prepare to buy health insurance.

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The prices for automobile insurance can be higher in some parts of the country based on economic data and risk of auto collisions. The Auto Pros company has now posted discounts online for auto insurance in Massachusetts at http://www.autoprosusa.com/insurance. This information is presented in a database format from industry companies offering discounted rates that are easily viewable online.

Car owners who are currently paying a set monthly premium price could benefit from a price comparison from other providers. Many companies provide a standard rate package that locks a driver into a policy for one or more years.

The competition in the auto industry has provided more resources for auto owners to view pricing for insurance and related services easier online.

The database of providers now used requires little input of personal information to view pricing. A programmed zip code matching system is now the main feature promoted by the Auto Pros company.

This format provides a simple way to view the prices that are charged in specific counties in any U.S. state. The rates that are viewable provide the base insurer rates that are now marketed to drivers.

“Comparisons for auto insurance used to require a detailed phone conversation with an agent or broker and included personal information submission to receive a quote,” a source from the Auto Pros USA company said.

The direct access provided by the auto pros company to review and select insurance providers is designed as a money saving option for car owners.

All transactions that take place between drivers and insurance companies is provided through local and national companies. Each rate can be compared and further action can be taken by drivers to purchase or view policy declarations.

“Insurance is one of the largest expenses each year for car owners with or without a history of accidents, and saving money on a new or renewal policy is now possible using the database we provide,” the source added.

The new insurance database is one feature that has been developed for the Auto Pros website this year. The content provided is through third party providers of auto insurance coverage in North America. A similar search system was added for warranty programs to help used car owners find a suitable repair warranty online at http://autoprosusa.com/auto-warranty.

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Allianz unveiled the fourth edition of its “Global Wealth Report”, which puts the asset and debt situation of private households in more than 50 countries under the microscope.

Based on the findings of the report, the global gross financial assets of private households grew by 8.1% in 2012. This is the strongest growth seen in six years and is also well ahead of the long-term average after adjustments for exchange rate effects (2001 through 2012) of 4.6% a year. One of the main factors driving growth last year was the positive trend on the stock markets: assets held in securities swelled by 10.4%. This brought total global financial assets up to a new record level of EUR 111 trillion.

At the same time, debt growth (including mortgage debt) remained subdued at 2.9% in 2012, the fourth year after the Lehman collapse. The global debt ratio (liabilities expressed as a percentage of GDP) dropped by another percentage point to 65.9%, compared with 71.6% in 2009. This meant that global net financial assets (gross financial assets less liabilities) actually witnessed double-digit growth of 10.4%. All regions benefited from this strong growth. Even in the crisis-ridden eurozone, net financial assets climbed by 7.2% – not least thanks to stagnating liabilities – putting them back above the pre-crisis value for the first time at the end of 2012.

But the positive development seen last year is not enough to paper over the deep cracks in private asset balance sheets in the euro area. The wealth gap is getting wider and wider. Average net financial assets in Greece now come in at only 28% of the eurozone average; before the crisis hit, this figure was still well above the 50% mark. In Spain, the figure slipped from 61% to 44% last year. “The growing wealth gap in the eurozone is an upshot of the crisis,” said Michael Heise, Chief Economist at Allianz. “If this gap between north and south widens further it could undermine European cohesion. The reform drives to date are starting to bear fruit this year. Further resolute steps towards integration are needed in order to give all Europeans a clear prospect of growth and prosperity again. ”

Asset development in Germany was extremely solid last year, with gross financial assets up by 4.9% and net financial assets growing by 6.8%. This puts Germany in the middle of the European rankings. A longer-term analysis casts Germany’s development in a much better light: thanks to strict debt abstinence, net per capita financial assets were almost 18% higher than they were before the crisis by the end of 2012 – this growth rate is unrivalled by any other major EMU country; the only other countries to achieve double-digit growth during this period were the Netherlands and Austria.

In a global comparison, however, German was still stuck in 17th place on the list of the richest countries, with average net per capita financial assets totaling EUR 41,950 at the end of 2012 (see table). The gap separating it from nations like France and Italy, which are (even) better placed, however, has narrowed considerably. “Germany’s savers have weathered the crisis fairly well to date,” said Heise. “The high propensity to save, coupled with healthy earnings growth, has so far managed to offset the steep drop in interest rates. But there is no room for complacency, Germany’s midfield ranking is nothing to be proud of. The topic of long-term asset accumulation belongs on the political agenda, particularly given the looming demographic change.”

