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Wealth Management

COULD YOUR PET BE INVALIDATING YOUR CAR INSURANCE?

  • Not securing your pets ahead of a long drive could void your policy
  • 10 things you need to be aware of before you embark on a summer road trip

 

Driving with a pet not secured properly can void your car insurance policy and even mean a hefty fine of up to £5,0001. And with an increase in Brits buying new pets in lockdown, it’s even more important to make sure you’re sticking to the rules.

Car insurance is a legal requirement for motorists, and your insurer needs to have accurate information about you and your vehicle in order for it to be valid. Providing false information or failing to update it can mean that your insurer refuses to pay out for claims, or even cancels your policy.

With lockdown restrictions lifting across the country, many people Brits will be planning summer staycations, but before packing up the car for a long drive, it’s important to check that you’re not accidentally invalidating your insurance policy. That’s why CarParts4Less.co.uk has shared 10 easy-to-make mistakes that might be invalidating your car insurance.

 

  1. Driving with pets

Our pets have become more of a lifeline than ever during lockdown and what better way to reward them than a dog friendly getaway but if you’re planning on taking your pet on holiday with you, it’s important to remember that you are legally required to make sure they are secured. Unsecured pets can make a car more at risk of accidents, as they may distract the driver or even physically get in the way of driving. If you crash with an unsecured pet in the car, it’s likely that your insurance company will refuse to pay for your claim.

 

  1. Not informing your insurer about any car modifications

Before preparing for a staycation, it’s common to install roof or bike racks so everything that’s needed for the holiday can be packed. However, some drivers may be unaware that these additions can be counted as modifications by some insurers and this could require a change in your policy. Before installing, contact your insurer to let them know of your plans.

Car modifications can affect your insurance premium for two reasons; if they increase the likelihood of an accident, or if they increase the likelihood of theft. For brand new cars, optional add ons, including fitting a SatNav, can impact insurance so it’s important to ensure these options are noted when applying for a policy.

 

  1. Lying about your main address

Insurance premiums vary depending on the postcode, as some areas have higher rates of thefts and break ins. It can be tempting to put down your home address as somewhere different – your house when you’ve been staying at your partner’s over lockdown for example. However, doing so can mean your insurer can refuse to pay out, for example, if your car is broken into in the location it actually resides.

 

  1. Using more miles than you thought

If you’re planning on driving for a domestic holiday this year, it’s a good idea to consider whether the trip will fit into your insurance plan. Many policies use your annual mileage as one of the factors to calculate your insurance premium; the higher the mileage, the higher the cost. Accuracy is important when providing this figure, so even though many drivers won’t have driven much over lockdown, if a long trip will take you over your estimate it’s best to contact your insurer in advance to check that you’re covered for it.

 

  1. Ignoring your morning commute

There are three types of car usage that insurance covers; social only, social and commuting, and business. Social only insurance covers driving for social or leisure use,  going to the supermarket, etc. The commute to and from work, or even to and from the train station, are not covered by this policy, so upgrading to social and commuting is necessary, even if you only commute a few times a month. Insurance companies may dispute or refuse claims made during a commute if the policy is social use only, even if it is claimed to be only a one off.

If you use your car for work purposes outside of commuting, for example using it to get to meetings, or carrying equipment, you will need to get business cover.

 

  1. Letting other people drive your car

Long journeys can be tough for the driver, and it may be tempting to swap drivers during the journey. If you are considering doing this on the way to your holiday destination, it’s vital that they are added as a named driver onto your policy.

While it’s possible for your friends or family to have insurance policies that allow them to drive other people’s cars, it is unlikely these policies cover damage to the vehicle in the event they are in an accident, and your policy may only cover damage caused when a named driver is behind the wheel. So while your friend can legally drive the car, you may not be able to claim for accidents.

