Save Hundreds on Your Home Insurance Policy With SmartFinancial

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Homeowners can save hundreds of dollars when they switch home insurance companies using SmartFinancial.
Kari Faber is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.
So if you want to know for sure that you’re not being ripped off by your insurance company, compare your options with help from Smart Financial. It takes just minutes to get started here.
To see if you’re overpaying for your home insurance policy, check out a website called SmartFinancial. It’s a digital marketplace where you can get quotes and compare rates from multiple top-rated insurance carriers to make sure you’re getting the best price.
Source: thepennyhoarder.com
But if you’re not thinking about your insurance, it also means you don’t know if you’re being overcharged for it. But here’s the thing: You don’t need to be. And it’s easy to find out. <!–

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It takes just two minutes to get quotes from multiple insurers, so you can see all your options side-by-side. Yep — you can save hundreds on your home insurance in only a couple minutes.

What is Insurance?

Insurance helps make life less risky. Insurance gives people the chance to be free and minimize risks along the way. The basic principle behind insurance is simple, but the inner workings of an insurance policy can get confusing. Here is a basic breakdown of what insurance is, how it works, and its essential parts.

Insurance?

Insurance is a contract between an individual and an insurer where the insurer promises to give the person money if something bad happens. It’s a monetary safety net to catch you if you fall. Similar to a sudden drop, the first moments of an unexpected loss may be harrowing, but as insurance cushions the fall, you quickly find yourself comfortable and back on your feet.

The Different Kinds of Insurance

You can buy insurance for many different situations, but the most common forms of insurance are homeowners, auto, life and health.

Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance policies put you in a position to get reimbursed if something happens to your home or what’s inside it. It can also cover expenses as a result of somebody getting injured on your property or by something that’s part of your property such as a tree branch or a piece of your home that gets blown off during a storm.

Auto Insurance

Auto insurance is similar to home insurance, but it covers you if something happens to your vehicle or as a result of you operating it. Auto insurance can help pay for repairs after an accident or the hospital bills incurred by you or someone else affected by an accident.

Life Insurance

When you buy life insurance, you protect those left behind if you die. Your life insurance policy can give loved ones cash if you pass away and you can also use it to pay for your funeral expenses.

Health Insurance

A health insurance policy helps cover the costs incurred when you get sick or injured. They are designed to pay for your hospital bills, rehabilitation expenses, and other health-related costs.

How Insurance Works

You may have heard about some of the big payouts people get from insurance settlements even though they pay a relatively small amount each month. In some ways, it sounds like a deal that’s too good to be true for the consumer.

In reality, however, most people don’t have accidents on a regular basis, yet most pay insurance every month. For example, only around 6% of homeowners file a claim each year. The money the insurance company has to pay out is offset by the fact that they don’t have to pay anything to the other 94% of their customers.

The Three Key Components of Insurance: Premiums, Policy Limits, and Deductibles

An insurance policy has many small components—all of which are designed to keep the consumer or their investment safer. Each piece can fit into one of three boxes: the premium, the policy’s limits, and the deductible.

Premium

An insurance premium is what you pay for coverage. It is typically a set amount each year and gets divided into payments made on a monthly basis. For example, if your annual home insurance premium is $1,200, you would pay $100 each month.

The premium often can increase from year-to-year to compensate for the effects of inflation or the increased risk of accidents resulting in insurance claims.

The insured individual pays one premium that covers all aspects of the insurance policy. For example, if your homeowners insurance covers your house, garage and personal possessions, you pay one premium to cover all those things. The premium goes up or down based on how much coverage you need.

While many insurance plans are similar, you can custom-design your plan to fit your needs. To do this, you can add endorsements. An endorsement gives you the freedom to make changes to your policy. You can inquire about which
endorsements are possible by reaching out to your insurance broker. You can use it to change relatively small things, like the wording, or to add stuff you want covered.

