“What does excess mean?” “What is New for Old?” “What is the total cost?” I’ve never understood what seems to be a natural reticence for people to ask questions. In my life I have been subject to many:

Where have you been?

How much did you pay for that?

Who told you to do that?

The list goes on, and in each case I do not recall the inquisitor (who I may or not have been married to) being at all reticent in interrogating me. However, connect that person with a business, salesman, or even a stranger and their immediate response is to say “You ask”.  More often than not the question was left unasked.

Almost every problem I encountered during my career originated from poor communication. Typically, a client assumed a product did something that it didn’t, or an adviser assumed a client understood something that “didn’t need to be mentioned”. These problems would have been avoided if questions had been asked and dealt with at the beginning.

If you only take one thing from this blog, let it be a commitment to use:




And keep asking until you are happy that you understand the answer, and…


Phone calls are pretty much a waste of time for anything except the most basic of reasons. You can spend a ridiculous amount of time on hold and, while calls are mostly recorded now, in the event of a problem it is down to you to ask for that recording. With an email or letter, you have something solid that you can refer to right from the start. It puts you in control.

Everything that I post here will be subject to those two rules, and they do work, but there is a “but”, and that “but” is

“What questions should I ask”?

It is a very fair question, and the reason for starting this blog. I have been lucky enough to work in fields that varied from House Insurance to Business Insurance, Mortgages to Equity Release, Life Insurance to Pensions. I will, over time, take each area and list the kind of questions that you should ask your Insurance Company, Lender or Intermediary. This, I hope, will give you the best chance of getting the best advice from the professional who is best suited to talking to you.

Oh…and by the way – the answers to the very first questions at the beginning are:

…An excess is the amount that you pay toward the overall cost of a claim. e.g. a claim of £500 witha £100 excess means that you will get paid £400

…New for Old is a basis on which some claims are settled. If you have New for Old cover, it will say so in your policy schedule. It means that if an item is damaged or lost it will be replaced with a new equivalent item (or the equivalent cost of that new item)

…I can’t answer that one! But you should always ask “What is the total cost”, don’t be fobbed off with just the cost of the policy, there may well be extras such as tax and credit charges to include as well.

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