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James Hammond

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It’s official: December 2015 was the wettest month in the UK since records began in 1910. 2015 was also the sixth wettest year on record according to the Met Office.

These stats hardly come as a surprise having seen the devastation wreaked by Storm Desmond and Storm Frank in December and early January. As records tumble, it seems like these kinds of more extreme weather events are here to stay. But if you’re looking to buy a property, how do you go about assessing the potential flood risk?

The first thing to be clear about is that a property doesn’t have to be situated near the seafront or by river banks to be at risk of flooding. A quick way to check the flooding risk in a particular area is to use the Environment Agency’s postcode search tool. This allows you to search for specific flooding risks in England and Wales, including those from rivers, the sea, surface water and reservoirs – it also details flood warning areas.

An estate agent should inform you about any recent flooding events at a property you’re looking at. However, our golden rule is always: don’t leave anything to chance. A detailed flood risk search is always a good idea in any at risk areas – we’ll be happy to talk to you about your options.

It’s also critical to make sure you have the right property insurance cover to match the flood risk in a specific area. Sadly, many people worst affected by the recent winter flooding had inadequate insurance cover – or none at all. Can you imagine the Christmas some of these families just endured?

It’s our job to find the best home insurance policies for our customers. We’re independent, so we look right across the market for the best deals. We’ve also read the small print. That means we’ll tell you in plain English what’s on offer and what that would mean if an event such as a flood should occur.

Let’s hope that never happens. But if it does, you’ll be glad you talked to us first.

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James Hammond

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Scenes of flooded homes in Cumbria bring an unfortunate sense of déjà vu; floods also hit the region in 2005 and 2009. Forecasters predict that floods and other extreme weather events are likely to increase as a result of climate change.

And of course, we don’t know where the next wave of floods will hit. So how are those most at risk going to get affordable house insurance? That’s up to half a million households according to industry estimates

So at Limetree, we welcome the forthcoming launch of Flood Re, which is the result of collaboration between the Government and the insurance industry to address this very issue. Flood Re is a reinsurance scheme whereby insurance companies are pooling a planned £2.1 billion of annual protection liability – making it the second largest “natural peril” reinsurance deal in Europe.

Insurance companies can pass on the flood risk element of home insurance policies for eligible at-risk homes. The insurers are then charged a fee by Flood Re which is calculated according to the property’s council tax band.

The three-year programme, which will be administered by the government, is set to launch in April. In fact, as a property owner or tenant, you won’t have any direct dealings with Flood Re. But what it will hopefully offer is a greater choice of and more affordable policies for people living in at-risk homes.

To which, we give a big thumbs up. But knowing exactly what kind of home insurance policy to get can be confusing. What is really covered in the small print? And who offers the best value for money? As independent insurance advisors, you can always count on us for our in-depth knowledge of the home insurance market and an unbiased recommendation.

Because, as recent events have shown, it pays to be well protected.

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James Hammond

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The High Net Worth Market is growing fast. One fifth of the UK population now has assets of over £750,000.  Surprisingly, however, around 80% don’t use a specialist insurer or mortgage broker.

My guess is that most people don’t use specialists because they either don’t think of themselves as High Net Worth (HNW) individuals and/or just don’t want the hassle of seeking out professional advice.

But compared with having to do all the legwork yourself, enlisting the services of a specialist can be time well-invested – especially if they understand what HNW clients want.

‘Top-Notch’ Service

According to a poll held at last week’s Insurance Age High Net Worth Forum, ‘top-notch service’ was cited as the most important factor for HNW individuals, gaining a whopping 74% of the vote.

But what does ‘top-notch service’ mean in practice?

In my experience, many HNW individuals are time poor, but asset rich. They like the fact that we get to know them, understand their financial goals and keep on top of market trends and deals so that they don’t have to.

We also understand that personal and financial circumstances can change quickly. An inheritance can suddenly open up better mortgage deals. Or the purchase of an expensive car can leave a client unwittingly underinsured.  Unfortunately life events and new cars don’t fall conveniently in line with policy renewal dates, which is why we like to stay in regular contact with our clients.

And while technology has made it easier for people to do their own market research, there’s still a lot of complexity involved. Online comparison tables don’t tell the full story.

We can open doors to better deals, negotiate terms on our clients’ behalves, and will always explain our recommendations in plain English.

The top people definitely need a broker. It’s very complex. Household is underrated in its complexity…You need to explain to the client what he can and cannot insure. It will be a fundamental need forever.

Panel discussion, Insurance Age High Net Worth Forum

At Limetree we also believe great service means:

  • Doing what we say we will, when we say we will
  • Being proactive and advising our clients if a better deal comes along
  • Using our contacts to offer help in other related areas, such as tax or pensions
  • Scheduling meetings around our clients’ work commitments and lifestyle
  • Being human!

Most importantly, we think every customer should expect this level of service, regardless of the size of their bank account.

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James Carter

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Compared to 10 years ago the number of young people (aged between 24 and 34) renting homes has shot up. In 2004, almost 60% owned their own home. These days, it’s just 36%.

Rises in house prices are the main culprit in causing this trend, with nearly half of this age group, known as ‘generation rent’, renting from private landlords.

Although I’m sure many of these renters would prefer to own their own place, they still need to treat their accommodation like any other long-term abode.

With that in mind, any home and its contents need to be protected. In the case of renting, tenants need to ensure their possessions are insured – just as they would if they lived in a home that they owned.

But many renters don’t realise there is a difference between tenants insurance and contents insurance. The latter might be taken out by the landlord but restricted to furnishings in the flat or house – a tenant’s personal belongings may be excluded.

This is when tenants insurance comes in; it covers possessions including those taken away from the home like phones, laptops, tablets, sport equipment and jewellery.

Together, the value of all such these items could really add up, and tenants could regret not investing in insurance if any were destroyed, stolen or damaged.

I can help you look into policies – give me a call on 01223 266140.

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James Carter

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Recently I’ve had to help clients who both live next to watercourses. That in itself isn’t a major issue, but the conversations reminded me that people can get caught out when it comes to home insurance.

If for some reason the watercourse isn’t included on an insurance application, it can lead to problems come renewal time. Whether it’s intentional or genuine error, if you fail to mention this vital detail on your application, the insurer will deem it to be non-disclosure.

The best possible outcome is that the insurer continues to cover your home, but with an increase in premium. The worst case scenario: the insurer refuses to renew the policy (they can research whether you have been declined by other insurers), resulting in you having to buy non-standard policies. This can continue into the future, potentially costing you more in the long term.

Best practice is to simply be very careful (and honest) when completing an application. And read all the information in the quote to make sure the details are accurate.

If you need help on this issue, talk to us. You can also read more on the Environmental Agency website or contact your local authority about watercourses on your land or near your property.

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