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When should your clients buy travel insurance?

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When should your clients buy travel insurance?

An expert from Aon Affinity Travel Practice breaks it down

Beth J. Harpaz, The Associated Press on July 26, 2018

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When you book flights online, you’re typically prompted to buy travel insurance. Same with cruises and tours.

Should you buy the insurance? What will it cover? Equally important, what won’t it cover, and when might it not be worth your while?

Read: Canadians don’t have a good understanding of travel health coverage

The AP Travel podcast “Get Outta Here!” got the answers to these and other questions from Beth Godlin, president of Aon Affinity Travel Practice. Aon, a global insurance broker that represents insurance companies, creates specialized travel products, including insurance policies sold by cruises, tour operators and certain online booking sites.

Excerpts from the podcast interview:

TRAVEL INSURANCE: WHAT IS IT GOOD FOR?

Typically travel insurance protects your financial investment in your trip, to “cover penalties and extra costs you would incur” if you couldn’t take your trip or if your trip was interrupted, Godlin said.

Read: Blockchain could affect info sharing in P&C industry, travel claims payments: InsurTech TO

For example, say you need to cancel a trip or head home early because of a death in the family or because a hurricane is headed to your beach destination. This type of insurance reimburses prepaid expenses – flights, tours, hotel – as well as expenses incurred because the trip was interrupted, like rebooking fees for new flights. This type of insurance also covers additional costs incurred if your trip is delayed – for example, you miss a connection because of a storm and need to stay overnight in a hotel before catching the next flight out.

Another type of travel insurance offers health benefits, typically providing “gap coverage for emergency medical expenses and also medical evacuation.”

Read: Cancellation insurance for space tourism

A third category protects “your stuff,” Godlin said, meaning whatever you bring with you or pack that’s not covered by existing insurance, in case of loss, damage or theft.

WHEN WOULDN’T YOU BUY INSURANCE?

Buying insurance should be based on potential losses and what you can afford to lose.

If you’re staying in a hotel that won’t charge you if you cancel, or you’re taking a trip booked with miles but you can get the miles back with no penalty if you cancel, you don’t need insurance because your losses would be zero.

But if you stand to lose your investment should you cancel, can you live with that risk?

Typically, insurance costs 6% of the cost of a trip. So for $60, you can insure a $1,000 trip. What’s your comfort level on the money? Would you rather spend the extra $60 and know that you’re covered? Or can you live with the possibility that if the trip falls through for some unforeseen reason, you could lose most of what you spent on flights and other nonrefundable components?

“You have to do the math,” Godlin said. “What’s the penalty versus what would be the cost to insure it?”

EXCLUSIONS AND TIMING

Risk assessment is also a factor. If you’re planning now for a Caribbean trip in September, that’s prime hurricane season. Insurance would mitigate potential financial losses if a storm disrupted or caused the cancellation of your trip.

Read: 2017 was the costliest year on record for weather disasters: Aon Benfield

But you cannot get insurance to cover specific problems that already exist. So if your trip starts Friday, and a storm is already headed to your destination, it’s probably too late to buy insurance.

“Insurance is designed to protect the unforeseen,” Godlin said.

Similarly, if a family member was just admitted to the hospital, it’s probably too late to buy insurance to cover the possibility that you’ll have to cancel a planned trip if that person’s condition worsens. Godlin advises calling the insurer and asking if reimbursement would be offered in that scenario, “or is that an exclusion.”

Buying insurance when you book your trip is the best way to assure your claims will be covered, but many policies can be purchased until the day before the trip. That said, of course, you can’t sprain your ankle on Monday, buy insurance on Tuesday and cancel the trip om Wednesday.

Typically, exclusions – things not covered by insurance – include pre-existing medical conditions (though you might be covered if your medical condition has been stable and there’s an unexpected, new complication) and work-related issues (a last-minute deadline that the boss can’t handle without you).

Read: The terrorism talk

One option that covers every scenario: cancel-for-any-reason insurance. That gives you flexibility to just say, “it’s just not a good time for me to go,” Godlin said. Typically, though, that type of insurance only reimburses 75 per cent of your cost rather than the 100 per cent with other types of policies.

TERROR ATTACKS

What if a terror attack unfolds somewhere and you’re feeling so nervous that you want to stay home? If the attack shuts down the city you’re headed to, you may be covered. But if the attack is in a provincial capital and you’re heading to a different region, you probably can’t make a case for an insurance claim unless you have cancel-for-any-reason insurance.

