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.

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, CoverageInsure, 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 CoverageInsure 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, CoverageInsure 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 CoverageInsure Home Warranty Plans and get a quote today.

How to File an Insurance Claim After a Fire

Many households share one common fear: house fires. Aside from the danger associated with them, house fires put your personal belongings at serious risk. People without homeowners insurance can pay thousands of dollars just to replace the items lost in a fire, not to mention the damages done to the structure of the home itself.

Fortunately, if you’ve obtained a homeowners insurance policy before the incident occurs, you’ll be in much better shape. Paying for repairs after a fire or other disaster strikes out of pocket can cost an arm and a leg. If you have an adequate amount of home insurance coverage and are keeping up with your premium payments, any damage that was caused by a fire in your home should be covered.

Following these steps will make the claims process as painless as possible. Though you’ll want your home repaired and items replaced as soon as possible, patience is required if you want to maintain a positive relationship with your insurance company.

 

Before You File a Claim:

Go Shopping

When you were evacuating your home during a fire, you probably didn’t have time to grab much, if anything at all. You can ask for an advance payment from your homeowner's insurance company to cover some essentials, like a toothbrush and toothpaste, deodorant and other hygiene products, and even clothes that you’d wear to work. Fortunately, your home insurer wants to be convenient so you won’t need to file a claim before you buy these items. Instead, ask your insurer for an advance in the form of a check or wire transfer. Make sure you save your receipts and don’t spend above your (and your insurer’s) means, as you’ll need to pay the difference. In other words, when you’re buying a replacement suit to wear to work, head to Macy’s, not to Gucci.

 

Mitigate the Damages

As a homeowner with an insurance policy, it’s your duty to make sure that no extra harm comes upon the home. Do what you can to keep this bad situation from getting any worse. After the fire is extinguished, assess the damages and take steps to protect your home and belongings from an incident resulting from this destruction. If there’s a hole in the exterior wall, for example, board it up to keep vandals or thieves out. If your roof experiences damage from a fire, lay a tarp over the exposed section to prevent rain from creating water damage. Stay on top of things to make sure no new issues arise as a result of the fire damage.

 

Filing the Claim:

Call Your Insurer

Make your claim as soon as possible. Calling your insurer directly is the most proactive, effective way to do this. The insurance agent will ask you about details regarding the accident and its aftermath so the insurance company can get an accurate report. After you speak with an agent, you’ll be asked to submit a proof of loss claim, which details the items lost from the fire, along with their values. This might sound obvious, but the sooner you file the claim, the higher priority your claim will be and the faster the damages will be fixed. Once the claim is initially made, your insurer will bring on a claims representative, who will take a look at your policy, what it entails, your deductibles and any other useful information. Your claims representative will send you a detailed letter documenting this information. This process should take less than 30 days.

 

Be Assertive

After filing the claim, if you feel that your insurance company is taking their time in responding to your initial claim, don’t be afraid to call or write to them. If there’s no question about whether or not you’ll receive coverage from the damages to your home, your repairs should be started in a relatively timely manner. If you’re still feeling tossed aside, you might need to send a letter to your state’s Department of Insurance. This letter can even be a copy of the same email or letter you sent to your insurer. If your insurer is taking too long, the Department of Insurance will reach out to them. This should light a fire under your insurance company, figuratively speaking.

 

Come to a Settlement

If you disagree with your insurer’s analysis of your policy, you are entitled to respond to their initial statement. Just because your home insurer is the one covering the damages doesn’t mean you have no say. Try to come to an agreement on this claim. Once the settlement is reached, the claims representative will either make the payments immediately or decide to investigate further to make sure no fraud is occurring. If the representative wants to go with the latter step, your insurer will send an investigator to look at the damages on your home. If no fraud is detected, the cost estimates to repair or replace features of your home will be put in place by your insurance company.

 

Track Your Living Expenses

If you were forced to relocate from your home to either a friend’s house or a hotel, you might be making various out-of-pocket expenses that you otherwise wouldn’t have made. If your hotel room doesn’t have a kitchen, you might be getting takeout meals more frequently. If you normally pay $300 per week for groceries but spend $450 one week for primarily takeout meals, you should be reimbursed $150 that week from your insurance company. This comes from the loss of use clause, which entitles you to additional living expenses that you are making while living away from home during the claims and repair process. Under this clause, your insurer will most likely pay your motel or hotel bill. However, as with shopping for essentials on your insurer’s dollar, be reasonable with your spending and lodging choices.

