Do You know What a Home Warranty is?

A home warranty is often a feature in the sale of a home.  In that scenario, the seller typically pays a few hundred dollars for a one-year warranty covering the home’s major fixtures such as the furnace, water heater and kitchen appliances.  This gives the buyer some protection during that first year of ownership knowing that if something major breaks down it will be covered.  Many homeowners choose to continue paying an annual premium rather than risk-bearing the full replacement cost of a major item.

Although technically not insurance, warranties are very similar in that the homeowner is paying an up-front fee to protect against a potentially huge replacement cost.  If nothing breaks during the coverage period, the customer may in hindsight feel the fee was a waste of money, but that’s what managing risk is all about.  Are you financially prepared to replace major components as they are needed, or would you rather pay a set amount per year whether something breaks or not?

One important difference between insurance and a warranty is that the homeowner must go through the warranty company to arrange for service, and this can be another point where a customer might be dissatisfied.  Home warranty companies establish relationships with service providers in the areas for which they provide coverage.  So whether customers are satisfied with the warranty company depends in large part on whether they are satisfied with the repairmen whom the warranty company has hired.

Even though home warranties aren’t considered insurance, the companies that sell them are typically regulated by each state’s department of insurance. According to the Service Contract Industry Council, 32 states require home warranty companies to register or obtain a license with that state’s department of insurance. This state agency is responsible for licensing the entity, examines the company for compliance of applicable laws regarding home warranty services and monitors the financial condition of the company for the protection of their clients.

What’s covered?

Most home warranty companies offer a variety of plans, each providing different levels of coverage, so be sure to read the details of any contract before buying. Even if you choose to renew the contract from year-to-year, double-check the details of your plan because coverage can change annually. Here is a general idea of what a homeowner can expect to find in each tier of service:

BASIC COVERAGE

  • Plumbing systems
  • Range/oven
  • Dishwasher
  • Garbage disposal
  • Exhaust fans
  • Sump pump
  • Water heater
  • Ceiling fans
  • Heating and electrical system components
  • Built-in microwave
  • Whirlpool tub

ENHANCED COVERAGE

  • A/C
  • Washer/dryer
  • Refrigerator
  • Garage door opener

OPTIONAL ITEMS

  • Pool
  • Spa
  • Well pump
  • Septic system
  • Standalone freezer
  • Central vacuum

For newly constructed homes

Many states require that all home builders and contractors warranty their work on a newly constructed home.

This provides the homeowner with the assurance that should any major defects or repairs become necessary within its new home for various time periods up to ten years following construction that is not the fault of damage or negligence by the homeowner then the repairs or replacements necessary will be covered.

The workmanship of the home construction, materials used and performance of major systems such as the plumbing, electrical and HVAC are all covered under these types of home warranty services. This includes the overall integrity of the structure. Each state monitors the specific requirements in these situations.

For pre-existing home purchases

When buying a pre-existing home, buyers can choose to purchase home warranty coverage. This will provide them with coverage against for repair or replacement costs that they may incur with existing mechanical systems or appliances in their new home within a specific time frame following the purchase date. Major mechanical systems that are covered include plumbing, electrical, heating, and air.

For seller solutions

Homeowners that are trying to sell their homes may want to consider the benefits of offering a home warranty on their home. The seller can choose to pay for the home warranty coverage on his or her own or ask that the buyer pay for a specified portion of the cost. By including a home warranty option on their home, homeowners can get the maximum selling price for their home, be relieved of further obligations should repairs or replacements become necessary after the final purchase is completed and interest buyers in a tough market. Home warranties can be purchased through independent home warranty companies of the seller or buyer’s choice or through the real estate agent that will handle the paperwork with the home warranty company for the parties.

What do home warranties cost?

The average cost of a basic coverage plan ranges from $350 to $500 a year, with the cost of an enhanced plan adding $100 to $300. Prices reflect not only coverage but also a company’s loss history, which is determined by how often an item breaks down and the cost to repair it. Some home warranty companies offer additional coverage for certain items, such as a good pump or pool, for an extra fee. Regardless of the type of plan, homeowners typically pay an additional service fee ranging from $50 to $75 for each repair job.

The majority of home mortgage companies have a set price for their basic home warranty plans that they offer. The type of housing such as townhouse, condominium, single-family residential, duplex or apartment often determines the set cost of the home warranty coverage.

While detached garages are generally covered under the basic home warranty plans that are offered, most separate buildings on the premises are not. Extended home warranty plans are available at additional costs for these building structures.

