The Changing Face of the Critical Illness Market

It is common practice when purchasing a property to consider your spouse/dependents in the event of your death. Many want to ensure that when making a significant long-term investment, such as a home, that if they were to die prematurely, their largest liability (their mortgage) is taken care of and their dependents are provided for. This point is substantiated by the fact that in the UK today over 43% of the adult population hold some form of life cover. Yet, when we consider that with modern day medical and technological developments, people are living longer and surviving what were previously deemed to be terminal illnesses, it’s clear to see why term assurance policies have become so much more affordable. Very few however consider the consequences of contracting an illness and its effect not just upon ones physical health but also considering the longer-term financial consequences.

Upon the diagnosis of an illness, one may have to temporarily or even permanently give up work. When considering this, how can you be expected to meet your liabilities? Not just bearing in mind the mortgage but also our other outgoings. For any household these could include utilities, food, travel, school fees, family holidays in addition to the cost of potential medical and hospital related costs. Few people have savings that they can fall back on, and even those who do would see them dwindle rather rapidly without a continual source of income. All factors that illustrate the importance of considering critical illness cover when undertaking ones financial planning needs.

So what exactly does Critical Illness Cover do? It provides the policyholder with a tax-free lump sum, similar to that of a term assurance policy and is paid out upon the diagnosis of a critical illness. Some of the most common being Cancer, Heart Attack, Stroke and Multiple Sclerosis.

The reality lies with the fact that before the age of 65, you are 6 times more likely to contract a serious illness than to die. So why did 3 times as many people take out life cover than critical illness cover last year?

One possible answer is that nobody expects it to happen to them. However, one of the most daunting statistics out there is that 1 in 3 people will contract cancer at some stage during their life according to the Imperial Cancer Research fund – a truly staggering number. Not only that, but over 156,000 people in the UK will suffer a heart attack and over 150,000 will have a stroke this year alone. Yet this is something that very few people prepare for and do not have the financial capability to deal with the consequences of.

Another possible reason for the low number of policies in relation to life cover is the poor public perception of Critical Illness cover. Stories published in the newspaper and even broadcast on television of how when putting in a claim for what one would believe to be a critical illness, insurers have turned around and told policyholders that they are not covered. Most recently an article was published on a bus driver from Derby who suffered a series of infections in his left leg and as a result had to have it amputated. When he contacted his insurer to put in a £500,000 claim he was informed he would have to of had two legs amputated before they would pay-out. BBC’s Watchdog also broadcast a piece on the failings of CI cover after hearing from a number of women who had been declined a pay-out following being diagnosed with breast cancer. This was due to the fact they were diagnosed with Ductal Carcinoma In Situ (DCIS). An early form of breast cancer which has the potential to become malignant and spread, however as it had been caught early, it remains contained and therefore would not qualify for a claim. Most would argue however that these women were not just subject to a highly traumatic experience. They had to take significant time of work to receive treatment and recuperate and should therefore be entitled to some form of compensation. One woman following her mastectomy required a further 8 operations due to complications with her skin, leaving her physically unable to work, yet still she still did not qualify for a claim.

So how is the Critical Illness market responding to such issues? What we are beginning to see in the market is that some insurers such as PruProtect, Royal Liver and AXA are beginning to pay claims out upon a severity basis. What that means is that should you be diagnosed with an illness that is under the terms of the policy, you will receive a payout of between 10-100% of your sum assured. The amount is determined by how serious your illness is and how greatly it could affect your lifestyle. It is not a case of you having to be critical before you receive a payout as with many others in the market. Your cover will not cease after the claim as it would many CI policies, it will continue following the claim and the premiums (if guaranteed) will also remain at the same level you were paying prior to the claim. So in the case of the Derby bus driver who suffered a leg amputation, under PruProtects Serious Illness Cover, he would have received a payout of 75% of his sum assured (£375,000) and his cover would have continued following the claim. In the case of the lady who was diagnosed with DCIS, she would have received 10% of her sum assured to assist with medical care as well as give her the peace of mind to know she wouldn’t have to return to work. Her cover would also continue following the claim so should the cancer return, she would have been able to make another claim.

