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Can a landlord make you buy renters insurance?

A decade ago, mandatory renters insurance was so rare that landlords who tried to impose it risked losing tenants.

Today it’s as much a part of the rental process as a security deposit, credit check and first month’s rent.

But in the early 2000s, when the cost of property insurance for apartment owners skyrocketed, landlords sought to reduce their costs. Now a $100,000 deductible is common at large complexes. The high deductible reduces an owner’s premium, but leaves him with a hefty bill each time a tenant starts a stove fire or lets the water overflow.

The solution: File a claim against a tenant’s policy instead.

“Landlords are getting wise. They’re drafting smarter and smarter leases that allow them to go after the tenants,” says Gary Wickert, a partner with Matthiesen, Wickert & Lehrer and an expert on subrogation. “Renters insurance will hire a lawyer to defend tenants, but it also provides a target for landlords. Now the landlord has a tenant with insurance, instead of a tenant without insurance.”

A big shift in liability to renters

Moving dayRenters insurance combines liability coverage, which pays for damage to the property caused by the tenant’s negligence, with personal property coverage, which pays to help replace a tenant’s damaged or stolen property, items that are not covered under the building’s policy. (See what else renters insurance covers.)

Frank Barefield, president of Abbey Residential, which operates 9,000 apartment units in Alabama, Texas and Florida, carries a $500,000 deductible on his own insurance, saying he’d rather spend the money on fire-prevention devices. “I don’t want to pay the thousands of dollars of premiums when we have very few claims,” he says.

But he also doesn’t have to reach into his own pocket if a tenant burns a kitchen or floods a hallway. Each of his tenants is required to carry a $100,000 liability policy, at a cost of $15 to $18 a month. (For another $10, the tenant can add insurance to cover his personal belongings.)

“Something in the mentality of the resident as well as the mentality of the owner has changed,” Barefield says. “All of a sudden owners expect it, and tenants expect to pay it.”

Oklahoma says no to mandatory coverage

Lease agreementWhile the National Apartment Association doesn’t have a count on how many owners are doing it, it does provide sample lease language to help its members implement a forced renters insurance policy.

Tenants are left to wonder: Can this be required of me?

Housing laws are crafted at the state level. Oklahoma may be the only state to expressly outlaw the practice; landlords there cannot require tenants to buy renters insurance. But many states follow the same principle behind the Oklahoma precedent.

That precedent, known as the Sutton Rule, holds that a tenant is a co-insured of the landlord’s policy, since the tenant effectively pays for the policy by way of rent. As such, the building’s insurance company cannot sue the tenant for negligence. Insurance companies are not allowed to sue their own customers.

“The court in Oklahoma says: You have a liability policy that’s going to cover almost every situation, so why are you requiring duplicate coverage?” says Janet Portman, executive editor of legal publisher Nolo and an expert on housing law.

Landlords obviously want to avoid filing claims against their own policies, to keep their premiums low and to allow them to maintain high deductibles. Portman says, “Their answer is, ‘I want to protect my policy.’ And that, according to the Oklahoma Court, is not sufficient.”

Few limits on renters requirements elsewhere

Apartment complexVirginia allows landlords to require renters insurance and lets landlords even carry the insurance and charge tenants through fees. But the annual cost, plus the security deposit, cannot exceed two months’ rent.

Oregon goes a step further. Landlords can require renters to buy a $100,000 liability policy (more if it’s customary for similar rentals), but they must carry a comparable policy and show proof to any tenant who asks. Furthermore, tenants who earn 50 percent or less of the median area income, as well as tenants of publicly subsidized housing, cannot be required to buy renters insurance.

Cities with rent control, such as New York and San Francisco, may also put a dollar limit on the amount that landlords can require renters to pay for insurance.

Yet in most, if not all, remaining states, no limits on renters insurance seem to exist.

Tenant groups have opposed the requirement, saying it joins a growing number of fees used to shift landlords’ costs to tenants.

