More people are concerned about their financial future: 4 steps to protect yours
(BPT) - Finances are consistently a top concern for many Americans, with “saving money” a top-10 most common New Year’s resolution. This year, Americans are more concerned than ever before due to the uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
USE Credit Union reported that more than 75% of non-transactional calls received since the start of the pandemic were from members concerned about their financial future, citing economic hardship as the primary reason for concern. The economy and job market remain in a state of constant flux, which is causing many families to worry about their ability to pay an unexpected bill, continue to pay off student loans, mortgages or credit card debt, or save money for the future.
“Saving money is more than just putting spare change into a coffee can, or simply ordering takeout less often,” said Jeff Schroeder, vice president and chief product officer at Mercury Insurance. “Sure, those things can add up over time, but people may find that their greatest savings can come from taking a look at the necessary expenses they pay for every month, such as insurance.”
Schroeder recommends these four tips to help protect your finances in the coming year:
1) Check your auto insurance coverages. There’s no reason to pay for more coverage than you need, but being underinsured can leave you exposed. “The cost of repairs after a collision has grown in recent years, as a result of more crossovers and SUVs on the road, and more technologically advanced vehicles,” said Schroeder. “Beyond paying for more expensive repairs if your insurance doesn’t cover it, if you’re underinsured, you may also be responsible for paying out of pocket for medical bills, which could potentially devastate savings for a down payment on a house, your child’s college tuition or a future vacation. It’s vitally important to make sure you have the right amount of auto insurance coverage to protect against unforeseen events.”
2) Know what your homeowners insurance covers. First and foremost, be sure to read your policy so you’re clear about what it does and doesn’t cover. It’s a good idea to check in with your insurance agent each year to ensure you have adequate coverage, especially if you’ve made renovations, own collectible or valuable items, or live in an area that’s prone to flooding or earthquakes, as standard homeowners insurance policies typically don’t cover these situations. Also, maintain a home inventory to make sure to have an accurate record of your belongings and property.
3) Be aware of potential gaps in coverage. A standard homeowners insurance policy often doesn’t cover mechanical failures to your home’s appliances, HVAC or other essential systems, nor does it cover a break to service lines on your property that supply your home with electricity, gas or sewer functions. In either of these scenarios, this means you would be responsible for writing a big check to a repair company or having to purchase a pricy replacement. However, adding home systems protection and service line protection endorsements can help provide coverage for costly repairs and replacements, saving money and your peace of mind. Pennies spent now can save you thousands of dollars later.
4) Regularly shop for the best coverage and price. Insurance prices can vary significantly from company to company, so it’s a good idea to take a few minutes to see if you’re getting a good deal. Shop around at least once a year — making sure to look for the exact same coverage limits — to see if you can find a more affordable rate.
“Often, regional insurers like Mercury Insurance are more attuned to their policyholders' needs and can offer better rates,” Schroeder added.
The most effective way to make sure your finances are minimally impacted by insurance costs this year is to speak to an independent insurance agent. They can help make sure you have the proper amount and type of coverage to keep yourself, your family and property protected.
Your home is the most significant investment for almost every American. Do you know how to choose the right coverage for you and your family? Here's tips how.
How to pick the right homeowners insurance
(BPT) - If you're like many Americans, your home may be your most valuable asset. That's why it's so important to protect it with homeowners insurance. Plus, it's probably a requirement of your mortgage. Setting up your coverage the right way starts with understanding the major parts of a homeowners policy.
Consider the following information and tips from the USAA Home Learning Center:
This protection covers the cost of repairing or rebuilding your home if it's damaged or destroyed. When you select the amount, keep in mind the cost to rebuild your home is different from its market value.
It's important to get the dwelling coverage right and to monitor it over time to make sure it keeps up with construction costs to rebuild. Under most homeowners policies, if you file a claim and have underinsured your home, your payout may be reduced.
Some insurers will help you estimate the rebuilding cost. They take into account the features, materials and finishes that make your home unique.
Personal property protection
This protection covers your furniture, clothing and pretty much everything else inside your home. Most policies set the amount of personal property protection as a percentage of the dwelling coverage.
It may not be enough, though. Homeowners plans set limits on certain high-value items. If you own expensive jewelry, art, guns, stamps, furs, cameras, computers, silver or collectibles, you'll want to consider buying valuable personal property insurance. This is sometimes called a "personal articles floater."
When you set up your homeowners policy, you may have to make an important choice about how to reimburse losses. There are two approaches:
To make your recovery from a loss as smooth as possible, replacement cost coverage is recommended.
