Diane Stone - CENTURY 21 Commonwealth



Posted by Diane Stone on 5/14/2017

Flood insurance represents a valuable investment for many homeowners across the country, and for good reason. This type of insurance guarantees that your residence and personal belongings are protected against flooding due to a severe rain storm or other inclement weather. Therefore, purchasing flood insurance may enable you to avoid substantial losses due to flood damage associated with a natural disaster.

So how does flood insurance work exactly? Here are three things that every homeowner needs to know about flood insurance.

1. Flood insurance and homeowners insurance are very different.

Flood insurance serves as a supplemental insurance that can be purchased in addition to your homeowners coverage. However, flood insurance does not substitute for home insurance, and vice-versa.

Typically, a homeowners policy does not offer flood coverage. This means if your house is filled with water due to a natural disaster, your homeowners coverage will not protect you against property damage or losses.

In many cases, a bank or credit may require a homeowner to purchase flood insurance if he or she owns a house that is located in a floodplain. Conversely, you may want to consider purchasing flood insurance even if live outside a floodplain.

Remember, even 1 inch of water after a flood can cause major damage in your home. But if you have flood insurance in place, your home and belongings will be protected against flooding at all times.

2. Flood insurance is provided via the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

The NFIP offers flood insurance policies for your home and possessions. A flood insurance policy for your home guarantees that you're protected against any flood damage to your residence. Meanwhile, contents coverage insures you against loss of possessions due to flooding.

Also, it is important to note that flood insurance policies usually require at least 30 days before they go into effect. This means that you likely won't be able to purchase flood insurance only days before a major hurricane is expected to arrive in your city or town.

3. Flood insurance won't necessarily cover your entire home.

Federal flood insurance commonly offers coverage worth up to $250,000 for your home and $100,000 for your belongings. Therefore, if you own a home that is worth $300,000 and it is destroyed in a flood, your flood insurance policy will not cover the entire cost to replace your residence.

Comparatively, you can purchase "excess flood insurance" through a private insurance company to supplement a federal flood insurance policy. Excess flood insurance offers a great option if you want to insure your home and possessions against floods and guarantee that any policy claims are covered beyond national limits.

4. Floodplains may change over time.

Floodplain maps frequently change and evolve over time. Thus, a residence that was not in a floodplain several years ago may now be located in a floodplain.

If you plan to sell your residence, your real estate agent can help you find out if it is located in a floodplain. Or, if you intend to buy a new home, your real estate agent can tell you whether a residence is located in a floodplain as well.




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Posted by Diane Stone on 3/12/2017

Purchasing a home is a large investment and not one that anyone should make on a whim. Itís important to understand your maximum budget but also what you are comfortable spending, which may not be the same number as your maximum budget. But itís also important to fully understand the hidden costs that come with owning a home. Your mortgage payment is not the only payment you will be making each month and itís certainly not the only cost associated with owning a home. Letís take a look at some hidden costs listed below: Home Insurance: Insurance is something that you may know you need, but not a cost you are thinking about when house hunting. Therefore, the cost can sneak up on you. Be sure to factor in this cost, as it will be associated with your homeís location, age and value. For example, you are going to pay more if you live in an area that is prone to natural disasters such as floods or tornadoes. Home furnishings: Is this your first home or, at least, your first home that you would like to furnish with new furniture not hand-me-downs or a couch from craigslist? There also may be items that you need for this home that you did not need in your apartment such as a dining room table or spare bedroom bed frame and mattress. Furnishing your home can be a large expense and one that you should be saving up for. You donít need to go out and spend thousands on each item and you may want to spread out your purchases, but this is a very important cost to consider when purchasing a home. Appearance: When you purchase a home there may be things about the house that you want to change or update. This is something that not many factor in when buying the home as they are so wrapped up in the process of purchasing. However, even small updates cost money and if you spend all of your money on the down payment, you will not have any leftover to make those updates to make the home truly yours. Maintenance: If you previously rented, then maintenance is not something that you had to handle, as that is what your landlord was for. However, when you buy a home all maintenance and repairs fall on you. If you are purchasing an older home itís extremely important to understand what needs to be updated or replaced now or in the near future, such as the water heater, furnace or roof. Itís possible that you may get the previous homeowner to take care of this if itís in need at the time of selling, but if these updates/replacements take place a couple years down the road then itís up to you to take care of it. There is also the general maintenance of your home such as landscaping and snow removal. Will you purchase your own equipment or hire a service? Either way, this is an additional expense. Utilities: Often times many utilities are included in your rent. Well, this is not the case when owning a home. If the home does not have a septic system then you will need to pay for water and sewerage. You will have to pay for your own cable, Internet, and phone, and letís not forget about electricity. Itís important to understand all of the utilities that you will have to pay when you purchase a home. Property Taxes: Property taxes vary by town, but will always be an additional cost when owning a home. And, this cost will increase if you make additions or significant updates to your home. More desirable/expensive locations will have higher property taxes. This is often a cost that catches many off guard so be sure to research the locations where you are house hunting to see if you can afford the property taxes on top of all of the other associated costs. This is not meant to discourage anyone but shed light on the costs that many do not consider when they are house hunting. Make sure your budget allows for your mortgage payment and the expenses listed above that are tailored to your situation and you will have no problem becoming and staying a homeowner.





Posted by Diane Stone on 7/17/2016

Homeowners insurance is necessary, but that doesn't mean you should be forced to pay an exorbitant amount for it. Instead, you can take advantage of the following money-saving tips to lower your monthly homeowners insurance premiums: 1. Bundle Your Homeowners and Auto Insurance. In many cases, you can bundle your homeowners and auto insurance to save money. This will allow you to cut costs and leverage the same insurance company for both your homeowners and auto insurance policies as well. If you already have auto insurance and are looking for home insurance for your new residence, be sure to discuss your plans with your auto insurer. By doing so, you may be able to bundle your homeowners and auto insurance and lower your insurance premiums for years to come. 2. Explore All of the Options at Your Disposal. When it comes to finding homeowners insurance, there are plenty of fish in the sea. Thus, you're sure to discover many great options at your disposal, all of which you should explore before you decide on a homeowners insurance provider. With homeowners insurance, you should try to conduct plenty of research. And remember, the most affordable option may not be the best option based on your homeownership needs. Therefore, homeowners who do their homework will be able to review all of the options at their disposal and make an informed decision about their homeowners insurance. 3. Exclude Land Value from Your Homeowners Insurance Policy. Your homeowners insurance may include the value of your land as well as your residence. In this scenario, you may want to consider removing the land value from your policy. With homeowners insurance, you'll want to ensure that your residence and its contents are fully covered. That way, these items can be replaced if they are damaged. On the other hand, you may not need replacement coverage for your land. Before you exclude land value from your homeowners insurance, however, you'll want to discuss the pros and cons of doing so with an insurance agent. This professional will be able to outline how much money you can save by making this change, along with the short- and long-term ramifications of this decision. 4. Increase Your Deductible. Boosting your homeowners insurance policy's deductible likely will result in a drop in your monthly premium. At the same time, it is important to consider the trade-off that takes place if you make this change to your policy. A higher deductible means that you'll be required to pay more out of pocket if and when a claim is filed. As such, you should weigh the immediate cost savings versus the long-term value of increasing your deductible before you finalize your decision. Homeowners insurance can be tricky to understand, but insurance agents can help you discover the best ways to lower your monthly premiums. Ask your insurance agent for help with your homeowners insurance, and ultimately, you can work with this professional to find solutions to help you save money on your insurance premiums.