 

  1. Not informing your insurance company of minor accidents

In the case of small bumps or minor accidents where only cosmetic damage occurs, it’s common for motorists to have their car fixed without making a claim. However, even if you intend not to claim, it is important to inform your insurer of any damage received, as not doing so is a breach of policy. This helps in the event that the other driver changes their mind and decides to claim, and also ensures damage is accounted for if you do need to claim after future incidents – damage which is inconsistent with a claim may mean that you are denied.

 

  1. ‘Fronting’

Insurance for young drivers often costs more than other groups, and one way some motorists try to get round these higher premiums is by having a low risk driver, such as a parent or partner, named as the main policy holder, and adding the real motorist as a named driver. If you get caught ‘fronting’, your policy will immediately be cancelled, and any claims denied. These cases are often taken to court and classed as insurance fraud, with outcomes including fines of up to £5,000 and six points on your license.

 

  1. You’ve recently changed jobs

Your current occupation is one of the factors used to determine your risk profile, so it’s important to update your insurer if you have changed jobs or occupations. This is especially true at a time when many people have unfortunately lost their jobs and moved on to new employment. Failure to do so may mean any claims made after a job change can be denied by your insurer.

 

  1. Charging for lifts

Some policies specifically exclude cover for car sharing, whether you make a profit or not. For those whose policies do allow lift sharing, it may be void if you charge people for journeys – many state that you may only make enough to cover petrol and driving costs. Earning money from giving lifts can identify you as a ‘taxi hire service’, voiding manya policies.

It’s important to always read the terms and conditions of your car insurance policy, to ensure that you have not accidentally invalidated it. Keep your insurance provider up to date with any change of circumstances, regardless of whether you think it’s relevant, as some seemingly unrelated life changes can impact your premium.

Wealth Management

DON’T RISK IT ALL WITH NON-COMPLIANCE

By Paul Sleath, CEO at PEO Worldwide

 

Did you know non-compliance costs more than twice the cost of maintaining or meeting compliance requirements?

Yet, companies continue to overlook proper compliance procedures, choosing to ‘wing it’ or do it on a shoestring budget instead.

We get it. Today’s business owners have a multitude of priorities to juggle, top of which is turning a profit and growing. When you’re focusing on driving success, compliance can easily fall by the wayside.

But success is of little consequence if a government entity dissolves your company because you failed to comply with certain legal requirements.

Keeping on top of regulations

In the corporate world, compliance involves adhering to a wide range of laws and standards designed to protect your employees, customers and other stakeholders — and generally making sure you “do the right thing”.

No matter what industry or type of business you work in, compliance is a big deal. But when you’re looking to expand your operations into markets all over the world, it’s an entirely different ballgame.

As you grow and move into new jurisdictions, you’ll encounter a whole host of new regulations — from tax returns and statutory filing to international employment rules about payroll — and face much higher compliance costs than operating solely in one location.

Many countries require that filings and contracts are made in the local language and change their regulations frequently. Without a contact on the ground, it can be difficult to keep up. Each country will also have its own authorities and governing bodies to deal with.

For example, in the US, you have the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to contend with while companies operating in the UK will need to comply with the Health and Safety Executive’s (HSE) standards.

 

Compliance across borders

The point is, no two countries are the same, and when you’re trying to operate across multiple locations, things can get messy.

Late filing in Denmark could lead to your company being dissolved within a few months. In Serbia, the tax regulations are so confusing that many companies have taken to paying extra tax where they have no liability just to ensure they don’t get stung with any penalties.

If you’re expanding into Spain, it’s worth knowing that terminating employee contracts is notoriously tricky, and you’ll have to budget for a severance fee (which equates to 33 days of salary per employment year).

In Singapore, you’ll be responsible for sending the monthly payment (including both yours and the employee’s respective contributions) to the Central Provident Fund (CPF) — a key pillar of the country’s social security system. This payment has to be sent by the 14th of the following month.

A couple of notable points to bear in mind if you’re expanding into Germany is that employees can only be leased for a maximum of 18 months. After this, you must hire them permanently or let them go. Chain leasing is also prohibited, meaning the company holding the licence must contract directly with the party receiving the labour.

