Partial Government shutdown begins to impact flood insurance and home buying
According to Fox News, over 800,000 Americans are living without a paycheck. That number includes the people who work at FEMA, which recently posted this on their website.
If you already have flood insurance and have a claim, don’t worry because this will not affect you (yet?)
However, this is very troubling news for those who are currently buying a home.
Getting new flood insurance during the government shutdown is not going to happen as long as FEMA is out of work.
After such a hard hitting hurricane season, the effects of the government shutdown could be a real blow to many families living in the Carolina's, Florida and Georgia.
And it’s not just affecting flood insurance,it's starting to hit the entire U.S. Economy.
There is no way to know exactly when the government shutdown will end. One thing is for certain, If you are in the market to buy a home in a flood zone, be prepared to wait.
When people contact us about getting home insurance near water often it's someone who owns a vacation rental home.
Being located in Chesapeake, Va gives us a wide variety of people who want to buy a vacation home in places like Virginia beach, Chesapeake, Norfolk and Hampton but we also get some requests from our customers that live in the Carolina's and Georgia as well.
Owning a vacation rental homes near water are one of the staples for our business but on occasion we end up having clients that go into these investments based on the advice they get from books or TV shows that don't really give them a full picture of the ups and downs of owning a vacation rental home near water.
In this article we want to help you come to a more full understanding of what you should consider when buying a vacation rental home.
Are Vacation Rental Homes Good Investments?
Owning a vacation rental is a great investment for the right person. It gives you a comfortable way to enjoy your vacation and gives you the benefits of owning a real estate investment when you are in your primary home. But, the key is to know if you are the right person.
The right person has to be focused on what a vacation rental home actually is, a real estate investment, before they ever focus on what they get out of the deal. The right person also has to consider the financial strength of the investment first because, unlike buying a primary residence, banks tend to approach vacation rental property differently than they do with a home you plan to live in.
Many people who shop for vacation rental homes think that all they need to do is be able to put a down payment together and get a loan simply because they can afford it. Banks are usually a little more pessimistic when looking at a second home or vacation rental.
Because they consider what would likely happen in an economic downturn or if the borrow lost their primary source of income.
Most people who are living on their savings and other secondary income sources will prioritize paying for their primary residence over paying the mortgage for a vacation home.
The secret to investing in vacation homes is knowing who you will most likely be renting to.
Most first time vacation home investors think about renting the property through services like Airbnb or Homeaway, which could give you a decent amount of business. However, the place that you will most likely make the majority of rentals is..
Think of all of the people who want to have a beach front wedding.
How many of those people will likely hold a reception at a beachfront vacation rental with a pool? How many of those people do you think will want to use the same location to start their honeymoon?
Some times people will decide to get a large group of friends together a rent a vacation home.
How many? Sometimes over 20 people!
Do you think these people are going to be playing a game of chess by the fire? or are they likely to have a wild party?
These are some of the risks that you take on that most people who want to own a Vacation home for free (or for profit) just don't consider until it's too late.
What happens next is that you end up with a damaged vacation rental that isn't bringing in income, or worse, someone gets hurt on the property.
Another thing that many first timers don't think about?
Will you have staff?
Have you considered how much work it will take to maintain this vacation rental property? Are you going to be close enough to do the maintenance yourself? Are you skilled enough or do you even have the desire to maintain it yourself?
If not, you are going to need to hire staff or at least have a few service professionals that you can have maintain it on an as needed basis.
If you haven't considered this before you own the property, what was once a great investment and vacation home can turn into a money pit and a source of tension in the family.
BiggerPockets, a community for real estate investors, has a post that lists the 5 things no one tells you about owning vacation home rentals. Here's a quick review of their list. Be sure to read the full article for more detail.
1. Annual Returns can go negative
2. You My Not Be Able To Visit As Often As You'd Like
3. Repairs Can Come Up
4. HOA Dues Always
5. Vacation Homes Don't Always Increase in Value
Vacation Rental Home Insurance
One of the major costs that people don't always consider is that their vacation home near the beach is most likely in a flood zone that will eventually get hit by a hurricane.
If you don't properly insure a vacation rental home it's very likely the bank won't lend to you but if they do they could call the loan in full! Still, that is not the worst thing that could happen.
