6th December 2019 GDPR & Privacy Section

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Everything you need to know about health & life insurance: Part 1

Many people seem to distrust both life insurance and the people who sell it. Why should this be? I’m sure it is partly because no one likes to think about anything bad happening to them, and partly because – in order to draw attention to a very real need – life insurance salespeople are forced to bring up uncomfortable subjects with their prospective clients.

However, although it is not something you may rush to tackle, making certain that you have adequate life – and health – insurance will bring you genuine peace of mind.

First-class medical protection, critical or serious illness cover and life insurance are available at a remarkably low price providing you know how to buy it but you must:

  •  Make sure you are not sold protection you don’t need
  •  Decide what cover is sensible for you to take out
  •  Find out who you can trust to advise you
  •  Make sure you get your cover at the lowest possible price

You know you should…
It isn’t pleasant to dwell on being ill, having an accident or – worst of all – dying. Nevertheless, you owe it to yourself – and those you care for – to spend a little time making sure you are protected should the worst happen. This means being:

  • protected by income protection, also called PHI (permanent health insurance) if you are too unwell to earn an income
  • protected by private medical insurance if you need medical attention
  • protected by life cover if you, or your partner, should die.

There are, of course, plenty of facts and figures available proving just how likely it is for someone of any age to fall ill or die. Sadly, such statistics are borne out by everyone’s personal experience. The truth is we all know of instances where families have had to face poor medical care and/or financial hardship as the result of a tragedy. We all know, too, that spending the small sum required to purchase appropriate cover makes sound sense.

Spend time, not money
The secret is to identify exactly what cover you really need and not to get sold an inappropriate or overpriced policy. It is also important to review your needs on a regular basis. What you require today, and what you’ll require in even two or three years’ time could alter dramatically.

The best way to start is by considering what risks you face and deciding what action you should take. Here are three questions that everyone should ask themselves, regardless of their age, gender, health or financial circumstances.

Question 1: What would your financial position be if you were unable to work – due to an accident or illness – for more than a short period of time?

Obviously, your employer and the state will both be obliged to help you out. However, if you have a mortgage, other debts and/or a family to support your legal entitlements are unlikely to meet anything like your normal monthly outgoings. If you do have a family then your spouse will have to balance work, caring for you and – possibly – caring for children. Is this feasible or – more to the point – desirable? How long will your savings last you under these circumstances? Do you have other assets you could sell?

Unless you have substantial savings and/or low outgoings then income protection cover and/or critical/serious illness insurance could both make sound sense.

Question 2: Do you have anyone dependent on you for either financial support or care? Are you dependent on someone else financially? Do you have children – or other family members – who would have to be cared for if you were to die?

If you are single and don’t have any dependents then the reason to take out life insurance is in order to settle any debts and/or leave a bequest. If, on the other hand, there is someone depending on you – either for money or for care – then life cover has to be a priority.
If you are supporting anyone (or if your financial contribution is necessary to the running of your household) then you need to take out cover so that you don’t leave those you love facing a financial crisis.
If you are caring for anyone – children, perhaps, or an ageing relative – then you should take out cover so that there is plenty of money for someone else to take over this role.

Question 3: Does it matter to you how quickly you receive non-urgent medical treatment? If you need medical care would you rather choose who looks after you, where you are treated and in what circumstances? How important is a private room in hospital to you?

We are fortunate enough to enjoy free basic health care in Ireland. However, if you are self-employed or if you have responsibilities which mean that it is important for you to be able to choose the time and place of any medical treatment, then you should consider private medical insurance.

Reference: www.rte.ie

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Mind the pension gap

LACK OF PENSION PROVISIONS AMONGST YOUNG WOMEN SIGNALS FUTURE OF FINANCIAL DISEMPOWERMENT

  • 63% of women admit to having no pension provision
  • 55% of women have never considered a pension
  • Men are more proactive and confident than women about their retirement income
  • Insights point to a pension pay gap of (10%) for future female retirees

25 February 2019: According to a new survey commissioned by leading Pensions provider, Aviva, planning for retirement is way down the priority list for women in Ireland, with only (6%) of women surveyed perceiving it as being a high priority. The Behaviour & Attitudes Survey* of over 1,000 adults nationwide reveals that over 6 in 10 (63%) of women surveyed said they do not have a private pension with over half (55%) of these women admitting they had never considered putting one in place. Almost half (47%) of men cited having a pension, compared with only (37%) of women, which represents a pension pay gap of (10%) and could point to a future of financial disempowerment amongst future female retirees.