And if insurance doesn’t cover your situation, or you don’t have insurance, it’s always worth contacting the airline, hotel or tour operator. Sometimes travel providers are sympathetic to individual problems or when the public feels skittish following a major event. Even if you can’t get a refund, you might get credit toward a future trip.

Canadian Insurance Top Broker is now on Facebook (facebook.com/TopBrokerMag) as well as LinkedIn (linkedin.com/company/citopbroker) and Twitter (twitter.com/CITopBroker). Follow us for easy access to the top P&C news you need to know.

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11-Step Guide to Buying A House

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Purchasing a home is likely going to be one of the largest purchases you will make in your lifetime, which is why it is so important to follow the right steps when starting on your home-buying journey to ensure that the entire process goes smoothly from start to finish!

We’ve put together a step-by-step guide to buying a home, to help you get off on the right foot when it comes to buying a home. Click the download button below to download these steps in PDF form.

1. Decide to buy a home

Make sure you are ready both financially and emotionally!

2. Get Pre-Approved

Work with a mortgage broker or your bank. They will work with you on what you require to submit an application. Once approved, this will determine how much you can afford to spend on a home.

3. REALTOR® Consultation

Work with a RE/MAX agent to help guide you through the process. The right agent will discuss your price range, ideal locations, current market conditions and much more!

4. Start Your Search

Your REALTOR® will get you information on new homes that meet your criteria as soon as they’re listed. They’ll work with you and for you to ensure you find your dream home.

5. Current Market Conditions

Your experienced RE/MAX agent is a valuable resource as you consider different properties. They will be there when you have questions regarding the homes you’re interested in – they can tell you what is a good deal, and when to walk away.

6. Make an Offer

Your REALTOR® will help create your offer tailored to your needs including the right subject clauses down to the closing date that works best for you.

7. Negotiate

You may receive a counter offer but don’t be worried! RE/MAX agents will negotiate for you to ensure you get the best possible price for the house you love!

8. Accepted Offer

It’s crunch time! The next few weeks are busy as you need to schedule and remove every one of your subject clauses by the specified date. You’ll likely need to schedule an inspection, appraisal, financing approval, and several others. You will also need to provide a deposit to put down on the home. The deposit will be a pre-determined amount given in-trust to your REALTOR® to show the sellers you are committed to this home. Don’t worry, that money goes towards the purchase of said home if all goes well! This is a busy time but be sure to reach out to your RE/MAX agent if you have any questions or are unsure about next steps.

9. Subject Removal

Once you have completed all your subject clauses, and everything went smooth, it is time for you to sign on the dotted line and consider your new home to be yours (almost!).

10. Official Documents

You will need to provide your RE/MAX agent with your preferred lawyer or notary to have the official title transferred into your name. You will meet with the lawyer or notary in person to sign all the legal documents before you move in. This typically happens a few days before you take possession of your new home.

11. Move In!

Congratulations, you are officially a homeowner! The date pre-determined by you is your move-in day! You can now move into your new home. Your RE/MAX agent will be there ready and waiting to hand you the keys. Enjoy!

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Know When to Rent ‘Em, Know When to Buy ‘Em

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We’re told it’s always better to buy than rent. Everyone—from our parents to the banks to the government—encourages us to buy, buy, buy our homes.

But times have changed, and I dare say that these authority figures might be slightly out of touch. The jaw-droppingly high cost of real estate in big cities is encouraging millennials to rent instead of own, causing homeownership rates to drop. At 30 years old, 50.2% of millennials own homes versus 55% of baby boomers at the same age. As a millennial homeowner, I can’t help but wonder if I’m generationally displaced.

There’s an old misconception out there about renting that needs to be addressed. You’re not “throwing away your money” if you’re renting. While that familiar axiom might be true sometimes, there are plenty of circumstances in which it does actually make more sense to rent than buy.

You Might Choose to Rent If…

…You Invest What You Save

Renting tends to come with lower carrying costs than owning. Typically, all you’ll have to worry about paying as a renter is, well, the rent (clearly) and perhaps a share of utilities. This leaves you with extra monthly cash to invest, which can ultimately put you on even financial footing or better with a homeowner.

