Archive for January 2011

UK Unemployment hits record heights

The UK Government have just released the latest economic indicators from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), and it makes grim reading. doom and gloom awaits us all if the trends continue……

If you haven’t taken out unemployment insurance yet, there may still be a little time, although given latest figures you will have to move as fast as the postman with the redundancy notices, as UK Unemployment hit record heights.

Here’s the facts of the state of Britains Economy

These are graphs showing the working age employment rate and the unemployment rate

The employment rate for those aged from 16 to 64 for the three months to November 2010 was 70.4 per cent, down 0.3 on the quarter.

The number of people in employment aged 16 and over fell by 69,000 on the quarter to reach 29.09 million.

The last time there were larger quarterly falls in the employment level and rate was in the three months to August 2009.

The number of people working full-time fell by 37,000 on the quarter to reach 21.16 million and the number of people working part-time fell by 32,000 to reach 7.93 million.

Part Time Working at all time high!

The number of employees and self-employed people who were working part-time because they could not find a full-time job increased by 26,000 on the quarter to reach 1.16 million, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992.

The unemployment rate for the three months to November 2010 was 7.9 per cent, up 0.2 on the quarter.

The total number of unemployed people increased by 49,000 over the quarter to reach 2.50 million.

Male unemployment increased by 43,000 on the quarter to reach 1.48 million and female unemployment increased by 6,000 on the quarter to reach 1.02 million.

Youth Unemployment at record levels!

The unemployment rate for those aged from 16 to 24 increased by 1.0 on the quarter to reach 20.3 per cent, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992.

The number of unemployed 16 to 24 year olds increased by 32,000 on the quarter to reach 951,000, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1992.

Redundancies on steady increase.
There were 157,000 redundancies in the three months to November 2010, up 14,000 on the quarter.

The number of people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (the claimant count) fell by 4,100 between November and December 2010 to reach 1.46 million, although the number of people claiming for up to six months increased by 7,200 to reach 960,300.

The total number of male claimants fell by 6,600 on the month to reach 1.02 million but the number of female claimants increased by 2,500 to reach 439,300.

The inactivity rate for those aged from 16 to 64 for the three months to November 2010 was 23.4 per cent, up 0.2 on the quarter.

The number of economically inactive people aged from 16 to 64 increased by 89,000 over the quarter to reach 9.37 million.

Early Retirement at Record levels !

The number of people who were economically inactive because they had taken retirement before reaching the age of sixty-five increased by 39,000 on the quarter to reach 1.56 million, the highest figure since comparable records began in 1993.

Wages Stay the Same!
The earnings annual growth rate for total pay (including bonuses) was 2.1 per cent for the three months to November 2010, unchanged from the three months to October.

The earnings annual growth rate for regular pay (excluding bonuses) was 2.3 per cent for the three months to November 2010, unchanged from the three months to October.

The Oulook.

Very Bleak!  The current situation is comparable to the early Thatcher years and the axe has yet to fall on 600,000 public sector workers. The knock on effects to the high street of this contraction in money flow will damage small to medium sized businesses as demand inevitably drops. Further unemployment within the already contracted private sector is inevitable as orders dry up and the unemployment queues will increase.

All sectors of the economy will suffer from this so called ‘double dip recession’ particularly high end products and high street businesses will suffer. Insurance will not have an easy time either! Already we are seeing once profitable sectors like shop insurance virtually disappear as a viable large market as the number of shops rapidly decreases. When was the last time you saw a high street travel agents or hardware store? The pattern is being repeated across all sectors of the UK Commercial Insurance market.

Coupled with this we are under immense inflationary pressures from energy prices and global food markets which inevitable, although foolishly, will lead to the Bank of England be foreced to politically raise Interest rates. After all, there are no more weapons in the economic arsenal.

Darwinian ConDemNation.

The future is blue and orange and civil commotion – If you are not a merchant banker, are you fit enough to survive?

Travel Insurance will not cover Riots, War, Civil Commotion & Coup D’Etats

Insurance Blogger has just got back from holiday on the Balearic Island of Majorca for a bit of winter sun. I managed to get one of those last minute cheap flights for under a tenner!  So I don’t mind blatantly promoting that type of offer. That’s cheaper than the travel insurance and the airport transfer costs!

While I was out in Majorca I couldn’t but notice what was going on in Tunisia, a popular haunt of mine since the days of the dictator Habib Bourguiba in the 1970′s!

Looking at all those tourists stranded at Tunis Airport got me thinking - ‘None of them are covered!

They probably all have travel insurance but how many can actually claim?

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) draws up an extensive list of countries that have seen recent war or riot or civil commotion or is currently at war. Subsequently they advise these areas should not be travelled to.

As this is advised by Government most Travel Insurance policies will not cover you if you visit these countries.

Check that the country you are travelling to does not appear on either list, as they are likely to be excluded from travel insurance policies.

Here is the current Government advice for travelling to Tunisia for example:

Travel Summary

  • We advise against all but essential travel to Tunisia.
  • If you are in Tunisia, register with our service to tell us when and where you are travelling or where you live so our consular and crisis staff can provide better assistance to you. You can register on the FCO website at: https://www.locate.fco.gov.uk/locateportal/ or by calling: (00 216) 71 108 713. Those in the UK should ring the FCO on 020 7008 1500.

