The Truth About Home Warranties And Are They Worth It?

When you buy a new home you always have the option of purchasing a home warranty that, theoretically, covers the cost of repairs to various appliances and other home systems. But are these home warranties worth it and what should you be aware of before you actually buy one of these?

Before I get into some of the nuts and bolts behind these home warranty products let me explain that I actually managed the extended warranty program for Circuit City Stores for a period of time and these home warranties are a very similar product. In addition, I've studied the economics of insurance before and home warranties are basically insurance policies. So I know a fair amount about the economics of home warranties.

A Home Warranty Is An Insurance Policy

When you buy a home warranty - and they start around $420 - you are basically buying an insurance policy. The reason this is important to recognize is that insurance companies are in business to make money and that means that they expect to make money on the average policy they sell, which means that on average the people who buy these policies will lose money. Buyers will most likely pay more for the policy than they receive in return over the life of the policy.

Then why would you ever buy an insurance policy? Because you are willing to trade off the certain cost for a very uncertain cost. The insurance company can play the averages game but many consumers cannot or don't want to play that game and they are willing to pay a premium for the certainty. This is especially true as it relates to health care where a catastrophic illness can cost over $1 MM.

But when it comes to home appliances and other systems what is the worst thing that can happen? Maybe you need a new air conditioner or a refrigerator that might cost you a couple of thousand dollars. So for people who can handle that type of expense out of the blue, there is no need for them to buy an insurance policy - they basically "self-insure" from their own savings. But if a new air conditioner would break the bank then you might want to consider getting a home warranty.

How To Beat The Home Warranty Companies At The Averages

There is one advantage that the homebuyer has over the home warranty companies. They know more about what is being insured than the warranty company does and this asymmetrical information allows them to make a better decision about when to buy the warranty than the companies can make about when to sell the warranty. In fact, the companies will pretty much sell a policy on any property to any buyer because they just can't afford to inspect every home before issuing a policy. But a buyer is going to be more likely to buy a policy when they can see that a home has been poorly maintained - e.g. a trashed short sale - and is, therefore, more likely to develop problems. That's what I did when I bought my short sale. I bought a policy from Home Warranty.

This asymmetrical information leads to a problem for the warranty companies called adverse selection - the tendency of these companies to get stuck with bad deals. Consequently, they have to raise their prices to offset this bias, which means that anyone who buys such a warranty on a well-maintained property is overpaying.

Beware The Exclusions

It's important to understand what you are really buying when you get one of these home warranties. The contract is full of fine print which excludes a huge list of situations that you would reasonably expect to be covered such as:

  • Improper installation
  • Plumbing fixtures
  • Whirlpool jets
  • Ejector and sump pumps
  • Doorbells associated with intercom systems
  • Alarm system repairs above $400
  • Security video equipment
  • Central vacuum cleaner repairs above $400
  • The remote components of an automatic garage door opener
  • Ice and water dispenser in a refrigerator. In fact, it's not even clear if they cover the ice maker in the standard policy. I don't think they do.

That's just a small sample of my BestWayInsurance Home Warranty contract. The entire list is enormous. But you can buy a higher cost policy that will cover some of these excluded items. Like I said...these guys are in business to make money.

Beware The Pre-Existing Condition

Just like in healthcare these home warranties have pre-existing condition clauses. When you call in a claim they will ask you a series of questions and if your answers indicate that you don't know for sure that this item ever worked properly since you owned the home then they will simply deny the claim. Now you can buy a premium plan that will cover unknown pre-existing conditions but, even then, if they somehow determine that you knew the item wasn't working when you bought the plan they will deny coverage.

Beware The Deductible

Just like in healthcare you have to pay a deductible for every claim made. On my Home Warranty contract, it's a trade call fee of $100.

The Warranty Company Does Not Guarantee All The Work Performed

This one really burned me up. The home warranty companies contract with various repair companies to actually perform the work and they will make sure that your reported problem is ultimately solved. However, apparently, and once again I can only speak from my experience with Home Warranty if the contractor's work directly or indirectly damages your home or appliance you are on your own to work out the issue with the contractor. BestWayInsurance will do nothing to help you resolve the issue other than note a complaint in their system for future reference in dealing with the contractor even if BestWayInsurance sent out an unqualified contractor in the first place.

For instance, we had a gas leak in our dryer and BestWayInsurance sent out Bender's Plumbing of Addison to fix it. They fixed the leak but after they left we discovered that the dryer was no longer venting outside. Bender's Plumbing was dispatched again to fix this problem but incredibly they decided it wasn't their problem. Reluctantly we paid an appliance repair guy $80 to fix it and he explained that when Bender's moved the dryer the vent hose disconnected and was then crushed as the dryer was moved back in place. If Bender's had known what they were doing they would have opened a panel on the front of the dryer to reconnect the hose and pull it out of the way as they slid the dryer back in place.

Bender's initially promised to send me a check for $80 but it never arrived and then they wouldn't return my phone calls. And even though BestWayInsurance should never have sent out a plumber to do an appliance repairman's work they refused to help resolve this dispute.

Your Realtor Gets A Commission For The Sale Of A Home Warranty

And this is a lesser concern because it does not involve a lot of money but your realtor does get paid a small commission to sell a home warranty. It's around $70 I think, which is such a small amount that my company rebates it back to our clients to avoid any conflict of interest however small. But you should still be aware of this because some realtors will do anything for a buck.

Keeping Your Teen Safe at Home

When I was a teenager, I would come home from school hours before my parents got back from work. Sometimes I wonder if they ever worried about me being at home alone—whether I was getting up to any teenage mischief or not. Unless they called, there was no way for them to know.

Nowadays there’s texting, which certainly helps this problem. But your security system can also be a huge help in knowing your kids are home safe and behaving well.

SimpliSafe Components That Go the Extra Mile:

SimpliSafe has lots of customizable features that allow you to create a solution that fits your family’s needs.

The SimpliSafe security camera records videos any time your system is tripped, but did you know it also records a short clip anytime the system is armed or disarmed? It’s great for checking in on who’s home. You can see which friends your teen has over. Is it their study partner or that bad apple from down the block? You can check in any time. And don’t worry. The privacy shutter on the camera gives you and your family privacy when they’re home.

You can also set up your system so that each member of the family has a unique PIN. That way you’ll know who’s arming and disarming the system. Not only will you know your teen got home safe, but you’ll know they remembered to arm the system again after.

Another great feature to take advantage of is the SimpliSafe app. With interactive monitoring, you can arm your system remotely when your teen forgets. You can also check to see when they armed or disarmed the system (a surefire way to know if someone’s been breaking their curfew).

If your kid is old enough to stay home alone overnight, SimpliSafe will give you the peace of mind they’re protected, even when they’re asleep. They’ll have the backup not just from our monitoring center, but from the local police as well. Plus, you’ll also have the peace of mind that if they throw a wild party you’ll catch them red handed.

Entry Sensors & Secret Alerts:

We’ve heard of customers using SimpliSafe sensors in creative ways to keep an eye on their teens. Some like to install Entry Sensors in unusual places like liquor cabinets to know when someone is getting into somewhere they shouldn’t be.

Of course, you probably don’t want the police called if your kid happens to open the liquor cabinet. That’s why SimpliSafe has Secret Alerts. You’ll get a text if that sensor is tripped, but the alarm won’t sound and the message won’t be sent to SimpliSafe’s monitoring. It’ll be between you and your teen.

You can also use Secret Alerts to get a text if they’re sneaking out at night, or if they’re taking a peek at those Christmas presents hidden in the closet (we never get too old for that, do we).

Give Them Responsibility:

Part of keeping your kids safe is teaching them how to keep themselves safe. So give your teen some responsibility in protecting your home. If your teen is the most likely person to be at or near your home, consider making them a primary or secondary emergency contact. Teach them what to do and practice the emergency plan together.

If there are younger siblings, have your teen teach the little ones how to use the system and what to do in an emergency.

You can also give your teen access to the app. This way they can also arm and disarm from a distance, and check in on what’s going on at home. You can even work the app as part of their chores, like keeping an eye on the pets.

Plumbing Issues

 

Plumbing issues will soon be a thing of the past with these quick fixes you can do at home! Intimidated or don’t have the time? No problem, simply request service with America’s Choice Home Warranty and a couple clicks will get you fixed.

Plumbing Problem 1: Water Trickling Into the Bowl, or “Phantom Flushes”

Periodically, you may hear your toilet begin to voluntarily refill, as though someone had flushed it. Indeed, no one has, but don’t worry, your toilet isn’t haunted. A toilet that cuts on and off by itself, or runs intermittently, has a problem that plumbers call a “phantom flush.” The issue is a slow leak from the toilet tank into the bowl. This problem is almost certainly caused by a bad flapper or flapper seal. The solution is simple: drain the tank and bowl, check and clean the flapper seat and replace the flapper if it’s worn or damaged. 

Plumbing Problem 2: Water Trickling Into the Tank

Do you hear a steady hissing sound coming from your toilet? This is a result of water trickling into the tank via the supply line. First thing’s first, check the float, the ballcock or inlet-valve assembly and the refill tube. The hissing sound is typically caused by water coming through the inlet valve. First, check to see whether the float needs adjustment, or if it’s sticking. Next, check to make sure the refill tube isn’t inserted too far into the overflow tube. (It should extend only about 1/4″ below the rim of the overflow tube.) If neither of these adjustments solves the problem, you’ll probably need to replace the ballcock assembly. 

Plumbing Problem 3: The Bowl Empties Slowly

A weak flush, or a bowl that empties really, really slowly, is usually the result of clogged holes underneath the rim of the bowl. This is the easiest fix of all: use a curved piece of wire to poke gently into each flush hole to clear out any junk and bacteria. Coat-hanger wire works fine, and a small mirror will help you see under the rim. You can also use wire to loosen debris that may be blocking the siphon jet in the bottom of the drain. Be careful not to scratch the bowl, and make sure to use gloves and thoroughly wash your hands afterward.

Plumbing Problem 4: The Dreaded Clog

Clogs are definitely the most common of toilet problems. The good news is several tools can help you clear a clogged drain. A force-cup plunger is more effective for clearing minor clogs. Insert the bulb into the drain, and pump forcefully, careful not to spill waste water all over yourself or the floor. Slowly release the handle, letting a little water in so you can see whether the drain is clear. Repeat if necessary.

For serious clogs, use a closet auger. Insert the end of the auger into the drain hole, and twist the handle as you push the rotor downward. Use caution not to scratch the bowl.

Plumbing Problem 5: Leaky Seals

A standard toilet has at least five seals; each seal has the potential for leaking. The straightforward solution is to identify the faulty seal and tighten or replace it. The seal between the tank and bowl is the largest and most problematic. A break here will cause a major leak, with water shooting out from underneath the tank at every flush. Although it sounds intimidating, replacing this seal involves draining and removing the tank. First, turn the tank upside down for better access. Then, remove the old seal and pop on a new one.

The smaller seals at the mounting bolts and the base of the ballcock may also fail and cause smaller leaks. Replace these in the same way. Occasionally tightening the bolts or mounting nut is usually enough to stop the leak.

The final seal is the wax seal mounted on a plastic flange underneath the toilet base. This is a big deal because if this seal fails, water leaking underneath the toilet base will eventually rot the floor. Caulking around the base of the toilet without repairing the leak will only trap the water, making matters worse. To repair a leak around the base of the toilet, you’ll need to remove the toilet and replace the wax seal. If the leak is caused by a broken flange, request service with E-Exchanreg Home Warranty and we’ll hook you up with a professional plumber if you don’t have your own in mind.

5 Ways Critical Illness Insurance Can Be a Financial Life Saver

It was a world-famous heart surgeon, Dr. Marius Barnard, who created critical illness insurance, as he saw how the financial stress that accompanied cancer, heart attack and stroke was killing his patients. This type of insurance typically gives you a lump-sum cash payment if you are diagnosed with one of the illnesses specified in your critical illness policy.

No matter how you’d use the money, critical illness insurance always does one thing: It reduces financial stress.

But one of the challenges of critical illness insurance is understanding the many ways you can use the benefit—the money paid out—if you ever need it. Here are some of the ways I have seen:

1. To pay for deductibles, co-pays and other out-of-pocket expenses related to health care. This is the most obvious use, especially as deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses for health insurance plans continue to increase.

2. Expenses not covered by health insurance like travel, hotels, babysitting, etc. I know a person who had a great health insurance plan. He was diagnosed with colon cancer. His doctor told him, “You need to go to MD Anderson.” Complicating the whole issue, he and his wife had just had a child. So, they took his father-in-law along to watch his son. He had to charge airfare, meals and the hotel costs to his credit card. Several years later, he was still paying off that credit card.

3. Income protection, especially for the self-employed. If a self-employed person has an income-protection plan, including disability insurance, it most likely will have a 90-day elimination period before benefits are paid. One self-employed person I know was diagnosed with cancer. She would take her chemo treatments on Fridays. Then she would use the weekend to recover and try to be back at work on Monday or Tuesday. She did not miss enough days from work to meet her elimination period. Did cancer impact her income? Significantly!

4. Mortgage protection. Many people purchase life insurance so that if anything happens to them, the family’s home will be paid off and the family will be able to stay in the home. But what’s more likely to happen while paying on a mortgage—death or a critical illness? Depending on age, you could be as much as four times more likely to suffer a critical illness while paying a mortgage than to die.

Typically, insurance that covers from two to five years of mortgage payments will help significantly through the transition. A great thought-provoking question is, “Would it reduce your financial stress if you are diagnosed with cancer to know your mortgage will be paid for two years?”

5. Retrofit a home or car. I had a woman tell me that her husband had had a stroke. The couple had to take out a second mortgage to make modifications to their home, including a wheelchair ramp, significant changes to their bathroom, and the widening of doorways to accommodate the wheelchair.

No matter how you’d use the money, critical illness insurance always does one thing: It reduces financial stress. There is always emotional stress for a family with a family member who has a critical illness. Emotional stress increases directly with financial stress. A critical illness plan reduces the financial stress, which then reduces emotional stress. If you’d like to learn more about this important coverage, contact your insurance agent or advisor.

Used Car Warranties & Pre-Existing Conditions

When purchasing a used vehicle is important to be sure that the vehicle is in excellent working order before finalizing a deal or taking delivery. It is obvious that purchasing an auto warranty when you have a vehicle it is no longer covered by the manufacturer is an excellent idea to protect you against any unforeseen repair expenses that might arise. It is not uncommon to have repairs pop up you were not expecting that can cost $500, $1,500, or even $3,000 or more.

However, many consumers are not aware that unlike medical insurance, automobile warranty companies are not obligated to cover a vehicle’s pre-existing conditions. To prevent getting caught off guard with a pre-existing issue with a vehicle is strongly recommended that you have the vehicle inspected by a qualified used vehicle inspection service or dealership prior to finalizing a purchase. If you are purchasing the vehicle from a dealership do not automatically assume that they have fully inspected it themselves even though they might have. It is worthwhile to have a second opinion by hiring an independent inspector to check the vehicle out. If you are purchasing a vehicle privately it is even more important to have the vehicle checked out by a qualified mechanic or inspection service. This will help you avoid getting caught off guard with a repair that may not be covered by your auto warranty.

Auto Advantage not only provides the highest quality car warranties in the industry, but also has a full independent inspection service that can check out your vehicle prior to the vehicle’s purchase or warranty activation. Visit our Auto Advantage’s website to get a quote for the best coverage available for your vehicle. To get information about having your vehicle inspected call 800-419-3499.

 

Life Insurance for Business Owners

Are you a small business owner or a co-owner of a company? Among the many days to day responsibilities you encounter, you also are responsible for your family. You need to protect your family at home as well as your business family.

Life Insurance for Business Owners

Life insurance for business owners can help lay a proper financial foundation by protecting your current and future business. Let’s look into the different situations that life insurance can benefit your company or business.

Collateral Assignment Life Insurance

A life insurance policy can be used for business owners that require cash to begin a business or buy a company. Typically, when you buy a life insurance policy you will name a beneficiary. This beneficiary has an insurable interest to the insured. This beneficiary can be a family member, spouse or a business partner or company. When you’re getting a life insurance policy for an SBA loan or bank loan – it is the same overall concept. You have to assign a primary beneficiary, however- the lender will be named the collateral assignee. If you were to die the lender will get the balance of the loan from the life insurance death benefit. Your primary beneficiary will then get the balance once the loan is paid off.

What would happen in the event that you didn’t use a collateral assignment? If you had the lender the sole beneficiary, the lender would then collect one hundred percent of the life insurance policy’s death benefit. BestWayInsurance life insurance can help you avoid that.

Executive Bonus Plan Life Insurance

With an executive bonus plan, you’re using a compensating method for specific employees by paying the life insurance policy premiums on the key employee’s life. The employer or business owner will pay for a benefit that is owned by the executive or employee. There are benefits to both the employer and employee when it comes to Executive bonus plans.

For the employer, there is no administration needed, the plan is simple, and costs are tax deductible. For the employee, the executive is the owner of the life insurance policy and of the cash values. The policy is not lost if they were to change employers. The death benefit can be income tax free.

Key Person Life Insurance

The purpose of key person life insurance is pretty basic:

A company buys a life insurance policy on a key employee, business owner or executive who is very important to the business. The company will apply for a life insurance policy, pay for all of the premiums and own the policy. The business is also the beneficiary of the life insurance policy. If the key person were to die, the company will receive the death benefit of the key person. The tax-free benefit can be used in a variety of ways. It can help make up for company sales as well as lost earnings. The benefit can also help cover some or all of the costs of finding a good replacement and provide proper training.

What would happen if the key person were to die unexpectedly? Could your business move forward without a hiccup? The life insurance death benefit can provide liquidity quickly so you can provide ongoing financial demands.

How about securing loans for your company’s growth? Sometimes loans are needed to help with the financing opportunities of expanding a business. Your lender will often seek collateral as security and the death of a key employee may pose too much of a risk to your lender. It is very common for a lender or bank to require key person life insurance on anyone that is vital to the life of your company.

One of the most important uses of key person life insurance is when there’s a need to buy out a deceased co-owner's interest in a company. There are some unfortunate situations that can arise if a key person policy isn’t in place. How would the deceased co-owner's family receive their share of the interest in the business without selling it off? How would the surviving owners pay off the dead owner’s family in order to avoid becoming partners with them?

Buy Sell Agreement with Life Insurance

When you’re an owner of a company or a partner in a business, a buy sell agreement can be an excellent way to avoid uncertainty. When a partner or company owner dies, the life of the business and it’s future are uncertain. With a buy-sell agreement, you can make sure you’re helping to protect you and your company from the unexpected or unintended transfer of ownership. By considering a buy sell agreement and funding it with life insurance, you can provide protection and extend the life of your company.

The buy sell agreement will aid the sale and purchase of a company based on a specified event. The most common events are retirement, disability or death of the owner of the company. The buy-sell will lay out specifically who will get what with regards to shares of the business. It will define how much and it will guarantee the buyer at a predetermined price. The buy-sell agreement also allows for the purchasing of company shares from the estate of the surviving family. Lastly, a buy-sell can be beneficial with creditors. Creditors will most likely be much easier to deal with when they can see that a company has protection established to make the loan decisions easier.

Business Succession Planning

Life insurance plays an important role as the driving force in succession planning. It is key that you have adequate coverage for you and your business partners. You need to get a formal valuation of your company and make sure that your coverage is updated with the growth of your company. Succession planning is a very important topic and can be vital to your business. If you let the estate plan dictate how your company transitions, it may cause significant issues. There are many companies that have had disastrous results due to poorly designed succession plans. Just ask the Robbie family and the Miami Dolphins.

Get Started

If you’re ready to get started, make sure you work with the following 3 resources:

  • Attorney
  • CPA
  • Life Insurance Broker

You’ll need experts in each of these areas in order to secure the best strategy and policy for your business succession plan.

How to Get Quotes and Apply

Once your plan is in place you can begin shopping for your life insurance policy. Simply use the free quoter on this page to get an idea of rates.

