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What You Need to Know About Insuring Second Homes

| August 01, 2018
You enjoy the freedom a second home offers. You can escape cold weather or plan an easy getaway for a day, a week, or an extended stay. But owning two properties comes with additional responsibilities. One of the list-toppers is insurance. Maintaining proper coverage for both properties is essential. Here's how it's done.

First and foremost, consult with your insurance agent. They can recommend the best policies for appropriate coverage. For example, your homeowner's policy may extend some coverage for a vacation rental property, but it's likely insufficient for full coverage of a second home. 

In most cases, it's best to establish a separate policy for your second home. In doing so, you can set up the coverage to make it appropriate for each property. For example, the second home may face hazards that the first does not, such as flooding or tropical storms. Additionally, a vacation home may experience long periods with no occupants. This makes it more susceptible to burglaries and unchecked leaks. 

If your second home will be used as a guesthouse or rental, this also affects the type of coverage you should maintain. In this case, you might be liable for injuries to tenants or damages they cause. A landlord policy would likely be the appropriate coverage for this situation, rather than a second homeowner's policy.

To offset costs for multiple policies, you may be able to add a security system or other safety features. Your agent can further advise you on how to reduce your premium for each property.


Climbing the Branches of the Family Tree

Curious about your ancestry? Sorting out your family tree can require some tricky digging. Fortunately, resources are available to help you trace your roots. There are many online genealogy sites, although many of them charge for their services. Still, it is entirely possible to build a family tree by investing nothing more than time. Family tree software and online chat rooms can help you get started. The website My Heritage offers a family tree template at www.myheritage.com/family-tree.

There are many online genealogy sites, although many of them charge for their services. Still, it is entirely possible to build a family tree by investing nothing more than time - and help is close at hand. Family tree software and online chat rooms can help you get started. Google offers a family tree template at www.ggldocfamilytree.com. You can click on YouTube for easy how-to explanations.

Once you've decided to dig into your roots, begin with what you know - your family. Ask questions to discover names, spellings, and birth places. Go through family albums. Visit graves and scour religious records. If a relative has done any research, use this as a starting point. Trace your ancestry lines as far back as you can, adding relevant details such as birthdays, marriages, and death dates. Here are a few tips as you work your way up the family tree. 

Begin with a direct route, starting with yourself; then add your parents and grandparents, and add branches from there. A simple web search may help with details. 

Search the census records. Since names and their spellings may have changed along the way, be diligent. Find your most recent ancestors on each census, and then work your way into the past.

Use documents and physical records such as naturalization papers and marriage and birth certificates. And remember, if you get stuck, you can always try a genealogy service.


Does Your Insurance Cover Identity Theft?

They're not you, but they're using your credit card. They've also dipped into your bank account. 

Identity theft can be a devastating experience. Victims may spend months or even years sorting through the disaster left in the wake of an identity thief. Educating yourself about this crime and how to protect yourself will help you avoid its damaging effects. 

First, understand how identity thieves typically get their hands on someone else's secure information. The most common methods include stealing physical documents (wallet, checkbook, credit card, bills or statements), stealing hardware (thumb drives, laptops, tablets), obtaining information via phone calls (scammers posing as legitimate professionals), and obtaining information online (email scams, hacking). 

Take steps to protect your personal information from each of these methods. Keep all documents secure and never give out personal information to unverified sources. Appropriate security software can also help prevent online breaches. 

Even with the proper precautions in place, you may suffer from a determined identity thief. In this case, it is important to have proper coverage. Many credit cards provide some liability relief, and homeowner's or renter's policies often include some limited protection for loss of cash or credit cards. However, this is not sufficient coverage if your identity is stolen. 

To protect yourself from the financial loss, reputational consequences, and credit issues that can result from identity theft, look to insurance products that cover these costs. Policies vary, and can cover everything from minor assistance to major restoration services. Your coverage can provide a consumer fraud specialist or case manager, replacement of government-issued identifications, reimbursement of attorney's fees, assistance with credit restoration, and assistance with hearings and charges related to fraud. 

Extending beyond basic coverage, these restoration services can be life-changing. Consult with your insurance provider to learn what options are available for you.


Vision Insurance: A Clear Choice to Focus on Future Health

As we age, vision care becomes critically important. This makes vision insurance coverage increasingly essential. Yet exploring vision insurance online is a lengthy and often confusing process. Here's a quick overview. 

What it is: Vision insurance covers or reduces costs associated with maintaining and improving your vision.

What it covers: Vision insurance covers annual eye exams, contact lenses, or frames and lenses. If you're considering surgery to improve your vision, some plans offer reduced rates on refractive procedures. 

How to get it: While group coverage may be available where you work, coverage is often minimal. A stand-alone vision plan may be a better option. If you currently have a group plan, contact your agent to review its benefits. An agent who specializes in vision plans may be able to provide a better solution for about the same price as your group plan. 

Who to see: If you have an eye doctor you prefer, you can choose a plan that includes your professional. With some vision plans, using the insurer's network of approved professionals ensures you pay less than going out of network. 

Why it's important: Even if you have great vision, annual eye exams are vital to protect against age-associated eye problems such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Those with chronic health conditions, like diabetes or hypertension, are more at risk for eye problems. Vision plans can cost just dollars per month and can greatly reduce your chances of undetected vision problems.

Your local insurance agent can provide a comprehensive explanation of coverage and provide a personalized vision coverage quote.