The worst thing that could happen is a severe weather pattern hits your area and you and the bank don't know that your vacation rental isn't properly covered until after you file a claim.
Flood Insurance Myths
You Don't Need Flood Insurance If Your Vacation Rental Isn't In A Flood Zone.
Even if you don't live in a flood prone area, if you own a vacation rental property anywhere on the east coast you know that we could be hit with a hurricane or a tropical storm at any time, as well as having to content with the risks of melting snow on occasion.
Homeowners Insurance Covers Flooding Because Its Water Damage
No homeowners insurance does not cover flooding just because they typically cover water damage. Homeowners Insurance will likely cover a pipe bursting but usually won't help in terms of flood damages.
Flood Maps Don't Change
Flood maps change overtime so you have to stay in contact with your insurance agent to be sure that you continue to check to see if your vacation rental is in a flood zone when flood maps are updated.
Problems Getting The Right Insurance For Vacation Home Rentals
Many people think that getting a vacation home rental property is as easy as going to google and typing "Vacation rental properties for sale" but that is not the case unfortunately.
It's not unheard of to see Vacation rental properties insurance policies get cancelled, even after closing on the home.
If you want to be certain that your vacation home will be covered properly and stay covered you need to know a few key things.
Not all insurance companies will cover vacation homes near water.
Getting home insurance near water can be difficult because many of these companies just don't want to take on the risk of having to pay out large claims in the first few years of holding a policy.
If you want to ensure a smooth process it's important to work with an independent insurance agent that can get home insurance near water from companies that are known to do business in those areas.
If you have been thinking about buying a vacation rental or already own one, it's going to be important that you continue to stay up to date with your flood map to make sure that you have the right flood insurance coverage. You should also consider how you will be insuring your home based on who you will be renting the property to, how much time during the year it could be vacant and who will be doing the maintenance.
If you want to work with an insurance agency that can cover homes near the beach, a river or any other body of water give Ferguson Insurance Center a call
...All of us face unexpected money problems at one point or another. Whether it’s job loss, an injury or the illness of a loved one. These kind of setbacks can put a damper on even the strongest of financial plans...
But these types of money problems don’t have to last a lifetime.
In this article, we’ll discuss 5 things you can do to fix your money problems so that you can get back on track no matter what comes your way.
How big is your financial problem?
Estimate how much it will cost for you to recover. For example, if you had an injury what would it take to cover your medical costs, plus lost wages during the time it will take to recover. You may not be able to pinpoint the costs down to the cent but it is important to have a clear idea of what resources you need to get through your setback.
Temporarily reduce your expenses.
There’s no easy way to put it. You will likely be a little uncomfortable but the goal here is to reduce your monthly costs to help speed up your process of getting back on stable footing financially. Depending on the size of your money problem, that could be as simple as cutting back on dining out and switching from Cable to Netflix or it could be as drastic as staying with family or downsizing to reduce rental costs.
How can you cover the problem?
Where can you get the money to cover the cost of financial setback you are going through? Can you cover it with your savings? Do you need to borrow from friends and family? Or do you need to use credit to handle it? Each has a negative and positive aspect so be sure to decide which option will fit your circumstances best.
Map your road back.
Based on how you cover the financial difficulty, how can you get back on track? For example, if you got a loan from a friend will you pay them back first? Or will you pay down your debts first? If so which ones? You need to take the time to prioritize where you money should be going so that you don’t have any decisions to make when you get it. Keep in mind, these aren’t permanent decisions so you can shift your focus once you have paid off your first priority.
Rebuild Your Emergency Fund.
The money problems you face in life are guaranteed to hit eventually. It’s inevitable but if you try to stay prepared then you put yourself on the fast track to the road to recovery. Set a goal to dedicate a specific amount of your monthly income to a savings account that is only for emergencies. Then, focus on saving three to six months of your living expenses in that account. This will help you in the event of any future financial setbacks you may face.
I was shocked when I saw it…
It was just in time for Christmas but it definitely wasn’t a “gift” by an sense of the word.
It was a heating bill just about $700!
It was a few years ago and but I’ll never forget the feeling of seeing a huge heating bill in the mail.
And judging from what ENERGY STAR says most households spend on heating, I'm not alone...
So with this article, We’ll go over 8 simple tricks to lower your heating bill in winter.