Germany’s relatively good performance and the strong development seen last year should not, however, tempt us to conclude that the extremely low interest rates are having no impact on asset development at all. The very opposite is the case, as the analysis of savings behavior in the US and the euro area shows. Savers have adopted a marked preference for liquidity in recent years: the slice of the financial asset accumulation cake consisting of bank deposits has become much bigger in the years marred by the crisis. Over the past five years, banks were on the receiving end of more than half of “fresh” savings funds in the eurozone on average, and as much as two-thirds of these funds in the US. The tendency to shy away from long-term investments, which offer a reasonable risk/return profile, only exacerbates the long-term implications of the low interest rates as far as asset accumulation is concerned. As a result, financial asset growth is almost starting to resemble Japan, at least in a longer-term analysis: since the Lehman collapse, the average growth in gross per capita financial assets has come in at 0% (Japan), 0.1% (US) and 1.1% (euro area); in the comparable period before the crisis, by contrast, the range still stretched from 1.6% in Japan to 10.3% in the US. Asset distribution is also suffering as a result of the crisis and the low interest rates. In the US and the eurozone, the number of members of the global high wealth class1 has declined in both absolute and relative (proportion of the total population) terms; in Japan, the figures have stagnated. On the other hand, there are more people sitting in the low wealth segment in all three regions today: this segment makes up 30% of the population in both the eurozone and the US, and around 10% in Japan. The marked disparities in wealth in the US and the eurozone raise concerns that cracks in the social fabric due to the zero interest rate policy will become much faster evident in these regions than in Japan, which is still fairly egalitarian. “The final bill for the low interest rate policy will not hit home until further down the road,” commented Heise.

Whereas the crisis has caused the “low wealth” class to grow in the established advanced economies, the development in the poorer countries has been more encouraging: here, the main trend has been an increase in the number of members of the global wealth middle class. Last year alone, it grew by almost 140 million people, with China responsible for the lion’s share of this growth. This means that a total of around 860 million people with medium net financial assets lived in the countries included in our analysis in 2012. But it was not just last year that the momentum driving the rise of the global middle class was astounding. Over the past twelve years, the emerging markets, in particular, have made incredible progress: since the turn of the millennium, the share of the population ranking among the wealth middle class in global terms has doubled in eastern Europe and Latin America and has increased almost ten-fold in Asia (excl. Japan). This means that the face of the global wealth middle class has changed considerably: in 2000, almost 60% of its members still hailed from North America or western Europe. Today, every second member is from Asia – a trend that is projected to continue. The share attributable to North America and western Europe has fallen below the 30% mark.

This catch-up process has been driven by the continued strong growth in gross financial assets. Despite a marked slowdown since 2007, eastern Europe remains the regional growth champion in a long-term comparison, with average annual growth of 14.7% in the period between 2001 and 2012. Asia (excl. Japan) is hot on its heels, followed by Latin America. But there is a fly in this soup: the growth in personal debt has been even faster than asset growth. Over the past twelve years, eastern European households have been upping their liabilities by an average of 25.4% a year. Following in the footsteps of asset growth, debt growth has, however, slowed in the region since the financial crisis set in. There were no signs of a similar phenomenon in the other emerging regions of Latin America and Asia (excl. Japan). Private households in Latin America have kept their average debt growth constant in the period before and after 2007, at around 17%; in Asia (excl. Japan), the average annual growth rate has actually increased from 12.3% in the period between 2003 and 2007 to 15.8% in the period between 2008 and 2012. “Although personal debt is still at a low level in most of these countries, we need to keep a very close eye on the debt momentum. These countries should not make the same mistakes as the Europeans and the Americans: debt-fueled growth is never sustainable,” said Heise.

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Software house, CDL, has partnered with Supercover Insurance to offer an ‘additional benefit’ product to its brokers.

The arrangement will enable CDL brokers to access mobile phone and gadget cover, one of the most popular consumer line insurances, and sell this product for up to 50% less than similar products available on the high street. Supercover will also be in a position to reach a wider market of refined, quality brokers.

