x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Mortgage holder wants to change insurance policy

Have a problem? Been treated unfairly? Our consumer advocate is on the case for you.

I have a mortgage on a property in Abu Dhabi that was arranged by the estate agent who sold me the apartment. They also arranged life insurance to cover the loan and at the time I thought it was expensive. I have been given a quote by another insurance company for the same level of protection which is significantly cheaper. The estate agent has told me that I have no choice but to keep the original policy. Is he right or can I change it to save some money?

BC Abu Dhabi In this instance, the situation actually has nothing to do with the estate agent. The rule is from your mortgage lender. You will need to ask the lending bank if they will allow you to change the plan, and if they do allow the change they will want details of the new provider and the type of policy to ensure that it provides proper protection. You must make sure that the new policy is active before cancelling the old one to make sure you have continuous cover. The plan can be cancelled by stopping the monthly payments, but you should ensure that this is just a simple life assurance policy without any investment element before doing so.

My husband and I recently lost our jobs, but we still have six months to go on the rental contract for our apartment and have paid in advance. We have decided that we will go back to Australia, so we told the landlord. He has told us we cannot have a refund of the rent we have already paid. AS Dubai A standard rental contract usually states that if the occupier vacates the property before it ends, a penalty of two or three months rent can be charged. You will need to read the contract that you signed, and I suspect you will find there will be a penalty to pay if you vacate the apartment before it expires. But you should not be liable for a full six months rent.

I have a local bank account with a reasonable balance. As this is a secondary account, I have not used it for more than a year, and recently I wrote a cheque that bounced. As a result, I have had to pay additional charges for something that was not my fault. I was somewhat embarrassed although I wrote the cheque in good faith. Why do banks do this? PA Dubai I have followed this matter up and was rather surprised by what I discovered. With a number of local banks, it seems that if you do not use the account for more than 12 months and do not contact the bank during this period, the account is deemed to be "dormant" and the account is frozen. In order to reactivate it, you are charged a fee and you may be required to produce your passport with a valid residency visa. Should you not use the account for more than two years, it becomes "unclaimed" and it can be difficult to reactivate the account. This is a strange practice and is only in the bank's interest, not the customer's. Current or chequing accounts fall under these rules, so I would suggest that readers not use these as long-term savings accounts without advising their bank. In many cases an offshore account where these restrictions would not apply would be more suitable.

I work for a company in Abu Dhabi, but due to the high rents I live in Dubai. The HR person has told me that because I have chosen to live in Dubai, I will not be offered the company medical insurance scheme as this only applies to Abu Dhabi residents. Can the company do this? RS Dubai The law says that anyone who is on an Abu Dhabi visa must be provided with medical insurance by their employer. Where you actually choose to live is irrelevant, as it is your visa that dictates residency and you are on an Abu Dhabi visa as that is where your employer has their trade licence. The law also states that cover must also be provided for the employees' wife and family, including up to three children below the age of 18.

I am getting married shortly and have just found out that I have to provide the long version of my UK birth certificate before the ceremony. I only have the short one. Is there any way of getting the long certificate sent to me, or do I have to do this in the UK? Any information would be really helpful. NG Abu Dhabi I can confirm that the long form certificate is definitely required. The best way to obtain one is online via www.gro.gov.uk. This is the General Register Office (GRO), part of the UK Home Office, and provides birth, marriage, civil partnership, death, adoption and commemorative certificates for England and Wales. You have to register to order and the name of the relevant party and date of the event are required. For a birth certificate the standard charge is £10 (Dh60) for standard delivery. If you have the GRO Index reference from a previous certificate, the document is issued within four working days; otherwise, dispatch time is 15 working days. Alternatively, you can select priority delivery at a cost of £26 and the certificate will be posted the next day. There is no additional charge for overseas delivery. For deliveries to the UAE, expect an additional delivery delay of three to seven days. The Royal Mail International Signed For service is usually used.

Keren Bobker is an independent financial adviser with Holborn Assets in Dubai. Write her at keren@holbornassets.com Letters can also be sent to onyourside@thenational.ae