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Dear Tricia helps with life insurance, pensions and travel insurance

Q When my husband recently passed away, I found he had a number of life insurance policies.  When these pay out, will there be any tax to pay?

A Sorry to hear of your loss. Life assurance policies are an excellent means of protecting against financial problems that can arise through death.

The proceeds are tax free and if they are for the benefit of a spouse, there is no concern over Inheritance Tax either. 

Speak to the insurance firms and send them a death certificate and a claim form.

Q Several years ago I had a triple heart bypass. Will this affect my pension income?

A If you are already in receipt of your pension income then no, this will have no effect.

However, if you are yet to take your pension you can apply for something called an impaired life annuity.

This takes into account previous illnesses when assessing how much you will receive in retirement. 

You should seek advice and get an independent adviser to research the whole market to make sure you get the best pension.

Q Where should I buy travel insurance?

A Resist the hard-sell from your travel agent or tour operator – prices can be considerably higher.

Travel agents or operators cannot make a holiday offer conditional upon buying travel insurance and you cannot be charged extra if you buy it elsewhere.

Go to insurers directly or try a broker, who will scour the market for you. Annual policies are cost effective if you travel frequently. 

Also check your bank as many accounts include free travel insurance. But check the cover is comprehensive enough for your needs.

Q I read that the State Pension is being increased. Will I start getting this extra money soon? I’m struggling and it would come in handy for Christmas.

A Unfortunately, you won’t start receiving the increase, announced by the Chancellor in his autumn Statement last week, until April 2012.

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