Holiday refunds “unlikely” if travellers have to self-isolate, experts warn

Holiday refunds “unlikely” if travellers have to self-isolate, experts warn

Holiday bookings and travel insurance could be affected

Brean Horne
Fri, 07/03/2020 – 12:50

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UK holidaymakers risk losing money as travel companies are unlikely to give refunds for self-isolation due to coronavirus, a consumer expert warns.

Package holiday firms and travel insurance providers are not likely to cover cancellations due to someone developing coronavirus symptoms by the time they need to travel.

People considering booking a holiday soon will be “bearing all of the risk,” Alex Neill, chief executive of Revolver, told the BBC.

“It is likely that new travel insurance policies won’t cover you if you develop symptoms before going on holiday – and if the flight or packaged holiday isn’t cancelled then you have no automatic right to compensation,” she says.

Blanket restrictions on non-essential overseas travel are expected to be relaxed in the UK.

People arriving in England from more than 50 countries including France, Germany, Italy and Spain will no longer need to quarantine from 10 July, the Department for Transport has confirmed.

Can I get travel insurance protection?

A handful of travel insurance companies have recently announced that they will now offer cancellation cover for holidaymakers affected by coronavirus. These include Trailfinders, CoverForYou, Cedar Tree and Outbacker.

The Post Office and Saga have both introduced limited Covid-19 cover which pays medical expenses and repatriation costs if holidaymakers fall ill with the virus during a trip abroad in early June.

But if you decide to travel to a country on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) ban list your travel insurance will be invalidated and you will not be able to make a claim.

There are 188 insurers offering annual travel cover and 161 offering single trip policies, according to the latest figures from financial information business Defaqto.

Experts advise that you check the details of your trip with an insurance provider to ensure you get the right cover.

Brian Brown, consumer finance expert at Defaqto, says: “If you book a holiday now, while the FCO is telling you not to travel, and that advice remains in force when your time to travel comes, you will have no cover under any circumstances.”

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Use pension cash to fight climate change, says Comic Relief founder

Use pension cash to fight climate change, says Comic Relief founder

Celebrity director calls for “pensions to do better”

Brean Horne
Fri, 07/03/2020 – 11:44

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Some £3 trillion of UK pension cash could be used to help fight climate change following the launch of a campaign by British film director Richard Curtis and ex-Bank of England governor Mark Carney.

Make My Money Matter wants pension savers to move investments out of areas like fossil fuels, tobacco, gambling and deforestation into sustainable alternatives.

Curtis, director of acclaimed British films including Notting Hill and Bridget Jones’ Diary, launched the movement to help “pensions do more”.

The campaign also wants the pension industry to commit to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Will this idea work?

Pension savers are increasingly interested in sustainable investment, according to the campaign.

Some 57% of UK adults with a pension want to see their retirement funds invested in building a better future. Around 52% want their pensions to be part of the solution in tackling climate change.  

But most of us do not know where our pension cash is being invested.  

Nearly three quarters (72%) of UK adults who have a pension do not know whether it is invested in line with their values.

Curtis, who is also co-founder of Comic Relief, says: “The £3 trillion in our UK pension pot is more than enough to take on the climate emergency, bring hundreds of new drugs to market, or help solve the housing crisis.”

Markey Carney, ex-governor of the Bank of England, says: “By helping align finance with society’s values, the Make My Money Matter campaign can support the whole economy transition required to achieve net zero.  This could turn the existential risks from climate change into the greatest commercial opportunity of our time.”

People can show their support for the campaign by signing a petition on the Make My Money website. 

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Divorced women retire with pensions a quarter the size of men’s

Divorced women retire with pensions a quarter the size of men’s

Men who divorce have a pension pot of £103,500 compared to £26,100 for women

Stephen Little
Fri, 07/03/2020 – 11:33

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Divorced women are retiring with average pension pots a quarter the size of men’s, research shows.

The median pension wealth of a divorced man is £103,500, whereas the figure for a woman in the same situation is £26,100, according to workplace pension provider Now: Pensions.

Both fall way short of the average pension savings of a man at £156,500 and a woman at £51,000.

Although pension pots can often be the second most-valuable asset after property when people are going through a divorce, they are often overlooked. Seven out of 10 divorce settlements do not take pensions into consideration.

Additionally, divorced women are twice as likely not to be saving anything at all for retirement compared to divorced men.

If pension assets are left out of settlements this often leaves women worse off in later life.

Why does this happen?

One of the main reasons why women face a pension shortfall is that men earn, on average, more than women during their careers, so they contribute more to their retirement pots. 

Women working part-time are more likely to be in in low paying occupations. Currently 34% of divorced women work part-time.

Women are also more likely to take time out from work to raise children or care for elderly relatives.

The coronavirus pandemic is also impacting women of all ages as they are more likely to become unemployed.

According to the Institute for Fiscal Studies, mothers are one and a half times more likely to have permanently lost or quit their job since lockdown began. This, paired with many women taking on more childcare due to nursery and school closures, means that they are working and earning less.

This all plays a part in reducing how much you can pay into savings and a pension, how much employers will top it up, and how much tax relief your savings receive.

Joanne Segars, from Now: Pensions, says: “From our extensive work on the gender pensions gap, it is clear that women who are also part of other under-pensioned groups, such as those who are divorced, will see a compounded impact on their savings for later life.”

Phillip Way, partner at law firm Mills and Reeve, says: “Women contemplating divorce must ensure that they are aware of their own and their husband’s pension savings and their likely incomes in retirement.

“For many, it is all too easy to focus on the here and now in what are often distressing circumstances.  For example, many women have found that, in keeping the house in a divorce settlement and not looking carefully at pensions, they have put themselves in a poor financial position for the long-term future.” 

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Wirecard customers get access to money after collapse

Wirecard customers get access to money after collapse

UK financial watchdog eases restrictions on the company

Brean Horne
Wed, 07/01/2020 – 15:52

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Customers can now make payments using Wirecard, as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) lifted restrictions on the company.

Wirecard is a German-based payment processor and issues cards for several financial brands in the UK including Curve, FairFX and Pockit.

The FCA revoked the licence of Wirecard’s UK arm after it filed for insolvency last week.

Thousands of people were left unable to access their money including customers who used banking apps such as Dozens, FairFX, Pockit and U.

In a statement, the financial watchdog confirmed that the restrictions on Wirecard have now been eased and customers should shortly be able to use their cards as usual.

“We continue to monitor Wirecard’s activities closely and certain requirements continue to remain in force. These should not, however, affect the services Wirecard provides to its customers. This means customers can now or very shortly use their cards as necessary,” says the financial watchdog.

Customers still experiencing difficulty are being advised to contact their card provider directly by the FCA.

Is your money protected?

Money held by on prepaid cards is not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which protects up to £85,000 of customers’ money if a UK-authorised bank go bust.

This is because funds on a prepaid card are classed as “electronic money” or “e-money,” which do not qualify for protection. 

As a result, if your prepaid card provider goes bust, your money will be subject to their safeguarding terms.

These terms usually mean that your money will be placed into a ring-fenced account which is separate from the company’s own money.

In the event that the provider goes bust, they have to repay you from the ring-fenced funds before they pay out what they owe to others.

Beware of scams

The FCA is telling Wirecard users to remain vigilant as fraudsters may begin to target those affected by the incident.

The following steps can help you avoid being caught out by a scam:

Stop: Take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.

Challenge: Could it be fake? It is fine to reject, refuse, or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.

Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen for a scam, and report it to Action Fraud. You can report the firm or scam by contacting the Action Fraud consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768 or by using an online reporting form.

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