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Umbrella Insurance and Homeowner Liability

by The Schnoor Team

Umbrella Insurance and Homeowner Liability

Umbrella insurance offers added homeowner liability protection that kicks in after homeowners insurance reaches its coverage limits.

Accidents happen at home: A visitor trips on your front steps, or a neighbor cleaning your gutters falls off a ladder. As the property owner, you can be held legally liable. Standard homeowners insurance typically offers some liability coverage, but it might not be enough to cover a major claim.

Umbrella insurance provides additional homeowner liability protection that kicks in after your homeowners insurance hits its policy limit. A lawsuit, even one seemingly unrelated to homeownership, can wipe out your net worth—including your home. That’s why protecting yourself against lawsuits is an essential part of protecting your home.

Understand homeowner liability

Liability insurance covers you in the event you get hit with a lawsuit. Some of the liability risks faced by homeowners are more apparent than others. For example, a house guest takes a tumble after slipping on your hardwood floors, or a neighbor’s kid falls off a swing in your backyard. Insurance agents call swimming pools, jungle gyms, and trampolines “attractive nuisances” because they draw children unable to appreciate their dangers.

If someone gets hurt on your property—whether inside or outside, and whether you think it’s your fault or not—you can get sued. Travelers, an insurance provider, says you could even face a lawsuit if your dog bites someone. If your pet or a member of your residence causes accidental damage to the property of others, you’re liable too. Automobile accidents can also lead to lawsuits.

In addition, you can face lawsuits from personal injury, which includes a wide variety of problems, such as emotional distress or sickness or disease. You can be sued for malicious prosecution, humiliation, libel, slander, defamation of character, or invasion of privacy. Although many of these scenarios seem to have little to do with homeownership, the end result of an unfavorable lawsuit judgment can be the loss of your home.

Brian Mittman, an attorney in White Plains, N.Y., says the reality is that anyone can be sued for anything at any time, though it’s less likely that juries will side with a plaintiff where there’s no obvious fault on the homeowner’s part. Some states also have so-called homestead laws that can protect homes from creditors. Consult an attorney.

Start with your homeowner policy

Homeowners are more likely to see a lawsuit if there’s a foreseeable incident with knowledge of a defect. Consider a homeowner whose front steps have loose bricks. A lawyer could argue the homeowner should’ve known about the problem and fixed it. This is an example of what could be a low-payoff situation—a trip to the emergency room and a sprained ankle that heals quickly. Many lawyers would pass on the case.

On the other hand, a visitor’s tumble down rickety basement steps could lead to a long hospital stay and a permanent limp. The homeowner could be found liable and have to pay, even if the injured party has medical and disability insurance. An injured party’s own insurance situation doesn’t necessarily let the homeowner off the hook.

The good news is a limited amount of liability insurance is standard in most homeowner policies. Although terms can vary, $300,000 is typical. Check your policy. For about another $300 a year, you should be able to add $1 million of liability coverage to your homeowners insurance.

Umbrella insurance adds layer of protection

Many financial advisers prefer umbrella insurance over increasing the liability coverage of a homeowner policy because the umbrella insurance applies to your vehicles as well as your residence. Remember, umbrella insurance is an overarching policy that covers liability issues at home and in the car. This is critical since you could lose all of your assets including your home as a result of a major lawsuit stemming from an auto accident.

Umbrella insurance, in general, runs about $300 a year for $1 million of coverage. Premiums can vary greatly depending on a host of factors including your credit and claims history, where you live, and who’s covered. In most cases you can get a policy issued in a couple of hours. The process is faster, and you might receive a multi-policy discount, if you get umbrella insurance through your current insurer.

Keep in mind that umbrella policies by nature come with very high deductibles. They only pay off after a homeowner’s other liability coverage is exhausted. If you use the same insurer, it’s easier to coordinate claims and ensure your homeowners insurance dovetails with your umbrella’s deductible.