 

Get a Repair Estimate

This is where the type of homeowners insurance you have comes into play. If you have an “actual cash value” policy, you will be reimbursed the amount of money these damages items are worth at the time of the fire. If you lose an outdated piece of technology, like an old TV or computer, you’ll receive the amount of cash the item is worth in the present, not what you bought it for. “Actual cash value” policies take objects’ depreciation into account. On the other hand, if you have a “replacement cost” policy, you will be reimbursed the amount of money it would take to replace the object. If you lose a laptop that you bought in 2011 with this sort of policy, you will receive the cost it takes to buy a brand new laptop, not the amount the exact laptop is worth in present day.

 

It’s Not Over Yet

When you filed the initial claim, you might have overlooked other damages. For that reason, leave the claim open with your insurer for a few months after the repairs have been completed. That way, if you come across an issue that emerged from the fire damage, you won’t need to pay a second deductible. Your insurance company will want to close the claim as soon as possible for this reason, but don’t hesitate to keep it open just in case.

 

This sounds like a long process. Unfortunately, it may take a few months to file a claim and receive repairs on your home following a fire; this seems like a long time, especially if you’ve been relocated from your home. However, your insurance company wants to make it as seamless and efficient as possible. If you work with your insurance company cooperatively yet assertively, you will make this process much easier on yourself and them.

Can you get Term Life Insurance if you have Heart Disease Risk Factors?

 

The heart wants what it wants.

As if having a heart condition or related risk factor isn’t unnerving enough, the worry of not being able to provide or afford to provide financial peace of mind for your loved ones could compound the stress of a medical issue.

Naturally, life insurance companies are interested in how healthy your heart is as they assess their risk in granting you coverage. People with or at risk for cardiovascular disease, or even a family history of it, could end up paying higher premiums for their policies. A drop of one rating class (e.g., Super Preferred to Preferred) could mean an increase of 25% or more in the cost of your insurance policy. And under certain circumstances, an insurance company might deny you coverage.

If You're Thinking About Applying for a Life Insurance Policy, Keep These two Things in Mind: 

  1. You need to be completely honest about your current health status and medical history.

Lying, misleading, or omitting crucial information about your health will likely get you rated at a higher premium or denied a policy. And if you’re granted a policy, die, and the insurance company discovers you lied or misrepresented information on your application, it could either lower the benefit your family receives or the company will altogether refuse the claim.

  1. Although you may not be able to help that you have a heart condition or risk factor, doing what you can to keep issues under control will work in your favor. 

For example, if you have blood pressure that’s typically higher than the ideal normal reading of less than 120/80, you might consider seeing a doctor and getting it under control before you apply for life insurance. I have first-hand experience with this one. My blood pressure had been running high, but because I didn’t have other risk factors and was under a physician’s care to keep my BP under control, I still got a preferred plus rating when I applied for term life insurance.

The same goes for cholesterol levels. Total cholesterol (a measure of your HDL, LDL, and other components) of below 200 and a ratio of LDL and HDLs of 5.0 or less are considered ideal. As with blood pressure, if your levels are outside of the preferred levels, getting them under control before applying for life insurance will serve your wallet well.

How do Insurance Companies Check your Heart Health?

When you apply for insurance, you’ll need to share about your medical history (and family medical history) by answering questions on the application. You’ll also need to undergo a paramedical exam that includes blood tests, blood pressure check, and urinalysis. Depending on your age, history, and amount of coverage requested (if larger than normal), the insurance company might also ask you to go through an electrocardiogram (EKG) and/or a stress (treadmill) test to further evaluate your heart health.

Realize that all insurance companies have different policies and procedures so the requirements, considerations, and rates will vary from one to another.

How can you get the Best Life Insurance Rate?

If you’ve avoided looking into life insurance because you don’t think you can afford the cost, you might be pleasantly surprised if you explore the option of term life insurance. You’ll need to go through the same type of health assessments as you would when applying for whole life insurance, but term life policies offer premiums that could be substantially lower. They’re simple, straightforward policies without the bells and whistles that run up premium rates.

You can quickly and easily get a preliminary term life quote online. To find out if a term life policy might be the right choice for you and your family, talk with a trusted insurance professional who can explain how it works and answer your questions.

What Car Warranty is Best for Me?

