Adding extra liability coverage to your auto- and homeowners-insurance policies can protect your finances from expensive lawsuits.
By KIMBERLY LANKFORD, Contributing Editor
July 22, 2010
We have homeowners and auto insurance with $300,000 in liability coverage, but someone suggested that we get a $1-million personal-liability umbrella policy. Why would we need this much coverage?
"As long as you can earn a livelihood, you should have an umbrella liability policy,"says Mitch Freedman, a CPA and personal financial specialist in Westlake Village, Cal.
He recommends that everyone have at least a $1-million umbrella policy to provide liability coverage beyond the limits of their auto- and homeowners-insurance policies -- even if they have less than $1 million in assets. That’s because in the rare event you are sued, you could be forced to pay a legal judgment from your current assets and future earnings. The policy can also pay for defense costs, which can quickly add up even if you win your case. It’s an inexpensive way to protect your finances from devastating lawsuits.
Freedman recommends getting more than $1 million in umbrella coverage if you earn more than $100,000 per year or have more than $1 million in assets. “Our clients get liability-insurance limits that are at least as much as their net worth,” he says. Daniel Morris, a CPA in San Jose, recommends at least a $2-million umbrella policy for most people, or a policy for $3 million to $5 million if you have rental property.
The price varies by risk, but someone with one house and two cars would generally pay about $200 a year for the first $1 million in umbrella coverage and another $100 for the next $1 million, says Bill Howard, an independent insurance agent in Alexandria, Va.
Umbrella policies are inexpensive because they kick in only after you’ve exhausted your liability coverage under your auto or homeowners policy. Most insurers first require you to have $300,000 or $500,000 in liability coverage on your car and home. For example, if you have $500,000 in liability insurance on your auto policy and a $1-million umbrella policy, you’ll have a total of $1.5 million in liability coverage.
If you’re looking for extra cash to afford the umbrella policy, Howard recommends raising your auto- and homeowners-insurance deductibles. Boosting your deductible from $250 to $1,000 could reduce your annual premiums by hundreds of dollars, make you less likely to file small claims -- which could jeopardize a claims-free discount or could even get you dropped from your policy -- and still leave you with only $1,000 in out-of-pocket expenses for each claim. Then you can use the premium savings to boost your coverage by hundreds of thousands -- or millions -- of dollars.
Buying a house can be overwhelming, but if you break it down into smaller steps, you may find the process much easier to handle. Here are some important questions to ask to help make homebuying a little more manageable, each step of the way:
How Much House Can I Afford?
You can’t start looking for a house until you know how much house you can afford. Typically, a few elements determine that.
Where Should I Live?
Now that you have a budget, you’ll need to settle on a location. List your priorities, or take a fun quiz, to help decide: Are you looking for a single-family home, or will a townhome do? Are schools important, or commute time? What about local parks, restaurants or other amenities?
Once you’ve narrowed down your needs, do some research on neighborhoods that fit the bill. Look at crime statistics, school report cards, and even the minutes of local board meetings to determine how well the community is run.
How Do I Make an Offer on a House?
Sometimes you’ll have to look at several homes to find the right one, and other times you’ll happen on it quickly. Either way, it’s best to keep your head when it’s time to negotiate the price.
Start by finding out whether the seller is motivated in some way: Have they bought another home? Are they moving out of state? If there’s an element of urgency, they may be more willing to negotiate, says Zillow.
Researching recent sales in the area can also help, letting you gauge whether the asking price is fair or whether you can reasonably submit a lower offer.
If the seller has other offers, though, you may find yourself having to decide whether you love the house enough to engage in a bidding war, potentially spending more than you’ve budgeted.
Why Do I Need a Home Inspection?
Once you’ve found the right home, you may be tempted to rush or even skip a home inspection. But experts say that’s not wise, because a home inspector can often alert you to potentially expensive problems you wouldn’t otherwise know about in the home.
Sitting in on the inspection is also an opportunity to learn about the home’s systems and what it’ll take to manage, repair or replace them, and to ask all kinds of questions along the way.
The final report can act as a home manual of sorts. But it can also serve as a point of negotiation (asking the seller for repairs before you move in or for a price reduction). It can also help you decide if any problems are too big to take on, making it a final opportunity to walk away from the sale, says Zillow.
How Do I Prepare for a Closing?
