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The UK is the land of important insurance players such as the very famous Lloyd’s of London.

It is therefore no wonder that the variety of insurance offered in the UK is very vast and can cover most of your needs. Home insurance, car insurance, travel insurance, medical insurance, pet insurance, income insurance, illness insurance and life insurance are only some of the many covers you can buy as a UK resident.

When you set up your bank account or order your credit card, it is worth checking if this comes with some embedded insurance plan (travel and breakdown insurance tend to be fairly common).

The variety of offers is very wide and so is the number of insurance providers. This means that you need to “shop around” (i.e. review many different deals) to find the best options to suit your needs and the best value for your money. Difference in price for similar covers can be very significant.

If you are unsure about the terms of the cover you are looking for, the good news is that you will have no problem in finding a professional advisor in the UK who will be able to assist you in your selection process.

Firms selling insurance and those providing insurance cover (underwriting the risk) in the UK have to be regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) , the UK's financial services regulator. Regulated firms are listed on the FSA Register . In view of this, always make sure that the firm you use is on the FSA Register.

Insuring your items when you move

While organising your move to the UK you should consider insuring the items you are shipping in the event of damage or loss during their transportation. Most carriers will be able to provide you with insurance cover through a partner insurance company. Alternatively you can arrange your own cover through a provider of your choice.

It is important to ensure that you verify the status of your items as quickly as possible once they are delivered. In fact, claims made with delay (for example because certain boxes were left unopened for several days) tend to be contested by insurance carriers.

Insuring your home

In the UK you can get home contents insurance, building insurance or both.

Building insurance normally pays out if your property is destroyed. You are normally offered buildings insurance when you take out a mortgage (but you do not have to take what the bank has on offer). Shopping around can normally get you the best deal. If you purchase a leasehold property (for example, a flat) the freeholder normally arranges buildings insurance for the whole block, in which case you may not need your own policy.

Home contents insurance normally covers the loss of or damage to the contents of your home. Different policies offer different levels of cover but, generally, most policies cover against theft and fire, and normally have the option to insure against damage you may accidentally cause.

On top of building and home contents insurance you can also take out “flood insurance”. Although flood damage may be covered under your buildings insurance, if you live in a high-risk area, you may want to consider taking out stand-alone flood insurance as well. The Environment Agency has created a “flood map” which gives you an idea of the likelihood of flooding in your area.

Insuring your car

In the UK you must have basic motor insurance if you own or drive a vehicle. You can also choose to have a higher level of cover.

You can normally choose between three levels of cover:

Third party: this is the minimum legal requirement. It covers you if you injure a third party, including passengers or their property, but does not cover damage to your own vehicle.

Third party, fire and theft: this covers third party injuries and liabilities, and also fire and theft to your own vehicle, but not accidental damage to your vehicle.

Comprehensive: on top of the above, this also covers accidental damage to your own vehicle.

Most policies have a standard “excess” charge. This means that you will have to pay the first part of any claim (for example the first £100). The higher excess you are willing to pay, the cheaper the cost of your policy might become.

Insurance companies normally offer a “no-claims discount”, according to your claims history. Generally this discount can range from 30% to 65%. Your premium will therefore be reduced accordingly (some companies also allow you to pay a sum to protect your no-claims discount). It is therefore very important that, before you leave your home country, you ask your current insurer to issue a document (preferably in English) stating for how many years you have not filed any claim under your insurance policy.

Policies often also include breakdown insurance.

There are numerous insurance companies and comparison search engines that can be found online. Just type “car insurance” or “motor insurance” in any web search engine and you will be shown a large number of potential providers.

Insuring your holidays

Travel insurance can pay for lost luggage and other valuables, as well as accidents or emergency medical bills.

The most common travel insurance claims involve medical bills. Other common claims are for lost or stolen baggage, cancellation of flights, lost or stolen money and travel delays. Most policies will cover medical costs up to £1m and pay for an emergency air ambulance to bring you to the UK for treatment. Travel insurance can also cover you against other events, from theft to flight delays. Please remember that most policies have an excess charge.

You are normally offered travel insurance by travel agents when you book your holiday. However there are numerous offers for travel insurance out there. Moreover, you should find out whether your employer offers travel insurance as part of your benefits package or if you have some kind of travel insurance through your credit card or bank account.

Insuring your income

Income protection insurance can pay you a tax-free income after a sickness period. This normally would replace a part of your income should you be unable to work because of illness or disability.

You can also take out “payment protection” insurance. This can cover, for a limited period, your monthly repayments for a loan, or a credit card, or a mortgage, should you no longer have an income due to an accident, sickness or unemployment.

Insuring your health

Although UK residents are entitled to free healthcare from the NHS, you might consider taking out health insurance so that you can have a wider choice in the level of care you get. The level of cover varies.

Medical cover can normally be obtained on a full medical underwriting basis (i.e. you will be asked questions about your health and, based on the relevant answers, the conditions of cover will be determined). You can also apply for cover on a moratorium basis (i.e. you will not be asked questions about your health, but if you have had any health conditions during a certain number of years before your insurance starts, these will normally be excluded from cover.

Please also remember that your employer may offer some form of health insurance in your benefits package.

Insuring your life

Life insurance is normally taken out in order to provide financial security for people who depend on you in case of your death.

A life insurance policy will normally pay out a lump sum or a fixed regular income either when you die (in the case of a “whole of life” policy) or if you die within a specified term (in the case of a “term” policy). Some whole of life policies might contain an investment element to them. However such investment-type policies tend to be much more expensive than protection-only insurance.

Insuring your pets

In the UK you can buy insurance against vet bills. Policies vary, but in addition to vet's bills and drugs, some might also pay for kennel/cattery fees if you have an unexpected event or the cost of repairing damage caused by your pet.

Insuring other things or events

There are many more additional insurance covers available on the UK market (mobile phones, legal fees, identity protection, etc.). If you need to cover any specific item or event not listed above, it is likely that you will find a provider that covers it. Just search for the cover you are looking for on a web-search engine.

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All the information on Expats Plaza is free to view. If after having reviewed the information on Expats Plaza you believe this has been useful to you, please visit the Support Us page.
This page was last updated on 30.12.2010
Expats Plaza is the website for the Expatriates living in the UK