For example, if you have a wedding ring or other valuable jewelry, you can get an endorsement that can help you get reimbursed if they are damaged or stolen. You can do the same for a computer, artwork, silverware or virtually anything else in your home. The amount you get if something is stolen or damaged depends on your policy’s limits.

Policy Limit

Each category of coverage is covered up to a certain dollar amount, known as the policy limit. For example, if your home insurance policy covers your home for up to $300,000 and you suffer a loss in the amount of $250,000, you’re all set. On the other hand, if the loss comes up to $320,000, you are only going to get $300,000 from your insurance company; the rest will have to come out of pocket.

Each category on the policy—dwelling, other structures, personal property or each endorsement—has its own limit. For example, if your jewelry is insured for $10,000, you can get up to $10,000 if it’s stolen. If the loss is bigger than that, you can’t take from your dwelling coverage, for example.

Deductible

The deductible is what you pay up front before the insurance company gives you any money. For instance, if your deductible is $500, and you get a payout of $20,000, you will only get $19,500. You have to come out of pocket for the other $500. If you agree to pay a higher deductible, you can save on the cost of your premium. By the same token, policies with lower deductibles often have higher premiums. Learn more about deductibles, here.

How Homie Insurance™* Can Help

With insurance, you can mitigate most of the financial risks of life. In a world that sometimes seems full of unpleasant surprises, you don’t have to worry; you’re covered.

When you get insurance through Homie Insurance, you can say goodbye to annoying conflicts of interest and hello to savings. Most insurance companies promote their own products—even if it’s not what’s best for your needs. We recommend the plan that best fits your situation and helps you save some dough along the way. If you want to get more information about insurance through Homie Insurance, check this out.

Read More About Insurance

What is a Deductible?
How to Choose an Insurance Company

Source: homie.com

‘I Bought a House in a Flood Zone’: Here’s How We Don’t Sink

One weekend last fall, I was checking out a real estate listing on realtor.com of a cute 19th-century house near a creek. But underneath this idyllic photo, I noticed two words in small, blue print, “Flood Factor,” followed by a number,10/10.

Alarmed, I delved deeper, and learned that this property’s flood risk was as high as it gets.

I texted my real estate agent, who’d sent me this listing: “Let’s skip this one. I don’t want to live in a flood zone.”

Still, our house hunt had been going from bad to worse all summer. Our quest for a second home in upstate New York had stalled, as the ongoing pandemic sent droves of home buyers into the market. A new listing would hit, our real estate agent would book a showing for a day or two later, and by the time we were driving to see the property, I’d learn there was already an accepted offer.

On this particular weekend, this flood-prone house was near the one tour we’d scheduled.

“We’ll be so close to it, why not just swing by?” my agent asked.

I agreed. After all, what did we have to lose?

Our backyard during the worst of a recent flood watch
Our backyard during the worst of a recent flood watch

Janet Siroto

Buying a house in a flood zone: Is it worth the risk?

This house was a charmer and then some: an 1870s homestead with three fireplaces, wide-board floors, a beautifully renovated kitchen, and a roomy addition that meant more space for our family. Outside, the creek burbled, filling the house with sounds of nature. In the yard, a hummingbird darted to and fro, a frog hopped in the water, and butterflies circled about. It was like a scene from “Enchanted,” a Disney movie come to life.

In short order, my husband and I huddled with our real estate agent, deciding how much to offer for the house. As for the flooding, we were provided with a massive file of information about bridge and dam improvements that diminished the flood risk, as well as documentation of what the sellers had done to safeguard the property from rising water.

We learned the house had indeed flooded during Superstorm Sandy in 2012. But, we wondered, who on the East Coast hadn’t felt the impact of that devastating event?

My husband pored over the property’s survey, noting the elevations of the yard, basement, and house, and then cross-referenced that with historic flood data on high tidal surges. He felt we were OK, so onward we went.

