A WEEK IN PERSONAL FINANCE

More than two-thirds of private investors expect a Labour victory in the next general election. But only 15 per cent trust "New Labour", and most would dramatically shift their investments out of the UK stock market and into shares overseas if Labour came to power, says a new survey of 2,500 people by investment managers Cantrade.

The cost of insurance fraud fell from pounds 600m in 1994 to pounds 585m this year, according to the Association of British Insurers. The ABI said it was committed to reducing fraud further and would encourage the prosecution of those making fraudulent claims.

Motor insurance premiums could fall further as big insurers such as Direct Line pass on savings from running their own repair garages, predicts actuaries Bacon & Woodrow. Further premium cuts of more than 10 per cent could be possible.

The Banking Ombudsman awarded record damages of almost pounds 1m against banks last year in response to complaints from consumers. The smallest award was pounds 10 and the largest pounds 70,000. But the Ombudsman said complaints to his office were down overall and suggested that banks might be improving both customer service and their own handling of complaints.

The UK's largest insurer, the Prudential, called on the Government to look at simplifying pensions. Measures suggested included extending the proposed "plain english" exercise for tax to pensions.

Employers are concerned about the cost of private medical insurance plans for staff to their organisations, according to a survey by the CBI.

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