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Posted by on in Business Matters

This isn’t the first and will not be the last time that I write about the danger of underinsurance, but yet another recent survey has revealed that a significant proportion of buildings in the UK are underinsured.

But it is not just buildings, underinsurance is rife in many areas. Machinery and stock are frequently undervalued, a recent industry study for the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters found that over 50% of Business Interruption sums insured are too low and with liability insurances, indemnity limits are often not sufficient to cover potential claims for personal injury, damage to property or financial loss.

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Tagged in: Insurance Nsure
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Posted by on in Financial Services Blog

According to a former government adviser “The mis-selling of annuities could be at least as big as the mis-selling of payment protection insurance”. Annuities aren’t inherently a bad product but like most mis-sold products they can be the wrong product for the wrong person or bought from the wrong provider with the wrong options.

The first thing to decide is whether an annuity is the correct option for you or if you would be better off with ‘pension drawdown’ where you leave the fund invested and draw from it.

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Tagged in: Annuity Nsure Pension
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A University of Texas at Arlington (UTA) research associate and electrical engineering professor have designed a micro-wind turbine that generates electrical energy. Their target looks to be an innovative solution to cell phone batteries constantly in need of recharging and home energy generation where large wind turbines are not possible.

Smitha Rao and J.-C. Chiao designed and built the device that is about 1.8 mm at its widest point. A single grain of rice could hold about 10 of these tiny wind turbines. Their example is hundreds of the wind turbines could be embedded in a sleeve for a cell phone. Wind, created by waving the cell phone in the air or holding it up to an open window on a windy day, would generate the electricity that could be collected by the cell phone's battery.
Rao's work in micro-robotic devices has initially spun up a Taiwanese company's interest in having Rao and Chiao brainstorm over novel device designs and applications for the company's unique fabrication techniques, which are known in the semiconductor industry for their reliability.

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A Russian hacker took over the BBC server and tried to sell the server and its contents to other hackers during the festive season.

The BBC's security team believes it managed to secure the site on Saturday 28 December. It had been broken into via a server usually used for uploading large files.

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Posted by on in Business Matters

For some years insurers have been concerned about potential personal injury claims from mould in buildings and claims are now occurring in the US. In one case, a woman has been awarded $3.3m after being left permanently disabled when she fell sick due to mould in her Arizona apartment. She claimed it was untreated for 2 years, although the building owners dispute that mould is the cause and plan to appeal. Insurers are concerned similar cases could be brought in the UK.

And staying in the US, a recent report says that 66 children a day need to visit Emergency Departments as a result of shopping trolley accidents. Possibly no surprise, but how about the shop worker who suffered a serious neck injury in a shopping trolley incident after a prankster hoisted a trolley up the shop flag pole and when she untied the rope it fell on her head!

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It seems that insurance was rarely out of the news in 2013 and all the while the media and MPs have (understandably) got their claws into the private motor insurance industry, it will no doubt grab it's fair share of headlines during 2014.

The problems with this part of the industry are now under the scrutiny of the Competition Commission (CC) who published a provisional report in December highlighting various concerns to include complex claim chains, the sale of 'add-on' products and price comparison websites.

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Snapchat said it will release an updated version of its app after hackers downloaded usernames and phone numbers for 4.6 million accounts.

It said the update will allow users to opt out of appearing in its feature, Find Friends, after they have verified their phone number.

Find Friends allows users to upload their address book contacts to find others who are also using the service.

The hack came after a security firm warned of vulnerabilities in the app.

The security firm, Gibson Security, highlighted the flaw, which it said could be used to reveal the phone numbers of users, in its report published on 25 December.

 

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Posted by on in Financial Services Blog

Towards the end of 2013 Nsure Financial Services had the good fortune to meet and employ Lorna Marrett. Joining Nsure from Santander, Lorna brings her expertise in financial services, in particular investments and pension planning.

 

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Posted by on in Renewable Energy Blog

As every Autumn draws to a close, it heralds the three day Renewable UK annual exhibition and conference, which this year took place in Birmingham at the NEC.

David Elliot-Rose and Dave Cole arrived at their hotel towards the end of the Monday afternoon and after a late lunch, went to set up their stand.

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Posted by on in Nsure Technology

The Irish loyalty programme firm, Loyaltybuild have been hit by a hack attack which saw the loss of 376,000 customer full credit card details.

According to investigatory results by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC), credit card and contrary to all payment storage rules CVV details were held unencrypted on Loyaltybuild's systems in the run-up to attacks in the middle of October.

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Posted by on in Renewable Energy Blog

As Nsure arrange insurance for the four operating turbines on the Scottish island of Gigha this item is of particular interest.

The island is exploring the potential of being involved with a £2.5m development aimed at solving a well-documented issue - how to store energy generated by renewable energy sources. The proposed project will involve installing huge batteries containing 75,000 litres of sulphuric acid mixed with vanadium pentoxide; the intention is to allow power generated by the island's wind turbines to be stored for later use.

