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Home Insurance for Protection of Your Most Valuable Asset

Is Home, your most valuable asset? In fact, for most of us, it is. We spend a substantial part of our lifetime’s earnings on a Home. We spend some of the best moments of our lives in our homes. We take all care to ensure that our homes and possessions are protected from any damage or loss. However, mishaps still happen. We can do little about the natural disasters that can potentially cause major damage. Housebreakings are not rare despite us installing best protection equipment with burglars finding ways to outsmart the technology.

Any damage to the exterior or the interiors of our homes or its content can cause emotional and financial distress. There could be many things to fix and replace. As our homes protect us from the heat, dust, rains and many other troubles, it is only fair that we protect our homes from any damage / untoward incidence. In order to protect your home and protecting yourself against any potential losses due to any damage to your home, you need a Home Insurance.

Traditionally, Indian homeowners’ attitude towards Home Insurance has been somewhat indifferent. A Home Insurance has been considered as an avoidable expense in India till recently. However, Home Insurance in India is getting recognized as a crucial protection product after instances of natural disasters in Nepal and India, when many houses were seriously damaged. Thefts have been common for years; however stakes have gone up of late with homeowners’ preferences for high-value gadgets like LED Television Sets, Home Theatre Systems, Air Conditioners and even rare Antiques. Home Insurance plans are designed to protect the insured against a wide range of perils that put them at risk.

A standard Home Insurance not only safeguards the structure of your home but also covers all the belongings and prized possessions collected over the years. A standard Home Insurance cover gives you a chance to choose either the house structure or the household contents in a single policy.

Let’s understand in detail what a standard Home Insurance plan offers:

Fire: A house can catch fire due to many possible reasons. One may forget to switch off the stove or a spark emanating from an electrical appliance may result in something big and devastating. Short-circuits are common in rainy seasons. A Home Insurance plan offers protection against losses due to fire. It can leave a devastating effect. The property structure can become severely damaged, such that you have to rebuild it. In such a situation, a Home Insurance policy pays for the expenses incurred on repair and reconstruction work. With financial support from the Home Insurance policy, you can focus on getting the house back to its original condition.

Theft: Another problem that worries most homeowners is a possibility of theft. A burglary can result in loss of precious contents such as jewelry, documents, and electronic appliances. One can protect against such possibilities by taking optional burglary coverage. This coverage pays out in the event that the home's contents are stolen.

Storm, Flood, Inundation: With rising instances of Flood, inundation in the last few years, Home Insurance is gaining the attention of the homeowners as an important protection product. There have been a number of instances of people have become the victims of natural disasters in which their houses have been damaged to great extent.

Earthquake: One can also opt for an Earthquake coverage which offers compensation if the structure or the contents of the home are damaged due to Earthquake.

Others: One can also opt for a terrorism coverage which offers compensation if the structure or the contents of the home are damaged by acts of terrorism. Home Insurance in India is becoming important with changing dynamics of Home ownership. A house can get damaged due to so a number of external factors beyond the control of the owner. In the case of a serious damage, it may not be possible to restore everything to its original state because of the enormous expenses that it may involve. With Home Insurance, you can make a claim on the policy and recover the expenses arising from the loss.

In the event of a mishap, making a home insurance claim is not complicated. The homeowner needs to fill in the claims form and submit it with relevant documents to the insurance company. All documents supporting your claim must be provided for it to be approved. The insurance company surveyor will scrutinize the loss and the claim and arrive at a compensation based on the replacement cost.

Home insurance quote depends on various factors like if the premise to be insured is rented or owned accommodation, the Type of property (flat or individual house), the age of the property and the coverage type (the structure or the content or both). Coverage amount is the maximum limit that would be paid if some damage occurs to the house. The major factor that determines the coverage amount is reconstruction cost of the house. Reconstruction cost is ascertained by the following formula:

Total constructed area X Construction cost per square feet With a good home insurance in place, you can have complete peace of mind regarding your property investment. In events like damage to your house due to an earthquake and flood/, inundation, you can avail emergency repairs,. Interestingly, the Home Insurance premium is reasonably low in most cases so as not to put extra financial burden on you. Whether you live in a city or a small town, a Home Insurance is becoming essential. If you have invested a substantial amount of your lifetime’s earnings on your home and its contents, then not having a Home Insurance can be risky.