8 Tricks To Keep Your Heating Bill In Check
8. Buy A Humidifier: A humidifier puts moisture into the air, which also makes it feel warmer.
7. Seal your ducts: Your Duct system loses a lot of the heat it could be delivering due to holes, poor connections and leaks. Reseal your system with foil tape keep the heat from escaping.
6. Heat only were its needed: This one is so simple yet so easy to forget. You can save big simply by shutting the doors and vents in the rooms that you aren’t using.
5. Curtains and Sunlight: Letting in sunlight during the day can ease the pressure of warming your home during the day, just remember to pull the curtains at night to help insulate the windows.
4. Get Smart: A smart thermostat can regulate the temperature of your house throughout the day. You can program it to lower the temperature while you’re away or sleeping to save as much as $180 annually, according to ENERGY STAR.
3. Push Hot Air Down: Did you know that a ceiling fan spinning clockwise can help push the warm air down and pull the cold air up to the ceiling? Try this one next get more use out of the heat you already use.
2. Weather stripping: Putting weather stripping and plastic film on your windows and doors can cut down your home’s heat loss by up to 12%
1. Fine tune your furnace: Change those filters and get an inspection for your furnace to ensure that your furnace is running smoothly, which can also help reduce the cost of heating.
Try these hacks if you want to save on your heating costs this winter.
The last thing you need when filing an insurance claim is poor customer service
All insurance policies - and companies - are not created equal. While most insurers are similar when it comes to a very basic level of protection that is regulated by your state, those same policies can have dramatic differences in terms of features as well as the level of customer service you should expect should you have a claim. Those qualities are what actually set apart one insurance provider from another.
Know Your Insurance Companies Reputation
A commonly misleading belief is that insurance is a commodity, it’s all the same thing. What is wrong with that belief is that it sets you, the policy holder, up to buy based on one sole factor…
The insurance rates!
As a result, you can find plenty of review sites bashing insurance companies based on the fact that the customer felt like they received very poor service after filing a claim.
That’s when most policyholders wise up to the fact that they would rather pay a little more for a better customer service experience during a claim than to pay less to own a policy that will end up giving them horrible service during the claim process and then dropping them immediately afterward.
What About Discounts?
While the reputation of the company you do business with is of the utmost importance, no many people will hope in line to pay more than they have to for coverage. What’s more beneficial to the majority of people is the discounts from having multiple policies.
Having home or renters insurance bundled with auto is one of the best ways to get the most out of your policies. Even better still, multi-car with anti theft bundled with home or renters insurance.
The rates can be even better for business owners with multiple policies.
“We were flabbergasted! You saved us near $20,000 a year in premium, with the same coverage. Hats off!!?"
Getting The Value You Pay For
Everyone wants to save on insurance. It’s a no brainer. Ultimately, what is more important is getting what you are actually paying for, which is a company that will be there for you when all the chips are down.
You really want to go to a company where you feel comfortable that they’re going to give you the best advice and the right coverage, then you want to worry about the cost of insurance when you are getting a quote.
The last thing you want to do is sign on for a policy that ends up costing you a lot more because the company isn’t financially stable, or chose not to be helpful in your time of need.
At Ferguson Insurance Center, we put customer service first to make sure that you get the most out of your policies from day 1. And if you ever need to file a claim, we are their for you to help you every step of the way.
Join over 1,800 wise policyholders by getting a quote from Ferguson Insurance Center today. We work with over 30 insurers to find the right coverage for you at the lowest rates.
There are many people receiving calls since Thanksgiving and it isn’t to spread Holiday cheer. Scammers are doing everything they can to part their unsuspecting victims from their money before its all spent on presents.
Scammers are using the internet, phone, email and any other means of contact to get as much money as they can from people like us.
Even Payless Shoes got in on the holiday scams this year… Just watch
All jokes aside, you need to protect yourself from what may be the most high tech scammers throughout our history.
Here is a list of a few of the latest Christmas Scams Trends to keep an eye out for.
1. The Secret Sister:
This scam is trending on Facebook because it asks people to give a little to receive a lot. The scam asks for $10 in that goes to donating a gift and in return the donation maker is told they will receive up to 36 gifts..
2. Christmas Parcel Delivery Scam: This scam comes in the form of emails pretending to be from a post office. When you click the link in the email you download software that gives your computer a virus and leaves your personal information vulnerable to hackers.