This is one of the most important and least appreciated forms of protection offered through homeowners coverage. It protects you if you're found to be at fault for someone's injury or property damage. It even covers you for non-automobile incidents away from your home. Generally, it also covers your legal costs associated with such claims against you.
As a rule, your liability coverage should at least be equal to the total value of your assets for both your homeowners and auto insurance. If your assets are higher than the maximum coverage allowed under the policy, consider purchasing umbrella insurance to cover the difference. This is important to protect the savings and other assets you've worked hard to acquire.
As with other types of insurance, a deductible is the part of a loss that you're responsible for covering out of your own pocket. The higher your deductible, the lower your monthly premium.
Choosing a higher deductible can save you money with a lower monthly premium but increases the risk you take. Consider the amount of cash you typically have on hand in your emergency fund or checking and savings accounts. Make sure you can cover the deductible amount comfortably.
What may not be covered
Your policy's basic coverage won't cover some special risks.
For additional information on protecting your home, visit USAA.com/Homeowners.
A car accident has immediate financial effects. Some hospitals will not even evaluate a person without a deposit. Hospitals do not provide information about how much treatment will cost. In an emergency situation, an accident victim may have no choice, even if it spells financial disaster. There are three tips on surviving financially after a car accident.
Loans may be another option to pay for your medical bills after a car accident. A personal loan through a credit union or a cash advance from your credit card company might help you stave off bankruptcy. Loans could also help you avoid dealing with providers who refuse to deliver any additional medical services until you are current with your account. Keep track of any loans or other debts that you make and include those in your negotiations with insurers.
Personal Injury Claim
Depending on the circumstances of your accident you might be able to file a personal injury claim to receive compensation for suffering caused by the accident. If you are less than 50 percent at fault for the accident, you may be eligible to file a claim for pain and suffering in addition to compensation or payment of your medical costs. Some states limit the amount of money that you can get for suffering during the recovery of an accident, but it is worth consulting a lawyer to find out the details for your situation.
Use Your Insurance Benefits
If you have health insurance, use those benefits while you wait for funds from a personal injury claim. A court case could take one year or longer, and the bills will roll in well before then. Also, consider your auto insurance coverage. If you have MedPay or PIP insurance on your auto policy, then that coverage may help you pay for the initial out-of-pocket medical costs that you incur. You may also want to consider the insurance of the other driver. Their insurance may also pay for some of your medical expenses until you find out about a personal injury claim settlement.
How you immediately respond to a car accident will affect the rest of what happens after. It is also important for an accident victim to hire a lawyer as soon as possible. The lawyer may be able to provide physicians, hospitals and rehabilitation centers with documentation of the pending litigation. Many lawyers also help accident victims with negotiating their bills to a level that will be covered by a settlement.
Homeowners insurance is a practical investment to help protect you, your family and your property in the event of unforeseen and unexpected losses. Traditionally, it’s associated with fire damage, burst or leaking pipes, or stolen property, but occasionally it covers unusual events that make for sensational news stories and viral videos. Here are four claims homeowners never thought would happen to them.
(BPT) - Homeowners insurance is a practical investment to help protect you, your family and your property in the event of unforeseen and unexpected losses. Traditionally, it’s associated with fire damage, burst or leaking pipes, or stolen property, but occasionally it covers unusual events that make for sensational news stories and viral videos.
Here are four claims homeowners never thought would happen to them.
1. Bear B&B
Bears are notoriously curious and intelligent creatures that also have an acute sense of smell.
People who live in areas with bears for neighbors must not entice them with the aromas of food. Keep doors and windows on ground floors closed and locked while cooking or if you leave the house. A bear can easily get through the screen of an open window or manipulate a lever-like door handle to enter your home and cause significant damage.
“Encountering a bear inside your home would be a very frightening experience,” says Christopher O’Rourke, Vice President of Property Claims at Mercury Insurance. “Safety should be your first priority, so call your local police or animal control station to have them help you with the situation. You can worry about any potential damages after the animal leaves the residence, because your homeowners policy will most likely cover any damage to your home (though not your personal property), unless of course the bear is a family pet.”
2. The sky is falling
China’s Tiangong-1 space station plummeted back to Earth and made its re-entry into the atmosphere earlier this year, breaking apart over the southern Pacific Ocean. The odds of debris from the space station hitting you were less than one in 1 trillion, according to the Aerospace Corporation. If it had hit your home, though, homeowners insurance would’ve covered it.
