The Research Department uses data from its Aequos database to analyse products available from brokers for travel insurance, buildings insurance and mortgage payment protection insurance

Single-trip travel insurance
For those people about to go on holiday who need travel insurance it is still not too late to arrange it direct. We looked at a range of products from the direct providers and found a very wide range of cover levels on offer.

Marks & Spencer's recently launched travel policy, underwritten by AXA, is a clear leader on the criteria analysed. It is currently available only by telephone.

Key features of the policy include:

  • £10m of medical expenses cover, and £50,000 personal accident benefits
  • £500 of money cover, including cash up to £300
  • £2,500 of baggage cover, with claims paid on a new for old basis, for items up to two years old
  • Single article limit of £300, valuables in total up to £500
  • £6,000 of cancellation cover
  • £2m liability cover
  • £25,000 legal expenses
  • Standard excess of £50, but not for loss of deposit, liability or legal expenses claims
  • 10% discount for excluding baggage cover
  • Two weeks cover in Europe is £19.14 for a single person, £38.28 for a family of four.

    Some of the other leading direct writers and specialist travel insurers form a trailing pack, all still offering good levels of cover. The only major differences between the policies are that most have inner limits which are slightly lower than the Marks & Spencer policy.

    Of note are the following:

  • Direct Line offers £1,500 of baggage cover but claims are paid on a new for old basis irrespective of the age of the item lost
  • Direct Travel and Direct Line both offer £50,000 of legal expenses cover
  • Leading Edge and insist on original receipts for all baggage losses over £100 and £50 respectively.

    Buildings insurance
    Unlike with contents policies there is a lot less variation between buildings insurance providers, primarily because the core covers within buildings are pretty much standard. (see table, right)

    The main differences between most policies in this market are the less important add-ons.

    HSBC Select's Gold cover is very wide reaching, with R&SA Choices Extra not far behind.

    Benefits of the HSBC Select policy include:

  • AD cover is optional, with sums insured automatically index-linked
  • Alternative accommodation up to 20% of the buildings sum insured
  • Up to £2,500 cover for tracing leaks of water or heating oil
  • £1,000 of garden contents cover, including plants up to £250, as standard
  • £5m of liability cover
  • Unoccupancy period of up to 60 days as standard
  • No claim discounts of up to 20% available.

    However, it isn't top in all areas. R&SA's Choices Extra policy offers the following benefits: up to £10,000 in legal fees to remove squatters from the premises and £50,000 of legal expenses (compared to HSBC's £25,000), underwritten by First Assist.

    The HSBC Select Gold product offers good all-round levels of cover. However, a number of other insurer's products are very close behind.

    Mortgage payment protection
    With major job losses being announced on a regular basis by large companies, many people may be looking at taking out some form of payment protection for their key expenditures.

    We looked at one area - mortgage payment protection. There are a plethora of products available, with many providers offering a choice of covers, and excess periods. We concentrated on policies offering full accident, sickness and unemployment (ASU) cover with a 30-day or less excess period. NatWest Bank's policy offers very good levels of cover.

    Key features of the policy include

  • Covers customers who work in Europe (although claimants must return to the UK to do so)
  • £20,000 of accidental death benefit included as standard
  • Back to day one cover
  • Temporary work allowed during periods of unemployment
  • Back to work and medical advice helplines
  • No exclusions for stress, mental illness or backache
  • Cost is £5.12 per month per £100 of benefit.

    Overall the policy offers a good level of cover, particularly with regards to the lack of restrictions on stress and backache claims which many policies usually include.


  • These charts use The Research Department's unique Data Numerical Analysis (DNA) scoring system

  • DNA illustrates the relative positioning of a product based on selected criteria

  • The criteria used in this chart are a representative sample only andmay not be relevant in all cases

  • Other criteria are available and may give different results

  • When used to match products to a client's circumstances, DNA canshow how closely a productmatches those requirements.

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