The issues to address when you move out

New home? Steve Lodge lists the companies that should be in the know
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The Independent Online
Now Is the traditional start to the house-moving season. Obviously you will want to tell friends and family your new address and telephone number. But you will also have a financial relationship with a range of organisations, and it is important to keep them informed as well. Don't keep them updated and it could cost you; you might end up uninsured, or being unfairly pursued for debts. Your checklist should include:

q Insurance. Clearly it is vital to let your home insurer know that you have moved, but similarly car insurers will want to know if you have changed address. In most cases insurers should be able to transfer car and home contents policies to your new address, though you may face an increase in premiums to offset any higher risks. (Note: you are also required to update the address on your driving licence, and how to do this is explained on the licences).

Most contents policies will cover you for theft of, and damage to, your worldly goods when they are in transit from one address to another - normally with the caveat that you use a "professional" removal firm. Assuming this is the case, you will not need to buy cover from the removal firm as many will offer insurance.

If you have a bicycle, checking to what degree it is insured may be important when you move. Unless you have a specialist cycle policy or a (much better value) all-risks extension to your contents policy, your bike is not insured for theft or damage outside your home. That includes locking it up outside the front door, so if you previously kept the bike inside but will now have it padlocked outside, it may be worth getting an all-risks extension (costing around pounds 20 or less a year) or even a specialist policy, perhaps pounds 60 a year for a pounds 200 bike.

If you cannot transfer an old insurance policy - and this is more likely with buildings insurance on a property you own - you should be entitled to a refund of any premiums you have paid for the rest of the year. If you do have to cancel a policy, this is a good opportunity to shop around for other policies as well as haggle for a good deal with your existing insurer.

q Savings and investments. Do not forget to notify relevant banks, building societies and investment companies of your new address, or you risk share dividends and other payments going astray. In practice financial institutions claim it is quite difficult for cheques and monies to be cashed fraudulently, but why risk it. There are pounds 14m of unclaimed premium bond prizes and there will be millions of pounds of uncollected windfalls this year as a result of people moving without passing on their new address. Most converting societies and insurers will safeguard windfalls for a number of years. But some people will have lost their entitlement to windfalls as a result of not receiving reminders to top up their accounts.

You can trace any premium bond prizes that might have gone astray by writing, with details of your numbers (and any variations of your name and address), to Premium Bonds, National Savings, Blackpool FY3 9YP. You can also use this address to inform National Savings of your own change of address, as well as getting free replacements for any bond certificates you have lost.

Informing companies in which you are a shareholder of a change of address might also be a good opportunity to get dividend cheques paid into your bank account automatically in future.

Companies are normally keen to offer this service as it saves them money sending out cheques and reduces the risk of your dividends being mislaid. Furthermore, the company should still write to you to say when money should have gone into your account.

q Mortgages, credit-card bills and other debts and payments. If your cards and other debts are all paid by standing order or direct debit then the bills will still get paid even if you fail to inform the organisation that you have moved. But you will still want to see the paperwork, and mortgage standing orders may need adjusting.

If credit-card bills and the like are not paid by direct debit, you risk racking up significant amounts of interest by not informing the company of a change of address and so not receiving bills.

Don't forget to cancel any standing orders and direct debits that relate specifically to the property you are leaving - utility bills, for example.

q Utilities. If you are the name on the bill, you will need to tell the companies that you are moving out so you are not liable for use thereafter. In addition you will want to ensure services are connected wherever you are going; these new bill details can also be set up over the phone. With utilities where you yourself can take a reading, it should normally be possible to phone in readings the day you move out and move in to end and start your bills respectively.

With telephones, lines are often cut when you move out and there is a pounds 10 reconnection fee for whoever is moving in. You should aim to give BT seven days' notice of the date you are moving out as it will charge you seven days' line rental from the date you inform it, regardless of when this is. It is possible to avoid the pounds 10 reconnection charge by taking over a line the same day as the previous name comes off the bill, but this may not be suitable if for example there is a gap between the last occupants moving out and you moving in.

Where you pay a standard charge for a period rather than a metered rate - as with many people's water bills, for example - it should be possible to get a refund of charges paid for the period after you have moved out, or have this value transferred to your new account. Similarly, you can transfer television licences without charge.

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