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Monthly Archives: July 2017

Earthquake Insurance

Earthquake insurance covers for financial losses caused due to a devastating earthquake or earth movement such as land slide, mudslide or sinkhole that involves the shifting, sinking or rising of earth surface. But earthquake insurance comes with a twist – it does not pay for losses incurred due to a tidal wave or flood, even the effect is compounded or affected by a prior earthquake. Sometimes ridiculous technicality that is, but a common man has no other choice than living with it.

An important aspect with earthquake insurance is that it is no part of the homeowner or tenant insurance policies. Instead, earthquake insurance stands independently like a life insurance or auto insurance.

Let us see how earthquake insurance works. Earthquake insurance, unlike most homeowner insurance types – covers mainly substantial losses. The claim is paid after accounting for the deductibles that may vary from 10-25%. The damages that exceed the deductibles are only paid to the customer.

Even though there are no hard and fast rules in deducing claims, while doing so, some insurance providers may take in to account structure and contents as separate entities. In such analysis, deductibles apply separately to total losses incurred on the structure, contents and damages to external constructions like garages, sheds and driveways.

Certain insurance companies put forward strict requirements before issuing one an earthquake insurance policy. That is, they might insist on undertaking a detailed inspection of the client’s property before moving further ahead with the policy. For example, some insurance providers insist that the client’s home should be securely bolted to the basement. The inspection also covers other aspects like the bracing on the interior walls and how strapping guards are used to support fixtures. Hence, it would be better if the homeowner clears his side and plug all loop holes before inviting the insurance company to inspect his/her house.

Now the most important thing; once the damage occurs due to an earthquake, make the claim promptly and within the time period as stipulated by the rules and regulations governing the policy. Also, make sure that your claims are supported with all valid documents and proof of damage incurred. One might wonder, but it is these two points in which many people error and subsequently have their claims rejected by the insurance companies.

Protect Expatriate Family

Starting with straight health insurance for you and your family you may then need to consider both critical illness insurance and income protection. Making sure that you have the important insurances in place will afford you greater peace of mind coupled with greater security as a family.

Personal peace of mind will enable you to get on with enjoying your time abroad and allow you to concentrate on establishing long term financial freedom.

Health insurance

In terms of health insurance, it’s essential to make sure that you and your family are covered in your new country of residence and also when travelling.

Always make sure that you are comfortable with any restrictions or limitations of policies recommended to you, and any excess you may be liable for in the event of a claim.

Medical costs differ greatly around the world, as do the standards of treatment available. Find out what services are available in your country of residence, what your expatriate insurance covers you for, and always make sure that you have the option to repatriate in the event of an emergency.

There are so very many companies offering health insurance to expatriates in the marketplace today and all come with features, benefits, exclusions and exceptions.

I would recommend that you speak to a financial adviser to find out what your best options are depending on your personal needs and those of your family.

With something as precious and essential as your health are you prepared to accept second best?

Know what’s available and be a smart buyer!

Critical illness insurance

Critical illness insurance can take away stress and financial strain if ever you are incapacitated through serious illness.

Financial expenditure and outgoings will not cease if you are taken ill: your ability to provide for your family will however cease. Critical illness insurance is designed to payout in the event that you are unable to work due to serious and ongoing illness.

Income protection insurance

Income protection insurance may also be available to you and of interest. This insurance is used to replace a percentage of your income if you are unable to work through injury or illness.

Life Insurance

As an expatriate living in a ‘foreign’ country there are many uncertainties, upheavals, unknowns and concerns especially when it comes to fiscal matters.

Life insurance is one of the most important products when it comes to peace of mind. You want to protect your loved ones in the event of your death – protect them financially and emotionally.

For your family to maintain the same standard of living in the event of your death you have to make sure that you have the correct type and level of life insurance.

You can Invest in Insurance

In the old days people could use their insurance as a maintenance policy. You paid your premium, and little deductible, and insurance would take care of the loss. But nowadays it’s too expensive for that! You use it once and you will loose your claims free discount and ending up paying back any small claim over the next three years while your policy is rated. If you need it again the premium jumps even more and this necessary expense can get even more burdensome. That is why, as an agent who prides himself on putting the customer first, I want to inform you about your protection, and how investing a little time can give you the protection you need, and make the money you are spending go as far as possible.

To maximize the efficiency of the money you are spending on insurance you should consider using it primarily for a catastrophic loss. By “catastrophic” I mean a major loss that would be “catastrophic” to your finances. That’s not to say $1000 is a small amount of money, but I am betting there are more people reading this who rarely, if ever, need to use their insurance and thus can consider this cost as an acceptable risk. Obviously, the higher the deductible the lower your premium, and the lower this burden will be to you and your family.

First off, there are two parts to auto and home insurance. One, I will call the “structural” coverage which repairs or replaces your asset. The other is the “liability” coverage that protects you from people suing you for monetary damages. Structural coverage is guided by your deductibles. These deductibles are really the amount you are willing to “self-insure” your asset. The structural insurance will repair of replace your asset to its former condition, less your deductible.

