Home Title and Concealed Carry Insurance… Huh?…

When you finance the purchase of a home, the lender will require you to purchase a title insurance policy.  So, what is it, and who’s it for?  Title insurance covers the insured against any home title claims that come up on your home after the loan is issued.  Claims could be from a contractor’s or tax lien, or active ownership that wasn’t tracked by the county.  The who is the most important part here.  The policy that you purchase covers the lender, not you, which means that if a claim is made, you’re exposed.  So, what can you do?  When the lender orders the title policy, the insurance company will usually offer to cover the buyer at a substantially reduced rate for a one-time payment at closing because they’ve already done all the title search.  Doing so is profitable for them, and a good deal for you.  The moral of this story is to ask your lender about ensuring a title policy is offered to you.

In the same vein, this takes us to the personal safety topic of the week, which is about concealed carry liability insurance.  If you are licensed to carry a firearm, are faced with a situation where you have to discharge you weapon in self-defense, and did so legally, does that mean you’re off the hook?  Unfortunately, the answer is an emphatic no.  You can still be arrested and charged criminally and the legal costs to prove your innocence can be devastating.  Even if you are cleared of all criminal responsibility, you may still face a civil suit that can be equally expensive.  So if you have a permit and carry, you should consider this type of liability coverage.  Some homeowners policies provide coverage in this situation, so check there before making a decision.

There is a good article on title insurance and one on carry insurance below, so check them out.  If you’ve gone through a home sale or a self-defense situation, drop a comment below to share your voice of experience! 

Click Here For A Comprehensive Title Insurance Article

Click Here For A Comprehensive Concealed Carry Insurance Article

Posted on October 4, 2019 at 3:21 pm
Jim Smoak | Posted in Insurance |

The hurricane is gone; now what?

With Hurricane Dorian effects on the east coast of the United States, there are a number of things homeowners need to consider when it’s time to assess material damage in the wake of a major hurricane.  Here are some great tips from an article I just read.

Your home has sustained damage, now what? Document the damage by taking photos/videos and save all receipts for supplies for repairs. It’s a good idea to make temporary repairs to prevent further damage. This can be as simple as covering a hole on the roof or window with a tarp or plywood. Also, contact your insurance company as quickly as possible to get the claims process started.

What’s covered by my insurance policy? Property damage from wind is usually covered under your standard policy. However, flood damage is not. This coverage is normally purchased separately through the federal government’s National Flood Insurance Program or a private insurer. Renters’ policies only cover the renters’ belongings, whereas the structure is insured by the landlord. Damage to your vehicle from wind and flooding is covered under your auto insurance policy’s optional comprehensive coverage.

What else is covered? Ask your insurance agent, but most insurance policies help cover some costs beyond structural damage or belongings such as the cost to evacuate, temporary housing if your home is uninhabitable from damage sustained during the storm. Also, talk to your employer about lost wages because of missed days of work – many businesses have insurance policies that allow them to pay employees for a set number of missed work days due to mandatory evacuation.

Can FEMA help me? The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides assistance once a disaster is declared a federal disaster. To find out if you qualify, visit http://www.disasterassistance.gov and enter your address. The site also has information on FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers.

How do I avoid being scammed on repairs to my home/property? Beware of door-to-door solicitors. Contact your insurance company before signing contracts for repairs. Only work with licensed and insured contractors and obtain more than one estimate. Get everything in writing, including material and labor costs and a schedule of work to include a completion date. Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until all work is completed. Contact your state’s department of insurance if you think you’re being scammed or to report suspected fraud.

I hope this article helps!  Let me know if you have any comments or questions.

Click Here For Full Article

Posted on September 6, 2019 at 12:09 pm
Jim Smoak | Posted in General Real Estate, Insurance, Maintenance |

Is Title Insurance Worth It?

Previous homeowner’s unpaid taxes can come back to haunt current homeowner. If that happens, what do you do? Without an owner’s title insurance policy, unpaid real estate taxes could come back to bite you. The key words here are OWNER’S POLICY.

When you buy a home, your mortgage company will probably require you to purchase a policy, but this is to protect them. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not talking down on that. It’s simply a good business practice by them. However, it doesn’t protect you.

You should purchase a title insurance policy as well. They are usually offered as a one-time payment during closing, and if chosen during closing can be really inexpensive. Title insurance protects you against claims and issues (taxes and liens) that existed before the date you purchased the home and that become known after closing.

If you didn’t purchase a title insurance policy when you purchased the home, you could have to pay any tax bill that surfaces or risk losing your property. To avoid paying it without title insurance, you will need to thoroughly investigate and make sure the bill is legitimate and not duplicative or in error, which costs time and money.

In some states, there are attorneys or services that help homeowners contest real estate taxes; you may want to reach out to them to help you navigate the process if you find yourself in this mess. Even then, if the tax bill is correct, you could end up paying more than the amount of the taxes owed in legal fees. Protecting yourself with title insurance is a simple but sound practice.

Check out the rest of the article and drop a comment to let me know your thoughts!

Click Here For The Full Article

Posted on August 23, 2019 at 9:41 am
Jim Smoak | Posted in Insurance |

Residential pools increase insurance risk



CDC data states that summer months account for 65% of all drowning incidents. Residential pools present a significant risk to children and the liability ultimately falls on the homeowner. You and your guests should take an active role in preventing drowning related injuries. Here is a list, although not exhaustive, of things you should keep top-of-mind while guests are playing in/around a pool:

  • display rules/safety instructions and enforce them
  • learn basic water rescue skills
  • remove toys when not being used; and
  • keep your pool visible at all times when guests are present.

You also need to be aware of the levels of liability coverage on home insurance. If someone is injured on your property, your home insurance liability covers medical bills and civil settlements. Standard homeowner’s policies come with $100,000 liability, but that may not be enough when it comes to the increased risk a pool statistically presents. Many in the insurance industry recommend increasing liability coverage to $500,000 or more or an umbrella policy. Contact your insurance provider for guidance or let me know if I can help!

Click Here For The Full Article

Posted on August 12, 2019 at 2:11 pm
Jim Smoak | Posted in Insurance |

Know about what hurricane-related damage is covered

It’s hurricane season, and we often think of needed physical prep.  Ensuring that you have things like water, flashlights, extra batteries, on hand is good storm prep, but we often forget to think about th “what-if’s” if a storm hits us hard.  For us who live on the coast, one of those what if’s is the financial impact of flooding.  This is a good article on flood insurance and covers 4 major topics.

Continue reading

Posted on July 15, 2019 at 3:31 pm
Jim Smoak | Posted in Insurance |