3. Jury Duty Scam: This scam is run by threatening jail time for missing jury duty if a fine isn’t paid… with a gift card bought from the nearest Walmart!
4. The Robo-Scammer: This is a call from a robo-dialer that claims that you have a warrant out for your arrest if you don’t call them back. That is when the trap is sprung.
As you can see, all of these scams only work if you allow yourself to be overcome with fear or greed. If you can stay in control of your emotions, you stand a great chance at beating these scammers and keeping yourself safe during the holiday season.
However, if you should fall victim to a scam be sure to call the police immediately after you become suspicious of the scam. Also, some types of scams may be covered under your homeowners insurance policy so be sure to call your insurance pro to find out if anything can be done to get your hard earned money back.
It’s that time of year where people are lighting up the chimney, roasting marshmallows and putting up festive decorations for the season. It’s also the time of year when many people start to think about Christmas safety.
Christmas is another disaster filled holiday that unfortunately leads to many families being displaced because of fire damage.
We want you and your family to know what you're up against so we put together these Christmas safety tips for you to avoid some of the Christmas safety problems that come up every year.
Christmas Light Safety Tips
One of the more overlooked safety concerns for Christmas holiday safety come from lights and electrical safety.
It’s very common to see homes filled with lights both on the outside and inside of the house. So let’s take a quick look at some of the key things to think about while decorating.
Christmas light safety
If you are putting up Christmas lights on the outside of your home then you must remember that you are going to have to think about how to power outdoor Christmas lights safely as well as what to hang them with.
First, let’s talk about powering the Christmas lights. If you’re still following the example most of our grandparents set with a few extension cords, untangling large strings of lights and then hanging them around the roof (secured by nails bought to build the fence) then you are putting yourself in a serious risk.
Those big orange extension cords are a huge trip hazard to anyone who comes on your property. Imagine if a delivery driver were to be injured at your home while delivering a gift to your door. And while these extension cords still work great, the problem is that if you use both plugs in an outlet you run the risk of causing a fire from an overloaded outlet. Instead, you should pick up an outdoor power stake.
This one on Amazon has a 9 foot weatherproof extension cord built into it and has 6 outlets that can be used to plug in those strings of lights without having to worry about overloading your main outlet.
Plus, it’s fire resistant and has an on/off switch that acts as a circuit breaker.
How To hang Exterior Christmas Lights Safely
Hanging Christmas lights that have been sitting tangled in a box in the dark corners of the attic can present a few dangers of their own.
Think about it...
Imagine you hang all of your lights, plug them in and find out that most don’t work because of damaged wires in the cord. What some people would do is attempt to fix them while hung, which means climbing a ladder an fiddling with the light strands. Not safe.
It’s better to plug in each strand individually before hanging them so that any strands that don’t work can be fixed while you are not 10 feet in the air on a ladder.
Also, never use nails or tacks to secure the lights to your house.
This video will give you some suggestions on Christmas light safety and how you hang those Christmas lights without using nails
Christmas Ladder Safety
This brings us to ladder safety. Here are 6 ladder safety tips to keep in mind while you decorate for christmas.
Christmas Safety Tips For Pets
Pet lovers can rest assured that your curious friend will most likely get into some things that could cause danger for themselves and you as well.
Here are a few Christmas safety tips to consider if you have a pet
Consider using a Christmas Tree Safety Gate
A Christmas tree safety gate is good for keeping small pets and children a safe distance from the Christmas tree. You can pick one up from Amazon as well
Christmas Safety: Shopping Tips To Stay Safe
One thing is for certain, Christmas shopping is one of the most busy activities during this time of the year.
You know it, I know it and unfortunately, so do thieves. So let’s look at some of the key things you can do for Christmas shopping safety.
Stores with extended hours
Some stores will have extended hours to help those who need to shop at night. Low light and high traffic are the holiday thieves dream. This is when they can move undetected through big crowds to pickpocket and shoplift with let chance of being spotted right away.
However, the career criminals tend to stick to breaking into the cars in the parking lots or robbing and scamming the people who are in the parking lot alone.
It’s vital to keep your wits about you and stay focused on being as safe as possible. That means parking in well lit areas and ask a store clerk to walk purchases to your car whenever possible.