When one considers other insurance markets, it’s obvious to see how this approach makes basic common sense. With regard to household cover, when a water pipe bursts in your home, you don’t receive the total value of your house. You receive a pay-out in proportion to the damage caused to the property and your cover continues. When your car is involved in a minor collision, you don’t receive a pay-out for the whole car, you make a claim to the value of the damage caused and again, your cover continues.

People want financial protection that they can not only claim on, but also have the cover continue after that claim. Not simply to be told that their condition is not deemed critical enough and if it is, that their cover cease following the claim. It’s clear that severity based payments are the way the market should be headed. A point further substantiated by the fact PruProtects Serious Illness Cover was awarded the Best Critical Illness Provider Award for 2009 & 2010, as well as a DEFAQTO 5 star rating for 2007 through to 2011.

Critical Illness and Life Cover are policies that nobody ever wishes to make a claim on, yet evidence shows they are vitally important and can help support ones liabilities and families’ future. Life cover has always been the leading product in the market in terms of sales, yet what is increasingly evident is the value critical illness can offer, especially given the changing nature of the market.

Michael Rhodes is a Financial Protection Consultant for Genesis Advisory Services (UK) Ltd who are authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority and form the protection arm of the Genesis Capital Group of South Africa. To find out more about Serious Illness Cover, get in contact on 020 8387 1331.

Top 10 iPhone Apps for Personal Finance

There are many applications for the iPhone that give users the ability to make personal financing easier than ever. While solving one pain-in-the-neck issue, it creates another – which app to buy? Because of the popularity of these headache-reducing apps, there is an overwhelming amount of options available in the App Store. Deciphering which app is the best available is almost impossible. Add in the fact that so many aren’t free, and choosing the right one the first time around could save time and money. Before downloading anything, it’s important to know if the functionality of the app (money transferring, budget tracking, etc.) fits your needs. Provided is a list of ten apps including the price and primary function that can make tracking personal finances much easier.

Mint – There are tons of finance apps available that focus on budget tracking. Few are as popular as Mint, which allows users to manage multiple financial accounts from one simple user interface. With user-friendly features and no price tag, there is little wonder why this app has so many users.

Loan Shark – Dealing with loans is never a pleasant experience. The Loan Shark app helps ease some of the pain endured while handling loans without having to pay anything. It simplifies the process of calculating loans by a great deal and also has many features including a full amortization table, a one-tap extra payment option, and a “favorites” feature.

MoneyStrands – This app is another free option for tracking your budget. With features like alerts, analysis, security, and support, it is one to compare to Mint.

PageOnce – Planning long-term investments can be easy to put off. This app also assists in budgeting your current finances like MoneyStrands and Mint, but really excels in planning for the future. It gives you the ability to look at your 401k, IRA, and stocks all at the same time, while not costing you a cent.

Toshl – Toshl incorporates cloud computing into every day financing with this free app. The cloud feature allows users to automatically sync their mobile movements online. Additionally, there is a premium upgrade ($19.95/year) that allows users to export to Excel, PDF, or Google Docs among other features.

MoneyBook – MoneyBook is another addition to the long line of apps for budgeting. This one, however, comes at a price. Promoted as “Finance with Flair,” the app costs $2.99 and is loaded with features to make financing easier.

SplashMoney – At $4.99, what differentiates this from the free apps is its ability to connect wirelessly to most online bank accounts.

Square – The price is right for this free app that makes credit card purchases simpler than ever. By signing up, Square, Inc. will provide a credit card reader that can be attached directly to the iPhone. Once connected, users have the ability to swipe all major credit cards with only a 2.75% charge per swipe.

PayPal – Ebay-owned PayPal provides users a secure, simple way to send or receive money wirelessly.

General Banking – The bulk of major banks have available apps for free. These provide easy-access to any and all bank accounts in a secure fashion.

This is only a small example of the many, many apps that can help make financing easier. With the continuous release of new applications and updates to old ones, banking from your iPhone will continue to simplify; finding the app for doing so may not. This list is a great place to start looking.

