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Life Insurance

Should you get a Mortgage Adviser?

Getting a mortgage is one of the biggest financial decisions you’ll make, so it’s important to get it right. This guide will help you work out whether you should get a mortgage adviser, where to get free advice, how your bank might be able to help and which comparison websites you can check.

How to choose a mortgage
Use the Mortgage Affordability Calculator(external link opens in a new window / tab) to work out how much you might be able to borrow.

The mortgage market is incredibly competitive and it can be hard to understand what exactly is on offer.

There are many different providers and a wide range of products and rates available.

So it’s a good idea to talk to your bank, as well as a number of independent mortgage advisors, before making up your mind.

This guide will take you through the routes to getting a mortgage and the importance of studying your options before making a decision.

Find out more in Mortgages – a beginner’s guide(external link opens in a new window / tab).
Why it’s usually a good idea to get mortgage advice
Lenders (usually banks) and brokers must offer advice when they recommend a mortgage for you.

They’ll assess the level of mortgage repayments you can afford, by looking at your income as well as your debt repayments and day-to-day spending.

This means you should end up with a mortgage that suits your needs.

Although lenders and brokers must offer advice in almost all cases, you might be able choose to reject the advice and find your own mortgage deal based on your own research.

If you choose your own mortgage without advice it’s called an “execution-only” application.

Read more in Do you need a financial adviser?(external link opens in a new window / tab)
Risks of not getting advice
Gather your financial information before you talk to lenders or brokers. Use our Mortgage paperwork checklist(external link opens in a new window / tab) (PDF 2.34MB).

Getting advice, rather than doing research on your own, means that if the mortgage turns out to be unsuitable for you later on, you’ll have more rights when you make a complaint.

For example, you could make a complaint of financial mis-selling if the advice you were given turned out to be unsuitable for you.

Not taking any advice means you have to take full responsibility for your mortgage decision.

If you don’t take advice, you could end up:

With the wrong mortgage for your situation, which would be a costly mistake in the long run.
Being rejected by your chosen lender, because you didn’t understand the restrictions clearly or what circumstances the mortgage was designed for.
Speak to your bank or building society
This is a good starting point, as they know you and your financial situation.

They’ll tell you about their own mortgages, so do see how their products stack up against the competition before making a final choice.

Their advice is typically free.

When to see a mortgage adviser
A mortgage adviser, also known as an independent mortgage broker, is a specialist with in-depth knowledge of the market.

They’re able to look at a range of mortgage products which suit your needs.

It’s a good idea to speak to a few of them to see what’s on offer.

There are three main types of mortgage adviser:

Some are tied to a specific lender
Some look at deals from a limited list of lenders, and
Some check the whole market for a wide range of products
Even ‘whole of market’ advisers don’t cover everything.

They can’t advise you on mortgages that are only available if you go to the lender directly.

All mortgage advisers must offer you advice when recommending the most suitable mortgage for you.

This means you’re protected and you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman if things go wrong.

Read our Who’s Who guide(external link opens in a new window / tab) (PDF 3MB) for a list of questions to ask your adviser.
Check your broker is on the FCA register.(external link opens in a new window / tab)
Other reasons to use an adviser
They’ll check your finances to make sure you can afford a mortgage
They might have exclusive deals with lenders, not otherwise available
They often complete the paperwork for you, so your application should be dealt with faster
They’ll help you take all the costs and features of the mortgage into account, beyond the interest rate

Fees
Mortgage brokers might charge you for their service depending on the product you choose or the value of the mortgage.

Others will be free to you but they’ll receive commission from the lender.

They should tell you up-front how much you will pay for their services. You should also be told if an adviser is paid commission.

Once your broker makes a product recommendation they must give you a mortgage illustration document(s).

This document is usually called a keyfacts illustration.

Find out more in Keyfacts documents explaining your mortgage(external link opens in a new window / tab).
European Standard Information Sheet
By 2019, the European Standard Information Sheet (ESIS) will replace the current KFI.

The ESIS document is similar to the KFI but with some additional details about the mortgage they’re offering you.

Some mortgage advisers and lenders might give you the ESIS when they recommend a mortgage or make a mortgage offer.

While others might continue to give you an enhanced version of the existing KFI document or provide additional supplements containing the additional information as needed until then.