You’ve come a long way, but the home isn’t officially yours until the closing day. You’ll start this final phase by doing a final walkthrough of your home, making sure any repairs you requested were made and that that the home is still in the condition you agreed to buy. The walkthrough generally takes place anywhere from a day before to just a few hours before the closing.
At the closing itself, you’ll have to present proof that you’ve purchased homeowners insurance, be ready to sign all sorts of legal documents, and present a cashier’s check to cover your down payment and closing costs (your lender will advise you of the total in advance), says Zillow. You can also elect to wire the funds before the closing
Once you’ve signed all the documents and settled the finances, you’re officially the owner and you’ll receive the keys to your brand-new home.
Now all that’s left is the move in. And if you’ve given the move the same consideration you’ve given the process of buying a home, then you should expect that it’ll go off without a hitch, too.
Distracted driving is not a new concept for drivers, but it remains a concern. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), 391,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers in 2015, which accounted for 16 percent of all people injured in motor vehicle crashes. In addition, 10 percent of all fatal crashes were reported to involve distracted drivers.
In an effort to help educate drivers and increase awareness of the dangers of distracted driving, Allstate’s Reality Rides® program has been visiting colleges and community events throughout the country for the past four years. Through the program, Allstate allows participants to experience distracted driving in a safe virtual reality simulator.
Participants were also asked a series of questions before they tried out the simulator, in order to understand their attitudes about and knowledge of distracted driving. The highlights are summarized in the infographic below:
One of the biggest decisions everyone seems to put off (besides financial planning) is the planning and purchase of life insurance. A comprehensive plan to provide against the unimaginable death of a loved one, is a simple but necessary process to complete.
The first of January is always a good time to reflect on 2017 and setting goals for 2018!
For the Richard Rose Agency, it is a great time to work with our clients on a few resolutions:
The link below to our review sheet is a quick and easy way to make sure that your insurance needs are being met regardless of who you have your insurance with! Did you update a kitchen or bathroom, add an ATV or boat? Make sure your additions are covered at their appropriate values! Review Form
2. The second resolution is to get personally organized!
Allstate has a great app called “Digital Locker” that allows you to go from room to room of your apartment or home and take a picture and list out all of the contents! All of the information is stored in the cloud that you control access to. It never fails that during a fire or burglary it is very hard to accurately document or remember what was destroyed or stolen. This free app is life saver during a very traumatic time!
Our main goal is to make sure that you are completely covered for the risks of life. Your car, home or apartment, mortgage, and education expenses are all items that we protect everyday! We additionally offer personal liability policies to protect against the totally unanticipated.
We are here to help you even if you do not have your insurance with us!
Have a great 2018!
December 12, 2017 | Sam Goldsmith |http://www.lifehappens.org/blog/you-think-you-wont-qualify-for-life-insurance-but-youre-wrong/
Think you can’t qualify for life insurance? Think again.
You want to protect your loved ones for the future once you’re no longer around to provide for them. We all do. Life insurance gives you that peace of mind that your family will be taken care of after you’re gone.
However, you’re also worried that your health issues mean you won’t qualify for life insurance because it is meant for healthy people only. So what do you do?
Don’t despair—there is good life insurance out there for you! Whether you have diabetes, heart disease, mental health issues, kidney or liver problems, or almost any other health condition, you can qualify for life insurance!
Looking at the Big Picture
About 85% of consumers agree that most people need life insurance, but only 59% are actually insured, according to the 2017 Insurance Barometer Study by Life Happens and LIMRA. Why?
Let’s look at the facts. There are plenty of reasons why someone may not have life insurance or may not qualify for it, including:
• Recent heart disease
• Heart disease prior to the age of 50
• Any recent major disease (cancer, liver, kidney issues)
• Major mental health issues (such as suicide attempts)
• Kidney and/or liver disease
• Wrongly assuming they won’t qualify
Surprised by that last point? You’re not alone. Many Americans wrongly assume they won’t qualify for life insurance, and thus, never attempt to get insured. We are here to put an end to the myth that only healthy people can get life insurance.
We are here to put an end to the myth that only healthy people can get life insurance.
Actually, almost any health history can be insured. The right company can get you insured at an affordable rate, even if you are dealing with any of the issues I listed above.
Take a man in his late 40s, who had suffered a severe heart attack in his early 40s, and while he had been declined elsewhere, we were able to find a company that would insure him.