The relationship will see Supercover’s Gadget Cover solutions being placed directly onto the CDL system, providing a no-fuss and easy to process service for brokers.

Rick Slater at CDL, commented: “When we look at partnering with new providers, we are predominantly concerned with delivering increased convenience and value for money for our brokers as they are constantly seeking new revenue opportunities. We believe that Supercover has an innovative product offering that will create an interesting new revenue stream and we look forward to working closely with the team to develop this in future.”

Carmi Korine, director at Supercover Insurance, added: “We believe very strongly that our products meet the evolving and ever demanding needs of the 21st century customer and embarking on a new partnership, such as this one with CDL, is always exciting for us.”

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The International Insurance Society (IIS) has announced that Dr. Yung-Ping Chen, University of Massachusetts Boston, USA, is the 2012 winner of the prestigious John S. Bickley Founder’s Award. He will be honored during the gala dinner at the IIS 48th Annual Seminar, which will take place at the Sofitel Rio Copacabana Hotel in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, June 17 – 20, 2012.

Also honored are Jorge Hilário Gouvêa Vieira, President, Brazilian Insurance Confederation (CNseg), Brazil, who will receive the Commissioner General Award for his excellent leadership in serving as Chairman of the organizing committee for the 2012 IIS Seminar, and Dr. Joan Lamm-Tennant, Global Chief Economist and Risk Strategist, Guy Carpenter & Company, USA, who will receive the Kenneth Black Jr. Award for Distinguished Service for her significant contributions in support of the IIS.

The John S. Bickley Founder’s Award Gold Medal for Excellence recipient is elected by secret ballot by the IIS Honors Committee, a body of senior insurance executives and leading academicians, and honors individuals who have made a significant, lasting and recognized contribution to insurance thought, product, practice or education. “It is a great pleasure to honor Dr. Chen for his important contributions to our industry. His work on a wide range of concepts and programs, relating to economic security in retirement, has been truly ground-breaking,” says Bernhard Fink, IIS Honors Committee Chairman.

Dr. Yung-Ping Chen has had a distinguished career in academe and as an advisor to governments.  He is widely recognized for his work on economic security for the aged.  His contributions have influenced insurance product development and social insurance policy.  Dr. Chen is Professor Emeritus of Gerontology at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where he served as the inaugural holder of the Frank J. Manning Eminent Scholar’s Chair in Gerontology from 1988 until his retirement in 2009. Since then, he is a Fellow in the Gerontology Institute in the same university. A founding member of the National Academy of Social Insurance, he is a Fellow in the Gerontological Society of America and a Fellow in the World Demographic Association. A frequent contributor to scholarly and professional journals and to Congressional hearings since the early 1960s, Chen continues to be active after retiring from academe, presenting his research and views in high-profile presentations and publications.

The Commissioner General Award is selected by the IIS Honors Committee and honors individuals who have provided superlative support in the development, organization and execution of the IIS annual seminar. “Mr. Gouvea and his CNSeg team are crucial to the success of the 2012 seminar and we are truly grateful for their strong support,” says Norman Sorensen, IIS Chairman.

Mr. Jorge Hilário Gouvêa Vieira is a lawyer with extensive expertise in Commercial Law, Tax Law, and Insurance and Stock Market legislation. Since April 2010, Mr. Gouvêa has served as president of the National Confederation of General Insurance, Private Pension and Life, Supplementary Health and Capitalization Companies (CNseg). Mr. Gouvêa was president of the Securities Commission (CVM) and Secretary of Finance of the State of Rio de Janeiro from 1987 to1990. He has a law degree from PUC-Rio de Janeiro and a postgraduate degree from the University of California Berkeley.

Mr. Gouvêa has worked for 40 years in the insurance market and was president of the Brazilian Reinsurance Institute (IRB-Brasil Re) and the Bank of the State of Rio de Janeiro (BANERJ). In the private sector, Jorge Hilário was member of the Board of several companies, including Coca-Cola, Ipiranga, Sul América, Jari Celulose and VARIG, among others.

