Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Going Away For Christmas - Security Ideas

Christmas is just around the corner and by now most of us have our plans in place for the festive period. Unfortunately, thieves also have their plans in place too. Here are a few ideas to make sure that your plans don't coincide! If you are going away for Christmas, whether on holiday or to visit family, tell as few people as possible outside of those that need to know. We all like to chat about our plans for the festive season, especially over a glass of wine or two, but do you know who might be listening in? Arrange for a friend or neighbour to keep an eye on your property, or maybe park their spare car outside your house, so it looks like someone is coming and going. Install timers on a couple of lights and maybe the radio. At a glance it will look like someone is there. DON'T put comments on Facebook, Twitter or any of the other social media network sites. You might be seeing the grandchildren shortly or heading off to the sun, but do you know who is reading your postings and possibly rubbing their hands in glee, as they now know you won't be there. Likewise, make sure that children don't make these postings either. If you have recently purchased new electrical equipment make sure that you dispose of the packaging properly. Don't leave it outside your home or on view, you are advertising that there is something new available. If you have an alarm system make sure that you use it, even if you only plan to be away from home for a few hours, going out to dinner. It is a deterrent. Most of these things are common sense and we know that we are probably telling you how to suck eggs, but better to be safe. Most of all, have a Happy Christmas and Prosperous New Year from all of us at Dragon Insurance. We will be back with more information and advice in 2014.

Monday, 11 November 2013

Home Insurance - Are You Fully Covered?

Home Insurance is one of those things that you know you should have, especially if you have a mortgage. So what do you do? Most people call a couple of companies, answer the never ending list of questions, agree the price, receive a document and shove it in the drawer until the renewal becomes due next year. Sound familiar?

Are you confident that you will be fully covered if you need to make a claim?

Like most things, you get what you pay for, so if you paid a really low premium or got the cover free when you took out another insurance, chances are the cover is minimal. It is always worth reading the policy schedule, if not the full document so you are clear what is covered and that the information on the document i.e. name, address etc are correct. If there is an error it is better to rectify it sooner rather than later. If you move or make changes to your property, advise your insurance so that the details can be updated. No point in paying for insurance on a property you no longer live in and if you have to make a claim there could be a problem.

If you have a mortgage on the property your mortgage provider will want to see a copy of the policy with their name and relevant account number listed. They will also want to see that the buildings value in the policy fully covers the outstanding mortgage. If not, they might just set up a policy for you without your authorisation, especially the Spanish banks.

Every company will ask you about security measures. Why do they need to know this and why is it important? If you state that your property has an alarm, whenever you leave the property it MUST be used. If you choose not to bother and you have a break in, then your claim might not be paid out. Not the plan.

Make sure you have the helpline number for the insurers in a convenient place. Important if you have a problem and need to contact the insurers in an emergency. All policies come with contact details on the policy or on a small card. We recommend you either add the phone number to your phone book/mobile phone, or keep the card by the telephone. In an emergency situation it's not ideal to be trawling through drawers to find the document with the phone number on it.

Contents value is something that you should consider seriously. Before calling for a quote just go around the rooms of your house and do a mental calculation of how much it would cost to replace everything, you will be surprised. Don't forget to include clothes and any shoe or handbag collections that maybe in the wardrobe. The figure will probably be higher than you think.

Whether your property is a permanent home, holiday home, rented out or being modernised, we can offer a range of policies to suit and are happy to provide any advice or information needed.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Cyclists - Is Your Bike Registered?

With the current credit crunch many people are now taking to cycling as a means of transport, as it is a cheap way of getting around. How many of you have either insured or registered your bicycle? As with most things, now that cycling has become more popular stealing bicycles has become more popular. In an attempt to reduce the numbers, an office has been set up in Alicante for cyclists to register their bikes. In the next few weeks the website will be also be available www.biciregistro.es to take registrations online, or as an alternative most authorised cycle shops will do the registration for you. It is always worth checking with your house insurer if your bikes are covered, or if they can be covered (sometimes an optional extra). Another consideration when cycling is Public Liability Insurance. If you have an accident and cause damage or injury to someone else this would cover you. Annual premiums from as little as 37.59euros. If you have any questions on cycling cover, do not hesitate to contact us for help and advice.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

You've Sold Your Car - But Are You Still Responsible?

This is something that comes up on a regular basis and has been commented on various social media sites recently.

