This week Alexis is offering insights into the pros and cons of cashless pocket money for your children, revealing why your gold and silver is more valuable in the eyes of burglars than ever and offering a very simple money saving top tip for smokers.
Also on the agenda is information on how you may not be as insured as you think you are and offers advice for those affected by the recent floods across the country.
Advice for victims of flooding
- Government ministers are at loggerheads with the insurance industry over flooding, after 200,000 people in high-flood-risk areas were warned they could lose their home cover.
- As the current flooding, the worst since 2007, affects more and more towns and villages across Britain, ministers traded accusations with insurers about the worrying possibility huge numbers of households in areas of flood risk could become uninsurable from next year.
- After the first major flooding of recent years, in the autumn of 2000, the Association of British Insurers agreed a "statement of principles" with the Government, promising that people in risk areas who had insurance would continue to be offered it. But this agreement runs out next year, and to replace it, the ABI has proposed a fund based on an annual levy of about £8 on all Britain's 25 million insured properties, which would enable premiums of high-flood-risk homes to be kept affordable. Otherwise, the industry says, they would rise so high that such houses would, in effect, be uninsurable.
- Get in touch with the National Flood Forum (nationalfloodforum.org.uk). They're a national charity dedicated to supporting and representing communities and individuals at risk of flooding.
Pocket money for the digital age
- PKTMNY allows parents to deposit money into an account for their children to then use a Visa card linked to it to withdraw money, use contactless payments in shops and buy items online.
- Contactless payments are also known as 'wave and pay' or 'tap and go' are a method of paying for everyday items, such as coffee or newspapers, simply by swiping your credit or debit card across a reader.
- Parents can also have strict control on where kids spend the money, for instance only being allowed to use the card for shops on the High Street and putting blocks on cash withdrawals and online purchases.
- PKTMNY says the card cannot be used in pubs, bars, nightclubs and some restaurants, wine and beer wholesalers, cigar and tobacco shops, escort services and massage parlours, automated fuel dispensers, race tracks and adult entertainment venues, websites or TV channels.
- Whilst many say this new system is the future other consumer commentators are warning against the fees and charges for using such a card.
- The charges include a £5 one-off joining fee per family, and then a £1 monthly charge per child. So if you have two children, the first year would cost you £29 in charges.
- All payments direct from your bank account are free of charge, but it has to be a standing order. Each time you add money to the account using a credit card there is a 1.21% and for a debit card a 50p fee.
- There is also a 50p fee for every time a withdrawal is made via a cash machine and £2 abroad.
- However, spending money in shops and online is free.
- The fact the card is contactless may concern some parents, as if the card is stolen, purchases under £15 made in shops that accept contactless payments can be made without a PIN number - although, irregular activity will block the card if a series of purchases are made near each other.
- The maximum account balance is £6,000.
- The maximum that can be spent on the card is £4,000 and a limit of ten transactions.
- No more than £120 can be withdrawn from a cash point a day.
- There is also a £5 fee if the card needs replacing or if it is stolen, lost or damaged.
Households at an increasing risk of burglary
- High resale prices for gold, silver and platinum are leaving householders increasingly at risk from burglars who target their jewellery.
- Insurers are reporting an increase in claims for stolen watches and jewellery, while more customers risk leaving themselves out of pocket because their cover has not kept pace with the rising value of these possessions.
- The price of gold has increased more than fivefold over the past decade, while silver is up sevenfold.
- A representative from the insurer Direct Line has said, "Thieves are deliberately targeting gold and silver jewellery because it is so easy to sell. You see adverts for gold buying on the TV and in every High Street. It is no longer a matter of relying on fencing the jewellery to some bloke in a pub for a fraction of its worth."
- The overall number of burglaries has remained fairly static over the past three years. There were 489,000 break-ins in England and Wales in the year to June, about 30,000 down on the previous year.
- However, the number of burglaries involving jewellery has increased.
ADVICE TO BEAT THE BURGLARS
- LOCK IT UP: Ensure that doors are protected by deadlocks and windows secured by key-operated locks. Those with professionally installed locks to British Standards can qualify for discounted insurance premiums.
- SHED SOME LIGHT ON THE PROBLEM: Automatic security lights make it harder for a thief to break in under the cover of darkness. A well lit home is less likely to be targeted.
- BE SAFE WITH A SAFE: If you have a number of valuables, then a home safe can be a good investment. Few household burglars will want to take the time to defeat a decent safe. But it must be securely bolted to walls or a concrete floor to stop thieves levering it out.
- CONSIDER AN ALARM: These will deter opportunist thieves. It takes a brave burglar to remain inside a home while bells are ringing. A basic bell-only alarm is cheapest.
- PROVE IT IS YOURS: Security mark valuables with your postcode and house number. Take photographs of all jewellery and valuables. This may help to reunite you with possessions after a burglary and can aid the police in convicting the crook.
If you want to save money - quit smoking
- New figures have revealed that smokers will fork out £90,000 on cigarettes over a lifetime.
- Those who smoke spend an average of £26.54 a week on four packs of twenty.
- This is nearly double the cost of 10 years ago due to the ever-rising taxes on cigarettes.
- A new survey suggests that 60% of people would cut down if the tax goes up again.
Be alert to the many fake websites that operate
- Make sure you purchase of any product from an authorised stockist.
- A full list of stockists for all shops can be found online
- If buying online, check also that the website has a clearly stated returns and warranty policy with a UK based address/point of contact.
- Be cautious of websites that appear on Google, Bing or other engine searches for a company or similar keywords/searches, especially when the brand name is linked with the words sale, discount and cheap.
- Finding heavily discounted or low prices through search engines or on seemingly authentic sites is often a good indication that a product is counterfeit. If it seems too good to be true.
- Beware of sites where the images are of poor quality or slightly blurred. An authentic stockist should have clear, crisp images of all products.
Make sure you're insured
- Consumers are being advised to check their medical records before buying travel, life or health insurance to make sure they give correct answers to the complex questionnaires that they are increasingly required to complete.
- The Financial Ombudsman Service have said that one in four of the complaints it receives about travel insurance related to claims that have been turned down because holidaymakers failed to disclose pre-existing conditions.
- In addition, two out of every 100 claims for life and critical illness cover are rejected because applicants did not disclose their full medical history.
- Insurers do not normally see your medical record when you apply for cover but rely on the information you give them to decide whether to offer protection and at what price. However, if you make a claim, companies frequently write to your doctor for a copy of your medical history.
- This is when problems arise. If there is anything on your record that you failed to disclose, or did not understand, your claim could be rejected.