Costs for home warranty plans are paid upfront before the coverage goes into effect. Some companies offer their clients the ability to make payments on their home warranty plans if it helps to secure the sale or they have a long standing with the client.

Complaints about home warranties

Among the many negative reviews submitted by Angie’s List members about warranty companies, the key complaints are: (1) Something wasn’t covered that the customer assumed was covered, and (2) although the item was “covered” there was still a service call fee that the customer didn’t expect.   Although this expectations gap can also occur with insurance policies and other purchases, home warranties may be particularly prone to it because so often they are purchased by one owner (the one preparing to sell), but used by another owner (the buyer). Most plans do require an additional service fee to be paid by the homeowner. Typically, the least expensive plans cover the least amount of items and require the highest service fees.

In order to minimize misunderstandings, experts stress the importance of reviewing and understanding a service contract before purchasing a home warranty. For example, if a certain appliance needs repaired or replaced, a homeowner should know how much money will need to be spent out of pocket.  Also, how comprehensive is the potential repair or replacement?  If one component of an appliance break but the unit needs replacing, is the warranty company responsible for replacing the unit or the component? That’s an essential question that needs to be answered. It’s also important to review at least three warranty companies, understand what it is covered and what is excluded.

 To keep from getting fooled by your contract, consider the following tips:

  • Check with your state’s department of insurance to verify if the home warranty company you’re considering is properly licensed to do business. If licensing isn’t required in your state, inquire about the company’s status with your local consumer protection agency.  If you join us you can search for home warranty companies that serve your geographic area and find out which have received positive reviews from past customers.
  • Be sure to read the fine print and ask the company any lingering questions before deciding if a home warranty service contract is right for you.
  • Tell your real estate agent about any denied claims. Oftentimes, he or she will have a relationship with the home warranty company and can make a call on your behalf.
  • Be sure to tell the home warranty company if their network contractor did a good job or not. Most keep a rating system on their contractors and disperse the work accordingly.
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Separating Fact From Fiction When It Comes to Long-Term Care Insurance

Few people are prepared to handle the financial burden of long-term health care. In fact, many people have a false sense of security when it comes to long-term care. Let’s separate fact from fiction:

“Medicare and my Medicare supplement policy will cover it.”

FACTS:

  • Medicare and “Medigap” insurance were never intended to pay for ongoing, long-term care. Only about 12% of nursing home costs are paid by Medicare, for short-term skilled nursing home care following hospitalization. (Source: Guide to Long-Term Care Insurance, AHIP, 2013)
  • Medicare and most health insurance plans, including Medicare supplement policies, do not pay for long-term custodial care. (Source: 2017 Medicare & You, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services)

“It won’t happen to me.”

FACTS:

  • Almost 70% of people turning age 65 will need long term care services and supports at some point in their lives. (Source: LongTermCare.gov, November 2016)
  • About 67% of nursing home residents and 70% of assisted living residents are women. (Source: Long-Term Care Providers and Services Users in the United States, February 2016, National Center for Health Statistics)

“I can afford it.”

FACTS:

  • As a national average, a year in a nursing home is currently estimated to cost about $92,000. In some areas, it can easily cost well over $110,000! (Source: Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey, April 2016)
  • The average length of a nursing home stay is 835 days. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Nursing Home Care FastStats, last updated May 2014)
  • The national average cost of a one bedroom in an assisted living facility in the U.S. was $43,539 per year in 2016. (Source: Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey, April 2016)
  • Home health care is less expensive, but it still adds up. In 2016, the national average hourly rate for licensed home health aides was $20. Bringing an aide into your home for 20 hours a week can easily cost over $1,600 each month, or almost $20,000 a year. (Source: Genworth 2016 Cost of Care Survey, April 2016)

“If I can’t afford it, I’ll go on Medicaid.”

FACTS:

  • Medicaid, or welfare assistance, has many “strings” attached and is only available to people who meet federal poverty guidelines.

Whether purchased for yourself, your spouse or for an aging parent, long-term care insurance can help protect assets accumulated over a lifetime from the ravages of long-term care costs.

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What to Ask When Choosing a Home Warranty

There are a number of things to know about before getting your first Home Warranty Plan. Here are 10 questions to ask yourself and the provider when comparing your options.

Purchasing a home warranty to cover your major appliances and system components (refrigerator, dishwasher, garage door entry system, HVAC unit, etc.) can be tricky. You have to balance consideration of each warranty's options, premiums, deductibles, terms, and conditions. At the end of the day, what you really want is some assurance that, in times of need, you and your family will remain safe, comfortable and suffer the least amount of inconvenience.

