$$$ Money, Money, Money $$$$

We all like, we love it, and we want some more of it! Right?

College tuition, new cars, down payments on homes, retirement…all things we worry about, plan about, stress about, and SAVE FOR!

We hear a lot about the different money “buckets”: 401K’s, Pension Plans, Profit Sharing Plans, Money Markets, Stock Markets, the super market…(just checking if you’re paying attention), but what other markets are available? Or, better yet, what other “buckets”?

Tax buckets

As you see above there are three “money buckets”: Tax no, tax later, and tax never.

Tax now buckets mean you invest money into the market after you’ve paid income tax on that money, then you pay tax on the interest when you pull that money out.

Tax later means you invest pre-taxed dollars, then when you pull the money out you pay the income tax rate of the year you pull the money out on the original investment and the interest. (These are important investments to have, but think of what will happen to the interest in 2025 versus 2017. Do our income tax rates usually decline, or increase?)

Tax never means the money you put in is money you’ve paid income tax on, and the interest you accrue will never be taxed…it’s tax free…it’s FREE money!!

Not everyone qualifies for a ROTH IRA, you have to make under a certain threshold of income, and you are capped at an annual contribution.

Your next option is a life insurance policy. There are MANY life insurance policies out there. From term life to whole life, to indexed life insurance policies.

The money is in the index. Farmers offers what’s called an Index Universal Life Policy. This policy serves as a death benefit for your family/beneficiaries, as well as a retirement option. The policy is tied to the S&P 500 and can garnish anywhere from 0-10% interest. It’s  a safety net policy, which means that it caps at 10%, but the floor is 0%, which can save you money. Other money markets can drop below zero and actually lose your money.

In the end, you will accrue cash that you can pull against at NO INTEREST, you won’t pay income taxes on this money.

If you throw all your money into one bucket, or even two, and one bucket gets knocked over, you just lost all or 50% of your investments. Utilize these buckets, tap into all three of them, take advantage of the money out there!

As always, call me if you have any questions, or are interested in seeing what your options are.

What’s with auto premiums increasing?

This is a common question, “why is my auto insurance rate increasing?”

This is a question I hear from consumers all over, regardless of what insurance company they have. This has no reflection on any particular insurance company, for these reasons are an industry wide issue.

First off, insurance premiums are the first things we notice when the rate increases, because it’s something we HATE paying for. We HATE being mandated legally to purchase something, so it’s natural that our hatred continues when we see that the bill increases.

We don’t, however, balk when the cost of our dinner at our favorite restaurant increases 10% because the restaurant is undergoing remodeling and to offset costs somewhere, or supply and demand leads to a price increase.

First, while your auto insurance is mandatory, it is very much necessary as well. Proper liability coverage protects you from deep pocket litigation that can cost you your life’s work. Accidents happen, it’s important to have a company and agent you can trust to stand by you.

Now for the reason…the last several years while our economy has improved, gas prices have reduced, more people are driving (not their 5,000 annual miles, but 20,000 miles), with the increased popularity of smart phones, apps like WAZE, etc., accidents have increased dramatically simply due to distracted drivers.

“5 seconds, 5 seconds is the average time with eyes off the road while using a cell phone or electronic device…on the highway that’s equivalent to driving the length of 2 football fields, BLINDFOLDED…”

Mileage is a huge factor, when you drive more you put yourself into more instances where an accident can occur. Farmers, as I’m sure other carriers as well, have taken many underwriting initiatives to help accurately rate drivers and prevent further rate increases. The goal is to properly rate drivers so that you pay for what you use, and not what others do. As for now, the cost of insurance has increased for the insurance companies, and has subsequently caused an increase for the consumer, you. Just the same when oil prices increased and this caused a flare in gasoline prices. Or when there are shortages of rice, and rice prices sky rocket, etc.

The industry is revamping and we are doing everything we can to properly rate each driver to drive the cost of insurance back down. We’re trending in a great direction!

As a nation, a state, a county, a community we ask that you be more defensive on the road, less distracted and more hands-free. It’ll save you money, and possibly your life.

Check out the statistics below!

 

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International Women’s Day

Due to a crazy schedule I wasn’t able to highlight yesterday’s recognition of women. Today I wanted to put aside insurance talk and applaud women, women all around, women in all types of occupations, women throughout our lives, and the women who have touched our lives individually. You’re all amazing, and deserve the recognition of being so.

International Women’s Day is a day set aside to recognize accomplishment, growth, courage, greatness, beauty, intelligence, strength, it is a day to acknowledge everyday women who play inspirational roles in our communities, our country, and our lives.