Whether you're shopping for a new or used car, most people have a general idea that a warranty is a good idea. Warranties are often considered to be a form of "insurance" - you pay out a fee and in exchange, your car will be fixed if anything on it breaks, but unfortunately, it's not quite that simple. There are different types of warranties and a warranty might not necessarily cover everything that you think it will. Here is everything you need to know:

What Exactly is an Auto Warranty?

A warranty is a contract between either you and your dealership or you and your manufacturer. At its simplest, a warranty sets out a specific amount of time and mileage; any defects and repairs that are necessary under that time and mileage amount are automatically covered under warranty. Warranties usually last around three years or 36,000 miles. They can also be extended upon vehicle purchase. This is very common when used vehicles are purchased. 

But an auto warranty is not a type of insurance even though it is often presented as one. Auto warranties are only designed to fix parts that are considered to be defective or faulty. They are not designed to fix parts that have broken down from wear-and-tear, collisions or other issues. There are also different types of auto warranties that you need to understand.

What Types of Warranty Coverage Exist?

  • Drivetrain and powertrain warranties - These warranties are designed to ensure that the very essential components of the vehicle last: the engine, transmission and the associated parts. Drivetrain and powertrain warranties protect against manufacturer defects of these components but will be voided if they haven't been properly serviced (such as with regular oil changes).
  • Bumper-to-bumper warranties - The standard bumper-to-bumper warranty is a three-year warranty (or 36,000 miles) that governs the parts of the vehicle from bumper-to-bumper. If these parts are considered to be defective, they will be repaired as needed.
  • Rust or corrosion warranties - This type of warranty is rarer but may be tacked on to the other warranty. This covers rust and corrosion if it occurs due to a defect.
  • Federal emissions warranties - This warranty is more popular now and will cover any repairs necessary to ensure that the vehicle meets its emissions standards.
  • Roadside assistance - This is another specialty warranty that offers roadside assistance if a vehicle breaks down. Most people already have this through their insurance.

How Does a Warranty Work?

To go through a warranty, you must first contact the vehicle entity you have a relationship with: either your dealer or your manufacturer. They will then direct you to the repair shop that will work with you. 

Warranties can be voided if an individual does not maintain their vehicle properly. Auto Tek provides complete auto services that will ensure that all the parts of your vehicle are well-maintained so that you can stay within your warranties. Contact our team of professionals today!

Umbrella Insurance for a Very Rainy Day

Many consumers are not aware of the benefits provided by an umbrella policy and many may not even be aware of the existence of such a policy. Others might just view it as an “upsell” offered by insurance companies and agents hoping to make some extra income. However, the policy actually offers significant benefit to individuals and, according to the Insurance Journal, the state of Maryland’s Insurance Administration has issued a consumer advisory explaining the policy’s benefits. If you don’t currently have an umbrella policy, you’ll want to read on to understand better what it can do for you and your family.

In your standard home insurance policy, there’s a limit of liability for personal liability claims. The usual coverage that’s automatically provided is generally $100,000. However, given today’s litigious society and the cost of medical care, a claim can easily exceed that amount. If you are a homeowner, your assets, including your house, can be attached in the event of a judgment against you. This is where an umbrella policy can really help out.

The personal umbrella policy is given its name because it acts as an umbrella over more than just your personal liability policy. Most people who have umbrellas use the policy as extra protection for both their personal liability and automobile liability coverages. For example, if you have a $1 million umbrella policy, it will provide the $1 million in protection if either your personal liability or auto liability policy limits were exhausted.

Keep in mind that this is a liability policy and not a property policy. Therefore, even though your home insurance policy has two main types of coverage, the umbrella only applies to the personal liability portion of the coverage. As an example, if you have not insured your home for the proper amount and have a large claim, the umbrella policy will not provide you with any benefit. On the other hand, if someone is injured on your property and sues you, the umbrella policy will be prepared to step in if your home insurance policy’s personal liability limit is exhausted.

It’s common for people to consider the umbrella policy as an optional item and not necessary. Even if they are aware of the existence of umbrellas, many people choose not to purchase them, thinking that a very large loss will never happen to them. Unfortunately, when something unforeseen actually happens, it’ll be too late to purchase the coverage. Umbrellas are generally inexpensive when viewed in relation to how much coverage they provide. That low premium is a good sign of the relative infrequency of loss contemplated by the insurance companies in underwriting the policies. However, just because everyone thinks it’s rare for a loss to occur doesn’t mean they don’t believe it will never occur.

