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Personal Perspective

How Does a Personal Articles Floater Work

By Personal Perspective

Use a personal articles floater to insure the high-value items you own. It’s an important addition to your current renters’ or homeowners’ insurance policy. Learn more about this valuable coverage as you protect your valuables and gain peace of mind.

What is a Personal Articles Floater?

Your renters’ or homeowners’ insurance policy covers your personal possessions if they are damaged, lost or stolen. However, you may own high-value items that exceed your policy’s coverage amount. Your items could also be damaged in a flood or earthquake.

In these situations, your renters’ or homeowners’ policy may not cover repairs to or replacement of these valuables. You’ll want a personal articles floater that provides additional coverage.

How Does a Personal Articles Floater Work?

To purchase a personal articles floater, contact your insurance agent. You’ll probably need to get your items appraised because many insurance companies use appraisals to prove that you own the item and to verify its value.

You can insure individual high-value items or a group of items. You normally have between 30 and 90 days to tell your insurance agent about any new additions to your collection. If the item is damaged, lost or stolen during this grace period before you add it to your personal articles floater, it could still be covered.

If you ever need to file a claim against your personal articles floater, contact your insurance agent. The policy will cover your items anywhere in the world, and you won’t usually have to pay a deductible.

The insurance company will evaluate your claim and mail you a check. It will pay the lowest of either the item’s actual cash value, the cost to repair or replace the item, or the amount for which you have insured the item.

What Does a Personal Articles Floater Cover?

Typically, a personal articles floater is available for items that are worth between $5,000 and $50,000. You can insure a variety of valuables with your personal articles floater, including:

  • Antiques
  • Artwork
  • Rare books
  • Cameras
  • Coins
  • Computers
  • Furniture
  • Furs
  • Glassware
  • Guns
  • Heirlooms
  • Jewelry
  • Manuscripts
  • Memorabilia
  • Musical instruments
  • Silverware
  • Sports cards
  • Sports equipment
  • Stamps
  • Wine

Who Needs a Personal Articles Floater?

Anyone who owns valuables should consider purchasing a personal articles floater. It can pay you to repair or replace the item and gives you peace of mind as it protects the high-value items you own.

If you own high-value items, contact your insurance agent. You may wish to purchase a personal articles floater and gain the protection and peace of mind it offers.

Benefits of Owning Your Own Home

By Personal Perspective

It has always been the American dream to own a home with a yard surrounded by a white picket fence. Although this might be a bit of a cliché, it is certainly grounded in truth. For many Americans, home ownership marks the entrance into the world of investing.

Why is home ownership such a good investment? 

The answer is simple. Because over time, as your mortgage balance decreases, your equity increases, even if the value of the home fails to follow. And equity grants you the ability to take money out of your home, and use it as the need arises. No matter how much rent you pay over the course of your lifetime, you never establish equity.

Another huge benefit of home ownership is in regards to taxes. Homeowners can claim mortgage interest deductions that aren’t available to renters. In addition, the profit you earn from selling your home might be exempt from the capital gains tax you would pay on profits earned from an ordinary investment. Under the current tax code, if you sell your home and it was your primary residence for two out of the past five years, you don’t have to pay any capital gains tax on the first $250,000 in profits. If you are married. the amount exempt from capital gains tax increases to $500,000.

Home ownership also creates leverage. Leverage is a strategy that allows a person to use borrowed money to their financial advantage. When you buy a home, you typically make a cash down payment of 20%. The other 80% is financed through a mortgage. During the next several years, the value of your home usually increases, making it worth more than the amount you originally paid. When you later decide to sell, after you pay off your original mortgage, you will realize a profit equal to the percent of increase in the value of the home. This is what’s known as leveraging debt to make a profit.

Of course, all of these benefits of home ownership are only available if you have the capability to afford a home.

So the next question is, how affordable are new homes to the average American? 

According to the National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo Housing Opportunity Index, nationwide housing affordability was near its highest level in 2009. Housing prices are low, and interest rates are affordable, creating a buyer’s market. In fact, in the third quarter of 2009, the HOI showed that about 70% of homes sold were affordable to families who earned $64,000, the national median income.