And if you’re global expansion journey is taking you down under to Australia, you’ll need to pay a Fringe Benefit Tax (FBT) if you’re providing certain benefits to your employees — even if a third party provides them.

Without this knowledge of local regulations, you quickly (albeit unintentionally) run the risk of non-compliance and find yourself on the wrong side of the law.

So, what could happen if you don’t comply?

There’s no way around it, if you fall foul of compliance, you’ll end up paying for it — one way or another.

Penalties come in multiple forms. The most common penalties for non-compliance are fines, which may be levied against the company or individual directors.

However, one of the most financially damaging events a company faces is having their products blocked at the border or being forced to destroy merchandise due to compliance issues. In some cases, non-compliance can even result in the mandatory closure of ALL operations within that country or imprisonment of the directors.

Even if your organisation is not given an actual penalty, the inconvenience and costs of righting the mistake, damage to the company’s reputation and possible loss of contracts could prove disastrous.

But the highest cost of non-compliance is business disruption. When found to be non-compliant, you may be forced to implement changes before business can resume, which can have a knock-on effect on other areas of your organisation.

Whether you’re looking for a PEO in the UK, US, Spain or Singapore, compliance should be your top priority. So, it’s worth seeking the help of a Global PEO with local knowledge of your chosen country to ensure you always remain on the right side of international employment laws.

That’s where we come in. At PEO Worldwide, we ensure you remain compliant at all times by taking full responsibility for hiring, contracts, employee benefits, payroll and termination if needed. To find out more about our global employment services, don’t hesitate to get in contact.

 

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Wealth Management

FOR PE TO SNAP UP “GOOD” COMPANIES, THEY MAY NEED TO WADE INTO “BAD” ECONOMIES

FINANCIAL MARKET

By  Martin Soderberg, Partner at SPEAR Capital

 

There’s no shortage of global challenges for investors currently, especially for those concerned with private equity (PE). PE and risk managers with their fingers on the pulse are turning to often overlooked opportunities in emerging markets. As Martin Soderberg discusses, while there are arguably higher levels of risk associated with such investments, the key is being able to identify good companies – and some of these may be found in bad economies.

While the current state of global markets and the enduring pandemic are anything but favourable for fundraising, some estimates indicate that up to $2.5 trillion in unutilised capital was sitting in PE houses globally earlier this year, simply waiting for the tide to turn. The McKinsey Private Markets Review 2020 reveals that $1.47 trillion of investor capital was deployed through the PE asset class globally in 2019. This represents impressive growth of private market assets under management by 10% for the year, on the back of total growth of 170% for the past decade. While, as any risk or asset manager will tell you, past performance is no guarantee of future results, the existing levels of available capital (if prudently allocated) have the potential to extend this decade of growth through the COVID-19 storm.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has already announced that it expects global growth to contract by 3% for 2020, representing a revised downgrade of 6.3 percentage points from January 2020. The IMF concluded that a revision of such magnitude over such a short period is an indication that the world is in the midst of the worst recession since the Great Depression and in a far worse position than during the Global Financial Crisis of 2009. While some would argue that investment in any country is potentially unstable in the current recession – evidenced by prices in investor safe havens such as gold skyrocketing to all-time highs, almost testing the $2,000 level this week – stability exists within key sectors such as healthcare and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs). This was exemplified late last year through Nigerian edtech learning platform uLesson’s closing of a $3.1 million seed-level round led by TLcom Capital, to address infrastructure and learning gaps in Africa’s education sector.

Martin Soderberg

Population growth and urbanisation typically drive consumption in these and other sectors. Sub-Saharan Africa has experienced growing numbers of first-time migrants into cities and leading economic nodes, with pre-COVID estimates that 50% of Sub-Saharan Africa’s population will be living in cities by 2030. In addition, burgeoning middle classes and the younger populations of developing nations is resulting in increasing levels of disposable income. At a media briefing in June, however, the IMF projected that Sub-Saharan Africa’s economy will contract 3.2% in 2020 – double the contraction forecast earlier in April. FMCGs will have taken a knock across all markets and varying recovery periods, which also ought to be borne in mind. So PE firms need to revise their approaches to investor engagement, strategy and transparency to convince, secure and guide investor capital into emerging markets presently.

