How Well Do You Know Your Flood Insurance?

There have been many changes to flood insurance in the past 2 years. Some more were just instituted last month. Have you kept up to date to see if you will be affected when its time to renew? As of April 1st, 2015 new changes were made to flood insurance where for some this will result in lower rates and more affordable insurance, for others though, the cost will be going up. These are important changes to know for your current insurance and new insurance if you are looking to purchase a new home that may be in a flood zone. If you are buying a new home check this list for some questions you should ask before making your final decision. 

If you do not live in an area that is considered a flood zone you are not required (in most cases) to obtain flood insurance. This is never recommended though. At any time a pipe could burst and cause massive destruction to your home. Most people are not aware that your homeowners insurance policy does not include damages caused by flooding. This is a separate policy you need to obtain. If you are not in a flood zone your policy will most likely not be very costly, the destruction caused by water damage is.

How you reviewed your policies lately? We encourage you to do so. If you have any questions please call us at 813.876.4166

Also, check out this quiz and test your flood insurance knowledge. Post your answers in the comments to be entered in our summer drawing.

 

  1. Is the SFHDF mandatory for all real estate-related loans?
  2. If the SFHDF form shows the property is not in a flood zone but the map indicates it is in a flood zone, which controls?
  3. Can a lender waive flood insurance on a piece of property?
  4. What happens if a lender disagrees with FEMA about a property?
  5. When is a loan considered “made” for flood insurance purposes?
  6. What evidence of coverage does a bank need to have at closing?
  7. How long does proof of coverage have to be maintained?
  8. What rules apply to second mortgage loans?
  9. Do the same rules apply for business and construction loans?
  10. Do the new Consumer Protection regulations that became effective october 1, 2001 apply to flood insurance?

 

 

 

Important Questions When Buying a Home

Buying a house is one of the biggest investments you will most likely ever make. You want to pick an area you like, see how the neighbors are, proximity to schools, hospitals and emergency services and so on. We have put together some important questions to ask your realtor and real estate broker before making the final decision.

  • Has the property been on the market for long? This is good to know for negotiation reasons. In most cases the longer the home has been on the market the more willing the sellers will be to negotiate with you.
  • Can you choose your own inspector? It is always better when you can choose your own licensed building inspector. You will get the best results and answers this way.
  • How many similar properties have sold recently? It is good for negotiations and your own knowledge to have an idea of what else has been sold, what the asking price was and what the final selling price was.
  • Are there any major issues? Is the home being sold “as is”? If that is the case the seller is not responsible for repairs. The laws vary from state to state so find out what they need to tell you and what they are responsible for.
  • Is the house in a flood zone? If you are in a flood zone you are required to have flood insurance. Due to recent changes this could be very costly so you want to find out what you are required to do and how much its going to cost.
  • Will the seller assist with costs? In some cases the seller will assist with closing costs or other fees to speed up the selling process. Your broker is not permitted to tell you how much money to offer but you can find out if the seller is flexible when it comes to this department by asking yes/no questions.
  • How motivated are they and have they had previous offers? By finding out how fast they want to sell their home and what other offers they have been given you can get a good idea of what the best offer would be.
  • Status of upgrades: Have all upgrades been done according to code and with the proper permits?

 

Remodeling Your Home? Read This First.

This time of year many people start thinking about remodeling their homes and doing some updating. The weather is nicer and its a lot easier. It could also be due to damage caused from inclement weather. Whatever the reasoning may be, it is a popular time of year for this.

The majority of people will hire a general contractor to handle their renovations while some choose to do so themselves. Some homeowners will do portions of the work and hire licensed electricians and plumbers for that work.

No matter how you go about this, remember: The homeowner, the general contractor and all subcontractors need to have proper insurance coverage.

The first thing you want to do is review your homeowners insurance policy. You want to be sure that your policy covers your home and property during the time it is being remodeled. You may have to move furniture out of the house. A lot of times people will rent a container and store this on their property. Make sure that when doing so the contents are covered. You may need to get an additional policy for that period of time depending on your coverage.

