When you’re digging your way out of debt, there are, essentially, only two variables to consider; increasing your income and decreasing your spending. If you’ve already made moves to try to do one or both of these things, you’ll already be aware of just how much the really small things can help get you on the right side of the debt tipping point.
Charles Dickens expressed this best in his great novel of 1850, “David Copperfield” in which one of the key characters, Mr Micawber, memorably said: “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen pounds nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery!”
In other words, the relatively small savings, or increases in income, can make a huge difference. For most people, making further savings is easier than increasing their income. And one way many of us can do this is by hunting round for better insurance deals.
Now of course, we’ve all heard all this stuff before. The insurance industry is one of the most competitive around and everyone is trying to get a good deal, so perhaps we don’t need to teach our grandmothers to suck eggs here! But there is one avenue of potential cost savings on things like home, car, pet and personal insurance that you may not have thought of – but may well qualify for – and that’s via a trade union or other not-for-profit organisation.
Most trade unions have designated affiliations with mutual insurers which seek to provide a preferential deal for their membership. They do so because the fundamental guiding principles of both types of organisations are very similar. In short, a mutual insurance company is run for the mutual benefit of all its policy-holders as opposed to profits and dividends for private shareholders. In other words, they are run for the collective benefit of a large number of people coming together in mutual interest – rather like a trade union.
Two of Britain’s biggest trade unions are excellent examples of this kind of practice. The Unite union is the UK’s largest union with over one and a half millions members – all of whom qualify for potentially excellent insurance deals such as Unite House Insurance etc.
Similarly, the UK’s largest public employees’ union, Unison, has its own Unison insurance company via a mutual provider which should be able to beat most commercial insurers.
For many people, using such insurers goes further than simple cost savings. For them, the guiding principle of a mutual insurance company is equally as important a consideration as the cost. Similarly, people who belong to other organisations on a more moralistic or hobby / interest basis may also qualify for better insurance rates. So, for example, the same mutual insurance provider that works with the Unison and Unite trade unions, UIA Insurance, also works with the Ramblers’ Association (as well as various other trade unions including Usdaw, NASUWT, CWU, RMT, FBU, BFAWU and NAPO).
This is fitting given the guiding principles both of the union movement and of mutual societies and what’s more, it could be an alternative route to a great deal for those of us trying to heed Mr Micawber’s wise counsel.