The Importance of Consumer Reports When Shopping for Financial Products

Shopping for financial products is a task that practically no person the world over would ever argue to be anything other than a tedious chore at best and a living nightmare at worst. The problem with financial products is that in an ideal world, none of us would have to invest in them in the first place. As such, the very notion of searching and applying for various products with fees, charges and interest rates is something to rue from the very word go. Trouble is we’d be lost without our personal loans, credit cards, overdraft, mortgages and countless other everyday essentials, making it necessary to just bite the bullet and get on with it.

However, while it may be impossible to make the process anything close to a pleasure, it is in fact possible to take much of the sting out of its tail in terms of risks.

A Blessing and a Curse

The internet has proved to be both a blessing and a curse when it comes to seeking financial products of safety and value, with millions of critics now perched on entirely different sides of the fence. With each and every passing year, thousands of new providers and lenders make their way on to the web and offer their own take on products, packages and services ‘guaranteed’ to make our lives easier. True, most may be entirely intent on living up to their promises and offering something of value, but the sheer abundance of names and brands makes in inevitable that the odd bad-apple will slip through the net here and there. The larger the web gets, the more bad-apples to avoid, which mean that in essence we are living in riskier times than ever before when it comes to the possibility of getting well and truly fleeced.

However, the web also provides each and every one of us with all the tools and resources we could ever need to make informed and educated decisions the likes of which have never been possible. There would of course be no better way of ensuring a smooth and safe agreement/transaction than by looking into future to know what to expect, though by looking into the past we can benefit from the next best thing.

Comparison Sites

Today’s internet is simply littered with independent comparison sites and helpful consumer resources the likes of which have revolutionized the way we can approach personal finance. No matter what it is that you might be looking for, it is 100% guaranteed that the product, service and provider behind it has been put through its paces by hundreds, thousands or maybe even tens of thousands of fellow consumers.

A single word from the consumer is worth more than a million or more from the provider, therefore meaning that any and every consumer looking for a safe and attractive deal should make these resources their first ports of call. All the promises and guarantees in the world are worth less than the paper they are printed on if they are not kept – these are the places to find out who practices as they preach.

It has never been easier to access hundreds of thousands of consumer reports on any and every financial products imaginable and will never cost you a penny to do so.

What Does a Life Insurance Company Rating Mean?

Most people, comfortable with their own sense of immortality, might look to a Life Insurance Company rating as an indication of the lowest premiums for x amount of Life Insurance. A bit more important is the Company’s financial stability and its ability to pay its claims.

When you are shopping for Life Insurance and feel all proud of yourself for being responsible and taking care of the risk management portion of your long term financial planning process, it is easy to concentrate solely on the cost of premiums. After all, most people are expecting to lost their wager with the Insurance Company and are getting Insurance for the “what if” and not the “when.”

Yet, although comparative premiums play a part in the Life Insurance Company rating, financial stability is a more important consideration. If an Insurance Agent offered you a million dollar term policy for a couple of cents a year, it might seem like a very, very good deal. Yet, if the Company has folded up shop and moved to Central America when your beneficiaries come looking for their payout, it was really a wasted couple of cents.

In the world of permanent Life Insurance and the combination of Life Insurance with savings and investment, financial stability and a good track record in selecting and managing your investment are the factors that constitute a good Insurance Company Rating. The ratings and evaluations of any single Company are subject to change during the life of your policy. The need to understand ratings and to follow them closely does not end when the policy is purchased.

There are several reputable Rating services and they present their ratings online, so it is easy to obtain them. In addition, the Insurance regulatory agencies of most States can provide additional information on Company performance. The Insurance Marketplace Standards Association (IMSA) provides a Seal of Approval to Companies with ethical standards and a good performance records.

Remember, the Life Insurance Company Rating is a combination of a number of factors. These include competitive rate comparisons, but more important are the ratings that indicate long term financial stability and a good performance and investment track record. The ratings are tools that can be used to make the important choices involved in the selection of the best Company for your Insurance needs. Make sure you use them and do not be afraid to discuss them and their meaning with your Insurance Agent.

Financial Rights – Helping You Know Your Rights For Financial Products

It is very important to be aware of your rights when dealing with any kind of financial product or service. The actual rights you are entitled to will vary according to the product, but to make the most of them you will need to be aware of them in advance, as it may effect the decisions you make. Don’t wait until there is a problem to find out what your rights are!