You have agreed a sale for your Spanish registered car, either by part exchange at the garage or by private sale to an individual. There is a piece of paper to show what you agreed, so it's all good. Or is it? Have you confirmed that the car documents have been transferred into the new person's name?

The system in Spain when you sell a vehicle is very different to the UK. You don't both just sign the V5C and send it off to DVLA, then a few weeks later the new owner gets a new V5 in their name all for the cost of a stamp and envelope. In Spain it is somewhat more complicate and generally requires the assistance of someone who knows what they are doing like a Gestor.

The person listed as the registered owner of the vehicle in the database at Trafico is the person considered to be responsible for anything relating to the vehicle. All Suma bills, fines, damage etc will come back to you. In addition, as the car is insured and not the person, you will be responsible for ensuring that the car is insured (this is a legal requirement).

You might think that by selling/part exchanging your vehicle at a garage this will all be done for you - wrong. You need to ask what they intend to do about the transfer. In some cases they will do the transfer straight away, but in others they will wait until they have a purchaser and do the transfer from you to the purchaser, so they don't incur additional costs. Yes, like everything else there is a cost. The costs depends upon a variety of factors including age of the vehicle, value etc.

Whilst some insurance companies will accept a sale/compraventa document to cancel the insurance, most of the Spanish companies will want the document that shows the transfer of ownership is in progress 'Justificante' or a copy of the 'Permiso de CirculaciĆ³n' in the name of the new person.

If you sell privately, arrange a time with the purchaser to visit the Gestor and arrange the transfer. This way you can get a copy of the Justificante and know that everything is being done properly, so no nasty surprises in the future.

Drinking and Driving in Spain - Do You Know the Consequences?

The sun is out, the sky is blue, evenings are warmer and longer so the temptation to get together with friends for a drink is probably higher up the to do list than normal. But how many alcoholic drinks can you have before you are over the limit to drive and what are the consequences?

Realistically, we all know the consequences and always intend to have 'just the one', but a second/third one won't hurt will it?

At present the levels of alcohol allowed in Spain before driving are as follows:

General Drivers - 0.3mg alcohol per litre of air or 0.5g alcohol per litre blood.
Young or Professional Drivers - 0.15mg alcohol per litre of air or 0.3g per litre of blood.

There has been talk of zero tolerance which is still under discussion.

As you can see by the limits above, the levels are not high. Reaction to alcohol will differ from person to person and the percentage of alchol in wine for instance can differ, so not one can actually say whether the limit is reached with 1 glass, 2 or more.

If you are stopped by the police and asked to take a breath test it is advisable to take the test and not refuse. As you can imagine in Spain, like most other countries there are penalties for refusing. If the first test comes up positive, you can ask for another test to be take 10 minutes later and then request the results be confirmed by a blood test.

So what are the penalties?
The penalty you receive will depend how far over the limit you are. At present the fines range between 300.15 - 601.01euros, but there is ongoing discussion to increase this to 1.000euros plus. In addition, you could be looking at loss of your licence for 3 months to 4 years, community service or imprisonment.

Is that extra drink really worth the risk?

Friday, 28 June 2013

Travelling or Visitors Arriving this Summer? - Information from the British Embassy

Whether you are looking to take off yourself on holiday, or playing the host with the most to family, friends or guests this summer, you need to advise your visitors to ensure that they get an EHIC health card and travel insurance.

The British Embassy is urging people to remember to bring the often forgotten and essential European Health Card. 

When your visitors ask what the weather is like and what to bring, make sure that the EHIC and travel insurance are on the list.

The EHIC card is easy to obtain before you travel - check out www.ehic.org.uk - it costs nothing to obtain.

Getting this card will provide peace of mind. Whilst we all have ideas of fun filled, sunny, trouble free days, things can go wrong when you least expect it. The EHIC will help ensure that you don't end up with a large hospital bill that you didn't anticipate.

Comprehensive Travel Insurance should also be on the list for both your travels and your visitors. It covers all the extras that the EHIC doesn't, such as repatriation in the case of medical emergency. The EHIC will cover emergency treatment at the local doctors or hospital, but that is all, it won't get you home.

When taking your travel insurance, remember to advise the insurer if you have any pre-existing medical conditions and check that they will be covered. Most companies will either accept conditions as part of the policy, or ask you a few questions and you might need to pay a little extra for the health coverage. Either way, if you don't declare medical conditions this could invalidate the cover on your policy. You won't fool the insurers, they will investigate and they will find out your history.

