Home Contents Insurance: Necessity or Luxury?

In recent years, the value of possessions in your home has likely increased as consumer culture and the need to have ‘the best’ comes to the fore. Add to this the significant amount of personal possessions you are likely to accumulate over the years – jewellery, trinkets, vases and the like and you’d be surprised to learn just how much value there is likely to be in your home.

If the worst were to happen and you lost most or all of your possessions, would you be in a financial position to replace them? Sadly, for many people, the answer would be no, due primarily to the fact that many people do not have adequate home contents insurance to cover the cost of replacing items lost due to fire, flood, or theft.

The recent freak storms which lashed across the north of England brought torrential rain to many parts of the region. The city of Hull alone saw in excess of 16000 houses affected by the weather and many people were forced to leave their homes and possessions behind as widespread flooding caused untold damage across the city. The damage has been so bad that experts predict it could be up to eighteen months before some families are allowed to return to their homes.

The charity organisation, Oxfam has warned that the poorest people are most likely to suffer most in the aftermath, pointing out that poorer people are significantly less likely to have household insurance cover. As a result, many families could well be left with nothing and with no means of replacing their losses, while those who do have insurance face an average claim of £30,000. The total amount of insurance claims is expected to reach £1.5billion.

Yet many people still believe home insurance to be a luxury product despite its relatively low cost. Some homeowners believe that home contents cover is included in the cost of their buildings cover, while some tenants believe their landlord or local council covers home contents as part of their rental agreement for their property. However neither scenario is true, as buildings insurance only covers the structure of a property while a landlord or local council is only responsible for the upkeep of the building. In both cases, individual possessions are the responsibility of the householder, and thus is it important to ensure possessions are suitably covered.

Home contents insurance is available through most major banks and building societies, as well as specialist insurance firms, and arranging a home contents insurance policy should be a high priority on the list of any homeowner or tenant who doesn’t already possess home contents cover. Of those that do have cover, it’s a good idea to review the level of cover afforded by the policy and amend as necessary to ensure a good level of protection in the event of a claim.

Should you buy catastrophic health insurance? – Part 1

The answer depends on who you are.

Thanks genius, real helpful advice.

But wait, before you click the “Back” button on your browser, take a moment to recognize that buying or not buying catastrophic health coverage could be one of the most important financial decisions you ever make. Ask yourself, if I were to have a heart attack, or blow out a knee playing pick-up basketball, or if I were to get in a wreck on the way to the supermarket, how would I pay for the $30,000+ in medical care needed to make me better? Would you lose your home? Your savings? Maybe have to declare bankruptcy?

Catastrophic (or “major medical”) health coverage is designed to protect you and your family’s financial future should something terrible happen. But whether you should plunk down the premium needed to buy this coverage, really does depend on who you are.

So who should not buy catastrophic health coverage?

At the risk of losing a few readers, I will start by identifying people who should not buy catastrophic health coverage:

First, let’s cross off people who already have health insurance through their employer or the government. If you fall into this group, congratulations! There are more than 46 million of us who do not. That’s right, the most recent estimates show that more than 46 million Americans have no health coverage whatsoever . . . none.

Second, if you have some awful preexisting condition, like cancer, HIV, diabetes, heart disease, MS, etc., forget about catastrophic health coverage. Most plans specifically exclude coverage for care relating to these preexisting conditions. Your best bet is to find a reputable insurance agent who can help identify the least costly coverage options.

Third, if you a woman planning on having a child during the next few years, catastrophic health insurance probably is not for you. Virtually all catastrophic plans exclude coverage for maternity care.

Who should buy cat strophic health coverage?

Healthy people in their 20s or between the ages of 50-65 (i.e. before Medicare kicks in) are, by far, the most common groups who buy catastrophic health coverage. Why?

Because catastrophic health plans generally have high deductibles and low monthly premiums, they appeal to people who are healthy, and don’t want to pay for coverage they don’t need, or those who are just trying to bridge the gap before they are eligible for Medicare and either can’t afford or don’t want to pay for a more expensive

Second Property Mortgages And Holiday Let Insurance

Second property mortgages are hot topics in the financial industry these days because lower mortgage rates have meant that individuals have managed to save more on their initial mortgages. As a result, purchasing a second property has been viable for many families and almost 3.5 million Britons now own their own holiday home. But what a lot of the press doesn’t talk about is the importance of getting the right holiday let insurance.

Second property mortgages can give some individuals a little boost when looking into buying a second or holiday property because some may not be able to afford to buy a property outright with house prices being so high. Despite that, a recent survey found that only 19% of people would consider second property mortgages as a way to afford a little retreat away from the stress of everyday life.

This figure may actually demonstrate that more people could own their own holiday home if they were willing to look into the possibility of second property mortgages. It may be their perception of the effort and time taken to find second property mortgages that puts people off, but a specialist search and compare Internet site could help them to find the best deal in no time at all!