This may be a bit belated, but just like any other holiday, it’s never too late to encourage, and to give respect to those who have inspired you, cared for you, and encouraged you to be great.

Mothers, sisters, aunts, friends, teachers, employers, employees, fellow colleagues, community members, and many more have played a role in my life. I won’t name any names, but to highlight a few milestones that have shaped my life today:

A mother who encouraged strong-will, who embodied self-sufficiency, and independence, who encouraged, and who was a remarkable role model has helped mold my path throughout my young life, through my education, the skills I was given taught me how to be a life-long learner, how to be strong-willed and excel in creating and accomplishing a goal, and how to be a better person each and every day.

A sister who encouraged you, protected, and inspired you. A sister you called a friend that taught you important life lessons, found time to have fun with, and create memories that would follow you throughout your life.

A teacher encouraged understanding and appreciation for literature, to find truth within it, and to relate to it as a person. Literature helped pave the path of my understanding of other people, how to communicate to others, work with others, and respect others. Literature put emotions and feelings on paper and developed characters that embodied real situations that have only provoked my ability to succeed in my goals.

A friend who just knowing they are out there in the world somewhere makes things all the better, because you know there is a strong woman who has your side.

A colleague who has worked with you, assisted you, helped you succeed.

A community member that inspired you to do great things.

These are the women that we should acknowledge yesterday, today, and everyday.

Take a look around you, is there a woman who has brightened your day? Who has lifted you up? Is there a woman that comes to mind that is selfless, and always puts others first?

Take a moment, give her thanks, call her, appreciate her.

Kudos to the women, all the women, who encourage, build up, and continue to make differences in their families, communities, personal circles, and country.

Let’s keep encouraging each other, let’s keep inspiring, let’s keep creating…

Let’s be Rosie…a pillar, a symbol, a show of strength and unity.

 

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7 Easy Steps to Avoid More Damage

With the severe wind storms, heavy rains, and bitter cold days we’ve been having we’ve seen an influx of homeowners claims, along with the rest of the California insurance industry.

We can’t avoid the damage that these weather systems have on our properties, the most we can do is be aware and find the damage as soon as possible and temporarily rectify the issue before further damage occurs.

wind damage

ROOF

One of the biggest incidences we are coming across are blown off shingles from the wind. During this season homeowners should:

  • Inspect their roofs for curled shingles, worn shingles, and blown off shingles.
  • During the dryer days enlist the help of a contractor/roofer to repair the damage that you can visibly see to avoid water damage occurring inside of your home.

As shingles get blown off, or begin curling up water gets trapped under the shingle and can create rot ultimately leading to water damage seeping into your ceiling, into your home. If you live in a two story or multi-story home you could be potentially looking at structure damage, not just sheet rock and superficial repairs.

Water can wreak havoc on property. Water left sitting on materials can leave to mold, dry rot, fungus, etc. Homeowners insurance will only cover these types of water losses when they are caught quickly and have not led to a negligent amount of damage. Most homeowners insurance policies exclude coverage for mold and fungus. The reason, water causes these issues. Had the water damage been reported and cared for in a timely manner, the mold and fungus would most likely not have grown and created further damage to the property. Insurance companies require the assistance of the homeowner to help prevent further damage to the property, and to help eliminate the chances of damage to the property.

These things can help keep your premiums down, and eliminate unsightly insurance increases dues to claims. Follow these steps to help decrease water losses caused by roof related issues:

  1. During this season inspect your roof regularly. Each windstorm/rainstorm can cause changes to your roof.
  2. Repair all curling, missing, or worn shingles.
  3. Inspect your gutters and maintain clean drainage systems for proper rainwater drainage.
  4. Inspect your roof for moss growing, and clean it off if it is there.
  5. Make sure there is no standing water.
  6. Inspect the sides of your home for water marks, which could be indicators of water damage leaking from the sides of the roof.
  7. Any damage repair immediately.

STAGNANT WATER

Stagnant water can lead to damage alongside the bottom section of your property as well. If you see you have “pooling” water in areas of your property please set up a siphon system defer water away from your property. There are also pumps you can purchase to redirect the water. You can also go the sand bag route, though this can become messy and they are heavy and not easy to maneuver.

Most importantly, when you see damage occurring do all you can to stop it from causing more damage. Contact your insurance agent and speak to them immediately about what can be done to rectify the issue to avoid larger issues arising. The key is containing the small problem, before it grows into a larger one.

It’s March…we should see sunshine soon, RIGHT?! Well, I certainly hope so…until then, stay dry, stay aware, and remember I’m always available to answer questions, and help out in any way.

