Sunday Independent: Weigh up the cost of insurance

This is a piece we wrote for the Sunday Independent (originally appeared on the 4th of May).

We buy insurance to protect something we own or value. When asked, ‘What is your greatest asset?’ many people will say their family home; the more enlightened might say it’s their health.

Wealth is clearly something which many of us value – however, some people incorrectly mistake their income for wealth.

Cashflow can have endless liabilities stacked against it, which is why believing a person making six figures is ‘wealthy’ is often wrong – when viewed in the totality of their financial position.

Assets minus liabilities equals wealth – that’s a basic accounting equation.

It’s important to have a good understanding of wealth and of what you value before buying insurance. You should also ask yourself if the insurance in question is worthwhile.

The principle of indemnity is that you can’t be insured beyond the loss you experience, and there is always the issue of the cost of insurance versus the risk of the …

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Interesting Life Assurance statistics

This is based on research from the Broker/Life Assurance industry, so put on your filters, but nonetheless it is interesting.

1 in every 2 adults (1.6 million people) have NO Life cover or protection of any kind, but 9 out of 10 people admit to needing it.

1 in 5 people (360,000 families) are considering taking out life cover in the next 12 months, but most think it is dearer than it is. Engagement is the big issue – almost 60% of people say they are simply not being asked. On the last point, it seems we have some more phone calls to make!

🙂

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The day I mis-sold an insurance policy

About five years ago I had a couple in with me who were buying a home, I was helping them to determine their insurance needs and I realised that they had literally no protection if either of them ever fell seriously ill – not via their job/employer schemes or individually. So I suggested that they consider some serious illness cover, it would have cost them about €20 a month but they were insistent that they only wanted what was ‘cheapest and nothing more’.

As an adviser, it isn’t my job to always accept what people say they want because often, with adequate probing and understanding they actually want something entirely different, a skewed but simple way of understanding what I mean is that when saving or investing the majority of people want ‘high growth and high security’ – when in fact, these two features are normally night and day, if there ever was an asset that could deliver high growth with deposit account style security then everybody would pile in and the market would adjust accordingly, therefore you need to …

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The future of compensation in financial services (perhaps!)

I wrote before about the errors of compensation in financial services, in a nutshell people were earning money for short term performance in a long term game. However, what I had failed to do was provide potential solutions, this post is about alternative solutions, it will focus primarily on brokerage (because that is what I know best) but it can equally apply to banks or any financial company.

The basic tenets are

1. Long term reward for long term performance 2. Ensuring that bonus’s, while delivered in the short term, have some kind of long term implication. 3. Creating schemes that reward consistency and best advice, rather than one based on transactions.

I would state in advance, that enacting any of these plans will mean further economic pain for a group of workers who are already at the epicentre of the worldwide financial storm, it would also require considerable will to roll out, as well as the co-operation of the banks, the Financial Regulator, …

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Mother Nature isn’t joking around…

Yesterday I made a fairly bold statement stating that I believed we are on the cusp of a recession. Today I am going to point out some of the things that may shape global policies beyond economy.

Simply put its Mother Nature, Naturomics, maybe somebody coined that phrase before me – who knows, what I’m trying to say though is that nature will increasingly have an impact on world economies. The weather systems and ecosystems of the world were in state of stasis for a long time and now we have disrupted the whole thing, derailed a system that worked prefectly well for millenia. The price?

(recent storms in california)

Well, take California (my original home state), during the autumn they had the worst fires on record in a long long time, was the sun particularly hot because we’ve melted away all the ozone? was there no rain because of global warming? were the winds that drove it somehow higher due to shifts in weather patterns being caused by humans? I’m no scientist, so I can only ponder. Then …

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Mother Nature isn't joking around…

Yesterday I made a fairly bold statement stating that I believed we are on the cusp of a recession. Today I am going to point out some of the things that may shape global policies beyond economy.

Simply put its Mother Nature, Naturomics, maybe somebody coined that phrase before me – who knows, what I’m trying to say though is that nature will increasingly have an impact on world economies. The weather systems and ecosystems of the world were in state of stasis for a long time and now we have disrupted the whole thing, derailed a system that worked prefectly well for millenia. The price?

(recent storms in california)

Well, take California (my original home state), during the autumn they had the worst fires on record in a long long time, was the sun particularly hot because we’ve melted away all the ozone? was there no rain because of global warming? were the winds that drove it somehow higher due to shifts in weather patterns being caused by humans? I’m no scientist, so I can only ponder. Then …

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Ulster Bank, cutting out brokers, and perhaps Consumers too?

I guess the best thing to do is quickly outline the way things have worked since the inception of the broker industry in Ireland.

Brokers start their own companies and place business with larger companies, there are several types of brokers, some are tied (this means they only place business with one company) and independent – which is what Irish Mortgage Brokers are – and we have a panel of 15 banks and 5 insurance companies.

We have traditionally been paid 1% of the loans we send a bank as a ‘commission’ or income, so the client normally doesn’t have to pay a broker fee because the costs are covered by the commission. Brokers are paid because broker business (which counts for almost 60% of all mortgages done in this country) is a clean and profitable source of business for banks, they don’t have to pay for the brokers staff, their light, heat, holiday time etc. They do however have to pay for all of these things when a loan is done at branch level (e.g.: the loan is done …

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