Many individuals simply look upon a second property as an investment that they can visit for a break once in a while, but it is worth considering the financial gains that could arise from purchasing a holiday home via second property mortgages. There are certain benefits associated with second property mortgages if you know how to access them and work out all of your figures in advance.

For example, it would be possible to save on tax by re-mortgaging your property elsewhere in the world and using that money to pay off your current home. The mortgage rates are often cheaper abroad so this could feasibly save you thousands. Not only are second property mortgages great for the major investment that comes in a holiday home, they can also infinitely help to save you money! Any way you look at it, second property mortgages can certainly help you to win!

However, the importance of holiday let insurance should never be under ratted. This specific type of insurance will protect your asset so that should disaster strike, you won’t be left out of pocket.

Top Tips For New Landlords

With Many home owners deciding to rent their homes out instead of selling The Money Centre has provided a list of top tips to help landlords stay within the law.

The top tips to renting out your property are:

Speak to your lender – your mortgage lender needs to know you are renting out your home. Some lenders will allow this but the majority won’t. Speak to a buy-to-let mortgage broker such as The Money Centre who can help you change your mortgage over to a buy-to-let mortgage to be on the safe side.

Insurance – you need specialist landlords insurance on your property when renting your property out to tenants, at least buildings if not contents as well should you have it rented out furnished.

Tenancy deposit scheme – this is now a legal requirement. For all tenancy agreements that started on or after the 6 April 2007 landlords are required to protect their tenants’ deposit using one of the Government Authorised schemes. Within 14 days of receiving the deposit, the landlord is required to inform the tenant of how it is protected. There are three schemes to choose from.

Gas certificate – this is a legal requirement. You will need a new Corgi certificate each year, a copy must be left with your tenants for their records. Contact a certified Corgi registered gas engineer.

Energy Performance Certificate – effective from the 1st October 2008, landlords will have to make an energy efficiency performance certificate available to prospective tenants as part of the lettings process.

The certificate, which will be valid for 10 years, rates the energy efficiency of a property on a scale of A-G, and makes recommendations for improvement. The most energy efficient homes are in a band A.

Landlords will not be under any obligation to follow any recommendation in the EPC or carry out work in improve the energy efficiency of their property. However, it is worth considering that tenants may use the certificate to help them choose which property to rent, making higher rated properties more desirable.

The EPC is required by law when a building is constructed, sold or put up for rent. EPC’s can only be produced as a result of a survey by an ‘accredited’ Domestic Energy Assessor. They are used to collect standard information on the property including its size, how it is constructed and its hot water and heating systems. There are a wide range of companies qualified to produce EPC’s.

Tax return – as a landlord you are now running a business, you will need to complete a tax return. Any good accountant should be able to advise you and help you with the paperwork involved. Inland Revenue can come after you years after you may have stopped renting the property or even sold it so don’t forget this tip!

Buy-To-Let Mortgages Explained

According to figures, 10% of all homes bought in 2006 were via the buy-to-let mortgage option. Accounting for over £17.5 billion, it’s a number that looks set to grow, if 2007’s trends are anything to go by. Looking at what a buy-to-let mortgage offers, it perhaps shouldn’t be such a surprise that they’re growing in popularity.

Yet there are still a lot of people who don’t understand them, or that they offer an excellent opportunity for a homebuyer. So what exactly is a buy-to-let mortgage, and why are they becoming increasingly popular with the home-buying public?

A Practical Investment

Perhaps the best way to look at a buy-to-let mortgage is as an investment opportunity. With the UK housing market becoming harder to get into, with rising costs and interest rates, more and more people are renting. Combine this with the fact that there are fewer couples now, and more people are choosing to live on their own in a rented flat or similar, and the potential for making extra income from this type of mortgage is excellent.

Buying a house simply to let out has 2 major benefits for the owner – it gets you onto the property ladder (if you’re not already on it), and it also goes a long way to paying your mortgage for you. For example, say you have a mortgage at £600 per month – most 2-bedroom houses rent out at an average £500 per month, so the rent almost pays for the house in itself. Add to this the continuing growth in value of your home, and the fact that you can eventually move in yourself if you choose to do so, and it’s really a win-win situation.

The Costs

If there’s one thing that offsets taking out a buy-to-let mortgage, it’s the ongoing costs you’ll need to take care of. Since you’re now officially a landlord, you will need to make sure that any maintenance that your tenant needs is taken care of. This can range from simple building repairs to more costly items, such as leaky roofs or burst drains. However, one way to look at this is that you would need to make these repairs anyway if you were living in the property – the only major difference is that you won’t be able to put them off as much now that you have a tenant to keep happy.