Every year Consular staff in Spain are asked to assist hundreds of Britons who have failed to take out travel insurance, or who have invalidated their policies, and who have ended up facing huge bills when attending a private clinic or hospital.

Visitors to Spain should be aware that they do not have to provide travel insurance as payment for urgent/necessary medical treatment in a public or state healthcare facility. They should insist that their EHIC is accepted. Anyone asked to sign a form or disclaimer in a state hospital should check that they are not forfeiting the right to be treated under an EHIC. 

If an EHIC is refused or there are other concerns about using an EHIC whilst in Spain, call the Department of Health team at the British Consulate on 902 109 356.

A visitor who needs to see a doctor and doesn't have an EHIC with them can also get a Provisional Replacement Certificate from the Overseas Heathcare Team in Newcastle on +44 191 218 1999.

For more information on EHIC entitlements, visit www.healthcareinspain.eu

Travel safely knowing that you have the right documents and are fully covered.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Car Insurance - Should I Cancel It Whilst I'm Away?

Many of you will spend part of your year living in Spain and part in another country, but have a vehicle that you leave here in Spain whilst you are away. We are sometimes asked to cancel insurance policies on vehicles "because I won't be using it for the next x number of months". How many of you realise that this isn't legal?

With a Spanish insurance you will usually insure the vehicle for any driver over the age of x (check with your company as they all vary), or you will expressly state named drivers. In the UK the insurance covers the person and not the vehicle, totally different.

The law in Spain states that every vehicle must be insured, unless it is listed in Trafico records as being off the road or scrapped (like the UK Sorn).

Many of you will lock the vehicle in a garage, behind locked gates, in secure parking etc, but what happens if you have cancelled the insurance and the vehicle does get stolen?  You, as the registered owner would be held liable for any accidents, damage or personal injury that occurs if the vehicle is being driven by an unauthorised driver, as it is your responsibility as the registered owner to have the vehicle insured at all times.

None of us have a crystal ball to know whether this will happen or not, but in the current climate where people are getting desperate, it is worth giving serious thought before you ask for the policy to be cancelled, as it could cost you more than a year's insurance.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

What To Do In Case of A Car Accident In Spain

Most of us at some point in our driving lifetime will unfortunately have an accident.  Whether it is your fault or the other party, would you know what to do? 

Hopefully this short guide might help you:

Check that everyone is ok and no one is requiring medical attention. If medical assistance is required call 112 and request an ambulance (you will get the police as well).

If the vehicles are blocking the road, move them (if possible) out of the way of the traffic. If not, put out the warning triangles and get someone to assist with directing/stopping the oncoming traffic. Take photos of the vehicles before they are moved and the individual damge on both afterwards. Most mobile phones have a camera nowadays.

Both parties complete the Accident Statement Form (DeclaraciĆ³n Amistosa de Accidente). Make sure that all the details are correct and that a cross has been inserted into the middle panel (Circumstances) to show what was happening just prior to the accident. Draw a picture in the box and both parties sign the document. Ensure that you are happy with the information on the document before you sign it. If details are incorrect and you sign this document, you are confirming that you agree with the incorrect details.

This is where the fun begins.  If the the other party has completed their part in Spanish and you don´t understand it, or they have completed a Spanish version of the from. Where possible, we always send our clients a copy of the form in English, so get your copy out and check the translation of the various parts of the form. You possibly won´t be able to understand what the other party has completed in Observations, but make sure that your part is correct.

Check that the drawing represents what happened. ONLY sign the document if you are happy that it represents what actually happened. Once the signed form is sent to the insurance company they will act on the details provided. If the other party was at fault, but have indicated that the accident was your fault and you have signed the document to confirm this, without putting any comments of your own, you might find yourself being held responsible and losing your no claims bonus. If a third party (even the Police) fill out the form for you, check as best you can that the details are a correct representation, as even they get it wrong sometimes.

The form is in 2 parts and each party should keep a part to hand to their insurance company.

Happy motoring.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Who Do You Love More? Your Family or the Taxman?

Fact: Most people make no plans to eliminate or even reduce their potential liability to Inheritance Tax in Spain. Many don't even think they need to pay Inheritance Tax. Wrong!

It is like welcoming the taxman into your family, inviting him to become a beneficiary to assets that you have taken a lifetime to accumulate.  Of course, no one intends to die, but unfortunately we cannot stop the process.

