Monday, January 22, 2018

New Year’s Resolutions for Homeowners

Everyone makes New Year resolutions and most relate to giving up bad habits, improving lifestyle or losing weight. In many cases, they are abandoned or forgotten in a matter of days.  As a homeowner, you should consider some resolutions that will protect your home – the fulcrum around which all future resolutions will be made. You just cannot afford to abandon or forget these issues.

Plan maintenance

No one knows your home as you do. You know what kind of repairs you need to do during the year. Sit down with a calendar and make a schedule of when you can take up the jobs and how long you need to complete them. Remember to add preparatory work, if any, before the job starts.

Have a fixed day of the month for doing all the routine maintenance chores such as replacing air filters, checking smoke alarms, cleaning out the garbage disposal and so on. Do mark the days on the calendar. If you stick to the dates and time frames, your house will surely be protected. There are quite a few apps available to help you with the scheduling.

Get smart

Home automation is no longer just a bunch of gadgets designed to make your life easier. Advanced security and energy management systems are available to maximize the safety of your home for your family to live there happily. Energy-efficient systems can cut your utility bills without making the family suffer in heat, cold or darkness. These additions will enhance the value of your home.

Go green

If you have space in your yard, you can plant trees that provide large bands of shade. The more the house is in the shade in summer, the cooler it is and the lower the air conditioning costs are. Just be careful to plant the tree where falling branches will not damage the house.

Check your insurance policy

Everything you do to your home affects its value. Lack of maintenance and high-energy use are among the things that could reduce its value. Since your house is your biggest investment, you want no doubt to protect it and increase it worth. The insurance policy you took some years ago may not reflect the repairs and improvements that have been done, which have added value to the home.

If your home is damaged or destroyed, the insurance payout may not be enough to rebuild and resume your life as it was before the disaster. Don’t forget about the purchases you have made – expensive furniture, artworks, jewelry, electronics etc.; all of them need to be included in your insurance portfolio.

Working out the amount of insurance coverage your home needs is not simple. For example, the large TV you bought last year may now cost significantly more than it did then. How much do you insure it for? Professionals can control best the cost of the policy while ensuring the protection your home and family require.

Contact an experienced insurance broker and get the guidance you need on homeowners insurance that will enable you to rebuild if the worst happens. That is one New Year resolution you cannot afford to break!

Isn’t it about Time you reviewed your Life Insurance Policy?

Life insurance may appear to be a simple matter – you pay premiums and if the ‘inevitable’ happens during the validity of the policy, the beneficiaries you have nominated will receive a lump sum payout. However, there is more to it than that. The reason for the policy is to ensure that those who are dependent on you do not suffer financially after the demise, which in itself is great suffering.

Your circumstances, as well as those of your beneficiaries, are not static – they change with time; if your life insurance policy is not modified to suit changing needs, it may not serve its purpose of providing for your dependents in the manner you want. That’s why periodic reviews of your life insurance are important and the beginning of the year is a good time to do it.

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When to modify

Any change in your life could require a modification of your insurance. When you were single you might not have needed life insurance; however, everything changes when you get married. Similarly, with the birth of each child your coverage needs to increase to protect the larger dependent family. While regular reviews are important, here are four major stages of life when you have to change your coverage.

              1.      Marriage: Even in the case of double income families, the death of a spouse does not mean that the cost of living is halved and a single income will be adequate. There ARE various expenses to meet, debts to pay off, investments that cannot be abandoned and commitments that must be kept. Your life insurance should always reflect these demands and the coverage should be enough to meet them. 

             2.      Children: Children are often the biggest reason for life insurance. After birth, it takes more than 20 years for them to be financially independent. During that time, the world would have undergone many changes and you need to guide them through proactive education and provide a worthwhile base for their life.  Planning for their future in general terms will not be enough. As they grow older and their path in life becomes clear, your insurance cushion must be enough for them to pursue that path even if you are not there.
             3.      The empty nest: When the children have moved out, and started their own lives, you may be able to modify your coverage, as they are no longer dependent on you. However, keep your spouse’s needs in mind and consider the role that life insurance can play in estate planning.

              4.    Retirement: Your income will change on retirement and that could require some changes in your coverage and the premiums you pay. Your insurance needs to be enough to care for your spouse and cover any obligations or debts that you may have.

A balancing act

It is not easy indeed to find the optimum balance between what you can afford to pay for life insurance and the coverage that you need. That balancing act has to be performed, keeping in mind likely changes over time. Even if you were lucky to face no major changes, small things too can add up and have an impact on your life insurance needs.

It would be best to seek the help of an experienced insurance agent to review your changing income and the changing needs and work out the right insurance for each stage of your life.