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5 BENEFITS OF ON-DEMAND HOME MONITORING

For anyone concerned with home safety, a monitoring system that alerts authorities during an emergency is a clear need to maintain security and peace of mind. How do you decide what kind of solution is right for you?

Professional monitoring services are one way to maintain the continuous safety of your home and the most common route for homeowners. These services offer 24/7 alarm monitoring of your home by trained call center representatives for a monthly fee.

However, as the do-it-yourself (DIY) home security market sees continual growth, some people may prefer on-demand home monitoring instead. This option allows you to turn professional monitoring services on and off as needed.

On-Demand Home Monitoring Benefits

On-demand monitoring offers a number of benefits to the DIY home security market:

  1. Affordability. One of the most intriguing aspects of DIY is the cost-savings. With on-demand monitoring, you only pay for the monitoring you want, when you need it. Never waste money on unnecessary services.
  2. Flexibility. On-demand monitoring can be turned on and off based on your specific needs. This customization is useful for anyone who only wants monitoring capabilities while they’re traveling or leaving for an extended period.
  3. Ease of use. On-demand home monitoring is incredibly simple to adjust to your lifestyle, allowing you to determine whether you’d like home monitoring in that moment. However, proper education of your security products and monitoring needs are essential to avoid malfunctioning equipment.
  4. Mobile capability. Easily activate on-demand monitoring from your mobile device. It’s simple to turn monitoring on and off from anywhere, as long as you have access to a smart phone or tablet.
  5. Peace of mind. Though you may not desire full-time monitoring, it’s comforting to know you can simply activate professional monitoring in specific situations. The flexibility of on-demand monitoring gives you ease when needed.

The proper DIY home security equipment ensures your home and valuables are safe with unmatched convenience and customization options.

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When It’s Time To Replace Your Transmission, Have An Auto Warranty

One of the most vital parts of your car is your transmission. However, it is one of the most expensive parts of your car to have replaced. If you own your car for a long period of time, there is a good chance that you eventually need to replace the transmission. Here are some clear signs that you are having transmission issues:

One sign is leaking transmission fluid. The fluid pools beneath your car when it is parked and can be easily identified by its red color. You then should check to see if there is any metal in the fluid. If there is metal, a new transmission is essential since broken metal is a sign that your transmission is worn down.

In addition, inspect the fluid levels in your car’s transmission. If they are low, this could be an indication that your transmission is burning too much fluid or overheating.

If you notice that your car is making rough transitions between gears, this is an indication of a transmission problem. Your gears could slip and take a longer time to switch between gears, resulting in a slower acceleration of your car.

Since transmission replacements are expensive, it is smart to look up an aftermarket auto warranty company and purchase an extended auto warranty in order to reduce the costs of your car repair bills. In addition, make sure that you buy an auto warranty that provides the right amount of coverage for your car.

 

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Be On The Lookout For Fraudulent Auto Warranties

Purchasing an auto warranty is a risk if you don’t know the rules and regulations of the warranty. It is wise for vehicle owners to think about hiring a professional car consultant who can help them through the sometimes-tricky process of buying an auto warranty. Buying an auto warranty without assistance poses a greater risk of purchasing a fraudulent warranty.

A fraudulent auto warranty is generally a warranty that offers a great variety of features and prices so well that it just too good to actually be true. However, the seller that is claiming that they provide this auto warranty won’t actually provide all of the services they are offering to the consumer. In the used car market, fraudulent warranties are common. This makes it important for consumers who are looking to buy used car warranties to be careful throughout the purchasing process.

Due to the circulation of fraudulent auto warranties, the US administration made a law that protects consumers that is called the used car warranty law. This law is also well known as the lemon law.

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5 Home Warranty Myths Debunked

While home warranties can be an additional level of protection for your home, some homeowners may have chosen not to purchase one and others may not even know what one is. If you’re wondering how a home warranty could help protect your home, here are five misconceptions and myths debunked.

Myth #1: “I don’t even know what a home warranty is, so I probably don’t need one.”

