Review Your Homeowner’s Policy

Proximity to a firehouse is just one variable in determining the cost of insurance coverage that protects your home in the event of a fire, theft, accident or natural disaster.

In a survey of 1,001 consumers in April, the Travelers Co. found that just over half of the respondents (56%) in 2016 said they check their homeowner’s policies at least once a year.

One easy way to save on your premiums is by bundling insurance policies. Consumers could save an average of $314 per year by combining their auto and home, condominium or renters policies with the same insurer.

Combining other types of insurance products, such as life insurance or an umbrella policy, may qualify for a bundling discount as well. The more insurance you stack on, or give to one insurance company, the more likely they are to give you discounts.

Home improvements including the roof, windows, electrical or plumbing systems may also qualify for a premium discount.

Installing a security system, particularly one that automatically dials the police or fire department can qualify for a 5% to 10% premium discount as well.

Discounts might be available for homes with features that mitigate against wind damage, such as hurricane shutters, impact resistant windows and doors or roof straps.

There are plenty of other lesser known discounts that might be available, depending on the insurance company, from being a non smoker to owning a home built with “green” features like Energy Star appliances or sustainable materials like bamboo.

There are two other ways to reduce your homeowner’s insurance premium, although they don’t technically qualify as discounts. The first is to raise your deductible. The second is to maintain good credit. Customers with poor credit could pay twice as much for insurance as those with excellent credit.

“Failure is a detour,
not a dead-end street.”

-Zig Ziglar

Picking An Executor

If you make a Will, you get to pick your own executor. After you die, the executor’s job is to probate your Will, collect assets, pay debts, and distribute the remainder to the beneficiaries. The job is typically done within a year or two, depending when the final income tax return is filed.

It’s a tough job, but not an impossible one. Few executors can do it all, but they’re allowed to hire help. The executor usually uses an attorney for probate, and often a C.P.A. for tax returns and an accounting for the beneficiaries.

Most people name their spouse as executor. If the kids are old enough, they name the kids as alternates, one at a time, in birth order. If the kids are too young, they name family friends or close relatives as alternates.

Medicaid and other government-benefit recipients should not be named executor or trustee if that might destroy eligibility. If you don’t know any responsible, qualified adults, you can name a corporate executor. They charge more, but can be worth it, either as sole executor, or as a co-executor with a spouse or child.

A named executor is not required to serve. It’s okay to name your 70-year old father, because he’s allowed to step aside for someone younger. Most Wills allow compensation. Most executors refuse it. Testators tend not to name anyone who needs the money.

These are just a few things to consider. Each state has different rules so get legal help before doing anything.

Working Smarter

Are you overwhelmed with unimportant emails popping up from marketers as frequently as important ones from family members?

A new tool… “unroll.me”, a free tool, automatically sends the mass emails you receive from retailers and other marketers into a single daily email. “Sanebox”, a paid service that starts at $7 per month, similarly lets you prioritize email based on who sent it. You can then focus on important messages.

For “do-it-yourself” people, here is an idea. Set up one email address you share with the public, mass emailers and other low priority sources. Set up a separate email address as “top secret” for important people.

IRS Scammers

Although many phone scammers have been caught, there are still many out there. Here is the scam:

The victim gets a telephone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS. The caller states the victim owes money and will be fined or sued if he does not pay immediately. The caller demands payment through a credit card, debit card or wire transfer.

There have been over 15,000 people that paid into this scam. Many have been older people. Make sure all family and friends know about this.

Keep this in mind:

• The IRS has a legal procedure they must follow.
• The IRS sends all notices of payment due by mail (sometimes certified).
• The agency does NOT initiate telephone calls demanding immediate payment by credit cards, debits cards or wire transfer.
• If you are called, hang up. If you are concerned you may owe money call the IRS directly at (800) 829-1040 (try to save the scammers phone number from your caller ID and report it).

FRAUD COMPLAINTS: WHERE TO FILE

“How do I report a scam” is the most frequent Google search.

1. For scams by shady contractors and front door solicitors, contact local police and your state attorney general or district attorney.

2. For identity theft, abusive debt collectors and most types of fraud, contact the Federal Trade Commission at ftc.gov/complaint, or, call 877-3824537. You should also file with state’s attorney general and local law enforcement.

3. To report unsolicited sales calls you need to start by registering your number(s) on the National Do Not Call Registry (donotcall.gov, 888-382-1222).

Calls from legitimate charities, survey firms, debt collectors and political parties are not covered.

4. For complaints about shady business practices and financial products including loans, bank services, credit reporting, ID theft, debt collection and payment cards, contact Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (consumerfinance.gov, 855-411-2372).

For credit, debit or bank issued ATM cards that are used fraudulently, lost or stolen, contact the issuer.

5. For internet based scams contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center (ic3.gov/complaint).

6. For scams distributed by U.S. mail such as chain letters and “sweepstakes winnings” or mail theft reach out to the Postal Inspection Service (postalinspectors.uspis.gov 877-876-2455).