Fergus Muirhead answers your consumer questions

Fergus Muirhead
Image caption Fergus answers your money questions on television, radio and online

I'm Fergus Muirhead and I'm here to answer any questions you may have about any money or consumer issues.

Please drop me a line here at with your questions.

You can also read more on money and consumer issues on my own blog.

I'm contacting you regarding my car insurance which I feel is really unfair. I took out the policy two months ago and the total premium was £1,031 with a monthly payment plan. Due to my hours being cut and being put on part-time work I asked if I could cancel the policy and was told I could but I would have to pay an additional £199 on top of the payments I had already paid. This totals over £600 which is actually the equivalent of more than seven months' insurance for just two months actual. I just don't know how this is fair and if there is anything I can do? Ronald Smith

I'm afraid the answer in this case is likely to be no! It's in the small print of a lot of insurance policies that if you cancel part-way through the policy term there will be some sort of cancellation fee that will effectively mean that you pay for more 'time on risk', to use the insurance company jargon, than you have actually had. It's really important to have a look at the cancellation terms for car insurance when you take out the policy since you could be hit with a large bill if you have to cancel early. If you still have the car then you will need to have insurance but it might be possible to switch your policy to third party fire and theft, or even third party only to save some money. It might be worth having a word with your insurers to look at the options.

I took out three loans with Lloyds TSB Bank and with all three I was advised by bank staff to tick the PPI box as it was essential to the success of my loan. I complained to the bank about being mis-sold the insurance and was told that the insurance was not mis-sold because, according to the bank, it was my choice to buy the PPI. At the time I took these loans, I was a civil servant with the national government. I did not make any claim against any of the insurance policy. In 2005, when I approached the bank for another loan, it was declined because I refused to tick the insurance box. My reasoning then was informed by advice from my nephew not to take out the insurance since it was not appropriate for me, and also it was not right to waste so much money paying for a premium that was not useful to me. James Gardner

From what you say, you were told that you couldn't have the loan without the PPI and also that it was your choice to buy the PPI. Both statements can't be correct and you should complain formally to the bank with your reasons for believing that the policy was wrongly sold to you. If the bank rejects your claim then you are perfectly entitled to go to the Ombudsman and ask them to have a look at your circumstances. There are lots of websites online that have template letters that you can use for your bank and for the Ombudsman. Try a Google search and see what it comes up with for you.

I recently made a claim on my PPI policy but because the policy was in joint names I was told that half of the payout would have to go to my now ex-partner. I explained that he had signed over his interest to me and since I had been responsible for the loan payments then any PPI refund should be due to me. The company has been back in touch to say their legal team have met again and are prepared to offer me only half of the £12,000 that they offered last week. They claim that my former partner is still entitled to half as it was a joint policy, even though they have the legal documentation which states that I took responsibility for the loan and he was relinquished of anything to do with it. I then informed them that in order to pay off the first loan I had to build that into my remortgage package and am therefore essentially still paying the loan off through my new mortgage. She said they would have a look at the remortgage statement which I have emailed them and get back to me. I do feel that this shows further that I have taken responsibility of the loan and paying it off, therefore the PPI refund should be due to me. I feel that the company are not taking fully into consideration the terms of the separation agreement and do not fully understand that I solely took responsibility for paying the loan off and am still doing so. Rhona Miller

I have to say that I agree completely with you. If your ex-partner signed over his interest in your loan then any claim that is paid to you as a result of a successful PPI claim should reflect that agreement. I'm glad to say that after I had a word with the company it has agreed with that view and common sense has prevailed The new offer reflects the fact that you took responsibility for the loan and the majority of the claim will now be paid to you. Remember that if you take a loan out in joint names then it is likely to be set up on a 'joint and several liability' basis which simply means that the company can come and chase either one of you for the whole amount if you default. So even if you split from a partner you could find yourself responsible for all of a loan that you took out together.

The ceiling in the hall of our 100-year-old semi in Burntisland collapsed suddenly in June of this year. It was an old lathe and plaster ceiling but had no obvious cracks or any other sign of weakness. We have home insurance with RAC Direct who operate under the name of London and Edinburgh Insurance. They rejected our claim for compensation because the collapse did not happen as the result of a "peril" covered by the policy such as fire, storm, flood or water escaping. My wife and I think that this is very unfair and it seems to render our insurance policy useless if it does not cover unforeseen events like this. I have pursued the issue with the company but to no avail. Perhaps you should take the opportunity to warn viewers that if their ceiling collapses then they may not be covered. Drew Gordon

Your insurers are correct to say that they won't pay out for your fallen ceiling because it didn't happen as the result of an 'insured peril' to use their language, but they should then have looked a bit more closely at your policy and realised that they were in fact liable for the damage that the collapsed ceiling then caused to property within your house. After I spoke to them they recognised that this was the case and have now been in contact with you to deal with the issues that should have been handled at the time. The warning you give at the end of your email is important and, as you say, it may be that the initial damage is not covered unless it happens as the result of an 'insured risk' such as storm or fire. Any damage that occurs to your house as a result of this initial damage may well be covered under your policy and as usual the warning is to make sure that you have read closely the terms and conditions that apply to your policy to make sure you have the cover that you need.

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