 

Finding the right quality asset

There is of course a definite need for macro analysis of the country your investment or acquisition target is stationed in. Along with the six different forces macro environments typically consist of – namely Demographic, Economic, Political, Ecological, Socio-Cultural, and Technological – under the current coronavirus circumstances additional consideration by investors and risk managers also needs to be given to the COVID-19 policies and responses being implemented by the countries these companies operate within, as well as the fiscal measures being implemented. Although these are particularly complicated and extraordinary variables to attempt to measure, their impact on GDP contraction as well as debt-to-GDP ratios within the countries concerned can potentially be forecast in the short- to medium term.

With this in mind, it’s worth identifying scalable entities with realistic potential for regional expansion where instilling a balanced measure of operational and strategic influence is possible at management and board levels. A recent example is PE firm Mediterrania Capital Partners, which focuses on growth investments in SMEs and mid-cap companies in North and sub-Saharan Africa, acquiring a stake in Akdital Holding, which operates five clinics in Morocco.

It’s important that liquidity management takes precedence over solvency, which often serves as an indication of top line growth. At the same time, one must also take into account worst-case scenarios within the markets one is investing in and plan accordingly for crisis scenarios, such as debt, liquidity options and operational costs that can be scaled back.

In addition, micro and macro risk management should be thorough, particularly in light of escalating trade wars between developed nations and instances of seemingly nationalistic legislation being passed that may be unfavourable to specific emerging markets and spur further GDP contraction. Furthermore, evaluation of local political risk and the potential for obstruction or intrusion at investment and operational levels should be borne in mind.

The lockdown conditions associated with COVID-19 have also significantly impacted logistics planning and provision, across borders to neighbouring states as well as overseas. Furthermore, we’re in a period of increased currency volatility which has a knock-on effect on export and import potential. However, such limitations create broader opportunities for PE firms to generate further value by concentrating greater focus on ESG in the markets in which they already operate. Such focus is typically undervalued, yet has the potential to generate greater revenue while ultimately attracting further investment – providing firms are willing to transparently evidence tangible progress..

 

PE and foreign direct investment scepticism

When entering and engaging with companies that have scalable investment potential in emerging markets, one should expect varying degrees of caution by companies in emerging markets, which is sometimes misinterpreted as protectionism. Historical injustices in many Sub-Saharan nations have understandably dented local confidence in foreign direct investment. Furthermore, companies will be wary of recurring instances where opportunistic investments by PE entities rendered relatively worthwhile returns for investors but created debt rather than any genuine value for the company concerned.

Therefore transparency and the ability to wear your PE credentials on your sleeve is paramount, such as evidence of accelerated revenue growth, increased capital expenditures and expanded profit margins in the financial reporting of your existing portfolio. If your portfolio is little more than smoke and mirrors designed to conceal debt as well, slowing revenue growth or capital expenditure as a percentage of sales declined and little evidence of revamped strategies and additional management perspective, then you’re setting yourself up to fail.

There will be continuing debate for some time to come as to whether reluctance to invest in emerging markets will be a PE stumbling block, given the hunt for yield. Thoroughly investigated company investment opportunities have to be afforded genuine investment value in terms of expansion and enrichment, not only for yields to materialise but also for the yields to be worthy of the investment itself. While now is the time for PE firms to begin putting in the groundwork, as much as an additional year, by conservative estimates, may need to be factored in before capital can realistically be deployed. But for those who carefully identify unwavering trends in emerging markets over the next six to 12 months and articulate genuine opportunities to investors, there is scope for the PE asset class to exhibit substantial growth over the course of the coming decade, while capitalising on the “good” companies blooming in “bad” economies.

 

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