You should also keep in mind that there might be some ways to save on insurance premiums by purchasing an umbrella policy. Because many insurance companies offer a multi-policy discount, you might find that it’ll defray the cost quite a bit. When I first started purchasing an umbrella policy, the discount I received from adding it to my existing home and auto policies with the same insurer almost covered the entire cost of the umbrella! Given its low cost and potentially great benefit, you should really invest in an umbrella policy.

When Should Parents Consider Child and Car Safety?

  

If someone asked us when parents should consider and begin to practice child safety as it relates to cars, we’d answer that these things should start before their child is even born.

This may sound strange, but as any mother will tell you, the impact from a child begins months before birth. Thus, our answer to the previous question. Since mothers are carrying unborn children for the gestation period, child safety is impacted by the mother’s safety.

While expectant mothers are undergoing physical changes to their bodies, such as the expansion in their abdomens and widening of their hips in the first trimester — changes that continue for all 40 weeks they’ll carry their child — we suggest the same for them as we would any other driver. Wearing their seat belts.

We’ve heard the myth that seat belts endanger the lives of the unborn, but it’s just that — a myth, as long as seat belts are worn properly. That means expectant mothers should wear their seat belts, with the lap belt should be across her hips and below her belly, and the shoulder belt should be across her chest, between the breasts.

Car Seat Installation

With the new arrival of a bundle of joy, we shift from the safety of the mother to the child itself. It may be easy to think that installing a car seat is a simple matter. Put the child seat in the car, insert child, and we’re done, right?

Not so fast. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 75% of car seats are installed and/or used incorrectly. Fortunately, many hospitals have Child Passenger Safety (SPC) Technicians who can help parents of newborns properly install and secure their car seats.

But what do you do if you’re on your own? While the documentation and instructions included with the child seat is a good start, we think the NHTSA’s free child safety seat inspection centersare also worth the few minutes of time they’ll take to visit. These government-funded centers are based throughout the nation, and they’ll help to ensure a child seat is installed correctly, preferably using the LATCH system.

LATCH, or the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children system, has been standard equipment on every car sold in the United States since 2002. All child seats produced since that time are also LATCH compliant. The system employs different sets ofÿanchors to be used with child restraints.

However, if you don’t have access to these resources then you’re left to install it yourself. With all the latches and straps installation may seem complicated. But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered below.

Installation for Infants

The primary role of a car seat for infants is to protect the head and neck, which are the most vulnerable to long-term complications in the event of a collision. There are two types of car seats for infants: rear-facing, infant-only; and convertible seats. Rear-facing, infant-only care seats are ideal for newborns but they become obsolete once the child grows to more than 20 pounds. When you’re installing your little one’s car seat we suggest you follow the steps outlined in the manufacturer’s instruction manual. However, here are some general tips that will help you properly secure your newborn. If you’re more of a visual learner you can watch installation videos provided by the NHTSA.

  • If you can move the car seat more than an inch then the straps aren’t tight enough. To get them tight enough we suggest you find a way to put your weight into the car seat and then pull the straps as hard as you can. It’s important that the seat moves as little as possible while you’re in transit.
  • Ensure the carrier straps are tight and the harness clip is even with your baby’s shoulders or armpits and the straps are in the slot that lines up close to the infant’s shoulders.
  • If your baby has some extra space in the seat you can place rolled receiving blankets or towels on each side to keep him or her from wobbling. Avoid placing anything under the harness straps.
  • Locking clips are necessary for some vehicles made before 1997. This is necessary because these vehicles don’t have seat belts that lock when the brakes are slammed, so the clip keeps belt from slipping if an accident occurs.
  • Your baby’s head should be at least two inches below the top of the safety seat and make sure the seat is set at a 30 to 45-degree angle.
  • You can see more tips at DMV.org or Kids Health.

Convertible seats, the alternative to rear-facing, infant-only seats, are designed so that they can be used by infants after they’re heavier than 20 pounds. When the baby reaches that weight the seat can be turned to face forward and it’s secured with three types of harnesses: T-shield, tray shield, and five-point. All of these types meet required safety standards, but the five-point harness is regarded as the best option since it can be tightened to fit snugly and it doesn’t get in the way of the baby’s head. When installing a convertible seat you should make sure all straps are as tight as possible to prevent it from wobbling.