Getting the flood insurance facts

As we progressed toward closing the sale, we became acquainted with the ins and outs of flood insurance, which our bank required to approve our mortgage.

Flood insurance is similar to other insurance coverage: The lower your deductible (what you pay out of pocket to fix problems before insurance kicks in), the higher your premium (what you pay for the insurance). Once an insurance broker laid out our options, it was clear that our property would run several thousand dollars a year.

My husband and I thought long and hard about the numbers. The additional cost of flood insurance at a time of historically low mortgage rates seemed like a decent trade-off. We paid the first year of flood insurance upfront, and then had the next year’s premium rolled into our monthly mortgage payment. This assured the bank that we were committed to ongoing coverage through the life of our loan.

Our backyard patio is just steps from the creek.
Our backyard patio is just steps from the creek.

Janet Siroto

Blame it on the rain

We closed on the house just before the holidays. Feeling safe and snug, we were so happy to be in our little haven in the country. Up went a Christmas tree, which one of our sons had chopped down himself a few miles from our new home. Down came snow, lots of it. The house looked so pretty, frosted in white, and the yard was carpeted in snow drifts.

But this bucolic scene took a turn for the worse, and fast.

The weather service announced there would be torrential rain on Christmas Day. In addition, temperatures would be unseasonably warm, in the 50s, causing all the snow to melt and run off. Flood watches and warnings were issued.

At that moment, I wasn’t thinking about wrapping the last of the holiday gifts and sliding them under the tree. Instead, I was anxiously imagining how the next day might unfold.

The next day: unrelenting rain and temperatures warm enough to melt every inch of snow.

In the back of our yard, where the creek merged with another stream, we noticed that we had less yard. The water was overflowing its normal boundaries and advancing toward the house. My husband stuck a measuring stick in the ground. We watched and waited.

By midafternoon on Christmas Day, about half of our yard was under a few inches of water. My plans for a gazebo by the rear property line were clearly dashed, as that area turned out to be semiaquatic. We realized we were in only a flood watch (meaning potential danger), not a full-on flood warning (which basically means prepare to evacuate).

We held our breath—the creek surged, and retreated.

Making peace with major risk

We had Christmas dinner in our new home, overlooking a very soggy scene outside. What had we gotten ourselves into? More than we’d bargained for, that’s true. We are going to live with a layer of uncertainty and worry about rising waters that we’ve never had before.

But then again, we’ve never before experienced the joy of opening our windows and listening to a babbling brook. Or seeing all kinds of ducks come bobbing through our backyard. Or catching trout 10 feet from our kitchen.

We rolled the dice, and so far, we’re keeping our heads and hopes well above water.

The creek in our backyard is so picturesque, it's worth the flood risk.
The creek in our backyard is so picturesque, it’s worth the flood risk.

Janet Siroto

Source: realtor.com

Is It Worthwhile To Pay For Credit Card Payment Protection?

Many credit card companies urge their consumers to consider buying credit card payment protection.  This type of insurance can put your payments and interest accrual on hold should you become unemployed (for up to 24 months in some cases).  In the event of your death, payment protection can pay off the remainder of your credit card balance.  The question to ask is if it is a wise use of your money.  Consider my parents’ own example.

An Example Of Utilization Of Payment Protection

At the end of 1985, my mom and dad were 36 and 37, respectively.  They had just gotten on their feet again financially because my dad had finally been able to obtain a job after two years of unemployment.  They had $10,000 in credit card debt (mainly because they used credit to help float them through the long stretch of unemployment).  In today’s dollars, that is $20,000 in credit card debt.

Credit Card Payment Protection

Credit Card Payment Protection

They had not taken out individual, private life insurance policies because they thought they couldn’t afford them.  What they did have were two small life insurance policies, one from my dad’s employer that covered him automatically, and one from the credit union that they paid a small amount for monthly.  His total life insurance protection was less than 2 times his annual income, and he was the primary breadwinner.  They also had credit card payment protection on their cards.