Look at comparison websites
Comparison websites are a good starting point if you’re trying to see what sort of deals are available on the market.

Remember:

Comparison websites won’t all give you the same results, so make sure you use more than one site before making a decision.
It’s also important to do some research into the type of product and features you need before making a purchase or changing supplier.
Find out more about Finding the best deals with price comparison websites(external link opens in a new window / tab).

What to look for in a mortgage
It’s important to not just look for the lowest interest rate when choosing a mortgage.

There are other factors, which also contribute to the whole amount you pay back over time.

Look out for:
APRC: (Annual Percentage Rate of Change) takes some mortgage fees into account as well as the interest rate and expresses it as a percentage.
Deposit size: the higher the deposit, the lower the interest rate you are likely to get.
The standard rate: which your mortgage will switch to once your fixed rate deal ends.
How often is interest charged?: will it be paid daily, monthly or annually? Daily interest works out cheaper.
Flexibility: can you overpay your mortgage without being charged and can you take a break from making payments?
Length of fixed or variable rate deal: do you want to be locked in for a long period. or have more flexibility? There will be charges if you switch out of a deal before it ends.

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Life Insurance

How to Create Personal Health Record (PHR)

A personal health record (PHR) is a collection of information about your health. It is different from an Electronic Medical Record (EMR) or Electronic Health Record (EHR), which are owned and stored by your healthcare provider.

A PHR is a document that you are in charge of-one that you compile, update, and keep. It can simply be a folder full of papers, but people are increasingly turning to electronic personal health record systems. These store health information in a secure location online that you can access anytime

Why do I need one?
hand holding a smartphone displaying a medications listAnytime you move, switch healthcare providers, or seek medical treatment during a vacation, you will be asked to provide your health history. It can be difficult to remember all of this information. Having a PHR on hand means you know the answer when you are asked when your last tetanus shot was or the dosage of your medications.

PHRs can also save you in an emergency situation. Consider this example: If you were to experience a health emergency at work, or on a trip with friends, would your companions be able to answer questions about your health history and current healthcare provider? In a time of crisis, it can be difficult to remember important and potentially life-saving information; a PHR can do that work for you.

How does it work?
You create a PHR online through the system of your choice and then either print off a copy or pull the record up on your web-enabled device to present to your healthcare provider. Some online PHR systems can be automatically accessed by medical personnel; others will offer a printed ID card with a password, should you be unconscious or unable to access your record yourself in an emergency situation.

How do I create one?
Start first with your health insurance company. Many offer a PHR online tool on their website. However, check to make sure that you can transfer your information if you need to switch insurance companies.

Other PHR online systems are available. A good free one is Microsoft’s Healthvault . You can create an account through the Mayo Clinic website .
hands typing on a laptop keyboard

What kind of information should I put in my PHR?

  1. Emergency contacts
  2. Names, addresses, and phone numbers of your healthcare providers, including specialists and dentists
  3. Health insurance information, such as the name of your insurance company and key phone numbers for service
  4. Current medications and dosages
  5. Allergies (to foods, drugs and other substances)
  6. Important events, dates, and hereditary conditions in your family history
  7. A list and dates of significant illnesses and surgical procedures
  8. Results from recent doctor visits
  9. Important tests results; eye and dental records, immunization records
  10. Any information you want to include about your health – such as your exercise regimen, any over-the-counter or herbal medications you take and any counseling you may receive.

What about privacy?
Online PHR systems are not covered by HIPPA; however, most have a very similar privacy policy of their own. Take the time to read it before you start an account.

Categories
Life Insurance

What is a Structured Settlement Annuity?

A Structured Settlement Annuity (SSA) provides tax-free, periodic payments over a period of time, specifically designed to meet an injured party’s needs.
Specialized consultants facilitate the settlement process, as well as help design and negotiate the structure.

Why choose a Structured Settlement?
Benefits for the injured party:
Features Customized Design: Payments are specifically tailored to meet the injured party’s particular financial needs over a defined period.
Emphasizes Stability: Payments are designed to help meet the claimant’s current and future financial needs.
Promotes Security: Structured settlement provide the dependability of a highly rated financial institution.

Benefits for the defendant:

Leads to faster settlementMay reduce costs
Avoids Jury trials
May allow for tax deduction (self-insured)