When asked about the prospect of auto-enrolment, over 2 in 5 (43%) men were aware of the Government’s plans, when compared to 1 in 3 (33%) of women. A larger cohort of men (64%) were also found to be in favour of auto-enrolment in comparison with (58%) of women surveyed. When asked about security of their future retirement income, almost 2 in 3 (59%) men indicated a higher level of confidence when compared to only 2 in 5 (40%) women, suggesting greater levels of concern amongst females when it comes to pension provisions.

Ann O’Keeffe, Head of Individual Life and Pensions, Aviva, said of the findings: “Having conducted this same survey for the last 4 years we have found that, worryingly, pension coverage for women has remained largely stagnant at (37%) since 2014. While the participation rates for both genders are far too low – the case for women is particularly concerning. Saving for retirement doesn’t appear to be high on people’s agenda.”

While insights demonstrate a disparity across genders when it comes to retirement provision, unsurprisingly, age too plays a significant role. The research shows young workers aged 25-34 as being the age group least likely to have a pension (30%) when compared with (54%) of 35-44-year olds and (43%) of 45-55-year olds, which suggests a pension is not a focus for most people in their 20s and 30s, limiting their potential contribution period.

On this, Ms. O’Keeffe commented:
Of those under 35 without a pension, almost 2 in 3 (58%) say they simply have never thought about it. The survey paints a clear picture of a highly optimistic generation in their financial well-being when they can no longer earn an income While it is understandable that retirement provisions might be the last thing on people’s minds, particularly for younger people, in actual fact it’s one of the most important financial decisions a person can make during their working life.”

“Thankfully, we are all living longer, more active lives and our good fortune in this respect should not become a financial burden. That is why we need to ensure that women – as well as men – across all age groups understand the benefits of financial planning as early as possible in their careers.”

Aviva customers and consumers alike are invited to visit www.mindthepensiongap.ie to avail of its free online pension calculator and for more information on a range of bespoke retirement savings plans.

 

Reference: www.aviva.ie

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Driving in ice and snow

The winter months can make driving more dangerous in many ways, but two elements you need to be particularly cautious of whilst driving are ice and snow. To decrease your risk of an accident or damaging your car, follow our tips to stay safe when driving in these slippery conditions.

Plan before your journey:

  • Check weather forecasts and traffics updates so you know what to expect and can be fully prepared.
  • Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged and your car has a fully kitted emergency kit. Click here, for our breakdown survival guide.
  • Choose a route using main roads where possible as the surface is often better and they are more likely to be gritted.
  • Keep clear of secondary roads and high ground, as they are exposed more directly to weather extremes.

 

Vehicle checks before your journey:

  • Tyres: Cold weather can cause tyre pressure to decrease, which affects traction and makes driving conditions more dangerous. Make sure the tyre pressure of your wheels matches the manufacturer’s specifications (found in the manual or on the door pillar). Tyre depth should be around 3mm.
  • Windows: Use a screen scraper or de-icer to clear your windows for full visibility. Do not use boiling hot water on your windscreen as you risk cracking the glass. Check your wipers are functioning fully, and filled with screen wash.
  • Heater: Learn how the heater in car works, not just to keep yourself warm but also to effectively clear any mist or condensation from your windows, allowing better visibility.
  • Coolant: If the weather is very cold, you should check your car’s coolant, or antifreeze, levels.  This makes sure your engine doesn’t freeze or overheat. For more details on correct usage of coolant click here.
  • Lights: Ensure all lights are working and clean, to optimise their performance.
  • Fuel: It is a good idea to keep plenty of fuel in the tank during winter months especially when you may end up having to re-route due to bad road conditions from ice, snow, flooding or fallen debris.
  • Snow and ice cover: If ice is on your windows, be sure to remove all of it and not just small areas for you to look through. If there is snow on your roof, you should clear all of it off before you drive. Otherwise it can become dislodged when your car moves, obscuring visibility in parts of your windscreen.
  • Ground clearance: Check the ground clearance of your car, which is the distance between the road and the lowest part of your vehicle. The less ground clearance your car has, the more careful you will need to be when driving over ice and snow to avoid scraping the chassis (base) of your car.
  • Wheel drive: Front-wheel drive vehicles handle ice and snow better than rear-wheel drive vehicles, because the engine weight is sitting over the front wheels, giving them more grip. It is important to know which one your car is. Rear-wheel drive cars can skid and slide more easily. To alleviate this, you can carry some weight in your boot, as it will put additional weight on the back tyres, giving them better grip on the road.

 

If your car skids:

You need to know whether your vehicle has ABS (Anti-Lock Braking Systems) or not in case you get into a skid, because your course of action will differ depending on if you have it or not.

Remember: ABS does not guarantee a shorter stopping distance in a car.

Vehicles with ABS

Vehicles without ABS

The ABS begins working as soon as you ‘step’ on the brake. Follow these steps:

 

1.     Step on brake pedal,
2.     Stay on brake pedal,
3.     Steer around the obstacle.
 

Don’t slam on the brakes, but pump them by lifting your foot off and on repeatedly. You are essentially acting as an ABS does by doing this.
On icy surfaces, a little bit of steering goes a long way so to avoid head on collisions, do not sharply turn your wheels around a hazard Steer between the pumps that you make on the brake. To avoid an obstruction, you can apply the steering when you have the brake pedal released
Look to where you want to go, and not at what you are trying to avoid. If you look at the obstruction, you will automatically begin to steer in that direction If your car has traction control (TCS/TC) turn it on.


Important:
If you get into a skid and your car begins to spin, steer gently into the direction of the spin to help your car straighten up.

 

Safe driving when en route:

  • Keep your lights on at all time, including during the day
  • Take off in second gear so you avoid wheel spin
  • Drive in the highest gear possible, and at a very slow speed when on flat ground
  • Accelerate and brake very gently and gradually to avoid your car skidding
  • When driving downhill, use 3rd or 4th gear. When turning a corner use a lower gear
  • If your car is an automatic, take a look at the manual override function. This will enable you to select the right gear to avoid braking as it can lead to skidding.
  • In icy and snowy conditions, stopping distance can be increased ten fold so keep this in mind. When stationery in traffic, be sure to leave a distance of at least one car length between you and the car in front.
  • When approaching traffic lights, begin to slow down early. Your brake lights will indicate you are doing so, giving good warning to traffic behind you and allowing them to do the same. Slowing down with just your gears won’t give the driver behind you any warning and could cause a collision.
  • Do not overtake on icy or snowy roads.
  • Be particularly careful of roads in shaded areas, either by trees or buildings. It is in these areas that black ice can often be found, as sunlight cannot reach them.
  • It is better to try avoiding a skid completely than trying to manoeuvre your way through one. If braking, steer and accelerate smoothly and you will greatly reduce the risk of skidding.

 

Keep the following winter survival kit in your car at all times:

 

✓High-vis vests

✓Reflective warning triangles

✓Cones

✓Ice scraper

✓Small shovel

✓Jump leads

✓Torch

✓AA Batteries

✓First-aid kit

✓Multi-tool and window breaker

✓Antifreeze

✓Clothing (scarves, hats & gloves)

✓High energy snacks

 

It’s easy to become frustrated and impatient when driving in difficult conditions. Remember to keep an eye on your driving; anger, frustration and impatience won’t get you to your destination any faster. Slow and steady wins the race or, in this case, gets you there safely.

Now that it gets dark so much earlier, click here to read our tips for safe driving in the dark.

Reference: www.aviva.ie

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