Another great example is mental health issues, many times consumers with mood disorder and or depression with multiple medications are not insurable. But every company’s underwriting department has unique needs to fill, so recently an individual who had been declined multiple times for mood disorder was able to secure permanent insurance because he has a steady job, and the mental health issues didn’t impact his daily living.
If you are dealing with health conditions, life insurance companies love seeing that you’re working to improve or properly maintain your health.
So if you are over 50, have had heart disease, and it has been resolved for a few years, you can qualify for life insurance.
If you control your diabetes through diet and medication, you can qualify.
If you maintain your mental health with medication and lead a normal life, you can qualify.
Basically, follow your doctor’s orders and you are much more likely to qualify. And that means being able to get financial protection with life insurance that your loved ones need and deserve.
December 18, 2017https://blog.allstate.com/4-ways-stay-toasty-apartment-without-turning-up-heat/
Keeping your home warm and cozy in winter can be tricky, especially for apartment dwellers who generally have limited options when it comes to altering a unit. But, there are still some things renters can do to stay toasty without turning up the heat. You might also save a little money on your next heating bill, too. Here are four ways to help keep warm in your apartment this winter.
1. Layer Up Instead of putting on one heavy sweater, consider covering your head and feet to help keep warm in your rental home, says Apartment Therapy. Wearing a hat, hood, socks or slippers can help prevent heat from escaping your body so you feel warmer. Another bonus, wearing socks or slippers can also help insulate your feet if you’re walking on chilly floors.
Apply this same principle to your bedding. Layering your sheets and blankets can help trap warm air, according to Apartment Therapy. Start with a fitted flannel sheet, and add one or two light blankets and a comforter. Remember, you can easily peel off layers during the night if you get too hot.
2. Cover Your Walls and Floors Hanging up wall tapestries in your apartment can be another way to help insulate and keep heat inside your home, says The Spruce. If you prefer not to buy new tapestries, you can also hang quilts, blankets or whatever you have around the apartment for a quick fix.
If you have hardwood or tile floors in your rental, consider getting some area rugs to help provide a little more insulation from cold floors, adds The Spruce. If you don’t want to purchase new rugs, consider using towels or blankets instead.
3. Use a Rubber Water Bottle in Bed Heat up your bed before getting in by using an old-fashioned hot water bottle, says Apartment Therapy. It can warm up the bed quickly and is easy to use. Start by filling the rubber water bottle with warm tap water and put it at the foot of your bed a few minutes before getting in, says MarthaStewart.com. Remember, make sure to close the bottle’s lid tightly so you don’t end up with damp sheets.
4. Reverse Your Ceiling Fan Ceiling fans are not just for summer use. They can help you stay warm in the winter as well, according to EnergyStar.gov. Most ceiling fans have a switch that allows you to reverse the rotation in the opposite direction. Switching over from counterclockwise to clockwise in the winter helps create an updraft and pushes the warm air that’s generally up near the ceiling back down into a room, adds EnergyStar.gov. Run the fan at a low speed to help keep the warm air circulating throughout a room.
With these small adjustments, you’ll have a little more warmth in your home without cranking up the thermostat.
Original Article - 7 Top Small Business Mistakes on LinkedIn
I hope everyone is having a chance to enjoy the holidays. The end of the year can be very hectic with family activities and end of year business!
It can also be a time for planning for 2018……..
The article below is a great reminder on how to use LinkedIn for growing your personal brand, as well as your company’s brand! It is a short presentation that has a lot of common sense ideas to enhance your brand!
7 TOP SMALL BUSINESS MISTAKES ON LINKEDIN
scroll down the page slightly to reach the slideshow presentation
We are here for all of your insurance needs! Let me know of any questions you might have.
Have a great Holiday Season!
House hunting can be a little stressful, especially if your dream home is located in a sought-after area. So, how do you put in an offer that will be accepted? How do you get the upper hand in a bidding war? Here are some home-buying tips to help get you started:
Set the Stage
Start by figuring out exactly how much you can afford before you look for a property. Your income, credit rating, monthly expenses, down payment and the mortgage rate can help determine your loan approval. Many experts suggest selecting a lender and type of loan, and then obtaining an approval letter — all before you make an offer, says Zillow. To a seller, it can be tangible proof of your financial ability to close a transaction and may bump you ahead of other potential buyers, adds Zillow.