What should you look for in a home warranty? There is no simple answer, and there is no one-size-fits-all home warranty solution. As with all your other investments, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to enter negotiations as well-prepared as possible. So we’ve assembled this checklist of questions to ask before you commit to a home warranty agreement to help you better understand your needs, your expectations, your reservations, and your own attitudes towards what makes a house a home.

1. How much wear and tear do your appliances already have?

Appliances exist for one reason: to make our lives easier and that means taking on the dirty work (literally, in the case of a dishwasher or washing machine). Some of us use them harder than others and age can add up over the years, but as long as you use your appliances according to manufacturer's instructions, a home warranty can help you keep your machines running without worrying about unexpected repair or replacement costs. Should your appliance's or system's major components break down due to your normal use, a home warranty can be there to help cover the costs to get back in working condition.

2. Do you plan on upgrading or replacing your appliances any time soon, even though they are still functioning?

New appliances and systems come with manufacturer's warranties which are great protection, however, they run out and are unit specific. A home warranty can provide more of an umbrella of protection for your home to cover multiple appliances and systems. Plus, some companies, E-exchanger, for example, provide programs such as the Appliance Discount Program that can save you money on the purchase of brand new, brand-name appliances.

3. Are you aware of any pre-existing conditions or problems with your appliances that have gone unaddressed?

Home warranty companies want to help you keep your home in working order but there may be some limitations when it comes to addressing certain pre-existing conditions. Check with your potential provider.

4. Are there any essential components on your appliances (e.g., your refrigerator’s ice-maker; your HVAC system’s ductwork) that may not be covered by a particular warranty?

Today's appliances are amazingly complex machines with evolving pieces and parts. However, they still basically rely upon essential core parts to perform their necessary duties. Those components are what require protection and often can be most expensive to repair. Your home warranty should cover these core components.

5. How does a particular warranty complement or supplement your existing homeowner's insurance policy?

Home insurance is great protection for your home for what MIGHT happen (fire, flood, natural disaster, etc.). However, what about protection for things that WILL happen? For example, your air conditioner condenser finally giving out or your clothes dryer refusing to dry your clothes. Having a home warranty plan to work side-by-side with your home insurance can greatly help your home remain a comfortable and happy place.

6. Will a specific home warranty policy help you pay for routine preventative maintenance of your major appliances?

A home warranty may not cover your routine preventative maintenance, however, they may penalize you for NOT taking that action. American Home Shield will not do that. We understand you're busy and that time gets away from you. That's why we can help cover you when your major system and appliance components break down from normal use.

7. Will a specific home warranty policy help you to pay for significant cosmetic damage to your major appliances?

Home warranties are designed to cover parts and components that are designed to wear down from normal wear and tear. If that normal use causes cosmetic damage, you should be covered. However, if an overly excited family member causes damage to your dishwasher door, for example, you will not be covered.

8. Are any repairs, services or appliances too minor (e.g. your microwave oven) to be covered by a specific warranty?

It all depends on your provider and your contract. An E-exchanger Home Warranty Plan, for example, covers every part of your refrigerator. Other companies may exclude coverage for a dozen or more parts. 

9. What is the upper limit for repairs and replacement that the warranty will cover?

This depends on your prospective provider, but AHS offers some of the most competitive levels of coverage. In some cases, E-exchanger provides twice or even five times as much in terms of replacement coverage.

10. When can you make a claim with your prospective warranty provider?

You may currently have appliances in need of repair. Most companies may make you wait 30-60 days before you are able to submit a service request. 

So, which home warranty combines the best reputation, the greatest expertise, and the most satisfactory customer service?

That warranty is the one that can be of the most benefit to you when the time comes for you to maximize your home’s equity. And American Home Shield is confident that the home warranties we offer are world-class in that regard. As the home warranty industry creator and leader, we are proud to offer the best, most comprehensive and award-winning home warranty plans. Learn more about E-exchanger Home Warranty Plans and get a quote today.

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How Do Smoking Cessation Products Affect Life Insurance Rates?

Are you using cessation products to quit smoking?  There are ways for you to get great non-smoker prices on life insurance.  There are endless benefits to quitting a smoking habit.  It helps to increase both your lifespan and your wallet.  To quit smoking you need strong will power and sometimes the help of products whether those are gum, lozenges, patches, or e-cigarettes.  These products all contain nicotine and are used to wean your body off cigarettes while supplying you with the nicotine but sparing you from the other chemicals found in tobacco.

