Thursday, February 21, 2013

Can you rebuild your home if you live in a flood zone?

With the expansion of flood zones by FEMA starting back around 2008 for some areas and continuing even today, you may get a rude surprise: You're now in a flood zone.

Yup. Lived in the house 30+ years, now it's in a flood zone. It's happen all over the country. Some people, cities, and counties have fought it. They have hired surveyors and had a full survey and elevation certificate done, got all the paperwork from FEMA and sent it all in. Some have gotten out of the flood zone, others have not but were able to get a reduction in their yearly insurance based on the elevation certificate. Sadly others had their insurance cost increased based on the elevation certificate.

Now to add insult to injury, there is a question if your home will be rebuilt if a flood happens. Several areas are looking at buying out homeowners that are in flood prone areas or requiring homeowners to raise their home higher above ground.

There are 2 issues at work here. One, FEMA seems to have figured out that we are having more severe weather patterns which leads to more severe flooding more often. There is no way they can charge enough money to keep disaster funds high enough to cover everyone affected. So the logical step is to start reducing the number of properties covered, aka don't pay to rebuild homes in certain high risk flood areas. (See NY Times article) Second, FEMA is changing how they define the "floor above ground level". This caused some grief for homeowners with basements in super storm Sandy's path. If we raise up the property so that all of the  "living area" is above ground level, we reduce the risk of it flooding.

If you live in a flood area, the best advice I can give is to check and make sure that your flood insurance is enough to rebuild your home currently, understanding that due to government action you may not be able to rebuild.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Many Former Homeowners Are Choosing to Rent.

So you owned a home. For many reason's you have now decided to rent rather than buy another home. You are not alone. Surrey's show that many people are returning to renting. Some are not sure about their job situation and want to be able to move closer to a new job in another area. Others don't want the expense of repairs when something breaks.  Some want to be able to move fairly quickly because of problems with neighbors (you know, THOSE neighbors). There are many reasons.

When you owned your home, you had homeowners insurance which covered you for fire, theft, liability, water leaks and damage to your home. Now that you are renting, you may think you don't need coverage for those same things. The landlord has that responsibility, right? 

What if the dwelling you are renting, be it a house, apartment or condo, was destroyed or damage in a fire? What if there was a break in and your things were stolen? Would you have the money, right now, to replace your clothing, TV, plates, cookware, stereo, child's toys, furniture and all of your other belongings? Most of us would not. The landlords insurance policy does not cover any losses to your stuff, or liability claims against you. You get to pay that.

Would you have $1,000 in the bank or could you get a family member to loan it to you? Many of us could. Well, if you had renters insurance, you could pay your deductible with that $1,000 and begin replacing your stuff. Renters insurance would also help you with expenses while you find another place to rent, like paying for a hotel room. What if you had a claim filed against you because someone came to visit you and got hurt? Renters insurance could help you there to.

If you are renting, getting renters insurance is an affordable way to protect your things.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

22 More States Considering Electronic Proof of Auto Insurance

Last year California, Arizona, Idaho, Louisiana and Minnesota among others put in regulations to allow you to display your proof of auto insurance on your smart phone, tablet or other electronic device. Other states are starting to follow this trend.

What shoud you do? Check with your carrier to see if they have an app or better still check with your decvices store (Apple Store, Google Play Store, etc.) and search for your carriers app. You will have to have your policy information to set up the app and you may have to set up an online access with the carrier.

Remember that you must have proof of insurance whenever requested by law enforcement. I would still keep a copy of the id card in your glove box or wallet just in case you loose your device.

You can read more here.