Posts Tagged ‘Home insurance’

Maine Ranked in Top Ten for Affordability of Homeowners and Personal Auto Insurance

GARDINER – Maine’s Insurance Superintendent Eric Cioppa announced Friday that the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) has released two reports showing an improvement in Maine’s national ranking for two lines of property and casualty insurance: personal auto and homeowners. The NAIC shows Maine in the top ten, meaning the cost for these types of insurance is lower than in most other states.

“Maine’s auto and homeowners insurance rates are among the lowest in the country,” commented Superintendent Cioppa. “These results are signs of a healthy and well-functioning property and casualty insurance market.”

In their 2010 Homeowners Insurance Report, the NAIC provides data on market distribution and average cost by policy form and amount of insurance. Data was collected from insurance statistical agents or reported directly to the NAIC and includes countrywide and state-specific premium and exposure information for homeowners policies, as well as non-commercial dwelling fire insurance policies. For homeowners insurance, Maine is ranked 9th nationally for 2010 (the most recent data evaluated by the NAIC), compared to 11th in 2009.

The NAIC’s 2009/2010 Auto Insurance Database Report provides the average costs associated with personal automobile insurance nationwide. For personal auto insurance, Maine’s ranking improved from 6th in 2009 to 5th in 2010. The report includes state-by-state auto insurance data designed to provide necessary information and analysis to insurance regulators, consumers, and policymakers. The types of auto insurance coverage included are bodily injury and property damage liability (including no-fault), uninsured and underinsured motorist, medical payment, collision, and comprehensive.

More information is available from the NACI (www.naic.org).  Maine consumers and business operators with questions about auto, home, business or other lines of insurance are encouraged to contact the Bureau of Insurance by calling 1-800-300-5000 or sending a message to Insurance.PFR@maine.gov.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation which encourages sound business practices through high quality, impartial and efficient oversight of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous occupations to protect the public.

 

Reverse Mortgage Consideration – WABI-TV

Video of interview featured January 7th WABI-5 Morning News

This morning, Russ Van Arsdale with Northeast Contact discussed reverse mortgages also known as a home equity conversion mortgage.

It’s a financing arrangement for people 62 and older who own their homes outright or have a small mortgage. Instead of you making payments, a reverse mortgage allows you to receive money, based on the equity of your home.

Russ warned our viewers that the deal can be too good to be true.

He advises folks to log onto www.hud.gov and search for reverse mortgage.

Also, if you are approved for a reverse mortgage, you still need to pay for normal maintenance on the home, pay for property taxes and homeowners insurance, pay the mortgage insurance premium, and pay loan orientation and servicing fees and closing costs.

You’ll also probably pay a $125 feed for counseling with an organization approved by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development. That’s required to get a reverse mortgage, although the fee can be waived.

Research reverse mortgages before applying — it’s the law

CONSUMER FORUM

By Russ Van Arsdale, Executive Director, Northeast CONTACT
Posted Jan. 06, 2013, at 9:25 a.m.

For many seniors, a financial instrument called a reverse mortgage provides a solution in tight economic times. A reverse mortgage — also called a home equity conversion mortgage (HECM) — may allow an eligible consumer to stay in his or her home and receive cash payments based on the equity of that home.

Reverse mortgages were explained in a recent Bangor Daily News article (BDN, Dec. 28). We’re revisiting that topic to stress that reverse mortgages are not for everyone and that they should be entered into only after thorough research with an approved counselor.

That’s not a suggestion — it’s the law. To receive a reverse mortgage, the National Housing Act mandates counseling from a nonprofit agency approved by the Federal Housing Administration. The counselor provides unbiased information about the reverse mortgage process to help the consumer make an informed decision.

That’s not necessarily the kind of information you’ll get from the “as seen on TV” outfits. The stars of yesteryear may believe they’re acting in your best interest … or they may simply be playing a role. Outright scammers are also on the scene, sometimes using reverse mortgage schemes to cheat seniors out of the equity they’ve built up.

Reverse mortgages are designed for homeowners age 62 and older. To qualify, the borrower must live in the home as his or her principal residence and have either no mortgage or just a small amount left on the mortgage. The reverse mortgage allows several methods of payment to the resident, based on the amount of equity in the home.

Let’s say you have more monthly expenses than available income. Under one reverse mortgage arrangement, you might receive monthly payments allowing you to cover those expenses. Perhaps you are expecting some sizeable medical bills; a line of credit might be another scenario. A third option might be a combination of the two.