Because there is nicotine in these products, some life insurance companies will still classify you as a smoker even if you don’t actually smoke anything.  The use of these products will cause cotinine to show up in your urine test which would be enough for the carrier to classify you in one of the tobacco risk classes and issue you smoker rates.

Have no fear cessation product users!  There are insurance companies that will consider you for the non-tobacco risk classes and therefore be given non-smoker pricing.  To be offered non-smoker rates, you have to be cigarette-free for at least 12 months.  Let’s say you have been using a cessation gum to quit smoking, but you have only been cigarette-free for 5 months.  Even though you currently do not smoke, you will still get the smoker-rate because it has not yet been at least 12 months.  However, if you have been cigarette free for at least a year but still, for example, chew Nicorette Gum daily there are insurance carriers who will offer you non-smoker pricing.

Insurance carriers rate certain tobacco/nicotine uses differently.  While one company may give non-smoker rates to gum and e-cigarettes, another company may only give non-smoker rates to gum.  We asked 20 life insurance carriers if they would consider giving a non-tobacco risk class to an applicant who uses nicotine gum and four carriers said they would consider it.  Of these carriers, three said they would consider giving a non-tobacco risk class to e-cigarette users.

These examples explain why it is very beneficial for you to work with an independent life insurance agency, like Quotacy, who has contracts with multiple carriers.  It also shows how important it is for you to be very detailed about your tobacco and nicotine product use on your life insurance application.  If we have all the correct information we are able to go to the appropriate life insurance carrier to ensure you get the best policy for your individual situation.

You can still protect your loved ones with life insurance even if you use smoking cessation products, and what’s better is that there is even a possibility you can get great non-smoker rates.  No one ever anticipates needing to use life insurance, but the unexpected happens.

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Be Informed About New Car Warranties

A warranty is a guarantee made to the consumer by the seller for a product that is sold. When a warranty pertains to a car, it is a contract that will provide coverage for the cost of repair and replacement of specific parts of the car for a certain amount of time.

New car warranties offer a variety of benefits. When a consumer purchases a car from a manufacturer, they receive a guarantee that if there are problems such as mechanical failures or defects, the cost to replace or repair those parts will be covered by the warranty. There are two types of new car warranties. The powertrain warranty covers the parts of the car that make it run, while a bumper-to-bumper warranty covers the parts of the car from the back bumper to the front bumper.

New car warranties provide motorists with peace of mind when they get those daunting repair bills from their mechanic.

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Life Insurance Types Explained Which Type Best Fits Your Need?

Deciding which life insurance types to look at depends on each individual's specific need.

All life insurance does not fit everyone's situation.

Let us examine why a single person would buy life insurance.

What about a single parent, what kind of policy would fit this person?

Sometimes we tend to think only married people buy life coverage.

Why would we think this way? How about business people?

Why should these people consider life insurance policies?

You Choose Life Insurance Types

  • Married People

    Let us look at the needs of married people as this seems to be the main reason people buy life policies. Let us also examine the life insurance types they tend to be interested in.

    You meet your soul mate and you decide to get married. You also have plans to have one or two children. Your partner and yourself work at jobs that yield a good income.

    You both decide it would be wise to buy a home before you have children. As you proceed with that you become very aware that you need some life insurance in case one of you should die.

    You want the home to be left free and clear.

    The life insurance types that you look at are level term policies and decreasing term insurance. With the level term policy, the death benefit remains the same throughout the life of the policy.

    With decreasing term, the face amount of the policy decreases as the balance of the mortgage decreases. You settle on the decreasing term policy as the premiums are cheaper.

    You also become aware that as you plan on having children you will have a need for more coverage. You can buy it now as it costs less or you can buy more and more as the years go by, if you can qualify for it.

    You decide to buy a term insurance policy sufficient to maintain the family at least until the youngest child graduates college. You feel a 20-year term policy would solve that problem.

    You are also aware that your spouse may need to guarantee your income up until age 65, retirement age. One of the life insurance types you look at is probably a 30-year term policy or possibly term to age 65. In some cases, a universal life policy or a whole life policy would fit the bill.

  • Single Parent

    The needs of a single parent are similar in many ways to those of married people. These people have an even more urgent need as if this parent should die there will be no other parent to care for the children.

    After taking the time to make the necessary arrangements for their care a single parent now has to look at life insurance types that would best fit their particular situation.

    As this person has a need to be careful with money level term policies would more likely fit like a glove.

    If the children are young the 20 years, 25 years or 30-year policies, in the right amount, should be sufficient to carry them through from infancy to the end of their college years. If they are older you may want to use a 10 year or 15-year term policy.
  • Single Person

    Does a single person need life insurance? Why? The only real life coverage needs a single person has is one that will provide sufficient cash to pay off outstanding debt, if any, and to pay funeral costs. It would probably be a good idea to use a 10-year term to do these things.