Other costs involved include specialized insurance to cover the tenant as well as the property; decorating costs; and things like whether or not the property will be furnished or not. You can usually charge more rent for furnished properties, but then you also have to look at potentially more repair and insurance costs, especially if you’re providing washing machines, fridge freezers, etc.

The Benefits

Perhaps the biggest difference in taking out a buy-to-let mortgage is the actual approval method itself. Whereas normally your income would be the major deciding factor when applying for a mortgage, lenders will instead look at what they see as the “earning potential” of the property in question. If it’s in a good area that’s much sought-after, there’s a good chance you’ll be approved for the mortgage even if your own income wouldn’t normally make you eligible.

With all these benefits and more, buy-to-let mortgages can only continue to grow in popularity, and it might not be too long before they become the norm as opposed to the alternative to buying a home.

Landlord Insurance – Top Tips For Property Owners

If you are a landlord or property owner you will no doubt face many challenges when it comes to letting your property or properties. From finding the right tenants (or letting agency) to dealing with tenants queries and a multitude of other issues your time is often at a premium.

Here are some tips for landlords along with some answers that many property owners ask on a regular basis about how best you can make sure your properties are protected.

What can I do to protect my property?

Insurance is available so that in the event of a loss (by an insured event) you will be protected and covered.

In order to reduce the chances of a loss you can however take certain steps to help. These include:

1. Make your property more secure by installing deadlocks on doors and locks on the windows.
2. Install an alarm system. Many insurers will offer a lower premium because you have lowered the risk of loss through theft. For certain postal areas a minimum level of security will be required.
3. Remove potential fire hazards from around the outside of the house as well as inside, particularly around the kitchen.
4. Make sure you have working smoke detectors and a suitable fire extinguisher. Put the extinguisher somewhere handy and make sure members of your household know how to use it.

What should I insure my contents for?

As a landlord, it is quite possible that the property that you are letting contains contents that you own. It is important to note these contents and ensure that you have provided adequate cover for them in your insurance policy. It might be worth doing a room by room inventory and working exactly what level of cover you require. Again though if you are in any doubt, just ask.

How can landlords minimize financial losses related to repairs and maintenance?

You can avoid many problems by maintaining the property in excellent condition. Here’s how:

1. Use a written checklist to inspect the premises and fix any problems before new tenants move in.
2. Encourage tenants to immediately report safety or security problems such as plumbing, heating, broken doors or steps; whether in the tenants unit or in common areas such as hallways and garages.
3. Keep a written log of all tenant complaints and repair requests with details as to how and when problems were fixed.
4. Handle urgent repairs as soon as possible and take care of any safety issues within 24 hours. Keep tenants informed as to when and how the repairs will be made.
5. Twice a year, give tenants a checklist on which to report potential safety hazards or maintenance problems that might have been overlooked.

Use the same checklist to personally inspect all rental units once a year.

Also, your commitment to repair and maintenance procedures should be clearly set out in the lease or rental agreement.

Owning a property or a portfolio of properties can be very rewarding so follow these simple tips and make sure you and your properties are protected at all times.

Buy to let mortgage: Steady source of income

Bye to Let Mortgage is a secured mortgage that is taken to buy a property and let out to a third party on rent. In the recent years, investing in a buy to let mortgage has become very popular in the UK. People are now using property to make money rather than putting their money in the bank. The main criterion while deciding on buy to let mortgage is that how much you are willing to pay and for how long.

If you are planning to get into buy to let mortgage, there are certain points that you need to consider:

  • There is something you need to consider when you are renting out your properties. There will be mortgage and insurance attached with your property. Therefore, you will have to consider as how much time you need to take to mange all these.
  • The area where you want to buy the property must be known to you. The area should be nearer to your home town and transport accessibility should be good.
  • Whom do you want to rent? This will depend upon the area and the target population. So, you should consider it while getting into buy to let mortgage.
  • Most of the buy to let mortgage require deposit money therefore, you will have to calculate your budget.

Buy to let mortgage is s good choice for investors when you are looking for a steady source of income. Though, it requires a big investment but, the return is quite obvious. You can manage the mortgage repayment as you get longer repayment period.

The Importance Of Holiday Home Insurance

So, you’ve done it! You’ve found your own place in the Sun, you’ve signed the paperwork and now it’s yours to enjoy or let out – or both! However, whatever you do, don’t underestimate the importance of holiday home insurance.

If you own a holiday property then you must give the type of insurance you buy a lot of consideration.

You should be aware that most standard home buildings and contents insurance policies will not be suitable for either holiday lets or second properties.

This is for two reasons. First of all, standard policies do not provide cover where a property stands empty for a long period of time.

Secondly, they will not cover tenant occupancy. The financial ramifications of getting the wrong type of policy could be huge, so making sure that you get the right holiday home insurance is a must.