As always, there’s a familiar caveat here: You need to be financially disciplined for this strategy to pay off. One mistake I see a lot is that those who rent tend to fall prey to something called ‘lifestyle inflation.’ Rather than investing what they save as renters, they just rent nicer apartments, eat at fancier restaurants, and put more money into their wardrobe than their RRSP. But this money vacuum can be easily avoided by:

1. Budgeting to find out how much you have left over to invest each month after factoring out all your expenses, then;

2. Funneling that leftover money directly into your investments. Some robo-advisors, like Wealthsimple, allow you to do this automatically via pre-authorized contributions, which set recurring transfers from your chequing account into your investment portfolio, at whatever amount and interval you choose.

…You Have Rent Control, aka the Urban Holy Grail

Depending on where you live, you might be lucky enough to benefit from the urban miracle known as rent control. That means your landlord can only increase your rent by the rate of inflation, which in turn keeps your cost of living way down and leaves you with more money to invest. In Canada, rent control is now implemented in most big cities like Toronto and Vancouver (although not in Montreal).

…You Have a Mobile Lifestyle

Renting makes it easier to move; if you’d like to relocate it’s usually as simple as giving your landlord 60 days written notice. But when you own a home you’re more tied down, and the obligation to be near your property may prevent you from chasing new adventures in faraway lands. I once turned down a fantastic job opportunity in Dallas, Texas for this very reason.

…You’re on a Tight Budget

Renting tends to be more affordable than buying in big cities like Toronto and Vancouver. I know, I know, renting is still unreasonably pricey in certain neighborhoods. But buying in those same areas can be arm-and-a-leg expensive.

When you rent, all you have to come up with is the first and last month’s rent; no need to scrimp and save to pull together a massive down payment on a house, which, incidentally, will take you two to four times longer to save than it did your parents.

And homeownership leads to a lot of other costs aside from mortgage payments. When you buy real estate, you’ll need to pay closing costs, which typically add up to between 1.5%–4% of the property’s purchase price and can include a home inspection fee, real estate lawyer fee, land transfer taxes, and homeowners insurance (sometimes you’ll have to fork over an entire year’s worth of home insurance as one lump sum).

There’s also the elephant in the room that nobody likes to speak about: repairs and maintenance. Homeowners are responsible for paying the big bucks for costly home repairs, such as a new roof and furnace, and are advised to set aside 3–5% of a home’s value toward home repairs and maintenance each year. Renters, on the other hand, can just call their landlord whenever they need repairs (provided the landlord actually picks up). Still, it’s important that tenants know their rights when renting to be aware of which fees do and don’t fall under their responsibility.

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A Montreal Real Estate Broker Answered 5 Qs About Buying A Property To Rent Out

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You’ve probably heard that Montreal’s real estate market is on fire. But how can you get in on the action? According to Alex Marshall, a local real estate broker, buying a property as an investment for the purpose of renting it out is a great way to go about it.

Marshall, who’s part of the Keller Williams Prestige team, sat down with us to explain why and how to purchase an investment property. These types of properties are also known as revenue properties.

Why do you recommend buying a revenue property?

Marshall used personal experience to highlight the advantages of owning a revenue property. He’s currently renting out the Saint-Henri loft he bought in 2010.

“Not only is my tenant paying off my mortgage, but I’m making a couple 100 bucks a month as well,” Marshall said.

Marshall was also able to take out a line of credit on the property, he said, and use the equity to buy an additional property.

“You actually don’t need to live in the property that you buy. I’m seeing clients who are in apartments with low rent [who] don’t want to move but have got the money right now … and are looking for smart ways to invest,” he said.

What are some tips to help people save up for a revenue property?

When Marshall was saving up to buy his first property, he said he worked a second job. 

“There’s a lot of value to having that side hustle … even if it’s at Subway or it’s at a landscaping company on Saturdays. It will add up significantly in the long run,” he said.

He gave the example of adding $5,000 to your annual income.

Marshall said you can qualify to borrow roughly four times your annual salary for a mortgage so $5,000 could actually provide you with an extra $20,000 of buying power.

“That might get you a second bedroom, that might get you a parking spot, that might get you a larger space,” he said.

The pandemic, Marshall said, has also helped some of his clients save extra funds.

“You can’t travel, you can’t go to the restaurant, you can’t go to the theatre, you can’t go to the bar. So a lot of people right now are finding themselves with almost a disposable income,” he said.

Marshall also recommends looking into Canada’s Home Buyers’ Plan program, which allows you to withdraw up to $35,000 — — tax-free — from your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) to put toward buying or building a qualifying home. 

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