    These people should keep in mind though that coverage is much cheaper to purchase at a young age.

    It would be wise to buy a fairly larger amount of the type of policy that would be useful when they get older, that is if this person plans on marrying and having children sometime in the not too distant future. The types of life coverage types to consider here would be 20 year term or 30 year term policies.

  • Business People

    Life insurance is an important consideration for any type of business. A corporation or partnership would need life insurance on the lives of each shareholder or partner which the survivors would use to buy out the shares of a deceased shareholder.

    Which life insurance types do these executives consider? Level term policies are usually used to fund this initially but they are usually converted to permanent policies later on that is if they intend to keep the business going for a long time.



    Key man or key employee life insurance is very popular with most any business. You buy a policy on that employee whose absence may hurt the company.

    You make certain that if this employee dies suddenly you have sufficient funds to tide you over until a suitable replacement is found. Long term level term insurance policies can be used for this.

    Permanent insurance is sometimes used. This could provide a lump sum or additional income for this employee at the time of his or her retirement.

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Used Car Buying: Getting the Timing Right

Want to get the best bang for your buck when looking for a used car deal? It comes down to three factors: What you buy when you buy, and where you buy it.

What you buy will have the greatest impact on the used car deal that you get, and if you make your purchase at the right time you can save big.

It’s an interesting time to buy used, with the average retail used car price reaching a new record high in the first quarter of the year across the broad market, but with low prices in some segments and an increasing number of lease returns set to drive prices down across the board. According to automotive researcher Edmunds.com, the rate of three-year leasing grew 27.1 percent between 2012 and 2013. Those cars leased in 2013 are now flooding the used car market.

In many ways the record high transaction price is more of an indication of the type and age of vehicles coming into the used market, rather than the trend for any single model. SUVs and high-trim pickups make up a growing portion of the lease segment, and their return into the used car market is one factor skewing the average used car market price upward.

Most cars and trucks coming off lease are only 3 years old, and they’re being returned in great shape to avoid excessive wear charges, and they have low miles to avoid excess mileage charges. Those attributes also contribute to their higher prices in the used car market. In short, used cars today are newer than they have been and therefore more expensive.

What to Buy

To find the best deals, look where the new car market is heading and go the opposite way. Sales of compact SUVs are hot right now, and many of those buyers are moving to them from sub compact, compact, and midsize cars. Low fuel prices and the steadily improving economy have increased the demand for truck and SUVs, while sales of smaller cars have languished.

“Interestingly, some of the less popular segments in today’s market were the most popular leased vehicles in 2013: mid-size cars, compact cars and entry luxury cars,” said Edmunds analyst Ivan Drury in a recent press release.

That means it’s a great time to be looking for cars like the Honda Civic, Hyundai Sonata, Mini Cooper, Acura ILX, or Cadillac ATS. Those smaller cars and midsize sedans are being returned in excellent condition with low miles when their leases end, but the supply is outpacing the demand, creating opportunities for buyers.

More opportunities come from owned compact and midsize vehicles that are being traded in as down payments on SUVs and crossovers, though they’re likely to be older with higher mileage.

When to Buy a Used Car

Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A. Inc.

Seasonal trends can also create chances to get a great used car deal. Typically, used car prices are at their lowest in the early winter, with dealers looking to reduce inventory just before the end of the year. Prices then typically climb through the spring and summer months before starting to decline through the late fall.

If you’re looking for a specific vehicle, you can learn from some annual trends. As summer approaches, demand for convertibles naturally rises. When winter nears, prices for all-wheel drive vehicles, crossovers, and SUVs climb. Buy a convertible in the late fall or an SUV in the spring, and you can save some money.

Fuel prices also have a great impact on buying behavior and used car prices. The current surge in SUV and pickup buying is being driven in a large part by cheap gas prices. That has also reduced the demand for small vehicles and alternative-fuel cars and trucks. With cheap gas and a redesigned Toyota Prius recently arriving on the market, it would seem to be an excellent time to buy a three-year-old Prius or any of the other hybrid models available.

When fuel prices start to rise – and they certainly will at some point – many trucks and large SUV owners will start to see their total cost of ownership dramatically rise. Those thirsty cars and trucks will begin to flood the used market.

