Finding Insurance

Having decided that you need a particular type of insurance, it's a good idea to do a bit of homework to find out what broad sorts of policies are available - the sections on each type of insurance in this Section will help you do this. Decide what sort of policy would best suit your needs. The next step is to get in touch with someone who offers it.

The direct route

If you know which company you want to go to - either from websites you've seen, say, or because you've dealt with the company before and are happy to use it again - you can contact the company direct and ask to be sent a copy of the policy, a quotation, and the paperwork for taking out a policy. You should ideally contact two or three other companies as well so that you can compare policies and premiums and choose whichever is best.

Using a broker or other intermediary

Alternatively, you could get a broker or other intermediary to sift through what's on the market and find a suitable deal for you. If you want cover through an insurer which is a member of Lloyd's, you'll have to use a broker. If you use an intermediary, make sure you still get and read a copy of the policy before making any decisions. (If the intermediary is slow or unwilling to supply a copy of the policy, consider changing to another intermediary.)

Intermediaries often don't look at the full range of companies available, and some are tied to just a handful of companies. So make sure you find out the status of the intermediary you go to and contact two or three and compare the recommendations that you get.

There are all sorts of insurance intermediaries - advisers, consultants, agents and so on - but only registered brokers can use the term 'broker'. Brokers must abide by a code of conduct and should give independent advice based on the full range of policies on the market. They must have professional indemnity (PI) insurance which will protect you against loss if they are negligent or go bust. In addition, they are covered by a `grants scheme' which may help if for some reason the broker's insurance won't pay out.

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Insurance Basic Rules

There are a few general rules to bear in mind when considering insurance. They may prevent your being out of pocket or getting locked into a dispute with your insurance company when you make a claim.

- Get quotes from several different companies. A broker can save you some leg-work.

- Never choose an insurance company just because its policies seem cheap. Check that the cover meets your needs and use surveys such as those in Which? magazine to see how people who've used the company rate its service.

- Never rely on just a brochure for details of the cover. Ask for a... see: Insurance Basic Rules

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