As banks and building societies tighten up their lending criteria, consumers are at risk of a double whammy, warns PPI lobbyist Sara-Ann Burgess from Burgesses. "People are turning elsewhere for credit which means they are likely to pay more in interest over the lifetime of their loan and fork out excessive premiums for any accompanying Payment Protection Insurance, which in some cases will be totally unsuitable for their circumstances."
Braintree, Essex (
In the motor industry, sales of new and used cars are down, but the number of consumers turning to their local showrooms for finance is up - a clear indicator that High Street banks and building societies are no longer the main source of credit for a dealership car.
The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders reports used car sales have slumped from 7.7m in 2004 to 7.4m in 2007 and new car registrations have gone from 2.5m in 2004 to 2.4m in 2007. In August this year, new car registrations were 63,225, the lowest since 1966.
However, the Finance and Leasing Association reveals the point of sale finance penetration via a dealership has risen from 46.2% a year ago to 50.7% in July this year.
Two months ago five motor retailers were fined £175,000 by the Financial Services Authority for exposing 2,175 customers to the risk of being sold unsuitable PPI policies and Sara-Ann is concerned that as dealerships continue to increase their quota of finance agreements, more people could become victims of PPI mis-selling.
She comments: "These retailers seriously breached FSA guidelines - they didn't gather information about their customers, re; their suitability to purchase PPI or whether they were eligible to claim, failed to ensure proper sales processes were followed and neglected to assess complaints.
When finances are stretched, the last thing consumers want is to pay over the odds for cover they don't need or will be unable to make a claim on.
"People sourcing finance from a dealership should purchase PPI to protect their monthly loan payments. If they are unable to work due to accident, sickness or unemployment, this cover will meet their financial commitments. However, purchasing PPI is not part of the condition of the loan, if the dealer says it is, the company is breaching FSA guidelines.
Sara-Ann concludes: "Given the increasing number of job losses being announced, I encourage consumers to shop around and take the unemployment option in their Loan PPI. Independent British Insurance charges £3.40 per £100 for unemployment cover only and £3.90 per £100 for accident, sickness and unemployment."
Reducing a mortgage by up to half and eliminating debt will save thousand of dollars in repayments and interest, and is easily achievable as long as an individual is motivated and committed to succeed. It is easier to do than not. Moneyrules.com.au also provides mortgage calculators for those looking to view different scenarios including extra repayments.
Money Rules Managing Director, Nobby Kleinman, said that interest rates and rising living costs have created a pressure-cooker of mortgage stress, but just a handful of little-known strategies could help save families thousands of dollars every year.
Mr Kleinman, a qualified financial planner, saw the increasing need in the community for basic assistance in money management.
"Most financial planning revolves around superannuation and retirement planning, but generally ignores the most basic personal financial aspect of managing income and expenses," said Mr Kleinman.
Money Rules works with clients in assessing their current financial position to produce a report showing how the Money Rules system can work for them.
"Generally, if the existing mortgage is satisfactory, then specific recommendations can be provided. These amount to implementing some changes in how income and expenses are managed, and then ongoing monthly reporting -- which is at the heart of the service," said Mr Kleinman.
Mr Kleinman added that "easy-access" credit and a lack of financial education were also contributing to the credit crunch, and Money Rules was established with exactly these issues in mind.
"Many people admit despair at not having enough money. It feels like everything seems to be going up except their income. But there is a solution," says Nobby.
Money Rules offers a mortgage reduction service and does not sell or recommend products such as insurance or finance, so there is no bias towards any financial institution.
Clients are involved in the process through being accountable for their actions and for the eventual outcome, which is based on a mutual commitment to work together on a monthly basis for two years.
Mr Kleinman says that ultimately the goal is to reduce a standard mortgage term by as much as half and eliminate debt as quickly as possible -- which amounts to huge savings in mortgage repayments as well as any interest component.
"Clients can sleep more comfortably at night, and plan their retirement or even consider investment properties with the money they save," Nobby says. "I am just passionate about helping people to get out of debt -- especially in the current economic climate."
Volunteers in Medicine is easing the pain of the healthcare crisis by opening free clinics across the country.
Burlington, VT (
Volunteers in Medicine (VIM) began in Hilton Head, South Carolina. In 1992, one out of three people who lived on Hilton Head Island had no access to
"No community can be truly healthy if a significant portion of the population is excluded from basic health care services," says Amy Hamlin, executive director of Volunteers in Medicine. "In the absence of a national health policy that includes health care for everyone, concerned citizens need to find other solutions to provide the medically under-served with the health care services they desperately need. Volunteers in Medicine delivers on such solution."
The statistics are staggering; 47 million people in this country have no medical insurance. Another 25 million are underinsured, up 60% in just four years with middle and higher income families comprising most of that increase. The impact on the infrastructure of towns and cities is equally staggering. When people are injured or sick, they can't work, effecting employers and their ability to provide goods and services. When people postpone seeking medical care, their medical conditions get worse and more costly to treat. And without adequate health insurance, emergency rooms become the default. This is particularly difficult, as emergency departments have seen cuts in reimbursements, while at the same time ER visits are at record highs across the country. This creates a cost-shift, which means higher premiums for everyone.
Even if everyone were to become insured tomorrow, there is not enough current or future primary care capacity to provide health care to all Americans. Over one-third of active physicians are over age 55 and with many choosing early retirement, there will be a deficit of primary care physicians by 2020. Faced with lower reimbursement rates, excessive work loads, and rising medical school costs, fewer graduates are choosing primary care. "Empowering retired physicians to practice the 'pure medicine' they crave without the 'business' of medicine is the common sense approach that Volunteers in Medicine provides. This is one solution to improving the long term health of our country," continued Hamlin.
Some 313,000 of the active physician population are over 55. This means that 36% of active physicians are set to retire by 2020 while at the same time there are only 105,000 physicians in residency training. Contrary to predictions in the 1980's and 1990's, there will not be a surplus of physicians in the 21st Century but rather we will face a physician shortage. "The statistics on current and projected physician numbers further support the ongoing effectiveness that the VIM model will have in improving the
For more information on Volunteers in Medicine and for a list of our free clinics, please visit
Media Contact: Elizabeth Davis firstname.lastname@example.org 802-598-7155