Pickup trucks are an interesting segment of the market. There are two typical buying groups, including those who buy their trucks for work, use them hard, and keep them forever. The pickup lease customer, on the other hand, often has a higher trim level truck with more high-tech features. The fancier trucks typically depreciate at a much faster rate, even though very few ever leave the pavement or do much hard work. The technology that was expensive when the lease was signed isn’t state of the art three years later when the lease expires, and used car buyers don’t put as much value on the extras as new car buyers do. The premium trucks can offer excellent value when purchased on the used market and are durable enough to have long lives with their second owners.

Where to Buy

Where you buy is usually a reflection of your risk tolerance. Many buyers find it more reassuring to buy a used car from a franchised new car dealer rather than an independently used car outlet or a private party. While you can potentially get a better price from the latter two, many buyers don’t have the confidence or knowledge to take that leap.

Franchised new car dealers, on the other hand, have the greater overhead that you will help pay for with a higher price on your used car purchase. Many also offer certified pre-owned cars that come with a certain level of inspection, refurbishment, and often a warranty and special financing opportunities, along with a higher price tag.

U.S. News & World Report’s used car site offers a number of tools for shoppers including rankings and pricing tools, plus a search system that can find cars and trucks in your area. Find out how much car you can afford using our calculator, and be sure to have your own financing lined up before you step foot in a car dealership.

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Do All Parents Need Life Insurance?

In May we celebrate and thank Mom for everything she does.  In June we celebrate and thank Dad for everything he does.  In July we celebrate and thank them both!  Did you know that the fourth Sunday in July is National Parents’ Day?  Parents deserve thanks every day, but three national holidays dedicated to them is a good start.

I imagine that being a parent is the most challenging, yet rewarding, experience you can ever go through.  When you have your first child, you realize the world is bigger than just you.  As you make decisions in life you think “How will this affect my kids?”  Buying life insurance is one of these important decisions.  “If I die and don’t have life insurance, what happens to my kids?”

Buying Life Insurance
Pros:
  • Children can stay in their childhood home
  • Surviving spouse can afford to take time off work to spend with children
  • Family’s standard of living won’t need to change
  • Spouse can afford to send children to college
  • It can be customized to fit in most budgets
Cons:
  • It’s not free

There are all kinds of parents:

  • Married spouses who co-parent
  • Divorced individuals who co-parent
  • Unmarried partners who co-parent
  • Single parents
  • Stay-at-home parents

No two parents are the same, but you know what they all have in common?  They all need life insurance to protect their loved ones should they die prematurely.  Term life insurance is affordable and provides many benefits.

Term Life Insurance for Married Parents

There is a gender gap in life insurance.  Fewer women than men have life insurance and, in addition, own less coverage on average.  If you have children and you both bring home a paycheck, you both need life insurance.  If you have children and only one of you brings home a paycheck, you both still need life insurance.

Is it written somewhere that dad is more likely to die unexpectedly than mom?  No.  You never know what life may bring – both parents need to own life insurance.

Married same sex couples need life insurance as well.  Same sex couples raising children need to think about what would happen if one or both of them should pass away.  With same sex marriage being legal across the U.S., same sex couples won’t have any issue purchasing life insurance on one another or naming each other beneficiary.

Term Life Insurance for Divorced Parents

In most cases, divorce doesn’t change the fact that you both love and care for your children.  Both parents need life insurance.  In fact, in some divorce cases the court may order the parents to buy life insurance policies to ensure the financial futures of the children.

In amicable divorces, some choose to leave their ex-spouse as their policy’s beneficiary still trusting that they will put their children’s needs first.  Others choose to change their beneficiary to their children.  However, if the children are still minors then an adult custodian would need to be named instead.

Term Life Insurance for Unmarried Parents

On average, today couples are postponing marriage, but not necessarily postponing having children.  You don’t have to be married to buy life insurance on each other, but it’s easier to prove insurable interest this way.  (Insurable interest exists when you would feel financial consequences upon the death of another person.)  However, having children together is proof of insurable interest.

You could also opt to own your own life insurance and name your partner as a beneficiary.  Be sure you name a contingent beneficiary whom you trust to use the policy benefit for your children in case both you and your partner die at the same time, such as in a car accident.  If you both pass away and you named no one else as a beneficiary, the policy benefits are then added to your estate and held up during the probate process as a court decides what to do with the money.

Term Life Insurance for Single Parents

Arguably, single parents have the greatest need for life insurance.  There is no other parent for your children to fall back on if you should pass away.  Making a plan to protect them financially if you are suddenly no longer around to provide is essential.  You’ll want enough life insurance coverage to replace your income, pay for child care, and cover your final expenses.  It’s also critical that you choose a responsible guardian who is willing and able to care for your children should you die.

