When house hunting, the price of homeowners insurance probably isn’t top of mind. But homes with hidden risks can make getting coverage difficult, expensive or both. Learning how to identify them could save you a bundle.

This could be a particularly important concern for first-time homebuyers and those moving from cities to suburban or rural areas who may not be aware of common hazards, says Jennifer Naughton, risk consulting officer for North America for Chubb, an insurance company.

Three out of 10 city dwellers told a Chubb survey in early August that they were considering moving out of the city because of the novel coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, the number of first-time homebuyers in the first half of 2020 rose 4% compared to a year earlier as lower interest rates made mortgages more affordable, according to Genworth Mortgage Insurance.


A homeowners insurance premium can depend in part on distance to the nearest fire hydrant and fire station, Naughton says. Homes that are on narrow roads or otherwise difficult for fire trucks to access also could be more expensive to insure.

“If they have to cross over a bridge, it’s not only a consideration of can a car go over that bridge, but also can a fire engine,” she says.

Some homes are at such high risk of wildfires and severe weather — hurricanes, tornadoes, windstorms and hail — that private companies won’t insure them. Without insurance, you can’t get a mortgage, so you’d need to turn to state-run risk pools such as Beach and Windstorm Plans or Fair Access to Insurance Requirements Plans, better known as FAIR. These policies typically cost more and cover less than regular homeowners insurance.

Also, many homeowners policies in storm-prone areas have hurricane deductibles that are higher than the normal deductible,

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Savvy drivers and homeowners who switch their insurance provider every year may be facing a steep rise in the premiums on offer from next year. 

The financial watchdog is proposing to ban what has become known as the ‘loyalty penalty’ from late 2021, potentially saving some 6 million customers £3.7billion over 10 years. 

Currently in the motor insurance market premiums rise by an average of 2.54 per cent at renewal, according to Consumer Intelligence. In home insurance, premiums go up by an average 12.67 per cent every year. 

Banning this will mean that insurers can no longer reserve the best deals for new customers while at the same time charging more to existing policyholders who don’t switch away when they renew. 

a small boat in a body of water: The FCA plans to ban insurers from raising premiums for loyal car and home customers

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The FCA plans to ban insurers from raising premiums for loyal car and home customers

It comes after years of campaigning from This is Money and others warning about the penalty and encouraging customers to fight back. 

While the rule change is good news for the majority of policyholders who choose to stay with their existing provider, it is likely to penalise those who have bothered to shop around. 

Insurance experts Consumer Intelligence said: ‘One thing is absolute – premiums are going to rise. 

‘In the current model, insurers offer heavily discounted new business prices to acquire new customers, but don’t make profit until year two or three of the policy. So naturally, prices will need to even out to support the sustainability of the industry.’

The price of loyalty penalty 

The FCA has calculated the differences in prices paid by existing and

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Shell Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said cutting jobs was “the right thing to do for the future of the company.”

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Royal Dutch Shell

unveiled plans on Wednesday to cut up to 9,000 jobs by the end of 2022, as part of a major restructuring plan as it shifts to low-carbon energy.

The oil giant said it expected to make annual savings of $2 billion to $2.5 billion through a “simpler, streamlined and lower-cost organization.”

In a trading update, the company said it expected to take another impairment charge of $1 billion to $1.5 billion in the third quarter, and that production was set to drop due to the hurricanes in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. The stock edged lower into afternoon London trading.

The back story. The oil-and-gas industry has been one of the worst affected throughout the coronavirus crisis, as the pandemic caused demand to collapse. In April, Shell cut its dividend for the first time since World War II. The company reported a record $18.1 billion second-quarter loss, following a $16.8 billion write-down as it lowered long-term oil price forecasts. Its peers have faced similar problems, with


plunging to a $16.8 billion net loss in the second quarter, having also cut its dividend for the first time in a decade.

However, the Covid-19 crisis has also accelerated the industry’s shift toward green energy. BP has ramped up its strategy—to become net zero on carbon by 2050—by pledging a tenfold increase in low-carbon investment to $5 billion a year by 2030. Shell also launched a review of its business, with a view to transitioning toward low-carbon energy.

What’s new. Chief Executive Ben van Beurden said cutting jobs was “the right thing to do for the future of the company,” as he laid out