The Kenneth Black Jr. Award is presented to an individual who has provided outstanding support to the IIS in forwarding our mission and goals. Dr. Lamm-Tennant is the Chair of the prestigious Shin Research Awards program, a partnership of the IIS and the Geneva Association, and she has served as an academic as well as business moderator at past IIS annual seminars. She is a member of the IIS Board of Directors and served as an IIS Ambassador promoting IIS activities for several years. “Dr. Lamm-Tennant’s tireless work on behalf of the IIS, despite the considerable demand on her schedule, demonstrates remarkable commitment and devotion. We are truly grateful,” says Michael Morrissey, IIS President and CEO. ”With a background that straddles both an academic and a business perspective, Dr. Lamm-Tennant brings a unique objectivity to the able,” adds Mr. Morrissey.”

Dr. Joan Lamm-Tennant is the Global Chief Economist and Risk Strategist of Guy & Carpenter Company, LLC, a subsidiary of Marsh & McLennan Companies.  She advises global clients on embedding risk management processes and performance metrics in management and Board level business decisions.  In addition, Joan is working with industry leaders in emerging markets to form an industry owned microinsurance facility.  Prior to joining the industry, Joan spent 18 years as a Professor.  She remains committed to education and is currently the Laurence and Susan Hirsch Adjunct Professor of International Business at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania.

Source : IIS Press Release 

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2009 is a time of economic uncertainty and with little faith in stocks and shares, investors are turning away from paper investments and choosing emotional assets to secure their wealth. Allianz Musical Insurance, a leading UK musical instrument insurance provider, says there is an increasing trend of investors joining to form syndicates that pool assets in order to buy rare instruments. Synicates then loan out their investment piece to up-and-coming musicians in the hope of furthering their musical careers, thus enhancing the value of the instrument in the process.

AMI worked closely with Emotional Assets Management and Research (EAMR), which recently reported that fine musical investment funds are reaching a return of between 8% and 12%. Bernard Duffy, Managing Director of EAMR comments: “We are seeing more and more high net investors, their advisors and family offices look to musical investments as long-term stores of value, as well as other emotional assets such as vintage jewellery, collectable timepieces, rare coins and stamps.

“We believe that the worlds of collecting and investing are converging and this phenomenon will attract more and more investors into this space. This is currently being manifested in the launch of fine and rare musical instrument investment funds, which are likely to lead to continued price escalation of these instruments over the medium to long term.”

Recent sales of rare instruments suggest this is a certainly a wise investment. On 3rd April 2009, during the latest Fine Musical Instrument auction at Christies, New York, 3 world record auctions were set as 80.4% was sold by lot and 89.2% by value, a truly favourable outcome in an economic downturn.

Bernard Duffy highlights the importance of insuring investments with a reputable, specialist provider, such as with Allianz Musical Insurance (AMI), which currently has insured instruments up to £5 million. Musical insurance can provide worldwide cover and depreciation in value following repair. This means that if, as a result of a repair, the instrument’s value falls, the insurer can pay the difference between the original value and the current value – which is crucial with investment pieces.

Simon Wheeler, Head of AMI, comments: “If people are choosing instruments as investment pieces, they need top think wisely about insurance. Household and contents insurance may not provide cover for instruments being taken abroad or will help find the original instrument if lost or stolen. The case of Robert Napier’s lost violin, which had been valued at £180,000, is the perfect example of why a treasured instrument needs comprehensive insurance.”

Here is 5 tips for finding the perfect insurance for your instrument:

  1. Look for a policy which will provide the widest possible cover with exclusions kept to a minimum.
  2. Check they provide cover anywhere in the world without the need to arrange extra cover (although mostly based in the UK, many musicians and music teachers travel overseas on tours and a household policy may not cover such events).
  3. Find a policy that has a ‘no-fuss’ claims settlement (many household policies require you to shop around for a replacement instrument at the lowest possible cost, rather than allowing you to use your usual dealer, who you know will find you a replacement which suits you, not one which suits the insurance company).
  4. Seek insurance that confirms the insured will be given full replacement value should the need arise.
  5. Ensure your policy pays for any reasonable costs you may incur whilst having to hire alternative instruments during a repair period.

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Tomorrow’s tourists may have to take Australia’s Great Barrier Reef and Croatia’s Dalmatian Coastline off their destination wish list. Climate change and tourism damage mean that, like the Seven Wonders of the World, certain sites and attractions could be in danger of disappearing by 2020.