“Some tenants will say, that’s none of your business,” Portman says. “If I want to take the chance that I’ll lose something in a burglary, or flood, or fire, that’s my business.”

Auto-renters insurance bundle cuts the cost

Apartment parking lotIn 2012, the most recent year available, the average cost of renters insurance was $187 a year, or $15.58 per month, according to the Insurance Information Institute.

Some landlords secure low, group rates for tenants. Jamin Harkness, vice president of Wesley Apartment Homes in Atlanta, says his tenants need pay only $3 a month for a $50,000 liability-only policy with no deductible. For $9 more, they can add personal property coverage.

“We not only want to protect our property, we also don’t want them to be left on the hook,” says Harkness.

In addition, a tenant who buys a renters policy from the same company that insures his or her car likely will offset some of the cost with a home-and-auto bundling discount, says Des Toups, Insurance.com managing editor. Nationwide, the discount averages 4.9 percent.

Why you need renters insurance

Apartment fireLandlords say they are primarily concerned about liability. But some landlords also want tenants to carry personal property insurance.

“This isn’t because of warm, fuzzy feelings,” Portman says. “They simply want to make sure the rent stream isn’t compromised from the tenant having to plunk down a lot of money to replace lost, stolen or damaged items.”

Nonetheless, Portman and many tenant advocates recommend that tenants buy renters insurance. A payout can be particularly valuable for people without large cash reserves. Renters insurance will pay for a hotel if your home is temporarily uninhabitable, your dog bites a guest or even if items are stolen from a vehicle.

Understanding the difference between HMO, PPO and POS

Which health insurance plan is best for you?

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Health maintenance organizations (HMOs), preferred provider organizations (PPOs), and point-of-service plans (POS) are all types of managed health care. The purpose of managed care is to provide members with access to a comprehensive system of medical care that offers savings and encourages quality service. While larger companies can afford to offer a choice of health plans, a smaller business can save money by comparing health insurance plans each year before the annual enrollment period. (See “What you need to know about open enrollment.”)

While cost is a key factor, make sure that the network you select provides convenience and coverage in your local area.

Health maintenance organizations (HMO)
When your health care coverage is provided by an HMO, you typically must select an HMO physician to be your primary health care provider.

This doctor will coordinate all of your medical care, including referrals to specialists, such as a dermatologist, cardiologist or surgeon. If you choose to seek treatment from an out-of-network physician, you will generally be required to pay most of the cost yourself. By law, an HMO cannot require referrals for emergency care, so an HMO will pay for emergency room treatment without a referral.

Due to the restriction of choosing from mostly HMO network services, it’s important to check the physician listing and hospital affiliations for the HMO you are considering. If the list is extensive and you are satisfied with the hospitals used by the HMO network, an HMO may be a good choice.

On average, HMOs are the least expensive health option for employers and employees. Doctor visits, preventive care and medical treatment are covered by your monthly insurance premium, and there is usually no individual or family deductible to meet. There is generally a co-payment for each visit that varies based on the type of service provided and the plan you select, but typically no co-insurance.

Most standard HMO plans do not have a lifetime maximum benefit amount. Some HMOs are starting to offer more choices in plan configuration, allowing their members to visit preferred providers outside of the network. This gives their members access to an HMO network and a PPO network at the same time, although the PPO portion usually involves deductibles and co-insurance.

Preferred provider organizations (PPO)
A PPO is more flexible than a traditional HMO insurance plan, but it still operates with a list of physicians and hospitals that are considered “within the PPO network.”

With a PPO plan, you may visit an out-of-network provider and still receive some coverage for their services. However, because the insurance company has not negotiated discounted rates with these providers, you will usually have to pay co-insurance or the difference between the network and out-of-network prices. The co-payment amounts for office visits and other services are also smaller if you see a doctor in the PPO network than if you see an out-of-network doctor.