Happy Monday!!

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Is your home OVERinsured?

“Your life is not stagnant, therefore, your insurance shouldn’t be either.”

Of course we are always more concerned if we are underinsured, it’s always the question you ask yourself. Do I have enough insurance? Will I be covered in the event of a loss? What happens if I make a claim?

These are all important questions, even more important is to be given the correct answers.

What homeowners don’t know is that their homeowners insurance policies need to be evaluated annually. Without doing so your home could currently be UNDERinsured, and believe it or not, OVERinsured.

Properties are evaluated for a “reconstruction cost” or “replacement cost” valuation which in basic terms: is the cost to rebuild your home based on cost of material (boards, nails, shingles, etc.) and labor. This coverage is a dollar amount listed on your homeowners declaration page. This amount is referred to as Dwelling Coverage and/or sometimes Coverage A.

This amount is not always determined properly. I’ve seen countless declaration pages that are tens of thousands of dollars undervalued. I have also seen many who are tens of thousands OVER valued. I’ll tell you how this happens.

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Under Valuation

When your homeowners policy is not adequately insuring the replacement cost or reconstruction cost of your home there are many factors that could have led to this. One, and the one I see more prevalently, is that your home was insured during the sale/escrow for the market valuation. Market value is the estimated price at which your property would be sold on the open market between a willing buyer and a willing seller under all conditions for a fair sale [1] Market value is not an accurate representation of what your home should be insured for.

  1. Market value has nothing to do with the actual cost it would take to rebuild your home.
  2. Market value fluctuates throughout the year, and is based on supply and demand, along with comps in your area.

As you can see, market value has no bearing, whatsoever, on the cost associated to reconstruct your home. Yet, so many insured’s properties are covered for the market value, not the reconstruction cost.

Perhaps you purchased your home during a “buyers” market, and your insurance company has you valued for market value. Your coverage amount may need to be re-evaluated. If these things aren’t regularly looked at you could end up with a partial or total loss of your home and not have adequate funds to reconstruct your investment/home.

Over Evaluation

Yes, this is an issue to. From time-to-time you can find homeowners policies that have overvalued the cost to reconstruct your home. When I determine the reconstruction cost of a property I use a valuation system that takes into consideration every aspect of your property. This includes information from, what type of roof you have, the size of your kitchen, whether you have upgraded rooms or not, the percentage of carpeting, to tile, to hardwood flooring, etc. I then review the average dollar per square foot it costs to reconstruct property within your zip code/area. Based on these two valuations I develop a median, which is what I insure my properties at. This gives an accurate representation of where your property valuation on a reconstruction/replacement cost basis should be.

You don’t need to be paying for coverage you don’t need. If your home doesn’t take $400,000 to rebuild, then you don’t need $400,000 in dwelling coverage.

Vice versa, if your property requires $400,000 in Dwelling coverage and you currently have $320,000 you’re looking at ending up with a severely smaller house if you have a total loss of your home.

On average, based upon a home located within a mid-range residential area a 2,000 square foot home should be insured from anywhere between $360,000-$400,000 (Please note, this is a rough approximation, and does not take into consideration specialty systems).

A 1,500 square foot home is in the range of $270,000-$300,000 (Please note, this is a rough approximation, and does not take into consideration specialty systems).

How we fix this…

We take steps to accurately evaluate each and every property to guarantee proper coverage is put into place to protect you and your family. My agency is concerned for the well-being of you and your family and we take pride in knowing that your coverage will restore you to the place you were prior to a claim/loss.

My agency performs annual, if not biannual reviews of all my client’s policies. We review all figures, coverages, and confirm that everything is still relevant, and make changes as necessary. Your life is not stagnant, therefore, your insurance shouldn’t be either.

Liar, liar, pants on fire…


With the mass majority of us utilizing social media like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and various blogging websites the chances of saying something that either offends or defames another person are likely. These types of lawsuits are referred to as libel, meaning defamation created by written word.

There has been a significant amount of lawsuits founded off of Facebook posts that individuals found offensive or degrading to them personally. Perhaps it was purposeful, perhaps not.

We do have freedom of speech in our country, however, defaming individuals and causing personal loss to them due to a statement can be grounds for lawsuits.

Most would have to cover the costs for attorneys out-of-pocket, but Farmers clients have the option of having “Personal Injury” protection endorsed on their homeowners policies. Personal injury covers you during defamation of character, libel and slander claims made against you. This coverage costs on average $3-8/ a YEAR.