You want to contact your broker if you are doing the work yourself to insure you are not voiding your policy. Some homeowners insurance policies do not cover work done unless it is by a licensed and bonded professional. Due to the amount of variables that exist when it comes to insurance, especially for remodeling projects, you want to be sure that you have crossed every “t” and dotted every “i”.

That being said. If you decide to hire a contractor, make sure they are licensed and bonded with a surety bond before you sign a contract. This protects you in the event they cannot finish the job. Under your contract there should be an agreement that all of the work will be done according to current building codes and all of the proper permits will be obtained.

The general contractor is responsible for property damage, on the job injuries and negligence in workmanship. All of this should be covered by their general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. Confirm their coverage with their insurance company and ask them for documentation and proof of all certifications with dates to insure that this will be in effect during the time period the work is being done.

Purchase a builder’s risk policy. Building materials and equipment belonging to the contractor or subcontractor are not protected in the event of theft by your homeowners insurance policy. Consult your broker about whether or not this is something you want to invest in during the construction period to protect yourself and the contractors. The general liability policy your general contractor should have will most likely cover damage to your existing property, but not to any new work they do, or additions made. They are only liable for damage to the old home, not the new additions. By having a builders risk policy you will be protecting your home addition as well as the tools and equipment of the contractor.

 

 

 

 

 

Frequently Overlooked Home Costs

The main things people focus on when buying their first home is saving for a down payment, worrying about our credit and interest rate, paying the mortgage off and decorating. There are several other costs that factor into the monthly expense of a home that are frequently overlooked.

Some of the most overlooked expenses are:

  1. Homeowners InsuranceYou want to get the best coverage you can afford. If you have a mortgage most likely the broker will require a certain amount of coverage. That is to protect them in the event of a loss while they hold the title to your home. To fully protects yourself though you want to insure your homes total replacement cost, not just the market value. What this means is that you want to have enough coverage to rebuild in the event of a disaster and replacement all of your belongings inside.
  2. Flood InsuranceDepending on where you live you may need to also have flood insurance. The rates on this can vary based on the age of your home, your proximity to water and the current changes to FEMA maps. To read more about this please click here.
  3. Association Fees: Many communities and condo’s will have monthly or quarterly dues to help maintain all of the amenities you get to use while living there. Always find out about this and factor into your budget because many communities and associations will put a lean on your home if you do not stay current with these fees and it could result in a possible eviction.
  4. Repairs & Maintenance: Whether the house be older or newer, there will be times where you need to repair things and keep other’s up to date. These costs will vary depending on the economy and demand. There will be times where you need to replace major parts of the home, like the roof for example or may want to repaint your home.
  5. Upgrades: When you walk into your possible new home everything looks perfect. Then you buy, and move in and realize you want to change things. While in most cases this will add a lot of value it will also be costly depending on what you want done. Always be aware that no matter how much you love it on day one, a year later you may want to make changes.
  6. Furniture: When moving into a new home, especially if you are coming from a smaller apartment or somewhere else, it is easy to not realize that you may need to purchase items that fit the home better or fill it. This is not the most important expense but it is one to consider when purchasing a home or upgrading.

Understanding Umbrella Insurance

First off what is umbrella insurance? Many people are not familiar with this. By definition umbrella insurance refers to liability insurance that is in excess of specified other policies and also potentially primary insurance for losses not covered by other policies.

Umbrella policies can be very risky and vary largely depending on the policy, your current coverage and your insurer. The risk involved can be great so this is always a case by case basis.

This is a secondary coverage to give you an additional layer of liability protection. If you file a claim and you max out your coverage or certain things are not covered your umbrella policy will kick in and you will not be out the value of your loss or damage.

A perfect example from Safeco Insurance is: “If the liability limits are exhausted on your auto insurance, your umbrella insurance would take over and provide you with additional protection of at least $1 million or up to the level of coverage purchased. If you have $500,000 liability coverage on your auto policy and $1 million umbrella coverage, your total auto liability coverage is increased to $1.5 million.

Umbrella insurance is not for everyone. You need to evaluate your risks and current coverage with an agent to see what is best for you.

To learn more about our options click  here or call today! 877.405.5773