If you do choose to stray from your PPO network, you may need to pay for the treatment and submit the receipt to your PPO insurance provider for a partial reimbursement. Last, you do not need a referral if you wish to see a specialist, nor do you usually need to select a primary care physician.

Point-of-service plan (POS)
The POS plan is like a combination of the HMO and PPO plans. You are required to designate an in-network physician to be your primary health care provider. You may go out-of-network if you choose, but in doing so, you will have to pay most of the cost yourself, unless a primary care physician refers you to that specific doctor. In that instance, the health plan will pay all or most of your bill.

Why your life insurance is key to financial planning for your special-needs child

Financial planning for any family is complicated, but the challenges rise to a new level when a child has special needs.

“Parents are not only planning for their family’s needs and retirement, but for well beyond their lifetimes,” says Linda Hunter Suzman, a Special Care Planner with MassMutual Financial Group in Seattle.

The process, including buying life insurance policies, is fraught with legal considerations. Well-meaning parents who name children as beneficiaries on their policies put them at risk for losing eligibility for government assistance. Under federal law, anyone who receives a gift or inheritance of more than $2,000 is disqualified for benefits, such as Supplemental Security Income and Medicaid.

That’s why assembling a team of trusted financial advisers is critical, including an accountant, attorney and life insurance agent who specialize in helping families like yours.

Life insurance as financial safety net: set up a trust

An attorney can help you set up a special-needs trust — an important tool if you think your child will require government help. A special needs trust holds assets for your child, and can be named as a beneficiary for life insurance. A trustee, usually a family member, distributes money to take care of your child. When set up properly, a special -needs trust provides money to maintain your child’s quality of life and preserves eligibility for government benefits.

The trust shouldn’t be generic or inflexible, but designed specifically for your child, says Diedre Wachbrit Braverman, a special-needs estate attorney in Boulder, Colo.

Braverman, whose brother has severe autism, speaks from experience; she helped her parents set up a trust. She recommends working with a special-needs attorney — not just an estate attorney. The Academy of Special Needs Planners provides a search tool to find attorneys. She also recommends finding a knowledgeable life insurance agent.

Life insurance plays an important role because most families cannot save enough money for their children’s lifetime needs, and the coverage provides security in case a parent dies prematurely.

A growing number of life insurance companies have established units for special-needs planning. MassMutual started its SpecialCare program in 2004. The company worked with The American College in Bryn Mawr, Pa., to develop coursework and the Chartered Special Needs Consultant designation for agents who complete the schooling.

The training is open only to MassMutual agents, but will become available industry-wide in 2014, says Allen McLellan, associate dean and assistant professor of insurance at The American College.

“I predict there will be great demand for it,” he says. “Working with families in this situation takes deep and really broad knowledge. Most of the advisers who do well are driven, and the work is a calling.”

MetLife started its Center for Special Needs Planning 12 years ago upon the urging of an employee, a parent of special-needs children. The program provides training for agents and resources for families. More than 80 percent of the people who work in it have a family member with special needs, says Kelly Piacenti, director, and also a mother of four, including an 11-year-old boy with cerebral palsy.

Piacenti is not surprised at results from a recent MetLife survey that showed less than half, 49 percent, of caregivers have identified a guardian for their dependent should they no longer care for them. More than half, 56 percent, are unfamiliar with how to identify a trustee to watch over their dependent’s financial holdings, and another 55 percent aren’t sure how to set up a plan for lifetime financial assistance for their dependent.

Parents of special-needs children are so consumed with the day-to-day they have little time or energy to plan, she says. And questions about the future are scary.

“Who’s going to do this? Who’s going to take care of him when we’re not here?” says Piacenti, whose son requires intense medical attention. “This is what keeps us up at night.”