The more you know about the home systems and appliances in your home that may be covered by a home warranty, the more you may likely appreciate the value. Home warranties usually cover big-ticket items, like your furnace, air conditioner, plumbing, electrical systems and appliances — some of the essential things you use on a daily basis. A home warranty may help cover the repair or replacement of covered items that break down due to normal wear and tear.

Myth #2: “A home warranty is expensive; it’s not worth it.”

Have you ever thought about how much it would cost if you were to replace a major home system?  According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost of replacing a furnace may range from $2,298 to $5,550. Generally, a basic home warranty may cost you between $350 to $500 a year.

Myth #3: “I don’t need a home warranty, because I have all new appliances.”

Unfortunately, new items may break down, too. Without a warranty, you may be leaving yourself open to a potentially expensive repair on a new appliance.

Myth #4: “I maintain all my appliances and systems, so I would never need a home warranty.”

Breakdowns can happen unexpectedly, even to the most attentive homeowners. Routine maintenance can be a great thing and certainly helps, but it is no guarantee that things may not go wrong.

Myth #5: “I have homeowners insurance, so I don’t need a home warranty.”

This is a common misconception. Homeowners insurance and a home warranty are two separate things and offer different coverage. Homeowners insurance may cover things that happen due to an unexpected event, such as a fire or theft. But a home warranty is a service contract that provides for the repair or replacement of covered items when they break down due to normal wear and tear — things that can happen to just about any homeowner at some point.

Make sure to weigh all of the facts, and then decide if a home warranty may be right for you and your home.

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Be Aware Of Fraudulent Auto Warranties

Purchasing an auto warranty for a car can be risky if you do not know the rules and regulations of the warranty. It is a good idea for car owners to hire a professional car consultant who can help guide them through the entire purchasing process of an auto warranty. If the car owner makes the decision to buy the auto warranty without receiving any assistance, they are more at risk for purchasing a fraudulent warranty.

A fraudulent auto warranty refers to a warranty that comes with a lot of different features and is priced extremely well. However, the seller who provides this warranty will not actually provide the services that are mentioned in the auto warranty. In the used car market, fraudulent auto warranties are very common. Therefore, it is important for consumers who are purchasing used car warranties to proceed with caution.

Due to fraudulent auto warranties, the US administration created a law that will protect consumers. This used car warranty law is referred to as the lemon law.

 

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Don’t Assume Earth Movement Coverage Is Standard In Your Home Insurance

 

While home insurance policies are sometimes known as “all-risk” policies, they do not always cover all risks that may cause damage to your home. One of the more commonly excluded perils on most policies is earth movement, which includes earthquakes. The reason it’s called “earth movement” is that the exclusion itself is much broader than just earthquakes. Many types of shifting or moving earth are not covered by your policy, and you may be surprised to find that some of these cannot easily be insured, no matter how much premium you may be willing to pay. Earth movement coverage is not something that is needed in California alone.

Earth Movement Exclusions

The standard home insurance policy’s definition of excluded earth movement includes sinking, rising, shifting, and the expanding or contracting of earth. And all of these exclusions can be combined with water or not. This means if you think of earth movement only in terms of earthquakes and other seismic activity, you are missing some key exclusions that can cause substantial uninsured damage to your home. Let’s look at each of these excluded movements in a little more detail:

  • Sinking – If the ground under your home settles, it is generally defined as sinking. This can be the result of many factors, such as erosion due to water or poor compaction when the home was built.
  • Rising – The opposite of sinking, if the soil under your home rises, bulges, or heaves, it will cause damage to your foundation and the house itself. While water can cause erosion, too much water in the soil can also cause it to expand.
  • Shifting – With sinking and rising covering the vertical movement of earth, shifting covers the potential lateral movements that will also impact your home.
  • Expanding – As if rising earth was not broad enough of an exclusion, the policy includes expanding earth as an additional exclusion. These exclusions are similar to each other, but the redundancy of the policy exclusion leaves no ambiguity of its intent to exclude earth movement damages.
  • Contracting – Sinking earth is similar to contracting earth, but as with expanding and rising earth, the home insurance policy seeks to broaden its exclusions, allowing no room for potential coverage.