For more information about iPhone application development, visit Magenic Technologies who have been providing innovative custom software development to meet unique business challenges for some of the most recognized companies and organizations in the nation.

100 Financing Investment Property

100 financing of investment properties refers to 100% financing from outside for your investment in real estate. Funds that are brought from one’s own savings, on loan from friends or relatives are in a way not much different from capital whereas real debt or Investment property financing comes from financial institutions. These entities – banks, mortgage firms and lending organizations like credit unions — lend funds to the applicant on the trust of a collateral security or based on the income, credit-worthiness and repayment capacity of the individual. Even if these criteria are satisfactory, an investment property financing institution may ask to be shown the business plan of how the applicant means to generate income using the pieces of property he or she means to buy and consequently pay off the loan or conclude the mortgage. The lender has the right to know how the business is going to be conducted because the revenues of this business determine how fast the loan is going to be repaid. With the turn in the economy, 100% financing investment property has almost been done away with.

100 financing investment property

In the United States, there are three credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian and Transunion, that maintain records of the lines of credit extended to each individual and how they are being handled. The credit reports formulated by these bureaus reflect how many credit card accounts a person has, how many times he or she has defaulted in payment or gone over the credit limit; other forms of financing availed by the individual such as home mortgage, auto finance or student loans, are also listed. Lenders and creditors have access to these credit reports and use them to check if an applicant is worth the risk of being given a loan. The exact features that point to an applicant as being risky can be found out after a professional analysis of one’s credit report. A high Debt to Income ratio and loan to value ratio are some of the red-flags. These areas have to be improved so as not be saddled with an exorbitant rate of interest and terms that are not favorable to the borrower. Some unfavorable terms are floating interest rates that send the finance charges through the roof upon a single defaulted payment. To prevent this eventuality, it is better to choose a deal with a fixed (flat) interest rate or a low ceiling rate on the interest rate slab.

Lending fees, high interest rates, discount points (another form of lending fees paid upfront to prevent the interest from racing up) can actually break the bank. In fact, there are many cases in which discount points have been deceptive and one ends up paying more for them, than the actual interest (finance charges) that would have been paid if the interest rates did go up. To prevent such goof ups, it is a good idea to take estimates from two or three lending organizations, compare their offerings and then choose the one that appeals most to one.

The worst pitfall to guard against is when some lender tells you that you are eligible for 100% financing of investment property. Those idyllic days are over. In fact, they are past their sell by date because there were not so idyllic. There may be such plans available on subsidy from the government for the exclusive use of first time homeowners who belong to the low income group. But this does not include investment property dealers. Traditional methods of 100% financing are now called owner financing and are still available but they are not an attractive option. It is not surprising that requests for owner financing are viewed with suspicion of default by lenders and therefore, that avenue is best avoided.

The Advantages of Settling Credit Card Debt

Stop The Impulses and Start Settling Credit Card Debt
The most common cause for unpayable debts resides in the erratic credit card impulse purchases. Granted, with the amount of advertisement and so-called benefits of using your credit card to acquire expensive goods, few customers can completely resist the temptation. However, even the small credit purchases tend to accumulate to unimaginable heights, leaving individuals with few alternatives but filing for bankruptcy. On the other hand, the good news is that nowadays people have the option of settling credit card debt with the help of specialized agencies, in order to avoid the negative consequences that will remain imprinted on their credit history for years to come.

Right from the start, we would like to emphasize that the DIY attempt of settling your debt has very few chances of succeeding. In essence, the only category of people have a shot of settling credit card debt by discussing directly with the lenders are those who have undergone dire circumstances, such as sudden grave illnesses, expensive divorces or that have recently lost their jobs. However, these situation are by no means a guarantee that the creditor will be willing to listen to the plea, especially since the geo-economical climate has affected quite a lot of individuals.

On the other hand, settling your debt via specialized agencies is an one hundred percent viable solution for resolving seemingly impossible debt issues. As a side note, not all debt settlement companies are created equal and it is advisable to stay away from those that advocate unethical practices, have no insurance or do not grant customers access to their own money. Moreover, being able to terminate the contract with the said agency is an imperious criteria of selection and the maximum term in which they should be able to reimburse the cash in this situation cannot surpass seven working days.