Tips for using life insurance to plan for the future of your special-needs child

Suzman understands the stress on families because she’s been there, too. Her son, now in college, was diagnosed on the autism spectrum. She recommends the following insurance tips:

Make sure you have enough individual disability insurance and long-term care insurance for yourself, so the family isn’t strained if you become disabled or need long-term care.
Invest in a whole life insurance policy to help finance your child’s lifetime needs. Permanent life insurance also provides cash value, which you can borrow against in emergencies.
Consider important riders, such as waiver of premium, which pays the premium if you become disabled; and a guaranteed insurability rider, which lets you purchase more life insurance later without undergoing a medical exam.
Finally, don’t procrastinate. Help is at hand, and financial planning doesn’t have to be expensive, Suzman says.

“But not planning, writing no wills and leaving guardianship up to the courts — that’s a parent’s worst nightmare.”

How to compare car insurance

Many drivers don’t know how to compare car insurance except by looking at price.

There’s nothing wrong with comparing based on price, but you won’t get the best car insurance unless you know what you can change to make your coverage better or cheaper.

Use our tool to compare car insurance quotes from different companies. It only takes about 10 minutes, and you’ll be able to see side-by-side quotes from top carriers free. Start now!

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to effectively compare car insurance quotes and coverage options.

  • Compare car insurance companies
  • Gather up-to-date information
  • Re-evaluate your coverages and limits
  • Compare deductibles
  • Look for big discount potential
  • Compare payment options
  • Read the fine print

Insurance Basics For New Homeowners

You’ve been searching for the perfect house for months. Finally, you find the one. After your offer is accepted and a small mountain of paperwork is signed, it’s yours. What are you going to do next?

If you’re smart, before you pack a single box, you will make sure your home insurance has you covered for whatever life might have in store. While your mortgage lender likely requires you to carry some level of home insurance, don’t assume that amount will protect you from financial disaster.

Donald Griffin, vice president of personal lines for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCIAA), offers these tips.

Tip No. 1: Insure for your home’s replacement cost

Here’s one of the most common mistakes homeowners make: Confusing a house’s market value with its replacement cost. Your home insurance coverage should cover the cost of rebuilding your house if it is destroyed. “The best indication [for coverage] is the cost to build a new home,” Griffin advises. “With an existing home, look at the replacement cost rather than the market value.” This is often less than what you paid for your home; if you’re insuring your house for its market value, you may be overinsuring it.

On the other hand, if you bought a foreclosed home, the price you paid may not accurately reflect construction costs to rebuild it.

To determine the replacement cost, most home insurance companies use software that allows them to enter your home’s features and calculate the cost of replacement. In addition, most policies include coverage for up to 125 percent of the replacement cost.

While it may be tempting to use this buffer as a reason to purchase less coverage, the reduced cost may not be worth the risk you take in having inadequate coverage. Griffin says it can be less expensive to rebuild a home than to do extensive remodeling, and many home insurance claims are for only partial damage to a home.

Tip No. 2: Don’t skimp on liability insurance

There’s the old joke that trial lawyers have never seen a lawsuit they didn’t like. That may be an overstatement, but the threat of legal action is a real concern for everyone – especially if you have assets like a house, savings and investments. If you’re sued for an incident covered under your home insurance (like a slip-and-fall injury on your front steps), liability insurance covers not only the settlement but also your legal fees (up to your liability limit).

According to Griffin, many liability insurance policies will cover you even if an incident happens away from your home. He also recommends buying an excess liability or an umbrella policy that offers coverage of $1 million beyond what is already included in your home insurance and car insurance policies. These policies are relatively inexpensive, often costing $200 to $300 per year.

“You don’t want to lose your home because you failed to buy an insurance policy,” says Griffin.

Tip No. 3: Protect your personal property

Be sure to review the coverage amount for your personal property. Most policies include coverage equal to 50 to 75 percent of the replacement value of your house.

In addition, you may need a separate endorsement, or rider, for some valuables. For example, coin collections, stamp collections, jewelry, furs, fine art, cameras and other expensive belongings may be subject to limited coverage under the personal property provisions of your plan. When requesting a home insurance quote, ask whether these items need to be listed under a separate endorsement to ensure they are properly covered.

