Your ticket to the sun

This year's summer holidays are probably a distant memory. But the good news is that for millions of people next year's trip could in effect be paid for, given the number of windfalls now pencilled in for customers of building societies and insurance firms.

This week it is expected that Norwich Union will confirm a shares bonanza averaging pounds 500 for 3 million policyholders. If all goes to plan, that should turn up in June or thereabouts. This should broadly coincide with the Halifax flotation - worth another pounds 900 a head for up to 10 million savers and borrowers with the society - and another pounds 570 share handout for 350,000 policyholders with the insurer Colonial Mutual.

Before then, however, the Alliance & Leicester should be doling out free shares to its 3 million members. In this case the average handout is expected to be worth closer to pounds 800.

All the other windfalls announced so far are likely to turn up later in the year - but still perhaps in time to pay the holiday credit card bill.

If all that doesn't help with your feelgood factor, there's a good chance of more windfall announcements this autumn.

The building society world may have gone a little quiet, but keep an ear open for moves at Birmingham Midshires or even one of the smaller names.

The expected Norwich Union announcement will whip up speculation about other mutual insurers, with Friends Provident, Scottish Amicable and Scottish Provident likely to be re-tipped. But, as we warn in the article on the Norwich Union conversion on page 20, insurance windfalls are different to those of their building society brethren.

If you've already got a policy with an insurer, good luck. If you've already decided that a pension plan or life insurance savings plan is for you, and you can't choose between two insurers' offerings, then picking one with windfall potential may seem a reasonable way to proceed. But beware of taking out a particular policy simply on account of the potential sweeteners. In case you hadn't heard, there are plenty of duff deals in the world of life insurance and pensions.

PRUDENT savers won't bank with the Prudential. As we report opposite, its new accounts, far from promising the savings market a long-overdue shake-up, are nothing special. Its "interest rate guarantee" - that it will aim to beat equivalent branch-based accounts from the leading high- street names - rings hollow. It ignores the better-paying postal accounts with which its own products should be compared. There's nothing particularly special about the insurer's new mortgage rates, either.

That said, it would be good to see other institutions sit up and take note of some parts of the Pru's initiative.

First, a better version of the interest-rate guarantee. The mutuals claim they pay better rates than the banks and would-be banks - why not guarantee it? Admittedly there are such guarantees around - the Bradford & Bingley has one, for example - but they are by no means universal, and some existing promises seem a bit weedy.

The Pru is also talking about a "clean sweep" on the hidden charges made by mortgage lenders. It may seem outrageous (and is) that if you make a one-off payment to reduce your mortgage, or "overpay" by keeping your payments at the same level after mortgage rates have been cut, then many lenders will avoid crediting you for these extra monies for up to a year - so costing you more in interest. The Pru promises instant crediting.

It also says that come the end of the lock-in period on its mortgages it will not leave borrowers languishing on its standard rate, waiting until they threaten to remortgage elsewhere before being offered a better deal. The Pru promises to take the initiative and offer its borrowers a new deal as soon as their lock-in period is up. Again, isn't that the sort of combination of customer service and good business that the societies would have us believe they espouse?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Ashdown Group: Learning and Development Programme Manager

£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...

Recruitment Genius: Claims Administrator

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A position has arisen within th...

Ashdown Group: Development Manager - Rickmansworth - £55k +15% bonus

£50000 - £63000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / D...

Recruitment Genius: Security Officer

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Applicants must hold a valid SIA Door Su...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss