It’s almost the holiday season and that can mean only one thing- presents. With high school seniors eagerly waiting acceptance letters and college kids returning for the break, technology is going to be a "must-have." Students flock to Best Buy, the Apple Store, and the internet for the best deal on the best computer. Many people choose different sides of the argument as if they are picking team Jacob or Edward (ok, maybe it’s more like Coke vs. Pepsi). You’re either a Mac or a PC person (remember that ad a few years back?) So, what’s the big fuss about?
Windows operating systems have been a staple in home and business computers for decades. No one can deny the plentitude of options and variations allows for a custom computer how you want it. Most programs and institutions have their base in PCs, meaning if you have one, you’re probably already compatible. The operating system for Windows is not the issue. Windows 7 is a fine tool and excellent to work with. Now with the launch of Windows 8, there are more options for everyone. However, the most common problem for PCs are the hardware. Dell, Acer, Lenovo, etc. all make the computers that run windows, and most of the problems come with design flaws and issues within these machines.
Don’t go based on looks. These computers perform very well at a lot of tasks. Options and configurations aren’t as plentiful as the PC counterpart; however, the two have been coming together in the compatible programs and documents department. No doubt, technology is moving to the cloud. Apple utilizes this feature and has made their products integrated with the web base storage and sharing options. Not to mention the ease of use that is associated with Macs. Apple utilizes a vertical integration business model; meaning they own or operate all aspects of the computer build process, meaning if there is a problem, Apple can be held responsible to fix the issue. A major advantage of Mac computers is they can run a windows operating system like Windows at the same time as OS X, so you can literally get the best of both worlds.
For more on the great debate: visit Intel’s, APC's, Popular Mechanic's, and Apple's pitch for the products. I use both PCs and Macs frequently; my personal preference is Mac for the reliability, speed, and overall appeal.
There are pros and cons to both models of computer, and inherent risks to owning one. Computers are an investment, no matter which way you roll. Protect your investment and make sure that your new laptop is covered under the parent’s homeowner personal property coverage on the homeowner policy or sometimes there is a computer or electronics endorsement. If the student resides in an off-campus apartment, they may need to buy a renter’s policy as most insurers do not extend coverage to a rented apt from the parent policy. Take photographs and save the receipt of purchase in a safe place.
See our previous blog about preventing theft in college for a comprehensive list of crime deterrent tips. What about those pictures from last year’s vacation and your sister’s wedding? Back up your files on an external hard drive, or send it to the cloud where even fire, flood, and theft can’t access it.
So which one are you, blog reader? Are you subscribing to us on a Mac or a PC? Leave a comment below with your opinion.
The flood maps changes in many Massachusetts communities means your flood risk may become higher or lower. This will affect what you pay for flood insurance.
Here are some scenarios that explain different flood map changes:
Scenario 1: If the flood maps change from a low or moderate flood risk to high risk (flood zone B, C, or X) to zone A, AE, AR, A99, AH or AO).
These requirements and options apply to Scenario 1 according to the National Flood Insurance Program:
- Flood insurance is mandatory for most mortgage holders. Insurance costs may rise to reflect the true (high) risk.
- The PRP Eligibility Extension Program can offer savings. To ease a homeowner's transition from a moderate-to-low risk area to a high-risk area, which would require the mandatory purchase of flood insurance and an increase in flood insurance costs, the National Flood Insurance Program is extending eligibility for the lower-cost Preferred Rate Policy to properties that were remapped on or after October 1, 2008.
- "Grandfathering" can offer savings. The National Flood Insurance Program has "grandfathering" rules to recognize policyholders who built in compliance with the flood map in effect at the time of construction or who maintain continuous coverage. Sometimes, though, using the new flood maps can actually result in a lower premium, especially if the home is high enough above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). In addition, buildings newly mapped into a high-risk area may be eligible for the lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) for two years after a map change, before they grandfather in the lower-risk zone rates.
Scenario 2: The flood maps show a change from high flood risk zone to a low or moderate risk (flood zone A, AE, AR, A99, AH, AO to X or shaded X)
These requirements or options apply for scenario 2:
- Flood insurance is optional but recommended. The risk has only been reduced, not removed. Flood insurance can still be obtained, and at lower rates. Even though flood insurance isn't federally required, anyone can be financially vulnerable to floods. People outside of high-risk areas file over 20% of NFIP claims and receive one-third of disaster assistance for flooding. When it's available, disaster assistance is typically a loan you must repay with interest.
- Conversion offers savings. An existing policy can be easily converted to a lower-cost Preferred Risk Policy, if the building qualifies. Note that lenders always have the option to require flood insurance in these areas.
Scenario 3: The flood maps show an increase in the Base Flood Elevation (BFE).
These requirements or options apply to scenario 3.
- An increase in BFE can result in higher premiums; however, "grandfathering" can offer savings. The National Flood Insurance Program grandfathering rules allow policyholders who have built in compliance with the flood map in effect at the time of construction to keep the earlier base flood elevation to calculate their insurance rate. This could result in significant savings.
Scenario 4: No change in flood zone risk level .
These requirements or options apply.
- No change in insurance rates. However, this is a good time to review your coverage and ensure that your building and contents are adequately protected.
Our agency www.agordon.com is happy to assist with securing or reviewing flood insurance coverage.
Living on the coast of New England has always had its advantages: proximity to the beaches, the memorable sunrises / sunsets, and cool ocean breezes in the summer. Offsetting these advantages, however, are new challenges in insuring a home wherever these breezes keep you cool during the dog days of summer.
Why do they cost more?
Insurance companies’ concern with coastal homes is not about floods (flood damage is excluded, and needs to be insured separately). It’s the wind. Wind can knock down trees, phone and electrical lines, and damage roofs, exposing the rest of the house to rainwater and related problems. Wind poses a “severity” concern too, since one storm can generate large losses for many companies throughout a broad region. Not surprisingly, reinsurers (who provide catastrophic insurance for insurance companies) are demanding new restrictions on how coastal property owners participate in their own losses.
How are insurance companies dealing with this?
To moderate severity geographical concentrations, and to provide incentives to homeowners to protect against wind damage, most companies are imposing mandatory Wind deductibles, near the coast. These are distinct and separate from your standard deductible. There are two categories, and the distinction can be important: “Named Storm” deductibles apply only to claims arising from a Named Storm (i.e. Class 3+ Tropical Storms & Hurricanes). A broader “Wind / Hail” deductible, applies to any wind/hail loss. When given the choice, a Named Storm deductible is preferred, simply because it won’t apply as often, such as on damage from winter nor’easters or summer thunderstorms… or the notorious “No-Name” perfect storm.
How much is this costing me?
These new deductibles are usually expressed as a percentage of your dwelling (house) amount, and range from 1% to 5% depending on location and a company’s existing exposure. For example, a 2% wind deductible on a home insured for $250,000 translates to $5,000, a significant amount to “self-insure”. Distances generally dictate the amount you share: less than 1000 feet from the shore (3% – 5% wind deductibles common), 1000’ —2500’ (2% common), 2500’ to 1 mile (“named storm” deductibles become available), and 1– 5 miles (more markets, more choices become available).
Can you avoid a wind deductible if you’re within these ranges?
Sometimes. Contact Andrew Gordon Insurance for home insurance solutions that fit your budget and your tolerance for risk at our website.
Are you in the zone? A change in flood maps could result in a change to a high risk flood zone for many unknowing property owners. Many communities in Massachusetts will be experiencing a change in flood hazard maps in July, 2012. The maps are used to determine a property's flood zone.
Flood hazard maps, also known as Digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (DFIRMs), indicate whether properties are in areas of high, moderate or low flood risk. Towns throughout Massachusetts are receiving these updated flood hazard maps that are scheduled to become effective July 17. This is all part of the Federal Emergency Management Agency's nationwideprogram to modernize Flood Insurance Rate Maps.
Many homeowners may find that their risk is higher or lower than it was prior to the map changes. If the risk level for a property changes so may the requirement to carry flood insurance.
Those who have a federally backed mortgage or plan to refinance with a federally backed lender, will be required to purchase flood insurance if they find that their home is shown in a high-risk flood area known as a Special Flood Hazard Area on the updated maps.
Purchasing flood insurance before the flood maps become effective will lock in the lower-risk zone and could lead to significant savings. In addition, if you plan to sell your property you can "lock in" the current flood zone which can be a significant selling point down the road. If you currently are zoned in a "preferred" flood zone, you could buy into this zone before the new maps become effective in July.
The updated flood maps can be viewed at each community’s Town Hall. Typically, the building inspector is the community coordinator of the flood program. Each community received both a paper copy and a digital copy of the new maps to share with their residents.
Communities affected are: Abington, Bridgewater, Brockton, Carver, Duxbury, East Bridgewater, Halifax, Hanover, Hanson, Hingham, Hull, Kingston, Lakeville, Marion, Marshfield, Mattapoisett, Middleborough, Norwell, Pembroke, Plymouth, Plympton, Rochester, Rockland, Scituate, Wareham, West Bridgewater and Whitman.
If you need assistance understanding how your property may be affected, our agency www.agordon.com can help educate you on flood insurance. Timing is important and it is best to learn before the flood map changes so you have more choices on managing a change in flood zones.