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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

General insurance: types and how to shop around

General insurance includes most insurance except life insurance. You can shop around for general insurance and buy direct, or get advice. The Financial Services Authority (FSA) regulates most sales of general insurance and pure protection insurance. This means firms must follow certain rules and standards when dealing with you.

Types of general insurance

General insurance only pays out when an insured event occurs. It includes:

  • home insurance (contents and/or buildings)
  • car insurance
  • travel insurance
  • private medical insurance
  • pet insurance
  • accident, sickness or unemployment insurance to protect your income, mortgage or loan payments (also called 'Payment protection insurance')
  • critical illness insurance
  • long-term care insurance

How to shop around for general insurance

With so many insurance deals on the market it's worth shopping around. Key points to compare include:

  • suitability for your particular needs
  • cost
  • flexibility: what happens if you miss a payment or wish to cancel or switch?
  • terms: when does the policy pay out/are there restrictions?

'Keyfacts' documents to help you shop around

When you contact an insurance provider, they will give you details of the service they offer. This can normally be found in the 'about our service document'.

Once you've discussed what you need and answered all the questions about yourself and what you want to insure, the intermediary, insurance company or the firm selling you the insurance will give you key policy information. This sets out the essential facts.

How to check if a firm is FSA authorised

You can check whether a firm or individual is FSA authorised by using the FSA online 'Check our Register' service.

The difference between information and advice

You can buy insurance after getting advice, or based on information after shopping around. Read our related article to understand the difference between buying with or without advice and the relative pros and cons.

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