All of this is not cheap. A few years back, FHA increased the mortgage insurance premium borrowers pay from 0.5 to 1.25 percent of the balance on the reverse mortgage. The borrower pays that, plus compounding interest charges, loan origination and servicing fees, plus closing costs. There’s also a $125 fee for that counseling we mentioned, although members of the Reverse Mortgage Counseling Association (HUD-approved counselors) can waive or delay payment of those fees.

That’s not all. Homeowners are expected to perform normal upkeep on their property. They’re also responsible for paying property taxes and homeowners insurance premiums. If you fail to do those things, the lender can foreclose.

The previous BDN article noted a report to Congress by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, forecasting a rise in the use of reverse mortgages by baby boomers. Many have been taking their qualified amounts in a lump sum and refinancing their homes. The Bureau predicts the effect will be to “chip away at their remaining home equity over time.”

It’s all food for a large meal of thought —and counseling — before taking out a reverse mortgage. Will Lund, Superintendent of Maine’s Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection, says senior homeowners might be better served by taking out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit.

For more information, visit the HUD website ( www.hud.gov) and search for “reverse mortgage.”

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, visit http://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

What home and business owners need to know about insurance – Bangor Daily News

CONSUMER FORUM

By Russ Van Arsdale, Executive Director, Northeast CONTACT
Posted Dec. 15, 2012, at 2:44 p.m.

For anyone who suffered serious damage from Superstorm Sandy, the following will sound like the advice to close the barn door after the horse escapes.

However, we are subject to serious storms at any time of year in Maine. So, it makes sense to heed the advice that both consumer groups and state officials gave recently and know what your homeowners’ or renter’s insurance covers before you need to file a claim.

The Consumer Federation of America has a detailed checklist that’s worth every homeowner’s time to review. Once you’ve navigated to the website ( www.consumerfed.org), look under “latest news” for the item titled “Seven Things All Homeowners Should Know About Their Home Insurance Policies.”

Here are a few of the highlights:

• Most insurers do not cover losses from earthquakes, floods or landslides. The website has links to determine if you live in a high-risk area.

• Most policies have two separate deductibles: a flat dollar deductible (usually $500 or $1,000) and a percentage of value deductible, which applies on specific damages, such as windstorms. Since coverage can vary depending on the weather event, you may be stuck with heavier out-of-pocket costs than you expected.

• Watch out for hidden clauses, such as anti-concurrent-causation clauses. If a hurricane causes wind damage and later there’s a storm surge, you may not be covered at all unless you’ve bought flood insurance. Ask your agent if your policy has an ACC clause, and get in writing what happens if two events occur at about the same time.

• “Replacement cost” may not be the true cost of rebuilding. If many homes in an area are damaged, costs may be driven up by high demand. Your replacement cost (less your deductible) might apply in the best of times but not when everyone else is scrambling to make repairs as well.

• When possible, choose “all risks” coverage rather than a policy with “named items”; the former is much more complete. Added coverage for mold damage and replacement of high-value items may also be worthwhile.

• Some policies don’t cover the extra costs of meeting new building code requirements. Such coverage is generally inexpensive and worth having.

An earlier column dealt with filing claims (see BDN, Nov. 5, 2012). People at the Maine Bureau of Insurance can also help. Reach them on the Web at www.maine.gov/insurance; by calling 800-300-5000 in state; or by writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

If you have a business that’s shut down for reasons stated in your policy — such as hail or fire — there’s coverage available for business interruption. There’s usually a waiting period for a payout, which serves as the deductible.

Consumer Forum is a collaboration of the Bangor Daily News and Northeast CONTACT, Maine’s all-volunteer, nonprofit consumer organization. For assistance with consumer-related issues, including consumer fraud and identity theft, or for information, write Consumer Forum, P.O. Box 486, Brewer 04412, visit http://necontact.wordpress.com or email contacexdir@live.com.

Maine Bureau of Insurance Issues Flood Insurance Alert

In Light of Recent Flooding, Consumers Should Evaluate Insurance Needs

GARDINER — Extreme weather has caused damage across the country, and Maine is no exception.  On June 24th, localized thunderstorms created very heavy rains resulting in flood damage and one death in Piscataquis County.

“Maine residents are encouraged to assess the risks associated with severe weather, and take steps to protect themselves and their property,” Superintendent Cioppa advised. “Most homeowners insurance policies do not cover damage caused by flooding.  Relying solely on a standard policy may put your home and possessions in danger.”

Homeowners insurance traditionally covers damage to property caused by wind or rain, such as damage resulting from water entering a home through a leaky roof.  Flood damage, however, is generally only covered if a property owner purchased insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

Earlier this month, Congress extended the NFIP for an additional five years.  Created in 1968, the NFIP was scheduled to expire at the end of July.  Almost all Maine communities participate in the NFIP, and nearly every resident in participating communities, including renters, can purchase flood insurance.