Although customers will be required to account for an extra fee for settling credit card debt, this option is feasible in terms of finances in the long run. In fact, an efficient debt settlement agency will be able to save important sums of cash that would have otherwise been wasted on paying the interest rate on the constantly increasing premiums. Keep in mind that debt increases exponentially each month due to the late fees and the decreasing credit score associated with missing the payment, so the end to this unfortunate situation is nowhere in sight if you do not take action and settle your debt. However, it is advisable to discard idle promises such as being able to repay all your debts for a couple of bucks every month.

In essence, given the practices of credit card companies, which let’s face it are not always fair, many end up knee-deep in debt without even knowing it. If you are struggling to pay the credit card premiums and the best you could manage to do so far is keep the interest rate from accumulating, then it is crystal clear you are in need of financial counseling on settling credit card debt from here. Rather than causing irreparable damage to your payment history and credit card score, why not take the easier way out?

Pick up the phone and call Allied State Toll Free on 877-257-3317 Now and get out of debt ASAP also if you want to learn more read the best debt consolidation methods.

Settling credit card debt could be the best thing you have decided to do ever pick up the phone now and get out the whole you are in.

The Best Free Android Finance Apps

Obviously many people will be skeptical as to how good free apps actually are, with many consumers actually purposefully not downloading free apps due to fears that they will crash or being infected with various ways of stealing your money. However these fears are totally unfounded and without evidence so do not let this put you off. Now to the apps:

PayPal

If you have been on the internet at some point then you will have undoubtedly heard of PayPal. The service facilitates payments between people via a simple email address, avoiding the complexities usually associated with bank transfers and the like. The PayPal Android app allows users to manage their PayPal account just as they would through the official website. The app is totally secure and allows you to make purchases or deposits also amongst other activities on the move, a very useful addition to the marketplace.

Quote Pro

Quote Pro is also an incredibly useful app, used by many on a daily basis it has fast become one of the most downloaded in its range. Not only can you obtain extremely detailed and accurate information about the range of stocks you have an interest in, but you can also keep an eye on your portfolio of stocks and shares.

Tip Calculator by TradeFields

Tip Calculator is perhaps one of the most imaginative apps I have personally seen on the app marketplace. It is incredibly useful for an aspect you will have probably have struggled with every time you’ve been out for a meal, the tip. Not only will the app inform you of the total tip you should be leaving behind, but will also divide the total tip amount between the number of people at the dinner, saving much embarrassment, delays and napkin calculations!

Currency Converter

How many times have you been in a foreign country or at the airport and have been wondering how much you will actually get in return for your dollars? Numerous times in all probability. The currency converter provided by Pocketools will enable you to be provided with an accurate, up to date and independent currency exchange valuation allowing you to shop around to find the best exchange rate. Not only does this app provide you with the current exchange rate, it will also give you data on the currency of your choice over the last 5 year period through the use of many easy to read graphs.

Mileage

This is without doubt one of the best apps I have personally seen. With the rising prices of gas which look set to continue for the foreseeable future it is a great way of ensuring that you are driving as economically as possible and therefore saving as much gas as possible. I haven’t an idea about how it works but it does, the interface is also extremely slick, simple to navigate through and to understand.

Finance

Finance, whilst the name of the app may not excite you or conjure up ideas that this app is going to change the world it certainly fills a gap in the market which needed a simple app. It’s similar to Google search in many aspects, it provides a very basic user interface, but one that is incredibly effective and performs its job excellently. If you already use Google Finance or are considering starting to use it then this app is vital, it synchronizes everything meaning it’s like being on your main PC.

Financisto

Financisto is another great money manager. The ability to create long and short term budgets for holidays, short breaks or just a simple shopping trip is a real plus point for this app and one which has seen it rocket in terms of popularity. In addition to this the app has the capability to check your recurring payments amongst many other essential financial activities; this has left many users of the marketplace wondering why there is no charge.