In most case, your rights are stronger if you have taken advice before you make a commitment than if you did not. If you are negligently or fraudulently advised, you have some recourse to protection. If you did not take advice, then the responsibility is yours. If in doubt, take advice.

In general terms, you have a right to expect:

  • The firm to be financially sound and trustworthy
  • Advisors and salespeople who are competent and knowledgeable
  • Correct information on which to base your decision
  • A clear complaints procedure
  • Compensation if something goes wrong outside the normal risks of the product

In terms of specific products, the rights you are entitled to vary.

Banks and Saving Accounts

The FSA ensures that banks and building societies are financially sound. Banks and building societies abide by a voluntary banking code, which sets out standards for ensuring you get the information you need to make an informed decision and that you are treated fairly. They must help you if you wish to make a complaint by having internal procedures in place, and letting you know what they are. They must also belong to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

Loans and Credit

Moneylenders such as bank and insurance companies are regulated by the FSA, who make sure they are sound and trustworthy. Other companies (such as loan companies) have to be licensed by the Office of Fair Trading. The Consumer Credit Act of 1974 ensures you have access to certain information. Loans from banks and building societies are covered by the voluntary banking code, which includes procedures for making a complaint.

There are other lenders who may not be covered by any regulation. If you have a complaint against one of these companies, you can contact your local Trading Standards Office, but your rights are much reduced.

If you buy goods or services worth more than 100 pounds using your credit card, the credit card company is jointly liable, along with the supplier, if the goods turn out to be faulty. They have a joint responsibility to put matters right.

Insurance

Insurance companies are all regulated by the FSA. However, general insurance advisors need not have any particular license or training. Many, however, choose to subscribe to the General Insurance Standards Council (GISC), and you may prefer only to deal with GISC members. They have agreed to abide by the GISC General Insurance Code for Private Customers, which includes formal procedures for making a complaint.

Should an insurance company be unable to meet its commitments, then you may be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Life insurance policies, investments and personal pensions are all covered by the Financial Services and Markets Act, which ensures that all companies are trustworthy and competent. They must also have formal complaints procedures, give you suitable advice, and provide you with certain key information, both before and after you buy.

Mortgages

Nearly all mortgage lenders subscribe to a voluntary code, as described in more detail by The Mortgage Code Compliance Board, which also has a list of lenders who subscribe. This includes formal complaints procedures, and regulations ensuring you are being treated fairly and have the information you require to make informed decisions.

Lenders who abide by this code have agreed to only take customers from advisors who also abide by the code.

Pensions

As has been famously covered in the media of late, pensions are a complex area and are not always the risk-free product they used to be. The decision as to what kind of pension to subscribe to is probably the most crucial financial decision you will make in your life.

The FSA publishes a whole series of guides to pension issues, which provide useful information on how to choose and maintain your pension effectively.

Auto Insurance Company – Free Online Car Insurance Company

Today it is very easy to find an auto insurance company free online car insurance quote. In fact, just about every company today offers these quotes online, in order to help you to find out whether not their the right company for you. So what is the best company for you? If it was this easy to determine this, everybody would go the same company.

The truth is, the best car insurance company will vary from person to person, depending on their personal situation. For instance, some companies might offer discounts for good driving records, even good grades, etc. It all depends on you and your situation. One company might be cheaper for your neighbor and may actually be more expensive for you.

So what are some for things to look for an auto insurance company? First of all, this is an obvious one, but it still is one of the central points: the price. The price of a policy will go a long ways to determining which is the right company for you is.

Of course, price certainly isn’t the only factor. Customer service is extremely important as well.

Quite simply, the insurance company industry, for better or worse, has developed the reputation of poor customer service. Many people report nightmare experience of having to wait hours before they get to talk with a representative.

Therefore, always make sure that the customer service is good before going with a particular company. Quite simply, some companies don’t have nearly the amount of current experience the other companies do. Therefore, it is imperative to look at the experience factor when deciding the right insurance company for you.

So how do you find out this information? Again, as with just about any information you want to find out in today’s world, the Internet has an abundance of info; by simply doing a quick Google search you will find literally millions of results to help you find out the right auto insurance company for you. Hopefully is important information help you quickly and easily find the right car insurance company for you with your individual situation.