Thursday, December 22, 2011

Four Ways To Protect Yourself When Hiring A Contractor To Remodel Your Home

Remodeling a home is a major financial investment. There are many pitfalls that you may encounter during the process. Among of the most potentially costly are those that involve disputes with the contractor. Even with the best of contractors, misunderstandings and communication gaps can turn what should be happy experience into a situation filled with acrimony and financial loss. Here are four simple things you can do to protect yourself from contractor related losses:

1. When signing a construction contract, be sure the General Contractor adds the homeowner as an additional named insured on his liability policy. He should also provide a certificate of liability and workers compensation insurance. The certificate must state that the homeowner is given two weeks prior notice of cancellation and if no insurance is in place, the work will either stop or the homeowner can purchase replacement coverage at the contractor’s cost.

2. Ensure that all payments to subcontractors are made only by the General Contractor. This places primary liability on the General Contractor and his insurance.

3. Ensure that the General Contractor’s policy limits are more than the complete value of the home. If the coverage is not sufficient, an additional amount can be added at a nominal cost.

4. Before buying into an HOA, check who is responsible for replacement, repair and/or rebuilding of damaged property. Every HOA is different but the most common split is that the HOA is responsible for rebuilding all the original building from the interior walls out. The unit owner is responsible for floor coverings, interior walls, fixtures, plumbing, appliances, cabinets etc. along with all of the unit owner’s personal property.

To know more about the insurance precautions that you should take before remodeling your home, contact Allied Brokers. Our many decades of experience in all types of insurance and our focus on client service means that we provide not just the best in insurance policies, products and services but also the advice you need to stay protected at all times and under all circumstances. Visit our website: for information on the services and insurance policies we offer. Call 1-888-505-7988 (toll free) for a free rate quote.

The above information has been provided courtesy of the Law Office of Peter N. Brewer Esq. Palo Alto, CA (phone: 650-327-1900)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Year End Tax Saving Tips

The end of the year is the time when most of us think about taxes and ways to save on them. Two common and effective ways are:

By deferring income. If you are planning to sell off investments on which you have made a profit, consider the potential tax savings if the sale is deferred till next year. Similarly, if you expect a year-end bonus, you could defer the receipt for a month and take the money in January, thus deferring the tax liability till 2012. The same applies to any stock options you may be entitled to. While exercising the option may not be taxable, selling the stock is. For the self-employed, examine which invoices and bills can be deferred (thus deferring the
income) till January 2012.

You can also accelerate deductions. Make a reasonable estimate of your state tax and pay the installment in December rather than the January due date. You can also pay your complete property tax bill for 2012 in December 2011. Please note that this is not applicable to mortgage escrow accounts. Medical and other “threshold” expenses are deductible only to the extent they exceed a defined percentage of the Adjusted Gross Income. If you can group all these expenses into one year, the chance of exceeding the threshold increases; as does the amount of deduction.

At Allied Brokers we do not just sell insurance policies. We work with our clients to provide them the optimum insurance coverage at the right cost. Whether it is life insurance, health insurance, home insurance, various types of business insurance, auto insurance or any other kind of insurance, we customize solutions that are right for our clients. We have been in business over 50 years and are proud of the reputation we
have built. Visit our website at to learn more about Allied Brokers and the insurance services and products we offer. Or call 1-888-505-7988 (toll free) for a free quote.

Information courtesy Orlando, Mitts, Moore & Company, San Jose, CA. Phone: 408 278-0300.

Is It Worth Hiring a Public Insurance Adjustor To Handle Your Property Damage Claim?

As an insurance broker for 25 years, I ALWAYS refer Ken Crown of the Greenspan Company Adjusters International to any client of mine who has a property damage claim over $250,000. Think of Ken as a hired-gun- he will go up against your insurance company’s claims adjuster and usually increase and settle your claim for far more than his 10% fee.

Although your company's claims adjustor is a professional and will treat you fairly, he or she is still the opponent. Your interests are better served by hiring your own professional. It’s like getting a high powered CPA to help fight the IRS- the IRS agent is outmatched.

Case-in-point: My family owns a cabin in Idaho that is part of a 21 member HOA. In 2000, 17 of the cabins burned down. We got burned again when our insurance company offered us only $150,000. We had the Greenspan Company on the job and they did an inventory of everything- down to how much toilet paper was lost. We settled for over $1,000,000!

As a broker, Allied is not involved in the day-to-day claims process. Instead, we act as an advisor to our clients and advocate for them when there is a problem. A Public Insurance Adjustor, on the other hand, is a claims specialist who is involved in every aspect of the process. Having a big fire claim is a traumatic experience. There is a lot of work to do to rebuild and to settle the claim. Ken does a great job shouldering most of the load for my clients. He also keeps me in the loop on about the progress of the settlement.

The bigger your claim, the more you stand to lose. One of my clients had his $1.5 million home burn down. I recommended he call Ken but he chose to handle the claim directly with his insurance company instead. As his advocate, Allied Brokers advised the client not to sign any releases without our first reviewing them. The settlement dragged on for two years until two insurance company executives contacted my client without telling us and pressured him into settling for $500,000 less than he should have gotten. The client explained that he was so tired of the whole thing that he just wanted to get it over with. He wouldn’t have caved if he had hired Ken.

On a happier note, another client of mine who lost his business to fire won a $2,000,000 settlement and was able to relocate and rebuild in a year. He told me the best decision he ever made was taking my advice to hire Ken and the Greenspan Company.

This article provided courtesy Chris Grammar, President, Allied Brokers. Contact Allied Brokers for all your insurance needs.