Ages One to Three

While infants should always be placed in rear-facing car seats, once a child has reached at least one year of age and weighs at least 20 pounds they can utilize forward-facing child safety seats installed in the rear of the car. That being said, they’re safer in a rear-facing seat, so keep them in one for as long as possible.Forward-facing seats, like the ones that come before, should be installed using LATCH rather than seat belts, if possible. Here are some other tips:

  • If you’re installing a forward-facing seat make sure it’s set directly against the back and bottom of the car seat. When you’re installing the seat make sure to put weight on the seat to push it back as far as possible so the straps will be as tight as they can be.
  • Make sure the seat can’t move side to side or tip forward more than an inch. If it does then unbuckle it and try again.
  • If your car was made before 1996 then you’ll probably need to buy a locking clip to prevent the lap and shoulder seat belts from slipping.
  • Make sure the straps lie flat and tug on them to make sure they’re secure once your baby is fastened into the seat.
  • If you can pinch any of the harness material between your fingers then it’s too loose and needs to be adjusted.

Ages Four to Seven

There are no rear-facing car seats available for this age group, and we don’t know of any children of this age group that would be content to sit facing the rear of the car. So, once a child reaches age four, you’ll have no choice but to move to a forward-facing seat.

Keep a child in this age range in their child seat until they outgrow either the height or weight limits specified by the seat manufacturer. Once this happens, it’s time to switch to a booster seat.

Ages Eight to Twelve

Once a child reaches eight years of age or is at least 4’9” tall, they should be placed in booster seats. Most booster seats simply elevate the child’s seating position and enable them to use the standard seat belts on a car. LATCH is not required nor should it be used with booster seats.

At some point during this period, you’ll likely transition the child from booster seat to just using the standard seat belt of the automobile with no otherÿencumbrances. Make sure they’re wearing the belt properly, with the lap portionÿacross their upper thighs and the shoulder portion across their chest.

Other Considerations

We’ve heard lots of chatter regarding the so-called “combination seats.” These seats are marketed as being able to go from a rear facing infant seat to a forward facing toddler seat and then finally to a booster seat for older children. A testing study performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found significant problems with these combination seats.

Children should always ride in the back seat of a car, if possible, no matter if they’re in a car seat, a booster seat, or if they’re old enough to wear seat belts.ÿAll modern cars now have both driver side and passenger side front airbags, which are designed for full-sized adults. Airbags can injure or kill a child, and the back seat is simply the safest place in the car.

Finally, don’t assume that just because your child isn’t in a car that all auto-related dangers areÿabated. Child pedestrians are killed at a greater rate than any other age group. In fact, male children, aged 5 to 9 years old, are the largest group of pedestrians killed every year. Children can still fall victim to an automobile by darting into a road without looking or by playing on a street.

Understanding the Key Terms on Your Warranty

If you're reading through your new car warranty for the first time, or you are considering purchasing a new car, there may be a few terms in there that you don't know. To help you understand your warranty, we've defined a few key terms:

  1. Bumper-to-Bumper: a type of warranty also commonly referred to as a basic or standard car warranty. All automakers offer a basic warranty for a set amount of time or miles. This warranty covers basic, non-engine parts of the car such as the power steering, fuel system, lights, sensors, audio system, brakes, and climate control. If any of these parts malfunction while you are covered with a bumper-to-bumper warranty, your dealer should pay to fix them.
  2. Deductible: the amount of money you pay the repair facility for repairs on your vehicle. Some warranties cover the cost of all repairs and labor, but others require you to pay a set amount out of pocket.
  3. Federal Emission Defect Warranty: a type of warranty that covers repairs your car needs to meet the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards. This includes defective materials and repairs.
  4. Plan Term / Plan Expiration: the length of time or the amount of mileage your warranty covers. When you reach the end of your plan term, for example 3 years / 60,000 miles, your warranty plan will expire.
  5. Powertrain: a type of warranty that covers certain "powertrain" parts of your vehicle. These parts include the transmission, engine, and drivetrain (transfers power from the engine to the wheels and down). If your powertrain components are found defective or damaged before your powertrain warranty expires, the manufacturer will pay for replacements.
  6. Roadside Assistance: provides owners with assistance if the vehicle breaks down. This often includes a number you can call 24-hours a day, 365 days a year for emergency assistance, towing, help with a flat tire, or fuel problems.
  7. Surface Corrosion: rust on the outside of your car. Substances such as salt and iron oxide can make it easy for rust to form on your car. Some warranties do not protect against surface corrosion.
  8. Transferability: when you sell your car and transfer your warranty to the new owner. Car manufacturers may allow you to transfer the entire warranty, half, or none.
  9. Wear and Tear: when components of your car stop working due to external conditions. This means that your air system or radio stops working because of operational error, not because the parts can wear out. Some warranties cover wear and tear.