Given the current, attractive market conditions, is now the right time for you to enter the housing market? Speak with one of our financial planners, and consider the possibility of realizing the American Dream.

Before Purchasing Collectibles Insurance, Learn the Value of Your Collection

By Personal Perspective

Your collection is valuable to you. Whether your items are family heirlooms, a financial investment or a hobby, protect your treasures with collectibles insurance. To ensure you purchase adequate insurance coverage, use these resources to find the value of your collectibles.


Founded by collectors and designed for collectors, Gemr focuses on the collector’s journey of acquisition, discovery and appreciation. This means you can learn the value of your items, connect with like-minded people, display your collectibles and buy and sell items.

Go Antiques

Discover your collection’s value and history then browse virtual warehouses filled with collectibles from over 1,000 dealers worldwide. You’ll gain valuable information about your collection and have fun.


Created to answer the question, “What’s it worth?”, lets you search through thousands of listings. Use the site to identify your items, authenticate them and find their value.


Search the price guide on to find out what your collection is worth. Then browse the archived newsletters to learn more about the history or your collectibles.

Krause Books

Learn more about your collection and discover its value when you visit With this site, you can also connect with buyers and sellers and read current hobby news.

My Granny’s Attic Antiques

Use this website to research your antiques, art and other collectibles. Not only will you discover what they’re worth, but you’ll also learn more about them and gain a greater appreciation for your collection.

This website offers valuable information on almost any collectible imaginable. Written by collectors, it compiles hundreds of articles that help you discover your collection’s worth and learn more about buying and selling pieces.

Value My Stuff

Specialists in over 40 collecting categories will appraise your items and email you an online certificate that verifies your item’s value. Simply upload pictures and details of your items.


Find almost any collectible and its worth when you chat with a professional appraiser on You can also connect with other collectors and share information and stories about your items.

For specialized collections, check out these sites.

  • American Philatelic Society – stamps
  • Classical Numismatic Group, Inc. – classic, ancient, medieval and British coins
  • – coins and precious metals
  • Comic Book Collecting Association – comic books
  • Vinfolio – wine
  • Warner’s Blue Ribbon Books – Swarovski crystal
  • YuleLog Software – Hallmark Keepsake ornaments and Department 56

Collectibles are often valuable financially and for sentimental reasons. Protect your investment with adequate collectibles insurance. Learn more about the value of your collection by visiting these websites or talk to your insurance agent.

Purchasing Mortgage Points

By Personal Perspective

When homebuyers begin to think about mortgages, invariably they get around to discussing “points”, and whether or not to pay them on their mortgage. To make a wise decision, they need to gain an understanding of what points are and how they affect rates.

A point is equal to 1% of the total amount of the mortgage. There are two types of points: “origination points” and “discount points.” Lenders charge origination points in order to cover the expenses associated with underwriting the loan. Lenders charge discount points that are designed to reduce the loan’s interest rate. Discount points are actually prepaid interest that you give the lender when you take out a loan. Each point lowers your interest rate by one-eighth of a percentage point.

As a rule, the more discount points you pay, the lower the interest rate on your mortgage will be. On the other hand, the more points you pay, the more cash you will need because points are paid in cash at closing. This is why they are referred to as a “discount.” You are actually paying for a discounted interest rate over the life of the loan with the advance of cash before the loan begins. Although points are usually paid at closing, some lenders may agree to finance points along with the rest of the loan. Be aware of the fact that lenders advertising low interest rates may charge more for their points.

How should a homebuyer decide whether or not to pay points? Sometimes the answer to that question is decided for you by your financial situation. If you are short on up front cash, or your income is on the low side of the acceptable range, you will need to avoid points. If the amount of cash you have on hand is low, avoiding points will enable you to have enough money to fund your closing costs. If you have some extra cash on hand, but you are income-short, it is necessary to find the lowest rate available. This is so the mortgage payment won’t be viewed as too large relative to your income level.