The earth movement exclusion includes all of the above directions in which the earth can move and cause damage that is not covered by your policy. In addition to these definitions, the policy also excludes the following types of phenomena that are more commonly understood: earthquake, landslide, mudflow, mudslide, sinkhole, subsidence, erosion or movement resulting from improper compaction, site selection, or any other external forces. Additionally, the policy further excludes earth movement resulting from volcanic explosion or lava flow.

Essentially, virtually anything that causes your house to move or shift is excluded by the home insurance policy. However, direct fire caused by any of the above is usually still covered. For example, if a mudslide moved your house several inches and severed a gas line, which then resulted in a fire, the loss of your home due to fire would be covered. However, if the movement resulted in a cracked or shifted foundation, those specific damages would still not be covered, as the foundation is not a loss resulting from the ensuing fire.

Getting Coverage for Earth Movements

Unfortunately, many homeowners recently found out just how far-reaching earth movement exclusions can be after Hurricane Sandy. Even those who had purchased flood policies were still uninsured because their flood policies contained exclusions for earth movement, even if they were caused by floods. The Insurance Journal reports that the State of New York is now using some of its emergency funds to help the affected homeowners. But homeowners cannot always rely on a governmental agency to step in on their behalf if they are not properly insured.

To avoid many of the earth movement exclusions, homeowners can purchase insurance that will add the coverage back to their home insurance policies, or they can purchase separate policies separate from their existing policies. In some states, insurance companies may even be required to offer you the option of purchasing earth movement coverage.

For instance, in California, insurance companies selling home insurance policies must offer earthquake coverage to their customers, though customers do not have to elect that coverage. But this is helpful in that it reminds homeowners that they must make a conscious decision to accept or reject coverage.

Much like national flood insurance policies, California earthquake insurance is available through a special agency set up to handle the unique risk. Insurers in California can choose to offer the coverage through their own resources, but the majority elect to participate in the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) program for insurers. If you are a California resident and elect to purchase coverage from your home insurance company, it’s possible they are still providing the coverage to you through the CEA. However, you have issued a policy directly from your insurer.

Specialty Exclusions Homeowners Should Understand

Even with agencies such as the CEA setting up special programs to cover earth movement, there are still some circumstances under which no policy will insure a loss. A common example of excluded earth movement is loss due to a manmade condition. Insurance companies are particularly uncomfortable with these risks because they are unpredictable, and therefore difficult to underwrite. So even though no one can really predict an earthquake, scientists do have some information about where faults are located and therefore the expected severity of damages. This amount of data assists the insurance companies in modeling potential losses and helps them to set what rates to charge.

However, with manmade conditions, it’s impossible for the insurance company to foresee when such an activity might take place. The most common types of manmade earth movement are those from nearby construction activity. In these situations, your only recourse is usually to pursue a liability claim against the party responsible for causing damage to your home. While that process is challenging and not nearly as straightforward as a first-party home insurance policy, it’s certainly better than no recourse at all. If you have a particularly valuable home, you might be able to find an insurance agent that has the ability to access Lloyd’s of London, where virtually any risk can be insured – albeit for a price.

Earth movement is an inescapable risk facing all homeowners and there is limited insurance coverage available. Before making any assumptions about what is or is not covered, you should carefully read your policy. If you are concerned about the lack of coverage, ask your insurance company or agent about buying back some of the excluded coverages. In the event of a catastrophic loss, you will be glad you did.

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5 Tips to Avoid Surprise Bills

 

Most of us know by now that our medical care will cost a lot less if we see a doctor who participates in our health plan’s network.

But it’s gotten harder to know for certain which doctors participate and which don’t, particularly if you’re hospitalized. For example, if you visit the emergency room you likely won’t know if the doctors treating you are in your plan’s network. Even if you have surgery or deliver a baby at an in-network hospital, you could be treated by an anesthesiologist or an assistant surgeon who is not contracted with your insurer.

Even if your insurer reimburses out-of-network doctors, the doctor you saw may decide the payment wasn’t enough, and send you a bill for the balance.

That’s when surprise bills show up. According to a recent report by Consumers Union, nearly one-third of Americans with private insurance got a surprise medical bill in the last two years.