Typically couples will name each other as beneficiaries since they hope one will survive to care for the children, single parents should consider creating a trust and naming it as the beneficiary of the policy.  Minor children cannot receive life insurance death benefits so a trust can be set up to ensure the death benefit is distributed and used according to your wishes.

Term Life Insurance for Stay-at-Home Parents

Term life insurance is always explained as “income replacement” so if you don’t provide an income, then you don’t need life insurance, right?  Wrong.  A stay-at-home parent may not generate an income, but this allows a family to save money by not hiring out for various responsibilities such as child care.  According to Care.com, child care is the largest annual household expense, averaging $18,000 for U.S. families.  If a stay-at-home parent were to suddenly pass away, would the surviving parent be able to find an extra $18,000 per year to hire someone to care of their children while they were at work?  What about someone to clean the house or transport children to and from school and extracurricular activities?

It’s a mistake to think that life insurance is only for breadwinning parents.  Unless the family is considerably wealthy, the mortgage is paid off, and there is a substantial amount in the savings account, a stay-at-home parent needs life insurance too.

How much does term life insurance cost for parents?

Term life insurance is quite affordable and the term length and coverage amount can be customized to fit in most budgets.  A term policy can ensure your family is able stay in their home, provide funds for college tuition, and pay for your final expenses should you die unexpectedly.  How much life insurance you need depends on your individual situation.  Consider the following questions.

  • Do you have debt you want life insurance to pay off? For example, a mortgage, student loans, credit cards, or car loans.
  • How much monthly income does your family need? The amount your paycheck provides is a good place to start.
  • How many years do you think your family needs that monthly income before they are financially stable?

Remember: term insurance is structured to only last a specific period of time – typically when your family is most financially vulnerable.  How long you want the term insurance to last depends on a few factors such as how young your children are, how much time you have left on your mortgage loan, how close you are to retirement, and what your budget is.  For example, if your children are teenagers and you only have 10 years left on your mortgage, you probably don’t need a 30-year term policy.  However, if you just had your first child and want to make sure your child will have the funds to go to college, and recently purchased your first home, then you’ll want to consider at least a 20-year term policy.

Let’s take a look at some numbers to get an idea on how much life insurance costs.

Example:

 

The debt you want paid off if you die:

  • Mortgage loan = $215,000
  • Credit card debt = $10,000

The monthly income you provide: $4000

How many years your family will need this income = 5 years

Using the Needs Analysis Calculator on our website, $465,000 in coverage is a good estimate.  (Or you can manually add up 215,000 + 10,000 + (4000 x 12×5).) We’ll round up to $500,000 in the table below.

Your children are two and five years old.  You decide you want your term policy to last until they both are at least 25 years old so you decide a 25-year term policy is best.

 
Estimated Monthly Cost of a 25-Year $500,000 Term Life Insurance Policy
Healthy 30-Year-Old Male = $29 Healthy 30-Year-Old Female = $25
Healthy 35-Year-Old Male = $34 Healthy 35-Year-Old Female = $29
Healthy 40-Year-Old Male = $48 Healthy 40-Year-Old Female = $40
Healthy 45-Year-Old Male = $76 Healthy 45-Year-Old Female = $58

Do the costs surprise you?  Americans overestimate the cost of life insurance by as much as 213 percent, meaning some people think that a healthy 30-year-old male is actually going to pay $90.77 per month for the above policy instead of only $29.  That’s quite the difference.

As you can see, the cost of life insurance increases as you age and because women statistically live longer than men they have cheaper premiums.  Having some life insurance is better than having none at all, so if you are unsure you can easily afford the premiums of a 25-year $500,000 term policy, consider a 20-year term or decreasing the coverage amount.

It’s easy to try out different policy lengths and amounts on our quoting tool.  Easily find out premiums estimates for a 30-year $100,000 policy… a 10-year $500,000 policy… a 20-year $1,000,000 policy… you have many options.  Run as many quotes as you want – no contact information required and no commitment necessary.

If you have children, there’s no excuse to postpone buying life insurance.

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Do Home Warranties Cover Plumbing?

Let’s face it; plumbing issues stink! Plumbing is one of those home systems we tend not to appreciate until there’s a problem with it. They can occur without any warning making for an unpleasant surprise that you have no choice but to address immediately.

Plumbing problems aren’t just unpleasant; they can also be expensive. Not only does the issue itself needs to be remedied, but also leaked water can cause several residual issues such as floorboard rot, drywall damage and mold, among others.