If you put off what needs to be done you run the risk of leaving your family with a truly memorable legacy - a whopping big Inheritance Tax bill.

By doing something it is possible to reduce your potential tax bill by 99%!

Did you know:
- Inheritance Tax in Spain is levied on the beneficiary, not the deceased's estate, as in the UK.
- Unlike the UK, there is no exemption between husband and wife.
- You could be liable to Spanish Inheritance Tax even if you are a non-resident for tax purposes and your property is only for holidays.
- You could be liable to pay Spanish Inheritance Tax on any worldwide assets left to you by your spouse.
- Spanish Inheritance charges can be as high as 81.6%.
- Any jointly held bank accounts in Spain could be frozen following death.
- The house in Spain cannot be sold by the beneficiaries to pay for any Inheritance Tax liability.
- A beneficiary has 6 months to settle the liability before possible surcharges, interest or even fines are incurred.

With a little planning:
- Your beneficiaries could avoid being charged Spanish Inheritance Tax
- You could retain access to your assets during your own lifetime.

If you would like to know more on this subject, contact us on 966 494 176

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

How Do I Claim on My Travel Insurance?

It is coming to that time of year when we think about going away on holiday. Tickets booked, bags packed, travel insurance purchased and off we go. But then something happens whilst we are in transit or away and we want to claim on the travel insurance, so what do we do now??

Claims for delays, cancellations or lost/damaged luggage, always keep any documents, receipts and if possible the damaged item. If you can't keep the item then make sure that you take plenty of photos from all angles, preferably with a date stamp on the photos. If items have been damaged in transit make sure you report it to the relevant company and get something in writing from them to confirm your complaint.

Medical situations will depend on the severity of the illness. If it is a minor complaint that can be dealt with by a doctor as an outpatient, make sure that you keep any paperwork/receipts, as generally you will have to pay for the treatment/medication and claim this back from the insurance company.

If inpatient treatment is necessary, you or your representative will need to call the assistance number that is provided by the insurance company on your policy. They will then discuss your needs and requirements with the hospital and make arrangements/payment for you.

In all cases, keep all receipts and paperwork that might be needed at a later date to assist with your claim. If in doubt, read the terms and conditions that come with the policy as it will tell you the minimum information needed.

"I've booked a trip but changed my mind about going. Can I claim my money back under the cancellation cover?" No. There has to be a particular reason to cancel and changing your mind isn't one of them.

The airline/airport might be closed due to a strike. Can I claim for this if I can't travel? This depends on when you booked the trip. If the strike had been advertised for a certain date and you booked a trip for that date knowing that you might not be able to travel, then the insurers will probably not cover it. If you booked before any announcements were made, fully covered.

Going back to the medical cover and on a slightly different issue, the EHIC card. There have been many reports in the press recently where hospitals/GPs in Spain have not accepted this card. If you are considering using this option to obtain emergency treatment make sure that you visit the right place. Spain has social security hospitals/GPs (NHS equivalent) which will accept the EHIC card for emergency treatment, but you might find that spoken English is limited and a translator or assistance necessary. There are a great many private hospitals/GPs who will speak English, but will not accept the EHIC card and will require payment for treatment. It is always best to check before making an appointment or receiving treatment so there are no nasty surprises at the end.

Happy travelling.

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Funeral Insurance - Why Bother?

This is the one insurance policy that you are guaranteed to make a claim against, unless there are terrific improvements in medical science and they find a way to stop us dying and allow us to live forever.

It is a subject that msot people don't want to talk about, but the facts of life are such that we need to consider what we want and make a provision. The Spanish have a more abrupt approach and generally take out a funeral policy for their children at birth, which then continues throughout their life. Not something that we northern Europeans usually consider.

Would your family know what to do, who to contact and your wishes, especially if you are in Spain and they are in the UK?

By taking out either Funeral Insurance or a Pre-Paid Funeral Plan you are taking the responsible approach and making life easier for your family, at what is always an emotional and stressful time. Everything will be paid for, your wishes can be stipulated in advance so your family just need to make 1 phone call and the arrangements will be sorted out for them.

Many people in Spain choose to leave their body to medical science in the belief that this is a free service and no funeral plans need to be made. Before you go down this route you need to be sure that you know the terms and conditions that apply. If there is any possibility that you have a contagious disease when you die, or if you die in a car accident or in any suspicious circumstances you will not be acceptable. The body has to be available to be passed to the teaching facility within 36 hours of death or you will not be accepted and what happens then?