For auto insurance, I recommend you use deductibles of $500 for Comprehensive and $1000 for Collision. Comprehensive coverage is for everything except Collision, (generally Fire, Theft and Vandalism), and Collision coverage is understandably the physical impact on your vehicle. Collision comes into play primarily when you are at fault in an accident (otherwise we will have their insurance fix the car), and if you are at fault in an accident you should be more concerned with your Liability exposure, than how much you have to come out of pocket to fix the car.

One note here: If you get hit and the other car takes off, make sure you get a license number so we can either go after their insurance, or cover your repairs with Uninsured Motorist coverage which we should have. If we can’t ID them we can’t prove they are Uninsured and thus you will have to pay your deductible. Uninsured Motorists represent @26% of the cars on the road in California but are involved in @42% of the accidents, so if you are involved in an accident chances are good they may be Uninsured.

For homeowners insurance, I recommend you use a deductible of at least $1000, if not more. Using your homeowners insurance for any claim of around $1000 or less is not an efficient use of that insurance. That’s because your policy is “rated up” for three years if you use it. This means the premium is increased and the money you thought you saved in using you insurance will cost you the same or more over the next three years. I maximize my deductible to $5000, understanding that while it would be painful, chances are it will not be used. I have heard numbers that, outside of the hurricane threatened states, something like 1-2% of the houses across America have a “catastrophic loss. Thus, I am comfortable in the odds that I, like most Americans will never have to use it.

In addition, make sure you understand the replacement values your insurance company will use for your personal property. Most insurance companies say they will use “replacement value” but what they mean is that they will replace your 7 year old couch, with the depreciated value of a 7 year old couch. The industry average for this depreciated basis is 11% per year. Look for an insurance company that will replace you personal property on a new for old basis, of like kind and quality, but brand new!

Earthquake Insurance here in California is a tricky question. If you have it when the big one hits you are brilliant, but if it doesn’t, you are paying a lot of money, for disappointing coverage, for a long time, for peace of mind. If you can afford it then by all means buy it!

Now lets turn to the “Liability” area of your policy. More often than not, I come across policies that have less than adequate “Liability” coverage. It’s a fact of our litigious society that, should you be at fault in an accident that injures someone, you could face the loss of much more than the cost of your deductible. Since you face more of your liability exposure in your car, lets look at obtaining sufficient protection from that potential calamity.

Mortgage Protection

The financial industry is packed with pretty shrewd people so it’ll come as no surprise to learn that there are financial products to help with each of these risks.

If you want to reduce the risk of interest rates rising to unaffordable levels, you should have discussed these matters with your mortgage adviser. He will then have told you about “fixed” and “capped interest rate” mortgages. As the name implies, a fixed rate mortgage fixes the interest rate you pay whilst with a “capped” mortgage, the lender agrees not to increase your interest rate above a pre-agreed level. Both types of mortgage revert to the standard variable rate after the fixed or capped period finishes which is typically after three or five years, depending on your lender.

Fixed rate mortgages are currently very popular accounting for 55% of new advances and there are some very good deals around. The capped rate for capped rate mortgages is usually set at the outset above the equivalent fixed rates available but the rate you pay is lower than the fixed rates. In this context your interest rate risk can be effectively controlled. After the end of the protected period you always have the option to re-mortgage and find another rate protected deal. There are never any guarantees on the rates that will be available but the mortgage market is highly competitive, especially for re-mortgages, and special rate offers abound. It’s really a matter of knowing which lender to approach. When the time comes you’d be well advised to ask a mortgage broker to search out the most suitable options.

Worried about paying your mortgage if you lost your job? Then you need Mortgage Payment Protection Insurance – but be aware that in its basic form, this insurance is really only designed to cover redundancy. If you resign or are fired for gross misconduct your unlikely to be insured. The cost? Online you can expect to pay around £2.45 per £100 of monthly mortgage payment for a policy which starts paying out 30 days after you’ve been made redundant and will pay out for up to 12 months. You’re sure to have been offered similar insurance by your bank or mortgage company but watch out, their premiums are likely to be two or three times higher for identical cover.

Mortgage Payment Protection Policies can also be extended to cover the third area of concern – you lose income through illness or accident. But before you rush into this insurance you need to ask your employer how long they’d continue paying you if you were off work. Remember, you only need to insure for the period after your employer stops paying. You would then receive statutory sickness pay, but the odds are you’ll need that income for general living costs. The cost for this insurance? Well, online it’ll again cost you around £2.45 per £100 of monthly mortgage payment for a policy which starts paying out after 30 days, However, if you combine illness, accident and unemployment cover all into one policy you can currently get combined insurance for around £3.95 per month. The essential point to remember is that these policies will only pay out for 12 months. That leads on to the fourth area of concern.

How would you pay your mortgage if you were unable to work again through a serious accident or critical illness? In this context it is important to appreciate the reality of the risk. The insurance industry estimates that 1 in 5 men and 1 in 6 women suffer a critical illness before their normal retirement age. Just think what a heart attack at 40 would mean to your family finances, especially if you have a mortgage with many years still to run. For many, insurance is a must.