Related: A Guide To Leaks, Clogs, And Other Plumbing Issues You Can Fix

The average cost to hire a plumber for a typical job ranges from $160 to $430. Plus, plumbers often charge an additional premium to come out on evenings or weekends. The cost of parts for the repair can vary widely, especially in older homes where replacement pieces are harder to find.

What Do Home Warranties Cover?

If you’ve been asking yourself whether you should invest in a home warranty, the first step is to look at what’s covered under the warranty. Each plan is different and coverage can vary.

E-exchanger Home Warranty plan covers the costs of repairing or replacing more than 20 major appliances and home systems, including plumbing. There are flexible plans that allow you to choose the best fit for your family’s needs and you can even build your own custom plan so you have the exact coverage you want.

Do Home Warranties Cover Plumbing?

Generally speaking, home warranties do cover plumbing when issues result from normal wear and tear. Not every plan is created equally, though, so it’s important to look at what exactly is covered, especially if you already have a contract. Some of the common plumbing troubles covered by AHS include:

  • Leaks and breaks in the water, gas, drain or vent lines
  • Faucets, shower heads, and shower valves
  • Built-in bathtub whirlpool motors, pumps, and air switches
  • Clearing sink, tub, shower and toilet stoppages

Be sure to check the yor contract for more details.

Give Yourself Peace of Mind

Unfortunately, plumbing issues are inevitable in any home. Since the best plan is to be prepared, you can ease your stress by giving yourself the gift of an American Home Shield plan.

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Shopping For A Used Car? How To Make Sure You Don’t Get Burned…

There are many ways to shop for used car. You can go from dealer to dealer and used car lot to used car lot, you can go on many of the used car sites online, or even an auction site online. Regardless of how you go about finding a vehicle it is important you understand what to look out for to make sure the you are not purchasing somebody else’s discarded problems. Here are some tips that might help you to find a high-quality vehicle that hopefully will serve you for many years to come…

1. Take your time when evaluating a vehicle. Take several walks around the exterior of the vehicle noting any imperfections you may find. Open the doors, trunk, and hood and look for anything that does not look like it was original or just doesn’t look right. Don’t be afraid to ask the seller questions and evaluate the answers you received. Do the same with the interior, take your time and sit in the vehicle and make sure you try all of the equipment and accessories to make sure they are operating properly. Shift the vehicle into drive, neutral, and reverse and make sure it seems to shift quickly and smoothly. If not, expensive repairs may be imminent.

2. Ask for a vehicle history report such as Carfax or AutoCheck. Make sure the vehicle has no major negative events in its history and that there are no odometer discrepancies.

3. Start the engine and open up the hood. Your eyes, ears, and nose are your best friends here. You want to look for any visible oil leaks. You want to listen for any unusual sounds. And you want to make sure that there are no unusual smells, for instance something smelling like it’s burning. Check the transmission fluid by pulling out the dipstick and checking the level and giving it a quick smell. If the vehicle was just started the transmission fluid level should be near the cold marker. You want to make sure it does not smell burnt as this could identify a current or pending problem. When the engine is turned off again pull out the oil dipstick and again, make sure it looks like it is not dirty and does not smell burnt. The color of the oil should be similar to dark amber.

4. Now it’s time for a test drive. Before you start moving check the steering system. Open the windows and turned the steering wheel hard all the way to one side, and then the other. You want to make sure there is no resistance and that there are no loud squealing sounds which could signify a problem with costly parts of the steering system. You will also want to jiggle the wheel back and forth a bit from the center position and make sure that it doesn’t have any play. Going from one side to the other. It should feel firm when turning from one side to the other. Once you are confident the vehicle is safe to drive make sure you drive it with the windows open and closed. Make sure you don’t hear any noises that seem uncommon. If you do find any potential issues and you are not sure what they are make sure to have a qualified mechanic look the car over before you complete the purchase. While driving, make sure to pay attention to the brakes. Do they feel like they are working properly and stopping the car efficiently? If not, they may need to be addressed and that could help you as any other problems found, in negotiating a better purchase price.

5. Last, but certainly not least. Asked to have the vehicle inspected by a mechanic or shop of your choice. If there is any resistance to having the vehicle inspected run, don’t walk away from the vehicle as is a telltale sign there are going to be issues found.

Once you have found the right vehicle and have made a purchase it is a sound financial decision and great idea to purchase a quality used car warranty. An auto warranty can protect you from the inevitable major or minor repairs that you will face down the road. There are few reputable companies that will allow you to purchase coverage directly, excluding the dealer and their profit, at wholesale pricing. A great place to start is Auto Advantage Inc.

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