The stock market has dropped dramatically wiping out a year of gains and more. Is this 2008 all over again? Are the current issues creating panic in international markets the signal we are about to slide into a 'double dip' recession? Will this mean we are going to see a dramatic reduction in job numbers as recent improvements in UK employment are inevitably thrown into reverse - probably.
Violent market falls are just another sign that it is NOT business as usual and that things have changed forever in an economically conjoined world. Now more than ever, it is critical for individuals to take control of their own financial future, because no one, especially the cash strapped UK Government, is going to take care of them.
Anyone in a job where things are looking OK at the moment, but find they have financial commitments that would use up their savings in a few months, should be considering the following questions;
If I am made redundant this year, how will I pay all of my bills? If I lose my job, how long will it take to get another? (note; the statistics from a leading income protection insurance provider indicate that their customers have an average gap between jobs of 6 to 8 months) Can I afford to keep my home and for my loved ones to continue to live in the circumstances to which they are accustomed?
For those who calculate that they would be in serious financial difficulty if they, or their partner, were out of work, it is time to think about this seriously. Home owners who have less than 6 months take home pay in savings could find themselves in serious trouble with their mortgage company and other creditors. They should at very least consider buying mortgage payment protection Insurance which would pay their mortgage and (typically an additional 25%) toward their other household bills.
However mortgage payment protection Insurance alone rarely meets all of the financial commitments of the average family, even though it does help to make any savings last far longer. For anyone without much saved, perhaps just enough to keep them afloat for a month or two, short-term income protection insurance is almost certainly a better option.
Some couples will already have a mortgage payment protection cover they arranged some while ago when setting up their mortgage. However, this might only pay £500 per month to cover what is now a relatively small mortgage. Fortunately, this existing policy would not prevent either one of the couple (usually the highest wage earner), from taking out a separate short-term Income Protection Policy to 'top up' their benefits to nearer, say, £1,500 per month.
If home owners already have a policy from a building society or mortgage broker, they can usually get an additional policy at a much lower price from an online specialist provider. To confirm this and to get an independent and unbiased price comparison, it is well worth looking at the Money Advice Service set up by the UK Financial Services Authority.
This online service has been specifically designed to help consumers make informed choices about financial products. The Money Advice Service do not sell anything themselves or on behalf of anybody else. They were set up by the UK Government and are paid for by a levy imposed upon the financial services industry. Their price comparison tables for mortgage payment protection Insurance, short-term income protection insurance and Loan Insurance are the most comprehensive available.
If we have a re-run of 2008, the providers of mortgage payment protection and short-term income protection insurance will soon be refusing to accept people in many 'economically vulnerable' occupations. Even people employed in manufacturing and financial services, where jobs have been in demand over the last 12 months, will find cover extremely difficult to buy at a reasonable price. So anyone who needs this cover is well advised to buy it now and not risk the Underwriters either putting up premiums again or simply refusing to insure people.
In 2008, thousands of people seeking this type of cover were turned away as the underwriter's appetite for new business disappeared at the same rate the banking crisis deepened. Since then, the cost of this cover has come down. It is certainly not reducing any further in the wake of this latest turmoil gripping financial markets. In short, if you need mortgage payment protection or short-term income protection insurance, grab it while you still can.
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