While the island's turbines are running, their power is used to run households on the island and any excess is transmitted by cable to the mainland electricity grid. When winds are low, and Gigha's turbines do not turn, the grid feeds power to the island. However, the existing cable link has an upper power limit. Consequently, much of the island's excess power is wasted as this cannot be transmitted to the mainland grid. The project, backed by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, is intended to get round this problem.

One crucial point is that these batteries will be able to be used over and over again, and the islands and remote highland regions have immense potential for generating power from a variety of renewable energy sources. However, because suitable grid infrastructure is not in place and would be immensely expensive to upgrade or replace, comparatively, battery storage systems could help.

The concept is not new, although the size and scale of the use of battery storage is increasing. In August 2013, the Isle of Orkney recently powered up the UK's first large scale grid battery, being a new 2MW lithium ion battery which will help to balance grid and support renewable energy on the Scottish island.

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The article below caught Nsure Renewables' eye. This is a summary from The Guardian's "Sustainable Business Blog" on 18th November 2013.

There used to be one reason alone for companies to stick a wind turbine in the car park or a solar panel on the roof, and that was a photo opportunity for marketing and the annual report. It looked good to be green but added to costs rather than lowered them. But as more businesses are choosing to invest in on-site renewable energy than ever before, the reasons appear to be changing.
A recent report found that on-site generation by UK businesses increased by 53% in 2012 alone, with almost 90% of that coming from solar and wind. And the motivation now is one of energy security.
According to the latest DECC figures, the annual average price of gas and electricity (including the climate change levy) has increased by 121% and 93% respectively since 2002 for non-domestic customers. Meanwhile costs of renewable technologies have gone down, performance has improved, whilst incentives and funding structures such as feed in tariffs (FITs), Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) have appeared.
"When we were making the original decision, one of the big things for us was energy security," says Graham Chadwick, environment and CDM functional manager at Bentley Motors. In April it installed the largest roof mounted solar panel system in the UK, over 20,000 solar panels with a capacity of 5MW fixed to its factory in Crewe.
The Carbon Trust's associate director of business advice, Dominic Burbridge, describes the current popularity of on-site renewables as "predominantly driven by a change in the business case... more organisations have been investing in energy efficiency, they've gained the returns of being more efficient and are asking 'where else can I make investments to cut costs and be greener?'"
He has also noticed "aggressive sales" for solar in particular. "Lots of companies now will go to an organisation with a large land or roof asset and say 'you don't even need to put any cash in, we can give you fixed-price energy basically for free, but we will take all the revenue that comes from the FITs and any electricity exported to the grid'"
In fact, very few companies own their on-site renewable assets. Bentley's is a joint venture with Lightsource Renewable Energy Limited, which leases the roof space. Toyota, whose 4.1MW array of 16,800 solar panels at its Burnaston site was previously the biggest in the country, is in partnership with British Gas. The benefit of such arrangements is that the company does not take on the risk or the up-front costs. Such co-ownership arrangements may only be a short-term trend, however. Mr. Burbridge argues that five- to seven-year payback periods for solar and warranties for 25 years on panels already offer "a good rate of return" and "owning on-site renewables means you get all the benefit".
Many of the world's largest companies are going even further. Since the first solar panel appeared on a Walmart store in 2007, it now produces about 4% of the electricity it uses in the US and aims for 20% by 2020. BMW's Leipzig plant in Germany installed four 2.5MW wind turbines this spring and Apple gets 16% of its electricity from solar and biogas.
The next trend is to move beyond on-site generation toward purchasing green energy direct from source – or even owning the source. Microsoft recently announced a 20-year agreement to purchase all the electricity generated from a 110-megawatt (MW) Texan wind farm. Google has announced a deal to buy 240MW of electricity from a wind farm, also in Texas. Ikea now owns 137 wind turbines having recently added a 7.65MW Irish wind farm to an already impressive portfolio in its goal to become totally energy independent by 2020.
This, not the token photo opportunity, is the driver now. It may be propped up by FITs, ROCs, and a current glut of third-party developers. Take those away overnight and "the price indicators wouldn't be there", as Mr.Chadwick comments. But those fixed energy costs are becoming more and more attractive. And as the technology rapidly improves, the market for on-site renewables could become self-sufficient soon enough.

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Talks between the Government and the Association of British Insurers (ABI) on replacing the agreement on flood insurance (which expired in July) have reached an impasse. The plan is to establish Flood Re, a not for profit fund for around 200,000 homes in high risk flood areas and is designed to cover against floods up to those expected in a 1 in 200 year occurrence (six times worse than the floods seen in 2007). The ABI concern is that there could be problems if substantial flooding occurs in the early years before reserves have been built up and have asked the Government to provide a temporary overdraft facility. They have so far declined to do so.


If the dispute can be resolved, Flood Re should become operational in 2015 and in the meantime ABI members will voluntarily continue their commitment to existing customers under the old Statement of Principles agreement.