The Future of Travel Report*, by travel insurer Churchill, assesses the future prospects of today’s travel destinations. It reveals that World Heritage sites and other tourist destinations popular today, may be permanently closed or restricted by visitor capping or will remain at risk of irreparable damage.

Areas of environmental and historical significance such as the Great Barrier Reef, the Everglades or Kathmandu Valley, are likely to have reached visitor capacity by 2020. Such destinations may opt to minimise visitor numbers by continually raising entry costs or by charging additional taxes. It is likely that some destinations will go as far as to introduce visitor capping where travellers will either have to ‘win’ or ‘earn’ the right to holiday in a particular place via a holiday lottery.

Some tourist areas, particularly those which involve long haul flights from the UK, may require travellers to store up ‘air mile credits’ based on their personal needs and their overall energy use. Additionally, the social contributions that travellers put back into the communities they visit, may be considered before being granted visitation rights to a particular destination.

The report, issued in conjunction with think tank The Centre for Future Studies, reveals the top ten places that are at risk as holiday destinations by 2020:

2020 riskiest holiday places

Mike Ketteringham, Head of Churchill Travel Insurance commented:

“The report highlights that destinations we are used to hearing about or have on our wish list to visit one day may no longer be feasible tourist attractions for the majority of holiday-makers.”

“By identifying areas at risk from tourist damage and climate change now, we can encourage tourists who are visiting these places to consider the environmental impact their visit is having, and in doing so hopefully extend the life of the destination for future generations of holiday makers.”

*Report into the Future of Travel prepared on behalf of Churchill Travel Insurance by The Centre for Future Studies in January 2006

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Over a million people are currently working from home more than one day a week*, a figure which is set to rise a quarter of the working population by 2020.** With this in mind, Aviva’s UK insurance business is now offering cover for business equipment as standard as part of their home contents insurance policies.

Aviva, the new name for Norwich Union, is providing cover for loss or damage to office furniture and equipment that is used for business or professional purposes including filing cabinets, desks, computers, printers, typewriters, photocopiers, answer and fax machines – up to a limit of £5,000.***

This means that if any of the above is stolen or damaged by any of the “standard perils” like fire, flood, escaping water or storm, customers will be covered. It also provides cover for any accidental damage.

What’s more, Aviva is currently offering free contents insurance to new customers when buying buildings insurance, which covers whole home belongings and office equipment for nothing.****

Julie Fromant, home lifestyle manager at Aviva UK, said: “The work landscape is constantly changing and a quarter of the population is expected to work from home at least once a week by 2020. Mums and dads choosing to work flexi hours, the growing number of freelancers and higher levels of redundancy all mean that home working has become a real alternative to the corporate office.

“We recognise the growing trend in home working and that for many, working from home requires additional investments that need to be protected. We felt it was right that this should be covered as standard, as part of the home contents policy and hope this provides extra security for home workers in the UK.”

The cover is available to all new customers and existing customers when they renew their policy.

News-insurance’s top tips for home-workers:

  • If your home office space is a separate room, make sure you have a door lock and keep it locked when not in use. Keeping your office as a separate, out of bounds space to children and pets will help to prevent unwanted accidents, keeping both your equipment and the people involved safe.
  • Keep office equipment covered up or out of reach of pets and children when not in use – most importantly for their own safety but also to minimise risk of damage to the equipment
  • Certain office supplies and equipment, like shredders for example, present a great safety risk to children and pets. Look out for products available in the market that are designed for safety
  • Keep valuable items out of sight from opportunist thieves
  • Mark items with indelible identification – showing your postcode and the number of your house or flat – using an ultra-violet marking pen
  • Take pictures and write down the serial numbers of valuable items such as your computer and scanning/printing equipment, to help the police identify them should be recovered after a burglary.
  • Ask your local police station for “postcoded property” stickers to display in the front and back windows of your house

* Figures from the Office For National Statistics April – June 2008

** Figures from trends insights company Future Foundation April – June 2009

*** We will not cover:

Accidental damage to mobile phones, laptops or computer equipment designed to be portable.

Damage caused by wear and tear.

Damage caused by cleaning, washing, repairing or restoring.

Electrical breakdown, loss in value, failure to use in line with manufacturer’s instructions or damaged caused by domestic animals.

**** The offer applies for all new Norwich Union buildings and contents home insurance policies when you have been claim free for three or more years on your current buildings and contents insurance.