Home Insurance for Protection of Your Most Valuable Asset

Is Home, your most valuable asset? In fact, for most of us, it is. We spend a substantial part of our lifetime’s earnings on a Home. We spend some of the best moments of our lives in our homes. We take all care to ensure that our homes and possessions are protected from any damage or loss. However, mishaps still happen. We can do little about the natural disasters that can potentially cause major damage. Housebreakings are not rare despite us installing best protection equipment with burglars finding ways to outsmart the technology.

Any damage to the exterior or the interiors of our homes or its content can cause emotional and financial distress. There could be many things to fix and replace. As our homes protect us from the heat, dust, rains and many other troubles, it is only fair that we protect our homes from any damage / untoward incidence. In order to protect your home and protecting yourself against any potential losses due to any damage to your home, you need a Home Insurance.

Traditionally, Indian homeowners’ attitude towards Home Insurance has been somewhat indifferent. A Home Insurance has been considered as an avoidable expense in India till recently. However, Home Insurance in India is getting recognized as a crucial protection product after instances of natural disasters in Nepal and India, when many houses were seriously damaged. Thefts have been common for years; however, stakes have gone up of late with homeowners’ preferences for high-value gadgets like LED Television Sets, Home Theatre Systems, Air Conditioners and even rare Antiques. Home Insurance plans are designed to protect the insured against a wide range of perils that put them at risk.

A standard Home Insurance not only safeguards the structure of your home but also covers all the belongings and prized possessions collected over the years. A standard Home Insurance cover gives you a chance to choose either the house structure or the household contents in a single policy.

Let’s understand in detail what a standard Home Insurance plan offers:

Fire: A house can catch fire due to many possible reasons. One may forget to switch off the stove or a spark emanating from an electrical appliance may result in something big and devastating. Short-circuits are common in rainy seasons. A Home Insurance plan offers protection against losses due to fire. It can leave a devastating effect. The property structure can become severely damaged, such that you have to rebuild it. In such a situation, a Home Insurance policy pays for the expenses incurred on repair and reconstruction work. With financial support from the Home Insurance policy, you can focus on getting the house back to its original condition.

Theft: Another problem that worries most homeowners is a possibility of theft. A burglary can result in loss of precious contents such as jewelry, documents, and electronic appliances. One can protect against such possibilities by taking optional burglary coverage. This coverage pays out in the event that the home's contents are stolen.

Storm, Flood, Inundation: With rising instances of Flood, inundation in the last few years, Home Insurance is gaining the attention of the homeowners as an important protection product. There have been a number of instances of people have become the victims of natural disasters in which their houses have been damaged to great extent.

Earthquake: One can also opt for an Earthquake coverage which offers compensation if the structure or the contents of the home are damaged due to Earthquake.

Others: One can also opt for a terrorism coverage which offers compensation if the structure or the contents of the home are damaged by acts of terrorism. Home Insurance in India is becoming important with changing dynamics of Home ownership. A house can get damaged due to so a number of external factors beyond the control of the owner. In the case of a serious damage, it may not be possible to restore everything to its original state because of the enormous expenses that it may involve. With Home Insurance, you can make a claim on the policy and recover the expenses arising from the loss.

In the event of a mishap, making a home insurance claim is not complicated. The homeowner needs to fill in the claims form and submit it with relevant documents to the insurance company. All documents supporting your claim must be provided for it to be approved. The insurance company surveyor will scrutinize the loss and the claim and arrive at a compensation based on the replacement cost.

Home insurance quote depends on various factors like if the premise to be insured is rented or owned accommodation, the Type of property (flat or individual house), the age of the property and the coverage type (the structure or the content or both). Coverage amount is the maximum limit that would be paid if some damage occurs to the house. The major factor that determines the coverage amount is reconstruction cost of the house. Reconstruction cost is ascertained by the following formula:

Total constructed area X Construction cost per square feet With a good home insurance in place, you can have complete peace of mind regarding your property investment. In events like damage to your house due to an earthquake and flood/, inundation, you can avail emergency repairs,. Interestingly, the Home Insurance premium is reasonably low in most cases so as not to put extra financial burden on you. Whether you live in a city or a small town, a Home Insurance is becoming essential. If you have invested a substantial amount of your lifetime’s earnings on your home and its contents, then not having a Home Insurance can be risky.

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.