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Posted by on in Nsure Technology

Five men have been added to the FBI's Cyber Most Wanted list for their roles in crimes that saw tens of millions of dollars being stolen.
The FBI says hundreds of thousands of people fell victim to the suspects for whom rewards of up to $100,000 (£62,190) are being offered.
They include Carlos Perez-Melara who is being sought for a variety of cyber crimes including running a fraudulent website in 2003 that offered customers a way to "catch a cheating lover".  People who took the offer downloaded spyware that secretly installed a programme on their computers which allowed scammers to steal the victims' identities and personal information.

 

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RTA Investigations

Most drivers will admit that once in a while they make a mistake or take a chance, generally they are minor and we get away with it, occasionally there may be a near miss, but not everyone is that lucky. Road accidents kill or injure around 200,000 in the UK every year and if you are responsible for an accident involving a fatality or serious injury, don't expect to get away with it.

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Posted by on in Uncategorized

Payday lenders are in the press and on the TV a lot at the moment, be that in their own adverts or the news and it is a business that seems to have come from nothing in just a few years. Journalists and politicians are quick to blame the current economic climate for the meteoric rise in the use of these high cost lenders but is this the real reason? We've been through recessions before without the existence of these companies so what is different this time? There are two seemingly positive but innocuous changes that have happened since the last period of economic turmoil that have allowed them to prosper and they're not the ones you may think. They both sound fairly dull and are not as headline grabbing as charging the government with causing unemployment and cutting benefits or blaming individuals for their "must have it now" attitudes but without them the payday loan industry would not exist.

Firstly, following public and government pressure the cost of unauthorised overdrafts and meeting bill payments where the customer doesn't have enough money in their account have fallen substantially. Whilst at face value this is a good thing, if something isn't profitable for a bank to do they won't do it. If they can't make money from customers use of an unauthorised overdraft why let a customer have one? It's far easier to bounce the payment and not have to worry about the customer paying you back. This in turn means the customer needs to find the money from elsewhere and this is where the payday lenders step in.

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Posted by on in Nsure Technology

The computer software company Adobe has been hacked, potentially compromising the data of 2.9 million customers, the company revealed on 3rd October.

Adobe said "sophisticated attacks" had been carried out "very recently".

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New insurance products are always being developed to react to potential risks faced by owners and developers. For example, a reduction in yield can have a significant impact on a solar installation's financial performance which may not be as a result of any damage suffered. As a leading provider of insurance products for the renewable energy sector, Nsure Renewables help companies to better manage the impacts a reduction in yield can have on business.


Nsure's SolarPlus product provides cover for reduction in expected yield due to an installation's under performance, without the need for proof of negligence or defectiveness to trigger coverage for revenue losses.
SolarPlus provides cover for reductions in yield when production falls as a result of, for example, inclement weather, temporary sky obstructions, smoke, or volcanic ash clouds.

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Nsure Renewables congratulate their client Renewable Energy Generation Ltd (REG) on the sale of their 12 MW operational wind farm at Goonhilly Downs in Cornwall to a fund managed by BlackRock.

Under the terms of their existing Asset Management Agreement with BlackRock, REG will continue to manage operations at the wind farm, with Nsure Renewables continuing to arrange the wind farm insurance.
REG Group currently has 38MW of projects with planning consents as well as 140MW of projects awaiting determination. The proceeds of the sale, together with REG's existing funds, will be employed in moving both existing and new consents to construction as quickly as possible, accelerating the growth of the Company and maximizing returns to shareholders.

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Posted by on in Financial Services Blog

The banks have been at it again, this time getting caught miss-selling insurance against card fraud and charging customers over £1 billion in the process.
With so many major purchases now being carried out online using a credit or debit card surely insuring against the risk of your card details being used without your knowledge is a sensible thing? It would be if such misuse was your problem. What the banks neglected to tell you was that, provided you hadn't been reckless and negligent with your card, the problem of card fraud was theirs and not yours.
To make matters worse this insurance was being miss-sold while the banks were paying out billions of pounds in compensation for the PPI miss-selling saga! The series of miss-selling scandals will continue until such time as "free" banking ends. I like things to be free as much as the next person, but the reality is banking isn't free. There might be no monthly fees to have an account or charges for most transactions but the banks only offer this free banking in the hope they can make money out of you in other ways, such as selling insurance you don't need or levying horrendous overdraft charges.
We are all partly to blame for believing we get something for nothing. If a window cleaner said I'll come and clean your windows every month and it's completely free you'd ask "where's the catch?" But when a bank says you can have an account for free and use it as much as you like, forever, we take it at face value.
Even where current accounts do have a monthly fee they don't want you to think it is for using the account, instead we are told it's for "bundled" products, such as mobile phone insurance or to get a higher interest rate on the first portion of the balance. Despite the regulations that were introduced last year tightening up on the sales of these accounts I think it is only a matter of time until claims of miss-selling are made about them and so the cycle will continue.

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