In 2005 the Office of Fair Trading received a super complaint from the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. This sparked a huge investigation into the payment protection insurance (PPI) sector, which resulted in several firms receiving fines for not putting the consumer ahead of profits. In some cases, it was found that loan protection insurance cover bought alongside the borrowing had almost doubled the cost of the loan.
Since the investigation began into the sector, companies found guilty of mis-selling have had to pay more than £1 million in fines. The majority of those companies fined were high street names that were failing to give out adequate information relating to the cover so that the consumer could make the choice of suitability. Following this complaint, guidelines were laid out to improve sales techniques. To further improve the situation, in March 2008 the Financial Services Authority will reveal its comparison tables, which will cover the three types of protection: loan, mortgage and income. The tables will hopefully put an end to the confusion that surrounds payment insurance policies. A series of questions will reveal which type of cover would be the most suitable for the consumer. The tables will also show how much the cover would cost and what exclusions there are in a policy. This will make it easier to decide which, if any, of the payment protection family is suitable.
Exclusions can be found on a regular basis in all forms of loan protection. Being retired or self-employed, working only part time or suffering from an ongoing illness would generally exclude a person from being able to claim on a protection policy. There can be other exclusions as well, which are specifically defined by individual providers, so the terms and conditions of each quote are different and must be checked thoroughly. Also, there are sometimes exceptions to exclusions. For example, while suffering a pre-existing illness is counted as an exclusion, providing the illness has not been present within the last two years then it may be possible to claim on a policy. Those individuals who are self-employed could also claim if they cease trading through involuntary reasons.
One of the best ways to take out loan protection insurance cover is by going with an independent provider. Getting several quotes and comparing them is imperative when it comes to getting the cheapest possible cover. Along with this, with a standalone provider you can be sure of getting the vital information so that you can make an informed decision. Once you have this information and have deemed a policy suitable then you would receive a tax-free income if you should become unable to work through suffering an accident, illness or unemployment that was no fault of your own. Cover would start to provide you with benefit from between day 30 to 90, depending on the provider’s terms and conditions. Once the policy is paying out then it would continue to do so for as long as 12 to 24 months, again depending on the provider, by which time you have hopefully recovered sufficiently to return to work or have found a new job.
Simon Burgess is Managing Director of the award-winning British Insurance, a specialist provider of loan protection insurance cover, mortgage protection insurance and income protection insurance.
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