While it might seem logical that a seller would automatically accept the highest bid, this is not always the case. While price is important, sellers also want offers that are certain to go through (that’s why a preapproval letter makes sense). According to Zillow, putting in a high bid can be a risk. You may run into a problem if the home does not appraise at the sale price, because lenders normally won’t fund loans in excess of the appraised value of a property. So, you might possibly lose out on the deal if your financing falls through.
Timing Is Everything
While slow and steady might win the race, it’s not going to win a bidding war. When you’re competing against other potential buyers, it’s in your best interest to be on top of things and scan housing listings on a daily basis, says Zillow. Once you see a home on the market that sparks your interest, consider acting quickly. Delay a day or two and somebody else may already have the advantage.
Make Your Strongest Offer
In a tight housing market, you can rightly assume there are going to be multiple offers on a property. Rather than going in with the mindset of negotiating to your final price, try going in with your strongest offer, adds Zillow.
Package the Offer
In competitive real estate markets, some buyers are minimizing the contingencies on their offer. Think of a contingency as a condition or clause in the offer contract that can allow you (the buyer) to opt out of purchasing the home if a certain issue comes up, says Zillow. And while it would likely be unwise to waive the home inspection contingency, there are things you can do to help make the process easier on the sellers. For instance, you might agree not to have the sale contingent on the sale of your existing home (the risk, of course, is that you end up with two mortgages). You can also be flexible on the closing date, or perhaps even offer to cover some closing costs for the seller, says Zillow.
Successful home buying in a hot market is a result of good planning, financial preparedness and timing. But it can also come out of self-discipline, too. A bidding war can become an emotional experience, so having the restraint to avoid getting caught up in the drama can help ensure that you don’t end up paying more than you can actually afford.
In honor of National Crime Prevention Month.... sharing these social media ideas on how to protect your home.
Originally posted Allstate Blog, April 10, 2017
By Jen Kincaid
Posting pics from your tropical vacation? Sharing your weekend plans on social media? You may want to think twice before you hit “Share.” Sure, it’s fun to share photos of your beachfront view (and make the folks back home a little jealous), but advertising your vacation on social media may be a recipe for theft and burglary. And it’s not just your vacation plans that may cause problems. Oversharing details like, “Watching the game on our new 60-inch TV!” may give would-be burglars tempting information about the new electronics in your home.
Less than a decade ago, answering machine greetings like “You’ve reached the Jones family, but we can’t take your call because we’re hitting the slopes this weekend!” could move your home to the top of a burglar’s target list. Now, social media postings may do the same. The National Crime Prevention Council (NCPC) warns social media users to rethink their sharing habits.
Social media is an easy way to stay in touch with old and new friends, but you may want to consider taking the following precautions so that you may find your house and belongings just as you left them when you return.
1. Check Your Privacy Settings
You may want to check and make sure your posts are only being seen by certain “friends” or “followers.” Keep in mind that “Public” usually means the entire world can see your posts, says the NCPC.
2. Control How Others Can Tag You
Even if you block your profile from the whole world, friends may still tag you in posts or photos — exposing you to potential security risks. Manage how others tag you in posts by checking your privacy settings, says the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). Decide who can see posts and photos that other people tag you in. You can also choose to simply limit a few people — that way a potential burglar won’t see that your friend just tagged you on the beach in Jamaica.
3. Limit Your Connections
You likely have high school classmates, casual acquaintances and former colleagues who you have not spoken to in years taking up space in your social network. While social media is great for making big announcements, remember that everything you say may lead to an invasion of your privacy (or worse). Advertising your travel details or expensive purchases to 400 of your “nearest and dearest” is neither smart nor safe. You may want to consider creating different lists to have the ability to control what postings are being seen by what people, says the NCSA.
4. Think Twice Before Posting
Whether you’re “checking in” at your favorite restaurant or posting photos from the beach, once you put it out in cyberspace, you lose control. Checking in or tagging your location in photos can be fun, but doing so is also a public declaration of your whereabouts, says the NCPC. Use common sense, and be sure your check-ins are only shared with a select group of trusted friends rather than publicly displayed.
Remember, there’s no such thing as “total social media privacy” these days. Keep in mind, even people who use security settings on their accounts may be at risk of having their personal information shared with unintended audiences, says the FBI. So, it’s important to make sure you’re being careful each time you’re about to hit “Post.”
The Richard Rose Agency will frequently provide helpful tips and information that can save you money, keep you safe and improve your life.