If you aren’t affected by either of these conditions, then you should make your decision based on two factors. The first consideration is time. If you expect to hold the mortgage over the long-term, meaning seven to ten years, then paying points to reduce the rate is a good idea. If you plan on selling before seven years, then you are better served paying the higher rate.

The second factor to consider is how much paying points will cost you in terms of lost financial opportunities. For instance, will paying points mean tapping into money previously earmarked for other purposes such as saving for retirement? Do you have the time to compensate for the money that will not be used for retirement savings? Even if you live in your home a long time, are there other uses for that money that take priority over the long-term savings gained from a lower interest rate?

Before you make a final decision about points, find out what interest rate you will pay and what the points will cost on each mortgage you are considering. Then compare the loans side-by-side so you can get a true picture of which mortgage offers the better deal. Finally, evaluate if you will have enough available cash on hand to take advantage of opportunities or to meet unexpected emergencies if you pay for points. By investing the time in this two-step process, you will make an informed decision on whether or not purchasing points is right for you

What You Should Know About Personal Sailboat Insurance

By Personal Perspective

You bought your boat to enjoy it on the water. What happens though when your boat is damaged or you run into something and need repairs? Boat insurance protects you and your assets. Here’s what you should know about personal sailboat insurance.

What Does Personal Sailboat Insurance Cover?

Your personal sailboat insurance policy may cover a variety of issues.

    1. Liability

      Pay for injuries or property damage you are legally liable for.


    1. Collision

      When your boat collides with another boat or object, this coverage pays to repair the damages.


    1. Comprehensive

      Any losses not related to collisions, including theft, fire or storms, are covered by comprehensive insurance.


    1. Uninsured or Underinsured

      Pay for bodily injury expenses associated with a collision with an uninsured or underinsured boater.


    1. Medical Payments

      Cover medical expenses if you or your passengers are injured on your boat.


    1. Personal Property

      Replace lost or damaged personal items, including stereo equipment, clothing or food.


    1. Mechanical Breakdowns

      Cover necessary repairs or replacement of the motor, even if the cause is normal wear and tear.


    1. Towing Assistance

      Receive towing services, fuel delivery, jump starts and other assistance from your insurance company.


    1. Total Loss Replacement

      If your new boat is totaled within five years, receive a new boat or the equivalent of the cost you paid for your boat.


    1. Fishing Equipment

      If your fishing equipment is damaged, pay to repair or replace it.

How to Purchase Personal Sailboat Insurance

As soon as you purchase a boat, talk to your insurance agent. They can assist you in choosing a customized insurance policy that protects you on the lakes, rivers and waterways you’ll sail on.

Remember that personal sailboat insurance may only be available on boats that meet length requirements. Additionally, you may need to submit a marine survey or navigation plans.

Tips to Save Money on Personal Sailboat Insurance

There are several ways to save money on your personal sailboat insurance. First, ask about possible discounts, including:

  • Multi-policy discount
  • Boater safety course discount
  • Safety features or equipment discount
  • Diesel fuel discount
  • Payment discount if the annual premium is paid in full
  • Claim-free renewal discount

You may also customize your coverage and choose only the options you truly need. A higher deductible and selecting Actual Cash Value rather than Agreed Value (replacement value) are additional tips that help you save money on the insurance coverage you need.

Before you take your new boat out for a spin, purchase personal sailboat insurance. It protects your assets and gives you peace of mind.

Educate Your Children about Money

By Personal Perspective

Want to make sure your little one grows up to be a money genius? It’s time to get to work. You might be thinking, “But my son just mastered potty training!” However, it’s never too early to start grooming your child into a money-managing pro. Although your children will probably learn the basics about money in school, it’s up to you to teach them how to manage their finances. Here are a few tips to help you raise a money-managing genius.

Start early. 

From the time children start walking and talking, you can start teaching them some important lessons that will put them on the financial fast track. Of course, the complexity of these financial lessons will depend on your children’s ages.

