Sarah Pennells 30072014

Welcome to Sarah Pennells’ personal finance column

Sarah Pennells is a personal finance journalist and the face behind We think she does a great job at explaining financial subjects in a very clear and accessible manner. You can find her column below where she writes about the latest financial news, and helps you get more from your money.

Off on holiday? Pack your EHIC

If you’re travelling to Europe this summer, you’ll need your EHIC (it stands for European Health Insurance Card). If you have one, you can get medical treatment that’s either free or charged at the ‘state rate’ if you take a holiday in any country that’s part of the European Economic Area (EEA). That’s basically all the countries in the EU, plus Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland.

You aren’t just entitled to emergency treatment, but any treatment that a citizen of that country would get so you can continue your holiday or fly home.

SAVVYWOMAN/ SAVVY TIP: Not all treatment is included – for example, you won’t be covered for being airlifted off a mountain if you have a skiing, biking or mountaineering accident.

The rules changed at the beginning of July, and you can no longer claim ‘co-payments’ back when you return to the UK. Some countries charge you for part of your treatment and, in the past, you could claim this back when you returned to the UK. But you can’t do that for treatment you received from July 1st.

SAVVYWOMAN/ SAVVY TIP: If you have an EHIC you should still get travel insurance so you’re covered for all medical expenses and cancellation costs etc. If you do have to make a medical claim on your travel insurance, you won’t normally have to pay the excess (the first part of the claim) if you have an EHIC.

Claim your CPP compensation

Time’s running out to claim compensation if you were mis-sold card protection or ID protection by CPP. The closing date for submitting your claim is August 30th, but as forms have to be returned by post, you have less time.

You should have received a claim form earlier this year and you must submit the original form in order to be considered for compensation. If you’ve lost your claim form, you can ask for another one by email. Details of how to claim are on the CPP redress scheme website.

The average compensation amount is just under £200, but the amount you’ll get will depend on the type of policy you’ve had and how long you’ve had it for. If you make a claim, it will cancel your policy (if you haven’t already done so).

Applying for a mortgage? Watch out for fees!

If you’re after the best mortgage deal, don’t get dazzled by the headline rate. Offers with the lowest interest rate can come with some of the most expensive fees, according to one comparison site.

Here are my tips for getting the right deal:

1. As a general rule, the smaller your mortgage is, the more of an impact the size of the fees have. So, if you have a mortgage of £100,000, you should definitely focus on the fees as well as the rate. If it’s £300,000 the interest rate will be more important.
2. The shorter the deal, the bigger the effect of the fees. If you’re switching to a mortgage with a fee of £1,999 over two years, that adds almost £1,000 to the cost of your mortgage each year. Over five years it’s less than £400.
3. Talk to an independent mortgage broker. They can do all the maths for you and they’ll also know which lenders are better for you, especially if you’re self-employed or have a smaller deposit.

SAVVYWOMAN /SAVVY TIP: Some charge a fee, others take a commission from the bank or building society.

Don’t get scammed with your pension!

Rogue advisers and fraudsters are targeting people who have a pension, promising them they can take money out of it early. Under the rules, you can’t take any money out of your pension before you’re 55. If you do, you could end up with a large tax bill.

But some companies are promising easy access to pension cash before the age of 55 – for a fee. Be very wary of anyone cold-calling you and promising you a pension review or anyone who says that there’s a ‘government loophole’ that means you can get your pension cash out before you reach 55. There isn’t. Not only could you get a large tax bill but – in the worst case – your money could disappear in dodgy investments.

Is Fido or Tiddles insured?

If you have a dog or cat, is it insured? New research shows that almost 60% of pet owners don’t have insurance, but you could end up with a large vets’ bill if you don’t have any cover.

As with most insurance, not all policies are the same. There are three main types:

Cover per year. Most insurers offer policies that have an annual limit on the cost of treatment. Don’t cut corners by opting for a low limit on vets’ fees if you can avoid it. The worst thing would be to find that, halfway through treatment, you’ve used up your insurance cover.
Cover per condition. There’s a limit for a claim on each condition. If your pet has two (expensive) unrelated illnesses, this can mean you have more cover than if you had a cover per year policy. Try and find a policy with a reasonably high limit.
Cover for life. This means that if your pet gets a long-term illness (such as diabetes or arthritis) the insurance policy will pay out for as long as your pet needs treatment.

SAVVYWOMAN/ SAVVY TIP: If you have a dog you could be sued if it causes damage to someone’s property or bites them. Third party liability insurance is designed to pay