3. Your house is stolen
Yes, you read that correctly. Your homeowners insurance will cover the entire house, not just the contents inside, if it is stolen.
O’Rourke explains, “We had an insured who was away on vacation and when he returned the foundation of his home was all that remained.
“A house moving company had mixed up the address with another house down the street that was scheduled to be moved. The movers came in, transported the house to another location and thought their job was done — wrong!
“You can only imagine his surprise at the mistake. While homeowners insurance covered the cost of getting things restored back to normal, I would suspect this was one of the strangest situations any insurer has ever encountered,” says O’Rourke.
Golf is a leisurely pastime enjoyed by millions in the U.S. It involves strolling across greens and riding in golf carts, so its slow pace may seem low-risk, but it can actually be quite dangerous. According to an article in Golf Digest magazine, nearly 40,000 golfers are admitted to emergency rooms annually after being injured while playing, most by errant golf balls and flying club heads.
Recreational golfers can also cause a lot of damage to personal property. If you live on a golf course, your house has probably been hit many times by errant shots — breaking windows, damaging roofs and leaving divots in exterior walls.
So, who’s responsible for these injuries and damage?
“Simply put, the golfer who hit the shot is responsible,” says O’Rourke. “There is good news, however, because recreational golfers would be covered by a homeowners, condo owners or renters insurance policy for damage or injuries that result from the wayward shot.”
Mercury recommends reviewing your homeowners insurance policy annually with your local insurance agent to ensure that you’re adequately covered for any unforeseen losses, both unusual and ordinary.
(BPT) - As many Americans know, fall is the season when we must select our health benefits for the upcoming year. Choosing a health plan can be a daunting task, but selecting the right coverage protects you and your family's general health needs and can prepare you for an unexpected medical crisis. While no one plans on receiving a blood cancer diagnosis, for example, an estimated 173,000 Americans were diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma in 2017. As there are no means of preventing or early screening for most blood cancers, a diagnosis can often appear without warning. Well-planned health insurance coverage can make an important difference in how patients can fare in fighting the disease.
This year's open enrollment season, which runs approximately from October to December, is your opportunity to consider your health benefits and plan ahead. With the cost of care for major health events and severe illnesses increasing every year, you will want to select a health plan that ensures you and your family are prepared in the case of a health emergency. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS) offers three tips to consider when selecting your 2018 health plan.
Compare physician and hospital networks: Be diligent when choosing a plan. While it is important to compare plan prices, including co-payments, deductibles and premiums, it is equally important that your primary care doctor and any specialists you visit are part of the plan's network. Not all plans cover every doctor, hospital or comprehensive cancer center near you, so review the plan's network list carefully. You also can call your doctors and hospitals to ask if they are in the plan's network. If your spouse or children are on your plan, you will need to consider their physicians as well.
Prepare for the unexpected: No one expects to receive a serious diagnosis like blood cancer, but it helps to be prepared. The cost of cancer care is rising at an alarming rate and these costs include more than drugs and doctor visits. From diagnostic tests to hospitalizations to special home health equipment, there are many hidden costs to having a serious illness. In fact, a recent survey conducted by Russell Research on behalf of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society found that 84 percent of adults are not sure how they would cover all medical costs if they were diagnosed with cancer. That's why it's important to ensure that you have the coverage you'll need at an affordable cost.
Pay close attention to the numbers: As you evaluate your coverage options - whether through an employer, Medicare, spouse or your parents - it's important to estimate your health care costs for the following year carefully. Understand what your deductible and co-pays will be and take stock of where coinsurance will be required; review your health bills from the previous year to guide your choice, but make sure you are covered for unexpected health issues as well.
If you purchase health insurance from the federal or state marketplace, the plans you are offered will depend on your location and income. It is very important to make sure your personal information is accurate and up-to-date on the federal website, HealthCare.gov, or on your state's website. Depending on your income, you could qualify to save on your insurance through advance premium tax credits. In fact, 8 out of 10 people who purchase insurance through the marketplace are eligible for lower premiums. Open enrollment in the marketplace will run this year from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15.
If you or a family member had or has cancer, or are at risk for cancer, there is a checklist available at www.cancerinsurancechecklist.org that can help you choose the right plan when shopping on the health insurance marketplace. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society also provides free information and resources about health insurance coverage for people living with cancer at www.lls.org.
Interested in Publishing on The Money Idea?
Send your query to the Publisher today!
Get this money content for your website with our RSS Feed below!