Teach preschoolers about money by showing them how you use those mysterious green bills to make every day purchases. When you’re paying the cashier at the grocery store, explain that you are giving the store money in exchange for the items in your cart. Once your little urchins learn how to count, you can really get down to business. Help them tally up the coins in their money bank and discuss how much more they need to buy that fancy toy. When they’re preteens, show them how you balance the checkbook, pay the bills, and deposit checks at the bank. By the time they’re in high school, you should be talking to them about your family budget and investments. You could even check your IRA or 401(k) statement together. Your teens might not fully understand all the specifics right now, but these exercises could plant those first financial seeds.

Make them work for it.

If you want your little ones to blossom into true financial planning masterminds, make them work for their weekly allowance. Don’t just hand over a wad of cash. If you set that precedent now, your kids will be in for a rude awakening when they enter the real world. So, if your son insists that he has to have that super-cool, high adrenaline Xbox game, don’t hand it over immediately; make him work for it. Tell him if he really wants that game, he’d better get busy mowing the lawn, taking out the trash and bathing Fido.

Although some parents are anti-allowance, many financial experts say that a weekly allowance is often a great learning tool. Your children will learn that they have to work to earn money, and then they will have the option to either spend or save that money in whatever way they choose. Before you agree on a weekly allowance, it’s important to set some ground rules. Figure out which household chores your children will have to complete each week in order to receive their weekly pay. You can even help them set “financial goals” with their allowance. For example, if your daughter has been eyeing a pair of designer jeans, tell her that she could buy them if she saves up her allowance for a couple of months. This teaches her a valuable lesson about saving.

Give him a head start. 

Want to give your kiddo a financial head start on his path to financial security? If you’ve got the cash, and they have some amount of earned income, you might consider making a small monthly contribution to an IRA in their name. When it comes to retirement accounts, the sooner you start investing, the bigger the nest egg grows. Here’s an example: If you contributed $56 a month from the day your child is born until her 18th birthday, her retirement account will grow to $1 million by the time she’s 65 (assuming an 8% average annual growth). If you decide to open an IRA in your child’s name, sit down with her and tell her how it works once she’s old enough to understand. This will teach her the importance of investing and saving.

Lead by example. 

Of course, the most effective way to teach your child about money is to demonstrate smart financial planning yourself. You can’t rightly tell your child how important it is invest and save when your own savings account is empty and you’re busy racking up thousands of dollars of credit card debt.

In other words, if you’re going to talk the talk, you’ve got to walk the walk. After all, children generally mimic their parents’ behavior and develop similar habits. So, if you want your child to be financial planning genius, you’ll have to become one yourself. With a little bit of encouragement, lots of love, and plenty of financial advice, you can put your kiddo on the road to financial brilliance.

An Alert Driver is a Safe Driver

By Personal Perspective

Going for a drive or riding in a car can be a relaxing experience, but drivers need to remain alert when behind the wheel. Although anyone could fall asleep while driving, certain target populations are more prone to having accidents because of falling asleep.

For instance, men are twice as likely as women to have an accident due to drowsiness. Teenagers, who love burning the candle at both ends, are another group with the potential to doze off while driving. In fact, teenagers and their 20-something counterparts are less likely to admit to being too fatigued to drive and will often get in the driver’s seat, even if they shouldn’t.

Naturally, there are work-related reasons that contribute to falling asleep while driving. Shift workers who work nights or rotating shifts often have trouble sleeping because their inner clock may be off kilter. Commercial drivers have an increased exposure to accidents as a result of driving during the late night and early morning hours when their biological clock tells them that they should be sleeping.

What can you do to help prevent yourself or a loved one from becoming a statistic? The best solution is a nap that lasts for about 20 minutes before you drive. Although many Americans do not allocate time for an afternoon rest, napping is a normal part of the human sleep-wake cycle. There is a biological tendency to fall asleep in mid-afternoon.

In certain parts of the world, mid-afternoon activities are brought to a halt so that people can take advantage of their natural tendency to sleep. This kind of nap that is taken before the afternoon work period begins is looked upon as a restorative activity, not idling away time that could be better spent doing other tasks.