Christmas Safety For Your Home and Car
Christmas time is also one of the best times to call about home and auto insurance because it is a time of year that presents much higher risks.
Christmas Day and Christmas eve are 2 of the 3 most dangerous times of year when it comes to house fires. The other is thanksgiving.
The Christmas season is also one that sees more cars being broken into and more homes being vandalized.
All of these risks are easily covered simply by checking on your policy. And it’s also a great time to get a new quote and see how much you can save on your coverage.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday filled with family, fun and food. Unfortunately, thanksgiving is also a time that we tend to see more damage claims.
The insurance industry typically sees an uptick of fire damage claims during this time of year. How big is the uptick? According to fema, you are 2.3% more likely to be involved in a fire on thanksgiving than any other day in the year.
There are many more risks that Thanksgiving presents to its participants than just fire. There are a number of areas that you should take caution in, which we will dive into below.
Enjoy these Thanksgiving safety tips from Ferguson Insurance Center
Reconsider The Turkey Fryer
Many people love the taste of a deep-fried turkey on thanksgiving but the process of frying it can be a dangerous one. When deep frying a turkey you are putting yourself at risk of burns as well as the fire hazard that the gas-fueled burner presents.
If you can’t resist the urge to fry that turkey, be sure to follow these safety tips to protect your home and your family.
Kitchen Safety and Sanitation: Prevent Food Poisoning
Food poisoning is something that no one wants to give or receive during the holiday season. When it comes to cooking poultry, like turkey, properly thawing and sanitation is of the utmost importance.
Remove All Potential Hazards
Kitchen safety hazards that come with Thanksgiving are also injuries from appliances or hot dishes. Here are a couple of short kitchen safety tips to keep in mind.
Kitchen Safety Rules For Kids
Thanksgiving time is a great time of year to pass down dishes from generation to generation. It’s also a great time to pass down kitchen safety rules to the younger generations as well. Be sure to share these tips…
These kitchen safety tips are suggestions that may help keep the Thanksgiving festivities fun and safe for you and your loved ones.
Holiday Safety Tips
The holiday season is upon us once again. This is a time for family, fun trips and shopping. It’s the most wonderful time of year…
Unless, you happen to be one of the many people who will face a disastrous situation that puts them at risk for losing property, being liable for an injury or having their identity stolen.
It is well known among insurance agents that the Holiday season comes with an uptick in the amount of claims we receive. Auto insurance claims rise 20% in December alone on average so there are real dangers that you must protect your family and yourself from.
Here are just a tips to help you stay protected.
Holiday Safety For Seniors
If you are hosting a loved one over the age of 55 then you need to know that they are at a higher risk for injury. Being proactive to keep them safe during the holiday will go a long way toward avoiding unnecessary hospital visits.
Take these 6 steps to avoid dangerous situations with a senior this holiday season.
Secure all floor coverings
Check your chairs
Limit dim lighting
Say safe when cooking
Monitor for sound
Holiday Safety For Pets
Keeping your pet’s out of danger can also be a tall order. Our furry friends are very curious, which could often lead to danger for our pets as well as our homes.
The hazards that pet cause during the holiday season are vast simply because they don’t understand what’s happening but they want to explore all of the new things in their environment.
What are some of the things you can do to keep your pet safe?
Bolt down the tree
Keep Cord and Batteries out of your pet’s reach
Avoid Tinsel and breakable tree ornaments
Never leave lighted candles unattended
How To Keep Your Home Safe While You're Away For The Holidays
A common problem during the holiday season is theft. Many thieves expect many homes to be empty because they know that many people like to travel during these times of year.
There are a few things you can do to keep your home protected while you are away during your holiday travels...
Don’t announce your holiday plans on social media
Cancel your regular services
Invest in affordable security lighting
Let your close-by friends know you’re going away
Don’t hide your spare key outside your home
Safety Tips For Holiday Travel
In an article by CNTraveler.com, they asked a former CIA operative how to stay safe during the busiest travel time of the year?
