5 Tips for Building your Own Home

The decision to build your own home is an exciting one. Not only do you get to decide where to build, but you also get to determine where on the property the house will stand and how it will be integrated with the landscape.

However, such freedom of choice comes at a cost: the burden of being properly insured lies much more on a homeowner building from scratch than on the buyer of a pre-built house. Working with a contractor can relieve some of this pressure, but even with a contractor’s help there are five things every home builder should know about insurance before starting construction on a new home.

1. Often homeowners insurance alone is insufficient for the construction of a new house. As such, you will also want to research and consider builder’s risk insurance, which will protect you against specific dangers to a structure during construction. This type of insurance even protects materials, equipment and fixtures utilized in the construction process against damage due to fire, wind, lightning or vandalism.

2. When choosing the location of a new house, you should keep in mind certain aspects of the locale might affect the cost of your homeowners insurance over time. Such factors might be as predictable as the distance to the closest fire department, or unpredictable as the weather trends of the area. If you plan to settle in a town that is in a high-risk area for earthquakes, floods, hurricanes or tornadoes, be sure your policy offers as much available protection against inclement weather as possible. And keep in mind that basic home insurance does not protect you against floods and/or earthquakes.

3. Even if you are working with a reputable contractor to build your home, you should look after your own interests when it comes to insurance. Acquiring your own liability insurance can help protect you as a contractor’s priorities might be different than yours.

4. Try to design your home with safety and security in mind. Although initial expense is often a deterrent, incorporating some safety and security features into the design of your home could reduce the cost of your homeowners insurance.

5. Finally, it is also important to gather insurance quotes from several sources. While this may seem an unnecessary complication in an already complicated process, shopping around for insurance will you allow to find an agency that provides you with the best options based on your financial situation, construction costs and the planned duration of construction.

Good luck, happy building!

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3 Tax Tips for 2011

Tax Day is the only day more frightening than Halloween. But you can make Tax Day 2011 a little less stressful by educating yourself with these three tax tips.

1. Federal Taxes Aren’t Due Until April 18th

Everyone knows that April 15 is tax day, but this year it’s a bit different. Emancipation Day, a holiday commemorating the ending of slavery in the District of Columbia, will be observed in Washington, DC on April 15. So, the date to file or request an extension for federal taxes has been pushed back to Monday, April 18, 2011.

State taxes may be due earlier, though, so double-check to be sure.

2. You Can File Taxes Online for Free

Think you need to hire a certified tax expert to file your return? Think again. There are several online tax-filing programs out there that can help you file your tax return for free.

The Internal Revenue Service also offers an online free tax-filing service (for those earning $58,000 or less annually) at its official website.

3. Don’t Pay Your Taxes With a Credit Card

If you choose to pay your taxes with a credit card, you may be charged a “convenience fee” of 2 to 4 percent of your total payment. So, if you owe $1,000, you could be charged an additional $40 just for the luxury of charging it! Use your debit card or cut a check to avoid these silly fees.

Forking over your hard-earned money to Uncle Sam is never fun. If you owe on your taxes, why not offset the cost by finding a more affordable insurance policy? Whether you insure your car, home or your health, you can find money-saving insurance tips by checking out Bucci Insurance Blog or our website.

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Are Your Prescriptions Covered?

According to a 2007-2008 survey from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) program, almost half of America is taking prescription drugs to the tune of over $234 billion, which is double what it was spending on medications in 1999. “The most commonly used types of drugs included: asthma medicines for children, central nervous system stimulants for adolescents, antidepressants for middle-aged adults, and cholesterol lowering drugs for older Americans”, said the report.

Given the staggering statistics on how prescription medications affect a large population with disease control and health maintenance, it raises awareness to the importance of having a health insurance plan in place, should you need prescription medicines, especially if it’s on an ongoing basis.

Just because a health plan covers prescriptions drugs, it doesn’t mean that your particular prescription is automatically covered. Carriers have to go by their “drug formulary”, which is a list of drugs that have been approved by the specific hospital.

As an alternative to carrying a medical plan that includes drug benefits, some people are opting to get plans that exclude prescription benefits, in order to reduce their monthly premiums. These people are instead obtaining their prescriptions from other organizations that offer a drug discount. Walmart Pharmacies and Costco are examples of pharmacies that offer a drug discount program. Be sure to check with Walmart or Costco to make sure they can discount your particular medication before you opt to take a medical plan that excludes prescription benefits.

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“Claiming” Your Social Media Content

The advent of social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin are providing unprecedented access to personal information instantly. From a claims investigation perspective this can be good and bad. Did you ever think you could get caught lying about a claim from a Facebook status you posted, “hit someone’s car today, oops.” The second you post this information it becomes readily available to the public, regardless of your privacy settings. Always keep in mind anything you post on the Internet is not private.

An example featured in Property Casualty 360 illustrates how one social media slip up can cost you. Alexis Muniz of Accord, N.Y., was sentenced to three years’ probation after a Facebook post led to her arrest.

The 28-year-old was arrested after investigators discovered a post on her Facebook page in which she boasted about her salary as an apartment complex manager while she was accepting workers’ comp. payments from her previous job. She was arrested for stealing $8,975 in workers’ comp. benefits, and was sentenced for felony charges of grand larceny and workers’ comp. fraud. She must serve three years of probation, and was ordered to make restitution.

Workers’ compensation claims are for primarily individualized factual situations based on a collection of social experiences involving work-related events.  The collection of personal information on social networks, such as Facebook, has become a treasured library of information that can be utilized to defend or prosecute these matters. Internet is becoming a prominent means of investigation and increasingly leading to more results than traditional detective work. Be aware of the content you are posting on the Internet it can always be traced back to you.

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