Napping is even more important if your sleep is disturbed the night before, or you actually slept for fewer hours than your body requires. Napping the next day can help relieve your sleepiness and enhance your ability to remain alert.

The other factors to remember are that most sleep related accidents happen in non-urban areas, generally on roads with 55 mph-65 mph speed limits. When combining the restful quiet of a suburban setting with the steady pace of that speed limit, you have the makings of a situation in which a driver could easily be lulled into sleep. Also, the early morning hours are a particularly vulnerable time for drivers on extended runs.

The best remedy for these conditions is periodic rest stops in designated rest areas. Interrupting your driving for a 20-30 minute nap can make all the difference in restoring your alertness and your responsiveness. Avoid becoming a grim highway statistic. Take the time you need, and protect yourself and others on the road.

Extreme Weather: Consider Flood Insurance

By Personal Perspective

Don’t wait until the weather forecast calls for prolonged heavy rains before buying flood insurance. While this practical insurance can be purchased anytime, the policy does not take effect for 30 days. As the most common natural disaster in the country, flooding ruins millions of dollars of homes and property every year. Even so, flooding is not commonly covered in your typical homeowner’s insurance policy, making it necessary to purchase additional coverage for this costly, devastating disaster.

If you are in a high-risk flood zone, a federally regulated lender will require a would-be borrower to buy flood insurance in order to qualify for a mortgage loan. To satisfy the lender, flood insurance must be purchased in an amount that sufficiently covers the loan.

A homeowner should also buy flood insurance if he or she resides in a flood plain with no failsafe controls, such as a dam. Flood policies even pay off if the President does not declare the area a federal disaster area, which can prove to be invaluable. Because the nation’s Chief Executive Officer rarely issues such a declaration, protecting yourself is extremely important. Besides, you have to repay the federal aid you receive for home repairs related to a natural disaster so providing your own protection is the only way to ensure financial recovery suffered from flooding.

Not all homes qualify for flood coverage. For instance, flood insurance for beachfront or ocean-side property may not be available for the obvious reasons.

The Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA) reports that more than 20,000 communities have agreed to tighter zoning and building measures to control floods. Residents of these communities can buy flood coverage from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which FEMA oversees. As of 2009, NFIP had 5.7 million flood policies inforce nationwide.

Premiums for flood insurance vary widely, depending primarily on individual risk. In determining price, flood insurance underwriters consider several factors including the property’s elevation, proximity to bodies of water, and whether the dwelling has a basement. Flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners/renters, and commercial owners/renters.

Call out office today! We’d be happy to assist you through the murky waters.

How Does Defensive Driving Lower Insurance Rates?

By Personal Perspective

A variety of factors, including accidents and citations, affect your auto insurance rates. Learn what is defensive driving and how it can lower insurance rates as you stay safe and save money.

What is Defensive Driving?

Every time you get behind the wheel, you face threats from other drivers, inclement weather and other challenges. Defensive driving defines the safe driving practices you use to avoid accidents or other incidents on the road.

How Does Defensive Driving Lower Insurance Rates?

Insurance companies assign a rating to each driver based on risk. Age, gender, marital status, address, driving history and other factors affect your rates, and expect to pay more if you’re in a high-risk category. That includes young and old drivers and anyone you has received citations for reckless driving or a DUI.

While a speeding ticket can raise your insurance rates by as much as 20 percent, your insurance company might give you a discount if you take a defensive driving course. It proves that you’re up-to-date on safe driving practices and better prepared to avoid accidents or citations.

How Defensive Driving Courses Lower Your Insurance Rates

During a defensive driver class, you’ll receive a refresher course in safe driving practices.

  • Review your state’s driving laws.
  • Practice passing other cars safely.
  • Understand when and how to yield properly.
  • Learn how to handle skids.
  • Familiarize yourself with new technology like anti-lock brakes or rear cameras.
  • Discover how to avoid common distractions and keep your eyes on the road.

Defensive driver courses can last from four hours to several months and be conducted online or in a physical classroom setting. They cost between $20 and $100. Check with the National Safety Council, AAA, AARP or a local retirement community for a class near you.

