How to save on travel insurance

As life expectancy increases, so has the age at which 'life begins' – with many people supporting the idea that 'life begins at 50'. Unfortunately, travel insurance companies disagree. Or at least that is how it seems, considering how rapidly premiums rocket for those who are 50 or over. And as for those who are over 70, many "are shocked to find travel insurers unwilling to provide cover at prices they can afford", says Kara Gammell in The Daily Telegraph. So how do you find affordable travel insurance that won't leave you high and dry if you fall ill on holiday?

Consumers need to think of travel insurance as something they should tailor to their own needs, rather than an off-the-shelf product, says The Daily Telegraph. So one of the simplest ways of reducing the premium is to look carefully at the level of cover you are being offered and then decide whether you actually need it all within the policy. For example, if you are travelling to Europe, opt for European cover rather than worldwide cover, as the latter includes America, where litigation and medical costs can push up the cost of cover. Also, consider covering personal possessions under your home insurance – and, as always, shop around for the best deal.

Eat your greens. Food inflation is forcing the weekly shopping bill to new heights, but broccoli is proving the exception, says The Guardian. It is one of the few vegetables that is falling in price, due to plentiful current supplies. The average price is now £1.38 per kilo – down 27% from this time last year. So stock up on broccoli. But forget the cheese sauce. Cheddar prices rose 10% last week alone, according to The Grocer.

Choose your pets carefully. A Great Dane will cost its owner an average of £669.64 in damages over a lifetime, says eSure, and small dogs aren't much better. Chihuahuas cause an average carnage bill of £638.41 during their lives. Add in medical bills and food, and dogs are expensive members of the family. But there are ways to cut the costs.

Save on vet's bills. If you haven't bought a dog yet, then opt for a mongrel. "They tend to be less prone to disease and cheaper to insure," says Ali Taylor from Battersea Dogs & Cats Home in The Independent on Sunday. What if you already have a pet? You could consider pet insurance to cover emergency vet bills, but do shop around and check the small print carefully: pet insurance is notorious for exclusions based on age and other factors. A better route is prevention – take your dog for regular walks and cut back on the treats. A healthy, fit canine is far less likely to get ill than a fat one.

Save money on clothes. You can currently get 30% off at Gap. Just go to moneysavingexpert.com, fill in the form and you can print off a voucher giving you 30% off in Gap until Sunday 28 September.

By Staff Writer Ruth Jackson Sep 19, 2008


The Hunt For A Missing Life Insurance Policy

Uh-oh! You're the beneficiary of a relative who just died, but their policy is nowhere to be found! What do you do? Well, don't panic, because if you find it in the near future, you may still be able to claim the death benefit. Here's what to do if a life insurance policy is missing:

  1. Look through canceled checks or go to the relative's bank and request copies of any old checks. When reviewing the checks, see if there are any made out to life insurance companies.
  2. Ask your relative's lawyer, insurance agent or accountant and see what information they can give you on your relative's finances.
  3. Call their old employers and see if they bought into the company's group life insurance.
  4. Call the Medical Information Bureau (MIB)-an organization that maintains a database showing if insurers requested your relative's medical information. If your relative applied for a life insurance policy within the past seven years, the MIB will more than likely have some kind of paper trail to help you find it.

Naming a beneficiary
If you are making someone your beneficiary, here are a couple of things you will want to do:

  1. Be sure to provide your beneficiary with your life insurance policy details, such as policy number, insurance agent's name, company phone number and email address.
  2. Keep your records together. To make it easier on your beneficiary, be sure to keep all of your records (financial and medical) together in one place. This will help alleviate any panic or stress if your beneficiary needs to find something after you have passed.

Different kinds of policies

  • Term policy—If your relative had a term life insurance policy, and they died during the term and paid their premiums, the named beneficiary will receive their death benefits. If they died outside of the term or failed to pay their premiums, you won't receive anything.
  • Permanent policy—If the policy was in force at the time of death, the named beneficiary will receive the death benefits. If the relative died a while ago, the beneficiary is entitled to the death benefits plus the interest accrued from the date of death.
  • Lapsed policy—If your relative had a permanent life insurance policy and they stopped making payments and the policy lapsed, the insurance company could switch its status to one of the non-forfeiture options selected at purchase or specified in the policy. These options include extended term, reduced paid-up, cash surrender value, and loan value. In most cases, laws specify that there are certain amounts that must be returned to a policyholder or beneficiary even if premiums were not fully paid.

Lapsed Policy Non-forfeiture Options

  • Extended term uses any built up cash value to buy a term life insurance policy in the amount of the current policy. If the insured dies before the term ends, the beneficiary collects the benefit. Otherwise, the beneficiary gets nothing.
  • Reduced paid-up means that the life insurance company uses the cash value of the policy to buy as much insurance as possible. This reduces the death benefits, but keeps the policy in force.
  • Cash surrender value refers to the amount of cash value a policy has. This amount is returned to the policyholder or beneficiary and the policy is canceled.
  • Loan value is the amount of the policy's cash value available as a loan. This amount will be returned to the policyholder or beneficiary and the policy will be cancelled.

If the policy lapses due to the death of the insured, the beneficiary will collect the full death benefit. Also, there is no time limit on when the beneficiary can collect the death benefit. The only requirement is that the death certificate is presented to the life insurance company to verify the insured's death. If the beneficiary never comes forward, then no one receives the money.

Unreported death
If the policyholder dies and the insurance company isn't informed, the policy will lapse. In this case, the life insurance company will send letters informing the insured that payment was not received and their policy may lapse if this continues. If there is still no response, the insurance company may initiate a search, but if no answer is found, the policy will automatically lapse due to delinquency of payment.

Unclaimed death benefits: are they gone forever?
If a beneficiary doesn't collect death benefits, and the life insurance company can't find the beneficiary after a few years, the money is transferred back to the state where the life insurance policy was originally purchased. The full amount must be turned over to the state comptroller department within three to five years of the insured death. There, it is put into a bank account and considered "unclaimed property."

A database with the names and addresses of lost beneficiaries is located at the state comptroller's office, and many times, they try to find the beneficiaries to distribute the death benefits to. Depending on your state, you may be able to go online, look in the paper for any unclaimed death benefits, or call the state comptroller or treasurer for information.

It should be noted that if the life insurance company doesn't know the insured has died, they are not required to turn the money over to the state. If the state doesn't have a death benefits law in place, then the money will remain at the insurance company and they can continue to search for the beneficiary. Also, it is very rare for money to be turned over to the state, because most insurance companies have their own search techniques to find beneficiaries.


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