Tip No. 4: Don’t overlook coverage for additional living expenses

If your house is destroyed or otherwise unlivable while repairs are being made, you’ll be glad you can tap into your “additional living expenses” (ALE) coverage. This type of coverage won’t pay your mortgage, but it will cover the cost of an apartment or hotel. If you are displaced from your house, you can make a claim for this coverage by submitting paperwork documenting your living expenses.

The ALE standard for most homeowner insurance policies is a benefit worth 20 percent of your home’s replacement value. When you get a home insurance quote, find out if the policy specifies any limitations or exclusions on ALE.

Tip No. 5: Examine what’s not covered

Finally, read the exclusions section of your home insurance policy. Understanding what’s not going to be covered is just as important as knowing what is – before you ever have to make a claim.

In the end, Griffin reminds new homeowners that it is important to choose a financially stable insurance company. Financial strength ratings are available from A.M. Best, for example.

“Remember,” he says, “you are buying a promise from that insurance company that they will be around when you need to make a claim.”

And what about customer satisfaction? J.D. Power and Associates releases annual customer satisfaction rankings of home insurance companies. And state insurance departments generally post their annual “consumer complaint” reports on their Web sites.

Are Health Insurance Premiums Tax-Deductible?

Getting sick can be a real pain in the neck, but at least Uncle Sam gives Americans a little bit of relief in the form of federal income-tax deductions for medical expenses.

“Medical bills can be a huge expense, so the Internal Revenue Service gives people a break so they can recoup some of that money,” says Lisa Greene-Lewis, a certified public accountant with TurboTax.

Some 10.2 million U.S. households collectively deducted $85.3 billion of medical expenses on their 2012 federal tax returns, according to the latest available Internal Revenue Service statistics. Many Americans can make similar write-offs from their state income taxes as well.

But who can deduct what is pretty complicated, and experts say few taxpayers really understand the rules.

“I think the biggest misconception is that people think that all medical expenses are deductible from dollar one. But for my clients, I’d say that well under 10 percent actually qualify to deduct anything,” says Rob Seltzer, a Los Angeles certified public accountant and chairman of the California Society of CPAs’ Financial Literary Committee.

Here’s a look at the basics of deducting medical expenses from your federal income taxes. Consult your tax adviser for specifics regarding your personal situation.

Who qualifies for medical-expense deductions?
The Internal Revenue Code includes two big rules that can severely limit who truly qualifies for relief from medical expenses:

You must generally itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A rather than take the “standard deduction” if you want a break on medical expenses. If what you plan to deduct for everything (from medical bills to mortgage interest) adds up to less than the standard deduction ($6,400 for singles and $12,600 for married joint filers for tax year 2015), there’s no point in itemizing.
Most taxpayers can only deduct allowable medical expenses that exceed 10 percent of “adjusted gross income” (AGI). That’s the amount you earn in a given year from wages, investments and other sources minus what you paid for alimony, student-loan interest and a few other things. So, if a married couple has $100,000 AGI and $10,500 of qualified medical expenses, they can deduct only $500 — $10,500 minus $10,000 (10 percent of their $100,000 AGI). Seniors age 65 or older can deduct any medical expenses above 7.5 percent of AGI.
Seltzer says the only taxpayers who pass both tests are typically those with unusually high medical expenses relative to income. That’s often just the elderly, the unemployed, low-income people or those with big medical bills due to serious illness, in-vitro fertilization or a child’s birth.

Are health insurance premiums deductible?
Yes, in certain circumstances, you can deduct your health insurance premiums as part of your overall medical expenses.