After you successfully pass the defensive driver class that’s approved by your state and accepted by your insurance company, provide the certificate of completion. You may also be required to remain accident-free and avoid citations for a certain amount of time to qualify for the discount.

Young drivers between 16 and 25 years of age may save up to 15 percent annually after successfully taking and passing a defensive driving class. Drivers over 55 may receive a five percent savings. The discount varies by insurance company, so check with your company for details. Also, ask your insurance company if you can renew your training and your discount every three years.

When you discover what is defensive driving and how it can lower insurance rates, you improve safety on the road and save money. Talk to your insurance agent about a defensive driver course and how it can benefit you.

Risks Involved with Purchasing a Foreclosed Property

By Personal Perspective

Most Americans have seen ads on television for get-rich-quick seminars that teach novice investors the secrets of making money from housing foreclosure sales. In spite of all the hype, successfully buying and selling foreclosed real estate requires research, money, knowledge, experience and time. Furthermore, buying foreclosed real estate is not without risk. If you plan to try your hand at this type of investing, you need to be well-versed in foreclosure basics.

Foreclosure is the legal recourse lenders or governmental agencies have to recoup money owed them because a property owner failed to make payments. The lender/agency can take the house and sell it to satisfy the debt. Generally, the reasons for foreclosure include:

  • Non-payment of a mortgage/home equity loan.
  • Inability to meet a balloon payment.
  • Failure to pay property taxes.
  • Inadequate insurance coverage for the property.
  • Inability/failure to maintain the property.

The foreclosure process involves three stages:

  • Pre-foreclosure – This is the period between the time the homeowner stops making payments and when the land is put up for sale at auction. Investors typically deal with the homeowner during this time.
  • Auction – This is when the property is taken from the homeowner and sold to the highest bidder. Either the county sheriff or a trustee handles this phase, depending on the state.
  • Real estate owned (REO) – If no one buys the property at auction or if the lender is the highest bidder, the home becomes “real estate owned” by the bank. Banks usually sell REO properties on the open market through a real estate agent or third-party marketing company.

The most common method of buying a foreclosed property is during a sheriff’s auction or trustee’s sale. These auctions are held on a weekday morning. Investors cannot pay with credit cards, personal checks or IOUs, and they must make a sizable deposit or pay the entire sum for the property on the spot. Typically, potential buyers are not allowed inside the house before bidding begins. The only information prospective buyers have on which to base a purchase decision is what is available through public records searches and a curbside appraisal.

A second risk in sheriff’s auctions and trustee’s sales is that the homes are not guaranteed to come with a clear title. This makes the title search a critical, necessary part of your public records research. If a previous owner with a valid claim surfaces at a later date, you can lose everything you invested.

Also, homes sold at auction sometimes have liens that weren’t erased by foreclosure, such as an IRS debt, that could wipe out any profit you thought you would see from the resale of the property. Procedural errors and court rulings also could stop a foreclosure sale after you have invested time and money. Furthermore, some states have a statutory redemption period, during which time the original homeowner can repay what is owed, regain ownership and leave you with nothing.

Despite all of these potential drawbacks, buying an auctioned home isn’t always a perilous undertaking. Homes foreclosed by reputable lenders who are the first lien holders can be a fairly safe investment. If the deal is completed properly, and you have title insurance, there’s an excellent chance of getting a good title. Properties foreclosed by a government agency, such as the Department of Housing and Urban Development or the Veterans Administration, present less risk. These auctions are conducted online through a marketing company.

Buyers are permitted to examine the homes in advance, conduct inspections and obtain title insurance. The biggest drawback to government auctions is the limited availability of homes. Consequently, available properties attract a large number of interested buyers, which makes it a very competitive market with prices only slightly discounted off current market value.

If you are considering the idea of investing in real estate through buying foreclosed properties, prepare yourself by learning the ins and outs of the process and legal issues, and gathering whatever information you can on the property and parties involved. In doing so, you’ll help to minimize the risk that is inherent with this type of investment.