Face it, were humans and with being humans we aren’t always perfect. Social media is a two dimensional form of communication and without voice, body language and actual face-to-face contact comments can be misconstrued or misrepresented. Don’t find yourself uninsured, when you found yourself misunderstood.

Call me today and let’s talk about your options, don’t risk thousands if not tens of thousands of costs related to a lawsuit because you didn’t call to discuss coverage.

John F. Kennedy

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On This Day in History!

On March 1, 1961 newly elected John F. Kennedy issued an executive order establishing the Peace Corps on a trial status.

President Kennedy’s intent was to have volunteers from our country to travel to underdeveloped countries and support the people of those nations who were “struggling for economic and social progress.” [1]

“Our own freedom,” Kennedy continued, “and the future of freedom around the world, depend, in a very real sense, on their ability to build growing and independent nations where men can live in dignity, liberated from the bonds of hunger, ignorance, and poverty.” [2]

During the 1960’s and 1970’s thousands of Americans served in dozens of underdeveloped countries. The majority of these countries included: Latin America, Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Working with the people of these nations, Peace Corp helped build sewer, water systems, they helped teach in schools, helped the people develop new crops and agricultural methods to yield higher production to support their country.

Today

220,000 Americans have served in the Peace Corp to date, they have helped 141 host countries, they currently have 6,919 volunteers and trainees, and are currently in 63 host countries.

Did You Know?

“• In March 2015, President Barack Obama and First
Lady Michelle Obama, along with the Peace Corps
and other federal agencies, launched Let Girls
Learn, a collaboration to promote education and
empowerment for girls worldwide. In the first nine
months, the effort had already inspired 105 projects by
Peace Corps Volunteers in 32 countries, from building
libraries to hosting technology camps, and enabled
new training for 700 Volunteers to date.

• In 2015, more than 23,000 people applied to be
Peace Corps Volunteers—a 40-year high. The record
came a year after the agency implemented historic
application and recruitment reforms, including the
option to choose your country of service and program
area, and shortening the application so it can be
completed in under an hour.

• The Peace Corps Prep program, which prepares
college students for international development
work, now boasts 39 college and university partners.
Founded in 2007, the Peace Corps Prep curriculum
combines undergraduate coursework, foreign
language study, and community engagement.
• In 2015, the Peace Corps expanded the innovative
Global Health Service Partnership to four countries,
working in conjunction with partners Seed Global
Health and PEPFAR, to increase training for doctors
and nurses abroad.” [3]

Things to do for Spring!

Spring is around the corner! Well, that’s what they say anyways…from the amount of rainfall we continue to have, I’m not sure if I believe them! Nevertheless, the season will come soon enough…

It’s time we start putting together our list of “Things-To-Do” for when the weather gets, well, less wet…

The high winds and heavy rain this winter have left a lot blown down fences, blown off roof shingles, yards full of leaves and other debris…and hopefully little to no water damage to your home and property.

It’s time we start compiling a list of things to fix, upgrade, or just nice/fun projects to improve your home.

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Here is a small list I’ve comprised for you to give you a jumpstart!

Spring Cleaning

 

Inside:

  1. Change your air filters
  2. Clean any mold in bathrooms from condensation and replace fans/exhausts if needed
  3. Replace any cracked caulk in showers, windows, etc.
  4. Check that your air conditioner is in good working order
  5. Check that all emergency systems: smoke alarm, carbon monoxide, etc. are in working order.

Outside:

  1. Check/repair your fences
  2. Inspect your roof for loose/worn/lost shingles or tiles
  3. Inspect for any water damage
  4. Clean yard
  5. Remove any trees that are dead or sick
  6. Replant trees/flowers, etc.
  7. Replace any cracked caulk in roof of trailers/motorhomes, etc
  8. Power wash sidewalks/patios

 

This is just a list to spark ideas and make sure some of the necessities get taken care of. Spring is a beautiful time, and it’s nice to get outside and enjoy it.

On an important note! As our homes age, they need some TLC. After storms, and the winter we’ve had our neglected properties could use some good ‘ole tender loving care.

This spring should bring beautiful flowers and green grass, lets enjoy the beauty and add a little to our lives.

 

 

Pets are family too!

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“…your auto insurance may not cover injuries your pets endure due to an automobile accident…”

 

I’m an animal lover. I’ve had birds, cats, and dogs throughout my life. They are family. I currently have a lab, two toy fox terriers, and two boston terriers. I take them pretty much everywhere. I’ve flown on airplanes with them (in the cabin with me), they go camping, and four wheeling with me. They travel to the snow and run and play with other canine friends. I’ve taken them to the ocean, to the dessert, to different states, and have traveled in long car rides with them (over a 1,000 miles). My pups, are my family, and I care about protecting them as I would any two legged family member.