Six months later, my dad passed away; he was diagnosed with colon cancer in late January and passed away by early May.  My mom was very grateful for the credit card payment protection as the balances were paid in full upon my father’s death, and she used the little bit of life insurance to pay off their house.

Why Credit Card Payment Protection Is Not A Wise Investment

Based on this experience, one might expect me to endorse credit card payment protection plans, but I do not.   Most plans require that the user pay an amount per hundred dollars owed on the card, usually .89 to .95 per $100.  In today’s dollars, getting payment protection on my parents’ credit card debt of $20,000 would cost them an average of $178 a month in payment protection alone.  To make matters worse, many cards offer a maximum payout amount, ranging from as low as $5,000 up to $25,000.

Most term life insurance policies cost far less than the amount someone $20,000 in credit card debt would pay on payment protection coverage. For example, my husband and I each took out 20 year term life insurance equal to 10x our income when we were 31 and 33 respectively.  My husband’s policy costs us $32 a month, which is far cheaper than the $178 a month required for payment protection to cover $20,000 of credit card debt.  I would love to go back in time and tell my parents to forgo the credit card payment protection and to instead buy term life insurance policies for each of them.

While the credit card debt was wiped out upon my father’s death and the house was paid off, because they were underinsured, my mom only had a small amount of money to live off for the first year after my dad’s death.  She had been a homemaker and an in-home child care provider for the 15 years they were married; she had no college education, and yet she found herself having to enter the workforce.  The term life insurance policy, had they purchased one, would have provided her with enough money to pay off the credit cards and her home and still have money to invest and live off, giving her time to pursue her education so she could have found  a career she enjoyed.

Even if life insurance policies were more costly 25 years ago, it still would have made more sense to buy a term life insurance policy instead of payment protection as it provides much greater security.  Instead of paying for credit card payment protection, calculate how much it would cost you monthly and use that money to invest in a term life insurance policy.  Use the remainder, if you have a remainder, to pay down your debt so you don’t need to worry about payment protection.

Source: biblemoneymatters.com

Renters Insurance vs. Condo Insurance

Whether you own your condo or you rent, condo owners insurance or a condo rental insurance policy is a must. Experience a cold snap and the pipes burst? Don’t count on your landlord to spring for your new Alienware laptop or to replace that sheepskin rug Mom gave you. We’ll walk you through the difference between condo owners policies and condo renters insurance and what is protected — and not.

In this article

What’s the difference between renters insurance and condo insurance? 

It’s pretty straightforward: If you rent your condo, you need renters insurance. If you own your condo, you need a condo policy. 

Renters insurance is used to protect your personal belongings in a rental from property damage and theft, and liability protection if someone is injured in your rental unit. Renters insurance includes numerous other benefits including loss-of-use, which is reimbursement in case you’re displaced from your rental. 

Renters insurance is not legally required in any state, but your landlord can require you to purchase a policy. Your landlord is required to carry insurance on the property, but it only insures the structure. All contents inside your rental are covered by your own renters policy.

A condo insurance policy includes dwelling coverage and renters insurance does not. Your condo association’s master policy covers the structure of the building.

America’s top-rated renters insurance

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What does renters insurance cover? 

Renters insurance provides protection with four major components:

  • Personal belongings: Your policy covers your personal belongings not built in to your rental. Coverage is extended due to specific peril events, such as fire or water damage, or theft. This also includes your personal belongings off-premises too, such as items in a storage unit.
  • Liability: Liability covers your cost to defend yourself in and out of court if you cause bodily injury or damage to someone else’s property. This coverage extends to damage or harm from your kids or pets too. 
  • Medical payments: If someone is injured inside your rental, or you, a family member or a pet cause injury, then medical payments are covered for the victim. And because medical payments in a rental policy are no-fault, the medical bills are submitted directly to the insurance company.
  • Loss-of-use: If your rental is damaged due to a covered event and you are forced out of your space, your loss-of-use provides reimbursement for a portion of your living expenses. This includes hotel stays, temporary housing, meals and other living expenses. 