“Hurricane season is underway, but it isn’t just coastal communities that are at risk,” Cioppa commented. “Heavy rains and high winds impact inland communities, as well.  Because flood insurance policies have a 30 day waiting period before a new policy takes effect, planning ahead is critical.”

Consumers can obtain more information about flood insurance through the NFIP website, www.floodsmart.gov, or by calling 1-800-427-2419.  Questions or concerns about insurance of all types can be directed to the Bureau of Insurance by calling 1-800-300-5000.  Preparedness tips from the Bureau accompany this release.  Additionally, the Maine Emergency Management Agency offers flood tips and recommendations at www.state.me.us/mema/.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation which encourages sound business practices through impartial and efficient regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and professions. The Bureau can be reached at www.maine.gov/insurance; by calling 800-300-5000; or writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta ME 04333.

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Disaster Preparedness Tips for Homeowners and Renters from Bureau of Insurance and National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC)

  • Take an inventory of your valuables and belongings. This should include taking photographs or a video of each room. This documentation will provide your insurance company with proof of your belongings and help to process claims more quickly in the event of disaster.
  • To enable filing claims more quickly, keep sales receipts and/or canceled checks. Also note the model and serial numbers of the items in your home inventory.
  • As you acquire more valuables — jewelry, family heirlooms, antiques, art —consider purchasing an additional “floater” or “rider” to your policy to cover these special items. These types of items typically are not covered by a basic homeowners or renter’s insurance policy.
  • Remember to include in your home inventory those items you rarely use (e.g., holiday decorations, sports equipment, tools, etc.).
  • Store copies of all your insurance policies in a safe location away from your home that is easily accessible in case of disaster. You may want to store your policies and inventory in a waterproof, fireproof box or in a safe, remote location such as a bank safe deposit box. Consider leaving a copy of your inventory with relatives, friends or your insurance provider and store digital pictures in your e-mail or on a Web site for easy retrieval.
  • Know what is and is not covered by your insurance policy. You might need additional protection depending on where you live. Make sure your policies are up to date. Contact your insurance provider annually to review and update your insurance policy.
  • Keep a readily available list of 24-hour contact information for each of your insurance providers.
  • Find out if your possessions are insured for the actual cash value or the replacement cost. Actual cash value is the amount it would take to repair or replace damage to your home or possessions after depreciation while replacement cost is the amount it would take to repair or replace your home or possessions without deducting for depreciation. Speak with your insurance provider to determine whether purchasing replacement coverage is worth the cost.
  • Speak with your insurance provider to find out if your policy covers additional living expenses for a temporary residence if you are unable to live in your home due to damage from a disaster.
  • Appraise your home periodically to make sure your insurance policy reflects home improvements or renovations. Contact your insurance provider to update your policy accordingly.

Maine Homeowners’ Insurance Ranked Among Most Affordable in the Nation

Report says Insurance Getting More Affordable in Maine as State Moves Up within Top 10

AUGUSTA, MAINE – Maine Insurance Superintendent Mila Kofman announced on Wednesday that a report released by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) ranked Maine among the top 10 in the nation in homeowners insurance affordability. The annual survey indicates that this line of insurance is becoming more affordable in Maine, as the State moved up to eighth place from ninth last year.

“Maine’s homeowner’s insurance market is one of the most competitive in the nation,” Superintendent Kofman commented. “The largest company has about 11 percent of the market. In a market without a monopoly, insurers can come into a state to do business.”

“The Bureau’s efficient responses to rates and product approval, make the State among the best regulatory environments to do business. Consumers have choices of many companies, products and prices. This report from the NAIC confirms that Maine’s consumers pay some of the best rates for homeowners insurance in the nation,” Kofman added. 

The NAIC report includes countrywide and state-specific premium and exposure information for non-commercial dwelling fire insurance and for homeowners insurance package policies. It also contains descriptions of the data and a discussion about the way certain economic, demographic and natural phenomena impact the price of homeowners insurance.

 The data in the report includes written exposures (earned house years) and aggregate written premiums by state and countrywide for the 2008 data year. The full report is available at http://www.naic.org.

 Kofman used this announcement to also note that Maine ranks among the top states in terms of auto insurance affordability each year.

The Bureau of Insurance is part of the Department of Professional and Financial Regulation, which encourages sound ethical business practices through regulation of insurers, financial institutions, creditors, investment providers, and numerous professions and occupations for the purpose of protecting the citizens of Maine. Consumers can reach the Bureau through its web site at http://www.maine.gov/insurance; by calling 800-300-5000 in state; or by writing to Bureau of Insurance, 34 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333.

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