When getting insurance quotes, always tell the insurance company what the property will be used for. For example, if the property will stand empty for a lot of time as you will be using it as a second or holiday home, then the insurer will need to know for how long and how often this is likely to be.

However, if you intend to use the property as a holiday let, then you will need a different type of insurance – landlord insurance.

Landlords insurance is used where people have buy-to-let properties and, as more people invest in properties to let, the need for this type of insurance is growing.

So when looking to insure your holiday home, do ensure that you choose the right policy to ensure that you are adequately protected and use a specialist broker.

Finally, do check that your holiday home insurance has extended contents cover and liability cover. This will protect both you and your guests should the unexpected happen.

Cheap Apartment Renters Insurance – Where to Get it

If you rent an apartment, you need apartment renters insurance to cover yourself and to cover loss or damage to your personal property.

Your landlord’s insurance only covers the physical building you live in. It does not cover any of your property. You need apartment renters insurance to protect yourself from such hazards as:

* Fire

* Smoke

* Vandalism

* Theft

Where Can You Get Cheap Apartment Renters Insurance?

Begin your search for cheap apartment renters insurance on the Internet. There are many insurance websites where you can complete one form and get apartment renters insurance quotes from multiple companies. Then you just need to:

* Compare the quotes you get

* Investigate the companies to see if they have a reputation for being fair and reliable

* Choose the best quote

Save Money On Your Apartment Renters Insurance

As you look for apartment renters insurance, keep these cost-saving tips in mind:

* If you already have auto insurance, see if you can get a multi-policy discount by placing your apartment renters insurance with the same company. You may even get a discount on your auto insurance!

* Check to see if the insurance company you choose offers any discounts you qualify for, such as a non-smoker’s discount or a senior’s discount.

* Check to see if your apartment qualifies for security discounts. Most insurance companies give discounts for security features such as deadbolts, smoke detectors, and burglar alarms.

* Set your deductible as high as you can afford. The deductible is the amount you pay on a claim before your insurance company has to pay anything. The higher you set your deductible, the lower your premium will be. However, make sure you will have enough money to pay the deductible if you ever need to make a claim.

Visit http://www.LowerRateQuotes.com/renters-insurance.html or click on the following link to get cheap apartment renters insurance quotes in your area from top-rated companies and see how much you can save. You can get more renters insurance tips by checking out their “Articles” section.

Flood insurance for renters

On the Today Show this morning Matt Lauer interviewed a woman with 9 kids about their flood experience in Iowa. They were renting a home that is now flooded up to the roof.

Matt asked what she had lost and she said “everything” and he said something like “to make matters worse you didn’t have flood insurance.” She said no, she had tried to get some because they are in a flood plain, but they were told that they couldn’t get it because they were renting.

This, dear readers, is simply not true. I hope her insurance agent went into hiding because my guess is the good television viewers of America are going to want to string this person up by his or her thumbs.

Renters CAN get flood insurance. I know, because I’m a renter. And an insurance agent.

Here is some information I hope will be helpful:

1. If I rent, can I get flood insurance coverage for my contents? Yes. The National Flood Insurance Program offers contents coverage up to $100,000 for both homeowners AND renters. Additional coverage over $100,000 may be purchased through an excess flood policy. Contact your homeowners insurance agent for more information.

2. If I rent, can I get flood coverage on the house I live in? No, but your landlord can and should. Your financial interest as a renter is only in your contents, not in the home itself. If your lease requires you to maintain coverage on the structure, you should contact your homeowners insurance agent with a copy of your lease.

3. My agent says I need an elevation certificate. What is that? An Elevation Certificate is a detailed survey of a structure’s elevation to see if it is above or below the base flood elevation. If you rent, you should get a copy of this from your landlord.

4. I’m not in a flood zone, so I can’t get flood insurance, right? Wrong. You can get flood insurance, even if you aren’t in a high hazard area. If you are in a low hazard, or preferred risk, area, you can get flood insurance quite inexpensively.

5. So what is a high hazard zone, anyway? A high hazard zone is one designated by FEMA as beginning with A or V. So if your zone is AE, then you’re in a high hazard flood zone. Low hazard or “preferred risk” zones are usually designated B, C and X. Contact your agent to find out what your flood zone is.

6. We’re having a big storm right now, and the creek near my house is getting high. Where can I get flood insurance quickly? You can’t get flood insurance quickly. The NFIP will not bind coverage in area where flood conditions are currently occurring. In fact, the typical flood insurance policy has a 30 day waiting period once coverage is accepted before it is in force. If you are involved in a bank closing, that waiting period can be waived. The best time to buy flood insurance is either 30 days before the flood rains come, or now.

Flood insurance is really pretty easy to get, and not as expensive as you might think. If your insurance agent isn’t offering it to you, ASK for it.

For more information about flood insurance, go here: The National Flood Insurance Program.