However, the best way to secure coverage is to have our research customized quotes. You can simply contact us at BestWayInsurance.com.  We’re independent and licensed life insurance agents. We’ll find you the best policy at the most competitive price from dozens of top rated life insurance companies. Once we find you the lowest rate, we’ll help you apply conveniently online or over the phone. We’ll help you from start to finish.

Home Insurance vs. Home Warranties

Homeowners insurance and home warranties are both designed for one reason: to protect your home and the belongings in it.

But, both cover very different things.

What's the Difference?

Homeowners insurance policies cover your home and belongings in the case of fire, damages from storms – other than flooding, which is oftentimes a separate policy – and damages or losses due to burglary.

Home warranties on the other hand, which are more accurately and often times referred to as home service contracts, cover elements of your home that almost all homeowners will eventually need to repair or replace due to daily or frequent use. Home warranties cover things like a leaky dishwasher, a water heater that's no longer working properly, stoves, furnaces or AC units – anything where normal wear and tear are to blame for malfunction.

Home warranties and the belongings they cover all have one thing in common, and that is the statistical likelihood of needing repair or replacement during the course of their lifetime.

Home Warranties

The "warranty" label when referring to a home service contract is really a misnomer. Home warranties are not a promise from a manufacturer or a builder, so they really do not fit the traditional definition of a warranty, nor are they administered by them. The term home warranty has simply become a convenient label that consumers and people in the industry use.

But, a "home warranty" is, in fact, a contract, not a warranty.

Let's Clarify: Warranty vs. Contract

A product warranty typically comes from a manufacturer and is essentially a pledge that its product will not fail due to design or manufacturing defect within a given timeframe, usually up to a year. If the product fails within that designated time frame, the manufacturer is obligated to repair or replace their product.

But, a product warranty doesn't generally specify a timeframe in which the product will actually be repaired or replaced if it malfunctions. In fact, the manufacturer may require that the product be returned to them in order to decide whether or not to repair or replace the item. Some manufacturers may send a replacement during this time, but not all, and the process can be quite lengthy.

A service contract, on the other hand, typically goes well beyond a standard product warranty. When home warranty companies talk about their service contracts, a large part of those contracts include which items they'll repair or replace and the timeframe they'll do it in.

Read Carefully

It is paramount that consumers carefully read both homeowners insurance policies and home warranty contracts in order to best understand any loopholes and exclusions that exist. This is also important because there's no need for overlapping coverage, which can sometimes exist not just between homeowners insurance policies and home service contracts but also in any pre-existing warranties already purchased for owned items.

Historically, in the insurance and home service contract industries, there are high rates of consumer complaints that can be traced back to disagreements between homeowners and home service contract companies about what is covered and what is not. Consult directly with the authorizing companies about any open-ended or vague wording in their contracts. Clarity, before there's a claim, saves both the consumer and the administering insurance or home warranty company frustration, dissatisfaction and a lot of back and forth.

Claim and Coverage Comparison

All homeowners insurance policies and home service contracts are different. But, below are a few common examples of the difference between what's typically covered by a homeowners insurance policy and what's typically covered by a home service contract:

  • 1.Claim: A tornado touches down in your neighborhood.
  • Coverage: Tornadoes, unlike a flood or hurricane, are generally covered under homeowners insurance and do not require a separate endorsement, or "rider."
  • 2.Claim: A kitchen fire.
  • Coverage: Standard homeowners insurance policies cover structural damage and belongings in your home damaged by fire.
  • 3.Claim: Your washing machine keeps going off balance and doesn't rinse your clothes anymore.
  • Coverage: A competitive home warranty will usually provide for repair work or replacement to appliances like your washer and dryer due to normal wear and tear. But, your appliance must almost always be in good working condition before a warranty is in place in order for it to be covered.
  • 4.Claim: A tree falls through your roof.
  • Coverage: Homeowners insurance covers the cost of removing a tree and repairing the damage it caused due to strong winds knocking it over onto your roof or lightning striking it. But, if a tree falls due to neglect, you may not be covered.
  • 5.Claim: Your dishwasher is leaking.
  • Coverage: A home warranty, or home service contract, will usually repair or replace your dishwasher due to normal wear and tear.

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