Renters insurance goes beyond these main areas and provides other benefits. For instance, you can choose Replacement Cost versus Actual Cash Value for your belongings. This means if you are willing to pay extra on your premium, your personal belongings are replaced at what you paid for them, and not the depreciated value. 

If you have high-value items, usually an item over $1,500, you can add separate coverage. This is particularly important for items such as jewelry, art, antiques or similar items. 

[Read: Renters Insurance for College Students]

What does condo insurance cover? 

Condo insurance provides similar protection as a renters policy. A standard policy would include the same major components:

  • Personal belongings
  • Liability 
  • Medical payments
  • Loss-of-use

Your condo insurance should cover whatever is not included in your condo association’s master policy. 

Since you own your condo, you need dwelling coverage, and a condo insurance plan provides this. As a condo owner, you own everything from the walls inward. So if there is damage to your walls due to a covered peril event, your dwelling coverage kicks in. 

Loss assessment is another unique coverage to a condo policy and you can add this to your policy if it’s not robust enough in your association’s policy. This provides additional protection for any damage you cause to the condo yourself, including with the building, the shared areas within the condo complex or an injury in the shared areas. 

You should note that it’s important to review your condo association’s master policy thoroughly because you could obtain a condo policy to fill in the gaps of your master policy, and your limits might not be as high. It all depends on how comprehensive the master policy is.

[Read: What is Loss Assessment Coverage?]

Best discounts for your renters or condo insurance 

The good news is, there are several ways to save on your renters or condo renters insurance. One of the most effective tactics is to use as many discounts as possible. Working with an agent is one of the best ways to confirm you’re getting every possible discount, since there are some you may not be aware of. A few popular discount options include:

  • Bundling: If you already have an auto insurance policy, a renters or condo policy should be inexpensive to add on with a bundling discount.
  • Pay in full: Many carriers give you a break if you pay your premiums — usually six months or a year — all at once.
  • Safety discounts: If you have an alarm system, deadbolt and smoke detectors in your rental or condo, your carrier should provide you with a discount. 
  • Paperless: If you go paperless and receive your statements electronically, several carriers reward you with savings on your premiums.

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How to pick the right insurance 

To pick the right policy, comparison shopping is the first step. Compare quotes and policy details side by side. Many carriers offer this option online for added convenience. Look for details on coverage limits and rates and make sure you’re comparing apples to apples among the policies.

Plus, look at the number of discounts available in case one carrier provides more than another. 

Above and beyond price, customer service is important. You want your carrier to make it easy  should you need to file a claim. You’ll find this out by reading the reviews and checking out the customer service ratings among the companies.

Lastly, if you need additional coverage for high-value items or other special items, look for a policy that fits your unique coverage needs. 

Choosing the right condo insurance or renters policy takes a little research. But you’re rewarded for your efforts by getting competitive pricing and a comprehensive policy. 

[Read: Does Renters Insurance Cover Storage Units?]

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, many insurance companies provided relief in the form of percentages back on monthly bills as well as a freeze on coverage cancellations due to inability to pay. While it’s not recommended, you could technically stop your coverage to save money if absolutely needed — but again, it’s strongly advised against.

See below for more details on how you can benefit from the recently approved economic relief act:

Who can benefit from this?

To qualify for rental assistance under the CARES Act at least one household family member must qualify for unemployment or have a significant income lost due to the pandemic. Income must fall at or below 80% of your county’s average income. You must also be a risk of homelessness.

Who’s getting how much?

If families fall below 50% of the average income they’ll be given priority for rent relief funds. Families can get up to a year of rent covered, and three months in the future with the CARES Act rent relief assistance.

How to apply

If you need to apply for assistance, the way you do that will vary depending on where you live. If your city or town has an existing rental assistance program, you’ll likely use that to apply for new aid.

