Thinking about buying a home soon?

Family standing in front of their home.If you're buying a home soon or just thinking about it, call me. Not only can Oak Tree Insurance provide you with a great homeowners insurance policy, we also have relationships with some of the premier mortgage loan officers and realtors in the Twin Cities South Metro area and a few other areas.

It's important that you make sure you follow some sound advice when purchasing a home. Whether it's your first home or your 10th home, here are a few tips when you buy a home.

1. If you're financing, try to avoid any major purchases for 3-6 months prior to buying. Any credit inquiries in the months leading up to a your purchase could reduce your credit rating which in turn could raise your interest rate. When you do start looking, get pre-approved first. This way you won't be wasting your time and you can get serious.

2. Only buy what you can afford. This might be obvious. Think about how much you're spending now on rent or your current mortgage. If you don't seem to have any extra money at the end of the month, don't spend more just because your pre-approved for it. Just because you're preapproved for a large payment, you need to know how you can really afford.

3. Once you've found the house, get a home inspection. See if you can go with the home inspector, ask questions, and don't rush it. You plan on living in the home, make sure you know what you're buying. If you see something that looks suspicious, ask about it. A crack in a basement floor could mean something as serious as a water drainage issue. But don't worry about paint colors, you can always paint. Some things are a simple fix, some things are not. Know what you're buying.

4. If you're buying an older home, make sure the systems are in good shape. Make sure the electrical system and plumbing system is up to date. Not only is this safer for the homeowner, it's also better for insurance rates. Check the roof too. New shingles means the insurance rates are better, old shingles could mean you'll be replacing them at some point in the near future.

5. But, if the price is right and you have the skills or the budget, you can overlook some of these repair items. Just make sure you don't wait too long before repairing the needed areas.

 

What is disability insurance?

DI_90percentDisability insurance helps replace a major portion of your income when you are sick or injured and unable to work. Some people think of it as “paycheck protection.” Others view it as a way to protect their home since a mortgage payment is often a family’s most significant monthly expense.

Having disability insurance can provide a sense of security, knowing that if the unexpected should happen, you’ll still receive a monthly income.

If you think about it, everything you have today - your home, car, groceries, savings - basically your lifestyle, depends on your ability to earn an income. Most people are quick to insure their possessions, such as their home and car. And they generally have life insurance that would provide for their family. But the one thing that makes all this possible is – your income. It’s your most important asset. So, protecting it with disability insurance isn’t just a good decision – it’s essential.

How much do I need? Try this handy calculator from lifehappens.org.

Are you getting your hot rod ready for summer?

Your choice for classic car insuranceAt Oak Tree Insurance we have several choices for insuring your hot rod. One of our most reputable companies for insuring collector cars is Hagerty Insurance. They are some of the most knowledgeable and experienced companies I've run across. Whether you're driving the vehicle now or it's in the restoration process, they can insure it.  Take a look around Hagerty's site for additional information or contact me to take the next step.

Appraisals are not needed to insure with Hagerty. Just send me photos and an accurate detailed description and I'll forward that information to Hagerty for an accurate quote. They'll let us know us know how much it's worth.

Thinking about adding a home security system?

GE Security SystemTake a look at the GE Home Security System. It is the Simon XT System. Most systems are around $45 per month for wireless service. You'll get sensors for each door, windows, garage doors, a camera, a motion detector and even wireless key fobs so you can turn on and turn off the alarm from outside the home, similar to the key fob for your car. Total value of the system is around $1300. The only cost to you is the monthly fee. Contact GE Home Security at 1-800-519-4350 for more details.

You will be eligible for a discount on your homeowners insurance for this security system or an other security system you choose.

*GE Home Security systems are not offered by Oak Tree Insurance, LLC and are not affiliated in any way . This is a service offered by GE Home Security.

Do you need ERISA coverage?

401KAre you a business owner that needs an ERISA bond because you offer a 401K? If you offer a 401K, you are required to have insurance coverage or an ERISA fidelity bond for 10% of the plan balance.

The Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) is a federal law that sets minimum standards for pension plans in private industry. ERISA does not require any employer to establish a pension plan. It only requires that those who establish plans must meet certain minimum standards. The law generally does not specify how much money a participant must be paid as a benefit. ERISA requires plans to regularly provide participants with information about the plan including information about plan features and funding; sets minimum standards for participation, vesting, benefit accrual and funding; requires accountability of plan fiduciaries; and gives participants the right to sue for benefits and breaches of fiduciary duty.

Contact me for more information and competitive pricing.

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Life insurance isn’t for you, it’s for those left behind

Your choice for life insuranceI was asked a couple days ago, how much life insurance do you have? I told the person "I have enough to take care of my family if I die, but so much that they want me dead!" It was a joke when I said it but it got me thinking more about life insurance.

Life insurance, especially term insurance, helps take care of those left behind. I typically go through a few different questions when determining how much you need. Here are some of those questions if you're wondering how much you need.

Final expenses - How much will your funeral be? Did you die with medical bills outstanding?

Debt - Your income is your biggest asset. Your income was also helping to pay down bills such as a mortgage, loans and maybe credit card debt. If your income is gone, will your spouse be able to pay the bills? Will your assets be seized to pay for outstanding debt?

Education - If you have children, did you intend to help them through college? Are they currently going to a private grade school?

Income replacement -You and your spouse are working towards goals of your own. If you die, many of the goals still remain. Retiring at a cabin up north with the grandkids, going on a vacation to Ireland, experiencing the Australian outback or taking your family to Walt Disney World. If you leave this earth, don't forget to take care of those left behind. It's not just money, it's dreams.

Special needs - Are you taking care of elderly parents? Do you have a child with special needs that depends on you? If you are gone it's a good idea to have funds set aside so they can continue to receive the quality of care they were receiving with you.

Often times the life insurance needs are $1,000,000 or higher. This is a lot of money, but's it's really not a lot over a lifetime, or to satisfy all of these needs. Final expenses could be $25000, debt could be $300,000, education could be $200,000, income replacement could easily be $500,000, special needs could easily exceed $100,000. When you really consider what the financial impact would be if you died and left a family behind, I hope you see the real need to evaluate what the true number is that you need. Then ask me if it's in your budget.

Click here for one example of what happens when you don't have enough.

Are you renting an apartment or a home?

new_york_empire_state_building_manhattan[1]Renting an apartment or a home? Do you have renters insurance?

You can't always control what your neighbors do and sometimes people have accidents, even you. If you find yourself displaced from your apartment or home you are renting, I hope you have a renters policy.

A renters policy will help you in a number of ways. Here's how you benefit.

1. Your "stuff" is protected in the event it is stolen, damaged in a fire, water damage, vandalism and more. I suggest you insure it to replacement value, meaning that the insurance company will provide coverage to buy new instead of deducting depreciation. Don't over insure yourself, be realistic. Go through each room and get a estimate of the value of each room, add up the total and insure yourself for that amount. Update coverage as you accumulate things.

2. You have loss of use coverage. This provides funds for hotels or temporary housing in the event your home is damaged to a point where you can no longer stay there. Picture an apartment fire where multiple units are damaged and people are panicking looking for a place to stay. You can go straight to a hotel. Keep your receipt, you'll be reimbursed.

3. Medical coverage. If you have guests to your home and someone is injured. This pays for first aid to the injured guest up to the limit chosen by you. I recommend at least $5,000. You can go higher or lower. This is not a significant expense to the policy, don't go lower.

4. Liability coverage. If a guest is injured and you are found negligent this gives you coverage. For example, if you are having guests over and someone slips on an icy sidewalk and receives severe or lasting injuries and sues you. This provides you with an attorney and settlement money up to the policy limit. Often the limit is $500,000. You can also purchase an umbrella policy to give you extra coverage of $1,000,000 or more. One great feature about liability coverage is that it follows you, except in the car or at work.

For an example where renters insurance was used, click here.