But you can deduct only premiums that you pay with after-tax money from your own pocket. For example:

If your health insurance premiums are paid entirely by your employer or the government, you cannot deduct the cost.
If you have health insurance through your employer and your share of the premium is deducted from your paycheck pre-tax, you cannot deduct the cost because the premiums were tax-free already. If you don’t know whether you pay pre-tax or after-tax, ask your human resources department.
If you buy health insurance through the state- or federally run health insurance marketplaces, you can deduct only the portion of the premium you pay out of your own pocket. You cannot deduct the amount of any subsidy.
If you buy an individual or family health insurance plan, either on the open market or through a marketplace, and you pay all of the cost out of pocket, then the whole amount is deductible.
Your total medical expenses, including premiums, must surpass 10 percent of your adjusted gross income to be deductible.

What else is deductible?
Assuming you pass the above tests, the IRS lets you write off pretty much every out-of-pocket medical expense that’s ordered by a doctor or other health care professional. (See IRS Publication 502 for a list.)

Common items you can deduct from taxes include medical appointments, tests, prescription drugs and durable items like wheelchairs and prescription glasses. In fact, you can even write off unusual expenses as long as they’re medically necessary. For instance, one of Seltzer’s clients deducted a home lap pool because a serious injury meant the man could only swim for exercise, but couldn’t risk colliding with others in a public pool.

You can also deduct transportation expenses for going to the doctor — parking, tolls, mileage, cab or bus fares — and even air fare and certain lodging costs for out-of-town treatments.

But remember, you can only write off out-of-pocket expenses — copays, deductibles, etc. — not bills that your insurance covers.

What’s not deductible?
There’s a wide list of things you can’t deduct, from medical marijuana to over-the-counter vitamins and drugs (except insulin). Hair transplants and cosmetic surgery are also out, unless procedures correct underlying medical problems (like breast-reconstruction surgery following mastectomies).

As noted above, you also can’t deduct expenses that your insurance covers, nor things you paid for with money from a flexible spending account or health savings account. If you get insurance through work, you typically can’t write off your share of the premiums because your employer won’t normally withhold taxes on the money in the first place.

Writing off health insurance for the self-employed
One big exception to the above rules involves health insurance premiums paid by self-employed people. You can write those off as adjustments to income even if you don’t itemize your deductions. The adjustment to income cannot exceed what you earned, though.

Self-employed people can deduct health insurance premiums directly on Form 1040 (Line 29 on returns for the 2014 tax year). You deduct all other qualified medical expenses on Schedule A, Line 1.

How to maximize your health care deductions
You obviously can’t control when you get sick, but TurboTax’s Greene-Lewis says Americans who are close to meeting the annual AGI threshold should “bunch up” procedures to maximize any deductibility.

For instance, if one family member has a major illness in a given year and rings up big hospital bills, everyone else in the family should get any needed dental work, prescription eyeglasses, etc., during the same year in order to boost the available tax break.

“You should look at anything you were putting off and bump it up [to the current tax year] if that’s going to put you over the AGI threshold,” she says.

You don’t need to attach receipts to your 1040, but it’s a good idea to keep them for three years after filing your return just in case the IRS audits you.

Term life insurance vs. permanent life insurance: Is cash value the best value?

If you’re looking for life insurance, aside from considering how much you need, you’ll find the need to understand and possibly choose between the two basic types: term life insurance and cash value life insurance.

The main difference between the two is that term life insurance covers you relatively inexpensively for a set period, whereas cash value life insurance covers you at a much higher cost for the remainder of your life. Cash value life insurance costs considerably more than term life insurance, depending on age and health, but adds a cash value component of debatable merit.

How do term and cash value life insurance work?

Term life insurance generally offers the most amount of coverage for the least amount of money, and is the appropriate choice for most people. The most common reason to buy life insurance is to replace a person’s income in case of early death, and term life insurance is the cheapest and best way to do that. Term life insurance is also an especially good choice for people and families who are just starting out, because it’s relatively cheap and provides a lot of protection when replacing income is most important.

