Homeowners who took out UK fixed rate mortgages a year or two ago will have taken great delight yesterday at the news that interest rates are to remain unchanged at 5.5%. The Bank of England monetary committee took this decision following their latest meeting and voted to leave interest rates unchanged for the time being. This decision was the expected outcome of the latest meeting of the committee, economists had predicted that interest rates were likely to remain unchanged although their is still speculation that a further increase is on the cards within the next few months. Beleaguered Homeowners have been hit with four rate increases since last August and many are now struggling to keep up payments on fairly substantial loans. The bank of England monetary committee that decides on rate increases of behalf of the government has increased rates in an effort to curb inflation at a time when energy prices, house prices and consumer spending are all on the increase.
The good news for homeowners is that the CPI yardstick, used to measure inflation, decreased from 3.1 to 2.8 in April, it is believed that this retreat is the main reason for interest rates remaining unchanged. All the signs are now that the four rate rises are beginning to bring consumer spending down and the house market is cooling. The bank are aware that the economy is finely balanced at the moment, it has a mandate from the government to keep inflation under control but it realises that if interest rates are increased too much, the economy could easily slip in to recession. Many homeowners are struggling with debt, house prices are ruining at at all time high and many simply cannot afford to pay any more to wards their mortgage payments.
Retailers experienced a disappointed May, shoppers were put off by the wet weather and many are now being more careful with their money. Mortgage approvals fell to their lowest in 12 months during April. If rates do need to rise again and the present data is suggesting that this may not be until the Autumn, then a small 0.25 % rise is expected.
Hi Net worth Home Insurance from Norwich Union – Norwich Union the UK insurance giant has for many years been dipping it’s toe in to the high net worth home insurance market and it’s premier policy has been the Tapestry product. It’s fair to say that this product never really caught on with brokers and there is much loyalty to products offered by the Home Insurance heavyweights, Chubb & Hiscox. The Chubb & Hiscox hi net worth home insurance polices are considered by many to be the best available and Norwich union will have their work cut out to persuade brokers otherwise. Norwich union is seeking to rectify this situation by releasing a new product, known as Distinct, the product is already being piloted by 30 brokers nationwide with another 50 expected to be able to offer it to customers by the end of July. Norwich Union will admit themselves that the Tapestry product was simply not up to to scratch when compared to either Chubb or Hiscox. if they wish to really take on this pair they will have to not only come up with a product which matches those offered by competitors but they will have to deliver on service as well which may brokers have been critical of in the past.
Home Insurance Flood Cover – In a recent landmark case ( Tate Gallery Vs Duffy Construction) the judge declared that flooding could be defined by the unnatural presence of water in a building, this is a departure from previously accepted interpretations. This decision could now provide insurers with the option to withdraw flood cover from household policies if they so desire. In the case in question, a temporary water pipe located on a construction site was damaged by the contractor, the contractor repaired the pipe but it burst again causing 5 million pounds worth of damage. The judge ruled that flood was caused by the burst pipe. David Crichton, visiting professor at the Benfield Hazard Research Centre said the court saw flood as an accumulation of water. It did not matter how the water got there. For the first time in 30 years, there is now a sensible legal definition of flood, he said. This opens the way for insurance companies to offer household and small business policies subject to a general exclusion of flood risk. Crichton went on the say that consumers could either be given the option to buy back cover. The Association of British Insurers view on the matter is that individual insurers will have to make up their own minds as to the extent of cover provided by their policies. However the Council for Mortgage lenders who carry a great weight when it comes to the acceptance of policy wordings are hardly likely to accept a scenario where by their members interests (mortgage lenders) are left exposed because of withdrawn insurance covers. At the present moment it would appear that this case been a one off.