Farmers offers Pet Insurance through Pets Best. There are a multitude of options that can help with expenses acquired from vet bills due to accident/illnesses, to routine vet visits. For as little as $9/month you can rely on a policy to help with the unexpected and sometimes large veterinary costs. When your four legged family member gets sick or injured the last thing you want to be concerned about is cost. So why not have insurance to help with the financial burden.

You can’t always sock away enough cash to help pay for unexpected vet bills, Pets Best insurance helps alleviate the burden of the unexpected.

On another note, were you aware that your auto insurance may not cover injuries your pets endure due to an automobile accident?

Well, Farmers does!

How often does your pet ride in your car with you? I know mine do weekly, and I love that my fur babies are protected too.

“Household Pet coverage has been automatically included in the new California Personal Auto Policy, which provides coverage for household pet losses or injuries during comprehensive or collision losses.” – Farmers SPA

If you’d like to discuss your options, and what’s best for your pet, call me. We can find a plan that suits your pocket book, as well as protecting your four legged family member.

Your pet’s health is important too!

 

What’s your life worth?

“Driving in your car everyday without the proper coverage is the same thing as driving around with a trunk full of cash. When you get hit, money will start flying…”

Over 30,000 people killed in crashes every year in the United States (cdc.gov)
Top 10 cause of death among people ages 1-54.
In 2013 deaths from car accidents resulted in $44 BILLION in medical and work loss costs.

Automobile crashes result in big $$. The judgments are comprised of the victim’s loss wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.

Who pays for this, your insurance does. But, not over your coverage limits. In 2013 $996 million was given to victims of car accidents who were occupants in the vehicle, another $677 million to motorcyclists, $997 million to pedestrians, and $222 million to bicyclist.

Auto accidents in California are more prevalent than any of other state in our region. We had 3 times more crash-related deaths in 2013 than Arizona, and 12 times more than Nevada.

If you only have state minimum requirements on your auto insurance (which is $15,000 in liability coverage for bodily injury and uninsured motorist), who do you think is going to be liable for everything over the $15,000?

YOU

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Becoming safer drivers is always key to decreasing your risk on the road, and decreasing your financial liability. However, there are situations outside of your control, in these times, or in times of accidents you need to rely on your insurance.

Do you feel confident that your insurance would handle 100% of the judgment if you caused injury to another person with your vehicle?

Because if you don’t, you could lose your house (California state law designates that an injured party in a motor vehicle accident who is innocent is due damages by the guilty party and your home, your 401K, your pension plan and 25% of your income can be garnished or taken from you). In some situations you only have to be 1% at fault to lose EVERYTHING you ever worked hard for.

In California 40% of all accidents are caused by individuals WITHOUT insurance, another 40% are caused by individuals with state minimum coverage. Which means, good drivers and responsible drivers have an 80% likelihood of being hit by someone who does not have the proper (if any) insurance to take care of their medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

If this was you, and you were injured in an accident by an uninsured motorist, would your policy pay enough to handle your medical bills, pay for your lost wages and income, cover your mortgage so you and your family don’t lose your home, what if you need handicap accessibility at your home? Would your insurance cover you for that? Most policies I review wouldn’t. 99% of customers that come to me seeking advice do not have coverage that would take care of them in the event of an accident. Most have such decreased coverage that their homes, income, and everything they have worked so hard for are at jeopardy.

Insurance is not standardized, one policy does not fit every person, it is not a cookie-cutter-process, and if you are looking for the cheapest insurance over quality and coverage then you are putting a price on your own livelihood.

There are ways to make insurance affordable without having to have low liability limits. However, to do this, you need to discuss options with a professional.

Ask yourself these three simple questions:

  1. Would you seek medical assistance from the internet?
  2. Would you seek legal help from an online legal chatroom?
  3. Would you invest your money over the internet without speaking to a financial advisor?

If the answers to any of the above are “No”, then find an insurance advocate that you can trust and go over your options. Insurance is just as vital as your attorney or financial advisor. For the simple reason that if you face a claim, or lawsuit who is going to pay for the damages? Most likely not the attorney…you need an advocate that can work with you and for you to protect your life.

There are options for you that will protect you, your family, your assets, and future without gouging your pocket-book. Better yet, it’ll give you peace of mind and security.

Driving in your car everyday without the proper coverage is the same thing as driving around with a trunk full of cash. When you get hit, money will start flying…