None of us can predict when we will die or the circumstances. Is it worth the gamble and financial pressures on your family to not take out some cover?  It can be cheaper than you think.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Spanish Vehicle ITV - Latest Update

Trafico have now decided to catch up with all the owners of Spanish vehicles who do not have a valid ITV certificate. 

In the first instance, they will write to the person listed as the owner of the vehicle to request either, proof that you have an ITV or to advise that you need to obtain an ITV.  If you fail to respond to the letter, or get an ITV certificate for the vehicle they will assume that the vehicle is off the road and list it as such (same as a SORN in the UK).

If you are stopped by the police and found to be driving a vehicle with no ITV the fine is between 200 - 500euros.  Be warned!!

Friday, 22 March 2013

Travel Insurance - Are You Properly Covered?

At some point during the year most of us hope to take one or more trips away, whether to far off countries or the UK and consider taking travel insurance. But, have you ever read the policy and do you actually know what you are covered for?

Many people ask "why should I bother with travel insurance for the UK or Europe?" Whilst you EHIC card (E111) will cover you for emergency treatment, what about repatriation, which can cost you or your family thousands. With delays and cancellations, depending on the reason the flight companies don't always pick up the tab!

How many of you wait until the week before travelling to take out your insurance, as it seems a bit pointless taking it before, doesn't it? You should always take your insurance when you book the trip. It won't cost anymore and you will be covered for cancellation from the date you take the cover. Also, if you have an accident and can't travel you will be covered. Especially important for long haul or expensive trips.

Are all of your journeys covered? Check your policy. Some cover all flights, some cover first flight but not subsequent flights. The companies we work with cover all flights.

You have some medical conditions to be considered, will they be covered? Check the policy. They all have different rules regarding pre-existing conditions. If your condition changes between taking the policy and travelling, make sure you advise the insurance company, otherwise you might not be covered. We can cover medical conditions for you.

Are sports and skiing covered? Depends on the policy. With many policies general sports are included, but check the list as some will be covered high risk and maybe excluded. Wintersports/skiing are usually an add on to the policy.

No matter where you are travelling, always give travel insurance a consideration. Make sure you don't end up being left in an unfortunate position and needing to find a lot of money quickly.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Is My UK Driving Licence Valid in Spain?

Recently much has been written and questions asked about the legality of UK driving licences in Spain. The law changes at the drop of a hat and lots of rumours filter around so people don’t know what to do or who to believe.

The law regarding UK driving licences was approved in Spain in 2009, but did not come into force until 19th January 2013. It states that all European residents who have been living in Spain for more than 2 years who DO NOT have a European driving licence (photo card style) have to change their UK paper licence for a Spanish licence.

If you have the UK photo card style you don’t have to change it straight away, but if you live full time in Spain, or more than 183 days per year then you are required to change it to Spanish at renewal. 

Several years ago many people resident in Spain used to report their UK licence as lost to DVLA, get a duplicate and then use the original ´lost´ licence to apply for a Spanish licence. Not legal. You cannot have a licence in each country and nowadays Trafico and DVLA are in contact with each other.  If you choose to go back to the UK you can hand in the Spanish licence and request a UK version.

Applying for a Spanish licence is quite simple and can either be done in person at Trafico offices, selected medical centres that supply the medical certificate will also do the paperwork for you, or you can use your Gestor. You will need; an application form, your current paper driving licence, medical certificate (not always necessary), photo and NIE.

Another point to be aware of with UK photo card licences is the expiry date. These licences only last for a maximum of 10 years (depending on your age) and then have to be renewed. Is yours still valid.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Welcome to Dragon Insurance

Welcome to the blog of Dragon Insurance SL. For those of you that don’t know us, we are an insurance and financial services company set up in 1998 by Company Director Maria Morawiec. Initially to provide insurance for ex-patriots with both British and Spanish registered vehicles, as well as home insurance.

The company has moved from strength to strength and we now offer a very wide range of insurance products for European clients including Spanish nationals.  We have added on to our services and can also offer financial and tax advice from our office base in Benitachell.

The aim of our blog is to provide you with information, advice and helpful hints, as well as some of the legalities and legal changes as and when they happen in Spain.

Happy reading.