Nearly all Travel Insurance policies exclude war riot, terrorism and civil commotion which is rather worrying given all the media talk of domino effect trouble, and the numbers of people that travel each year to Egypt for example!

Always check the policy wording clearly of any travel insurance policy before you buy it and remember that if a travel insurance policy is cheap you may have problems when you try to claim.

If you do find yourself stranded in a war zone try to contact the British Embassy initially and at the same time your travel agents or tour operator who will help in these sort of non covered events and situations.

Lloyds prepares for Solar Meltdown!

“Ground Control to Major Tom!”

“Check your policy wording and put your spacesuit on!”

Insurance Business have finally moved into the 21st Century with some truly space age of aquarius exposures to risk to deal with over the next year, according to a new report from Lloyds of London.

These new age risks include Space weather, cyber risk and critical infrastructure attacks that are predicted to cause big problems for consumers, businesses and their insurance companies in 2011.

The Lloyd’s 360 Risk Insight report states that ‘The phenomenon of space weather is one of the most difficult to quantify and yet potentially serious sources of loss and disruption for business.’

“Space weather and its impact on Earth: Implications for business”, says that businesses should be looking at ways to assess and mitigate space weather risks this year because the 11-year solar cycle is expected to peak in 2012/13.”

Turbulent space weather created by solar phenomena such as coronal mass ejections, solar flares, solar wind, solar radiation and magnetic storms could have wide ranging impacts around the globe in climatic responses, many scientists believe.

These phenomena are also predicted to affect aircraft communications, air traffic control and navigational systems which could malfunction or might stop working, satellite and GPS systems could also malfunction, and surprisingly. power grids could collapse.

Scientists know a lot about the possible causes and effects of solar weather from previous cycles. Established infrastructure that we take for granted, such as rail networks, telephone systems, pipelines and electric power grids have all been seriously disrupted by space weather in the past.

But the economic fall-out that could result from the increasingly active solar season is far less certain. That’s because our dependency on wi-fi and internet technology is so much greater than before.

“There is growing concern that the coming solar maximum will expose problems in the many wireless systems that have grown in popularity during the quiet solar conditions that have prevailed over recent years,” the Lloyd’s report warns.

Insurance Blog should have a lot to write about then over the coming year if these concerns are realised.

And then it’s 2012!

Don’t worry about the risks to the Olympic games! The Mayan Calendar stops here……….

And the earth is positioned in alignment with the centre of of the Universe!

New Year Recession Fears

Insurance blog thought the silly season was in the Summer, but from the noises coming out of Whitehall and what remains of Fleet St. recently, it looks like it’s begun early!

If all the Economic pundits are to be believed, you would think that the economy was rosy! No chance of a the dreaded double dip recession now ……..

Hmm, what about the 600,000 job losses in the public sector that still have to be made this spring and will have to be paid for out of a shrinking GDP, rising wage demands from the private sector, fuels costs going through the roof and VAT at it’s highest ever 20%!

However you look at the current situation the immediate future does not look too bright!

Amongst all the coalition division and noise about quangos, cuts, student fees, interest rates and inflation, the UK Government has this week raised Insurance premium tax to 6%. With the cost of Insurance already at record highs as companies try to build up lost claims reserves, maybe they thought we’d not notice more indirect taxation!

The future doesn’t look too orange for Corporal Clegg and his Liberal lackies either who are currently enjoying their lowest popularity level for 30 years.

Meanwhile David Cameron is making noises about the housing sector while failing to enforce the necessary lending from the banks that would inject some momentum into a recovery, he has spoken out about plans to clamp down even further on mortgages in the name of responsible lending.

Tory Housing minister Grant Shapps has said that under the new  FSA’s Mortgage Market Review (MMR) proposals, he himself would have failed to get a mortgage.

Now Cameron has said that lenders have already gone too far in preventing ‘good risk’ buyers from getting mortgages.

The Prime Minister warned that the housing market was ‘stuck’ and would not improve until banks and building societies got back to ‘respectable’ lending.  Cameron said the reaction to the crash had now gone too far.

He said: “The pendulum has now swung too far the other way. If you are a single person, you are earning a decent salary, you go to the bank or building society, you are actually quite a good risk, they won’t give you 80% of the value, they won’t give you four times your salary.

“So we are working with them to try and say, of course we don’t want to see the unsustainable boom of the past, but we’ve got to get proper lending, respectable lending, going again.”

Cameron made it clear that he did not want to see a return to 120% mortgages and loans based on seven or eight times earnings.

He said: “We don’t want another housing boom where prices rise out of people’s reach, but the housing market is a key part of the economy. You need a housing market where people are able to sell and people are able to buy.”

Yeah and one where banks lend money! It wasn’t irresponsible lending to UK homeowners that caused the current recession, if this was the case then repossessions would not be at the levels they are! Moreover bad banking and buying toxic debt from the USA were the root cause. With the same people in control, these banks must be forced to lend to both homeowners and businesses alike if we are to see any real recovery in the housing and employment markets in the UK in 2011.