You can contact your local housing authority, nonprofit groups or reach out to your local representatives to find out where and how to apply. Your landlord may also be able to apply for you — but they’ll have to get your approval and signature before doing so.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

Moving Abroad? The Importance of a Life Insurance Review

Life insurance is never a pleasant topic of conversation – let’s face it, none of us relish having to contemplate our own mortality – but if you have any dependents or financial commitments such as a mortgage, it is an absolute must-have. When we talk about dependents, that doesn’t only mean your children – if there is anyone who would be negatively affected financially if you were to pass away, life insurance is a necessity. That includes a husband or wife, a partner you cohabit with and possibly elderly parents.

The Basics About Life Insurance

Life insurance is a means of protecting your loved ones financially after your death. It compensates them for the loss of your income by paying them a lump sum (or regular payments) to mitigate the financial impact of your passing away. The cover you have in place should take into account all your regular outgoings, particularly those with large debts such as a mortgage, but also day-to-day expenses, education costs, childcare requirements and other loans.

Why You Should Review Your Policy

Any major life event will affect your life insurance requirements and necessitates a review of your policies to adjust cover to take account of your new situation. Such events include the birth or adoption of a child, a marriage, a divorce, the purchase of a property or business and even the taking up of a new potentially dangerous hobby such as skiing. However, perhaps the most important time to review your life insurance cover is when you move out of the country.

If you are about to become an expat, chances are you have a to-do list as long as your arm. It inevitably includes informing everyone of your change of address, liaising with moving companies and packing – but does a review of your life insurance requirements appear on the list? In the chaos of an international move, this is one area that often gets overlooked, but failing to address the issue can have devastating consequences. If you have already moved abroad but have failed to review your life insurance, you need to do this without delay.

The reason is that life insurance premiums are worked out taking into account a whole host of factors including age, health and where you live. Any changes to any of these factors could alter the premium, and omitting to notify your insurer of them could render a policy null and void.

Keep your loved ones protected in the event of your passing.

You May Need New Coverage

Becoming an expatriate can actually invalidate your coverage altogether, especially if you are moving from a low-risk country to somewhere considered to be high risk. Insurers will, unfortunately, use any excuse not to pay out, so it is essential to contact your insurer or broker and ask them to check your policy. If you are covered in your new country of residence, you should ensure that you get written confirmation of this from your insurer, just to avoid any room for error.

In fact, the chances are that you will not be covered and will need to alter your policy or take out a new one altogether. Life insurance coverage can be very reasonably priced, but it is important that it takes into account your unique circumstances, and this can make it complicated to set up. This is particularly true for expats, who are more likely to have additional considerations to bear in mind including mortgages on dual properties, high school fees and the repatriation costs of your loved ones in the event of your death. If you are divorced, you may also have obligations from a former marriage to take into account. A professional financial advisor will be invaluable in guiding you through the life insurance minefield, reviewing your requirements and exploring the options available to you.

In Conclusion …

It is also worth remembering that a move abroad will mean a change of domicile and of jurisdiction, which will have an effect on the laws governing succession in the event of your death. This could significantly affect the amount payable on your estate in inheritance tax, and life insurance coverage should be adjusted accordingly to take into account your obligations and to cover taxes due to save your loved ones from having to pay these. Your death would be difficult enough for them to deal with, let alone finding themselves in a financially precarious situation. Depending on where you move to, there could be tax-effective steps you can take to safeguard your estate.

A professional financial advisor in your new country of residence will be invaluable in helping you structure your life insurance in the most cost-effective way possible.

Infinity Financial Solutions is a leading provider of financial services to the expatriate community across Asia and beyond. With offices in six regional centres, a staff team of 15 different nationalities and clients from over 80 different countries, the company is genuinely international in its focus. Infinity provide individually tailored financial planning to protect, build and maximize the wealth of their clients.

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