Cash value life insurance, also called permanent or whole life insurance, offers protection for your entire life (as long as you pay your premiums) and more flexibility than term life insurance. However, it usually comes at a much higher price. For example, the premium for a cash value policy can easily be 10 or more times higher than a term policy with the same level of coverage. The feature that makes permanent life insurance different is its ability to gain cash value. A portion of the money you pay into your premium goes into a cash value portion that grows over time, and becomes available for your use after a certain period.

How does cash value work?

The portion of your payment that goes toward the policy’s cash value is very large in the beginning, but decreases slowly as time goes on. That’s because permanent life insurance payments are made up of two parts: the regular insurance premium, which is comparable to the premium amount for the same coverage in a term life policy, and the cash value, or “overpayment” amount. The overpayment money is invested by the insurance company and later used to pay for the higher costs of insurance as you get older. In this way, the company is able to keep your premiums the same instead of increasing them over time. At a certain time, this cash value amount becomes available for your use.

The cash value component of a policy can work differently and be used for different things depending on the type of permanent life insurance you choose. There are four main variations: whole (or ordinary) life, universal (or adjustable) life, variable life, and variable universal life.

Whole life insurance is a predictable policy that provides a guaranteed benefit, a guaranteed earnings rate on your cash value, and a level premium. You may also earn dividends based on how well the company performs. Whole life is the most basic kind of permanent life insurance.
Universal life insurance is a flexible option that lets you vary your premium payments. After the first premium, you can usually make payments at any time. If you have extra money, you can pay more. If you can’t afford to make a payment, you can skip it or pay less. The cash value portion usually operates in a similar manner as with whole life insurance. A problem with universal life is that if you don’t make enough payments, or the company does not perform as expected, your policy could lapse. Newer types of universal life policies include guarantees that this will not happen, so be sure that you explore this option. Universal life can be one of the cheapest forms of permanent life insurance.
Variable life insurance allows you to invest your policy premiums. The problem with this is that if the investments perform poorly, the death benefit and cash value will decrease. On the other hand, if the investments perform well, the death benefit and cash value can greatly exceed those of a normal policy. Variable life is one of the most risky forms of permanent insurance, although its rewards can be great as well.
Variable universal life insurance, as its name implies, is a combination of variable and universal life insurance. It allows you to vary your payments, invest your policy premiums, and vary your coverage amount. Variable universal life insurance is the most flexible type of permanent life insurance, and can be either risky or predictable, depending on how you use it.

How to switch car insurance

It’s easier than ever before to compare car insurance quotes and find a better deal. You can do it using Insurance.com’s quote comparison tool below or over the phone.

But switching car insurance companies the right way is every bit as important.

You don’t want a gap between your policies that can come back to haunt you. You don’t want your old insurance company to cancel your policy for nonpayment and report you to the state. And you want a refund of any premiums that may be due.

  • When to switch car insurance
  • Be sure to get new car insurance first
  • You don’t have to wait until renewal
  • Watch for cancellation fees
  • How to cancel your old auto insurance
  • Confirm cancellation and get a refund

How to Use Chip-Enabled Credit Cards Safely During Holiday Season


This holiday season, more customers than ever have debit and credit cards with EMV chips. While this may cut down on fraud, shopping may be a slower process.

With these cards, consumers don’t swipe, but insert the card into the machine instead.

“This will be the first holiday season after the transition,” said Rob Nichols, incoming president and CEO of the American Bankers Association. “It will be an instructive holiday season for our industry.”

Image via Flickr/frankieleon

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Credit Card Skimmer Use Is On the Rise


The police recently arrested five suspects for stealing personal information from gas pumps, prompting an official investigation of credit card skimmers.

“It’s crazy,” said Craig VanBuren, director of the Consumer Protection Section at Michigan’s Department of Agriculture. “What we’re finding since August has just really blown our mind.”

Skimmers, devices which allow thieves to record credit or debit information, are being found in both large and small towns.

Image via Flickr/Mike Mozart

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