Umbrella coverage has its limits

Generally, anything business-related isn’t covered by umbrella insurance. Bob Gustafson, a certified financial planner in Marlborough, Mass., notes that people connected with a home-based business aren’t covered under typical homeowner or umbrella policies. However, many homeowner policies will allow the purchase of a rider for small businesses, which will increase your annual premium between $300 and $400.

Businesses you work with and de facto employees, such as domestic workers, also are unlikely to be covered. Riders are available for full-time domestic workers; occasional house cleaners and babysitters should be covered under a standard policy. Major outside contractors, such as roofers, for example, should have their own insurance. Ask for proof before you hire any contractor.

Source: https://www.houselogic.com/finances-taxes/home-insurance/umbrella-insurance-and-homeowner-liability/?site_ref=mosaic

RICHARD KORETO

is a freelance writer. He’s been editor of many financial magazines and is the author of “Run It Like a Business,” a practice management book for financial planners. He and his wife own a pre-Civil War house in New York.

3 Dangerous Short Sale Myths

by The Schnoor Team

 

With all the talk about foreclosure and short sale out there we thought we’d take some time today to make sure you aren’t believing some of the most common myths out there.

1. The Bank Would Rather Foreclose than Bother with a Short Sale

This is one of the most common misconceptions. The reality is that banks do not want to foreclose on your property because the foreclosure process is incredibly costly. Banks, investors, and even the federal government have all publicly stated that if a person is qualified for a short sale, the deal needs to be considered.
Overwhelmingly, banks receive more on their investment through a short sale than a foreclosure. The qualifications for a short sale include:

Financial Hardship – There is a situation causing you to have trouble affording
your mortgage.

Monthly Income Shortfall – “You have more month than money.” A lender will
want to see that you cannot afford, or soon will not be able to afford your
mortgage.

Insolvency – The lender will want to see that you do not have significant liquid
assets that would allow you to pay down your mortgage.

2. You Must Be Behind on Your Mortgage to Negotiate a Short Sale

While this may have previously been the case, today lenders are looking for verifiable hardship, monthly cash flow shortfall, or pending shortfall and insolvency.

If you meet these three requirements and believe that you soon may be unable to afford your mortgage, act immediately. Any delay could limit your options. Do not wait until the countdown clock to foreclosure has started and you have even less time left.

3. There is Not Enough Time to Negotiate Your Short Sale Before Foreclosure

This is a myth that probably hurts homeowners the most. Many do not realize that
foreclosure is a process, and that there is time to make decisions that may result in better outcomes.

The foreclosing party-in most cases a lender-can stall a foreclosure up to the final
day of the process. Today, many lenders will stall a foreclosure with as little as a phone call from you explaining that you are trying to sell, and almost all lenders will stall a foreclosure with a legitimate contract. For real estate professionals who understand foreclosures and short sales, there is time available until the foreclosure process is complete.

Get experience on your side! Contact us today!

7 Things You Thought You Knew About Foreclosures

by The Schnoor Team

 

The foreclosure market in Albuquerque has been relatively dormant until recent years and this has caused many people to be skeptical of it. They don't fully understand how foreclosures work, and this lack of understanding can foster foreclosure myths that are dangerous both for homeowners who want to avoid foreclosure and buyers interested in purchasing a foreclosure.

Here are seven of the most common myths about foreclosures:

Foreclosures only happen in poor areas.

Foreclosures come in all shapes and sizes and occur in all neighborhoods. From low-income to million-dollar properties, you will see the full spectrum of homes entering into the foreclosure process. Economic forces such as rising interest rates and decreasing home values affect homeowners from all types of neighborhoods.

Financial irresponsibility causes most foreclosures.

While there are always those cases of financial neglect, most homeowners have shown some high level of financial responsibility in order to qualify to purchase a property in the first place. Unforeseen events such as job loss or a catastrophic accident can cause sudden and unpredictable financial havoc for homeowners. In addition, foreclosures also tend to increase when interest rates are up and property values begin to decrease. When this occurs, homeowners may find themselves paying higher monthly mortgage payments for a property that is no longer worth what they originally bought it for.

All foreclosures are in disrepair.

While some foreclosures can be in less than ideal shape, many are in great condition. The myth that all foreclosures are in disrepair seems to be driven by the other myth that foreclosures are usually caused by financial irresponsibility. Many homeowners who find themselves in a default situation encounter circumstances that are out of their control. Even so, this usually does not negatively affect the condition of the property. However, if you are not an expert in buying foreclosure properties, it is highly recommended that you seek the advice of a professional who is experienced with these types of sales to avoid common pitfalls.

Lenders want to foreclose on homeowners.

The foreclosure process is costly and time consuming, and is a last resort for lenders to recover their investment. When a homeowner defaults on a mortgage agreement, the lender must first file a public default notice after which the homeowner is given a grace period known as a pre-foreclosure period. During this time, the homeowner can pay off the debt or choose to sell the property. The minimum timeframe for a pre-foreclosure period varies by state and can range from 27 days (Texas) to 290 days (Wisconsin). Only at the end of the pre-foreclosure period can the lender auction the property off to a third-party buyer or repossess the property and sell it on the regular market.

Foreclosures are often bought for pennies on the dollar.

While it is true that foreclosures are often purchased below market value, one should be leery of anyone claiming that one can consistently find discounts of less than 10 percent of market value. 

Foreclosure buyers usually take advantage of the homeowner.

While homeowners in default should be wary of unscrupulous buyers and investors who try to take unfair advantage of the situation, most foreclosure buyers can actually help an owner to walk away with something to show for equity in the property and avoid a bad mark on his or her credit history. During the pre-foreclosure period, a potential buyer may approach the homeowner in default and arrange to buy the property before the foreclosure actually takes place. This pre-foreclosure sale also benefits buyers, allowing them to often purchase properties below full market price.

Foreclosure buying is only for professional investors.

Perhaps at one time this may have been the case, but with all of the tools available to today's buyers, more people than ever before have the opportunity to purchase foreclosure properties. Using online resources such as RealtyTrac's online foreclosure database, potential buyers can search nationwide for properties in pre-foreclosure, up for auction or banked-owned, as well as find extensive reports on each property listed. Buyers can also get financing and find real estate agents familiar with ins and outs of the foreclosure market to help create a smoother transaction.

Need more information?

If you have more questions about buying foreclosures, avoiding foreclosure, or any real estate topic, you can contact using the information below! 


3 Common Foreclosure Questions

by The Schnoor Team

It is understandable to have questions when coping with a new and challenging situation, especially when a home is at stake. The reality is that millions of homeowners across the country are finding out that they have more questions than answers.


​We hope that the following information will help you better understand the circumstances. If you have further questions not addressed below, or would like additional information resources, feel free to Contact Us.

Do I qualify for a short sale?

The qualifications for a short sale include any or all of the following:


1. Financial Hardship - There is a situation causing you to have trouble affording your mortgage.
2. Monthly Income Shortfall - In other words: "You have more month than money." A lender will want to see that you cannot afford, or soon will not be able to afford your mortgage.
3. Insolvency - The lender will want to see that you do not have significant liquid assets that would allow you to pay down your mortgage.

What is a mortgage modification?

A mortgage modification is a process through which your mortgage lender changes any or all of the following:

• Your interest rate
•Your principal balance (through a reduction)
•Your loan terms (example: from an adjustable to a fixed rate)This process can allow borrowers to stay in their property when they can no longer afford their current mortgage payments.

Why would a lender modify my mortgage?

Lenders have realized that in some cases it is better for them to work with current borrowers to lower payments or possibly improve terms in order to keep homeowners in their properties. The average foreclosure can cost a lender from 35-50% of the value of a property, so keeping borrowers in their homes is a good option for everyone.

Need Foreclosures assistance or want to see a list of foreclosure homes? 

Contact Us Today!


 

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Displaying blog entries 1-4 of 4

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