So, if you’re planning a surgery or procedure, consider these 5 steps to reduce your risk of getting surprise bills:

1. Know what your plan covers. Surprise bills can often be avoided by simply taking the time to carefully read through your plan’s benefits and by calling your insurer to ask whether the procedure you need is covered.

2. Get the names of your providers. “You should have a firm understanding not only of what is involved in the procedure you’ll be having, but who will be involved in providing your care,” says Dr. Sam Ho, chief medical officer for UnitedHealthcare.

Get in writing the names of all the healthcare professionals providing your care and make sure they are all in the network, including physician assistants, anesthesiologists, and radiologists. “You have the right to request only in-network providers,” Ho says.

3. Call about your health plan. Provider networks change all the time. Before your procedure, get in touch with your health plan to verify that the doctors you plan to see are still in-network, and be sure to take notes on who you spoke with and what you were told. If you receive an unexpected bill after your procedure, contact your health plan again for assistance.

“Some insurers will serve as an advocate on your behalf and negotiate with the physicians to either lower the out-of-network charges or waive them all together,” Ho says.

4. Ask about cost. There are a number of pricing tools available today that can help you research the estimated cost of specific treatments and procedures. Most insurers offer price estimate tools, as do many large employers. There are also plenty of apps and websites available.

Keep in mind, however, that there is no comprehensive database of healthcare prices.
And, despite all the tools, finding accurate healthcare cost information is still generally difficult.

Still, it pays to talk with your physician and/or the hospital about the cost of your care and to request an estimate in advance.

If you receive a surprise bill, ask if your provider will accept your health plan’s payment as payment in full.

5. Know your state’s rules. Federal law does not protect patients from surprise billing. But some states have policies in place that help people with at least some of the common situations that lead to unexpected charges, such as emergency room visits that involve out-of-network doctors.

If you receive a surprise bill, contact your state’s department of insurance to see if there are legal protections against balance billing.

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Csezone Weigh in on Key to Financial Fitness

 

We asked some top advisors what their advice is for being financially fit. Here’s what they shared with us. How many of these can you tick off?

It’s about the flow. Watch your cash flow and live within your means—that’s the starting point. Once that’s under control, plan for the future, including what if something happens to you. What is the impact of that on those left behind and especially if there is debt left behind? That’s where life insurance comes in.

—Aurora Tancock, CFP, FLMI, AIAA, president of Aurora Tancock Financial Services

Set goals. Just as exercise becomes a key tool to achieve health goals, life insurance is the same in your financial fitness program. Among the many goals you can achieve through life insurance are: saving for future projects, plan for retirement and protecting the financial well-being of your family.

—Ana Sofía Rodríguez D, M.B.A., associate director of Grupo Inverseguros

See no evil. Make sure you can leave your family no worse off than they currently are. A lot of people are insurance poor. There’s nothing evil about insurance. It allows your family to maintain same standard of living that they’re accustomed to if something were to happen.

The second is to buy products before the need is there. If you can’t afford all of what you need, start off with what you can afford. For example, start with term life insurance, instead of permanent, and then when you can, change it to a permanent solution.

—Corry Collins, CFP, ChFC, CHS, of Maritime Wealth Management

Get help. I would suggest people start working with an advisor as soon as possible. It’s much easier to fix the financial “mess” of 30-year-old than a 55-year-old. And then, don’t let life get in the way of keeping up with your plan. I think annual reviews are great for keeping people on track.

—Jennifer Mann, LUTCF, CLU, ChFC, CFP, vice president of the Chicago office of Lenox Advisors

Give it a dry run. I’d ask, “Do you have a spending or savings plan?” You need something to help you understand if you are spending more than you’re earning and whether you’re saving enough. It’s great if you can get on a spending plan and stick to it and reevaluate it periodically.

Then reduce and eliminate your debt—but you’ve have to want to do it! Remember, 98% of the people work for 2% of the people. The lenders are the ones you’re working for.

Then have a dry run, what happens if … You have to go through your plan to see if you have enough life insurance, disability insurance, long-term care … what are the survivor needs going to be? etc. and then create a plan to live on that budget, so you can fund the things for later. By saving to today, you can have your earnings pay for your salary later.

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