Here’s a list of what the 14-year veteran of the CIA had to offer:
Leave valuables at home
Stay in touch with family and friends
Keep a low profile
Travel in groups
Book the right hotel room
Pay attention to your whereabouts
Leave your passport in your hotel room
His basic advice, be prepared for the most likely scenarios. Fairly simple
Holiday Driving Safety Advice
Before you get on the road, make sure you…
Get your standard maintenance up to date
Have an emergency roadside kit (See the whole kit here)
Have a mapped route plan
Take the necessary weather safety precautions
Keep the kids safe and entertained
Take a break every 2 hours or 100 miles
Keep an eye out for potentially intoxicated drivers
Taking these steps during your holiday road trip can help you avoid unnecessary car insurance claims.
Deliver Safety For Holiday Packages
One of the most often overlooked groups of people when it comes to creating a safe environment during the holidays are the postal workers. They can often be so busy trying to deliver our last minute packages that they don’t see the hazards that could endanger them.
Many homeowners end up having liability claims against them because of injuries to postal workers during holiday deliveries.
These are a few of the things you can do to avoid having that happen to you
Holiday Safety Tips: Cybersecurity Safety for the holidays
Holiday shopping almost always come with the threat of having a holiday cyber breach along with it. Hackers know that we have much more online shopping activity during this time of year and they lurk behind their scams to try to steal from us.
KnowBe4, a company that specializes in security training put together a great video to help people keep from getting hacked by criminals that hope to prey on our holiday shopping habits.
Get A Quote Ahead of the Holiday Season To Make Sure You're Fully Covered
This guest post is by Ingrid Walter, who is a blogger and freelance writer.
Big data started as a way to describe data sets that are too big for traditional databases to capture, store, manage, and analyze. But now the term has evolved to define a set of technologies that can solve complex problems by analyzing trends from large and variable data. Big data is already commonplace in industries like banking, construction, retail, and transportation. One of the latest industries to take advantage of big data is motor insurance, which is using the modern technology to provide a more personalized service to customers.
What if you can accurately asses risks?
On Ferguson Insurance Center we have a list of the most common car insurance mistakes you can commit. Using big data, insurers can now create a better picture when it comes to claims. Forbes notes that risk assessment in car insurance is what the industry is built on. Some insurers now use “telemetry-based packages” that feed data direct from the vehicle to their system. This allows the insurers to get an accurate record of a driver's behavior, which can then affect their assessment of an accident or theft.
Easier application process
ZhongAn Online P&C Insurance, the first internet-only insurer in China, is a great example of how big data is making the application process easier. They are using machine learning and analytics to analyze data. Wang Yu head of car insurance at ZhongAn told the South China Morning Post: “We have broken the online purchase process into 45 parts. We monitor and analyze data flows from each part and if we notice that users spend too much time in one part, then we know something may be wrong with it or it has potential to be optimized.” Don't be surprised to see this method of application spread across the globe.
Fairer risk assessment
There's an ongoing debate about whether or not insurance companies should use a consumer's credit score as a way to assess risk. While credit scores have helped companies assess a consumer's personal responsibility, the Insurance Journal points out it isn't popular: "it’s never been obvious to the typical consumer what one’s credit history has to do with one’s likelihood to get in an accident". With big data insurance companies have even wider scope to determine credit scores by providing even more variables. However, the article also notes that the wide range of personal information that could be included in the data scan, such as social media accounts, is likely to put off many customers.
Better fraud detection
In the US, insurance fraud accounts for $80 billion a year. Fraud also makes up about for about 10% of the property-casualty insurance losses and loss adjustment expenses each year. To battle this, 48 states, including the District of Columbia made insurance fraud a specific crime.
Most insurers have to manually assess and report suspicious insurance claims before they can verify an actual fraud. With big data, specifically predictive modeling and strict data management, insurers can quickly identify when there is a high-risk case that needs investigation. They can simply match variables in claims against profiles of past fraudulent activities.
This type of protection can be seen in the trucking industry. Verizon Connect explains how advanced fleet tracking software helps with insurance claims in the event of stolen assets. This is mainly because every part of a truck’s journey is recorded, and insurers can see “exactly what happened where”. Monitoring high-value assets has never been easier. Driver ID technology comes in handy, too, allowing the right people to take responsibility for any loss in company assets.
The bottom-line for the motor industry is: if every data generated is traced, tracked, recorded, and stored, insurance claims can be easy to handle—both for the customer and the insurer.
Exclusively written for fergusonins.com by Ingrid Walter