By Michele Lerner
Summertime, while naturally a more laid-back season, should also be your moment to shine a little sunlight on your finances. Just as your annual exam at the doctor's office includes a variety of tests to determine your level of physical fitness, your midyear money checkup should do the same for your fiscal health. Here are five essential midyear money tests.
Because car insurance is mandatory, it's often thrown around by politicians looking to score points. To put it another way: If public opinion about car insurance were a pot being stirred by all the interested parties, the stuff inside would surely be a frappe.
You might've noticed there's more of an effort underway to get information about insurance premiums out into the realm of general understanding.
You may vaguely recall all of the insurance fraud stories being pushed around this time last year. Today, there are a lot of stories out there about how flooding in Alberta might impact your homeowner's insurance.
Steve's pretty much the front man involved in getting these stories out there. He's the director of communications at the Insurance Bureau of Canada. As part of their public outreach effort, the organization's been touring malls to talk to consumers about property and casualty insurance (your home and auto insurance).
The following are just a few of the myths and misconceptions he hears from people on a fairly regular basis.
By Dan Caplinger
In "The Sopranos," the IRS didn't stand a chance against Mafia boss Tony Soprano. But thanks to poor planning, the IRS will be the biggest beneficiary of actor James Gandolfini's estate.
Gandolfini died with an estate worth an estimated $70 million. But in what estate lawyer William Zabel referred to as a "catastrophe" in an interview with the New York Daily News, Gandolfini's will left about 80 percent of his estate unprotected against estate taxes, with rates that will add up to about 55 percent when you consider both the federal and state portions.
What's worse, some well-established estate planning techniques could easily have avoided much of that bill while still achieving most of what Gandolfini was trying to accomplish.
Here's a breakdown of insurance options commonly provided by travel credit cards, and what you should ask when it comes to your coverage:
However, if you're currently laughing, you may want to rethink your position.
Just ask Richard Engel, the NBC News correspondent was held for five days with his crew by unknown assailants while reporting on the Syrian Civil War before being released, or Warren Rodwell, a former Australian soldier who was kidnapped over a year ago in the Philippines by the notorious Islamic separatist group Abu Sayyaf and remains there, as of this writing, despite a proof of life video shot December 15, 2012.
I'm sure their employers or families could have used kidnap and ransom insurance to try and expedite the release process because the policy is designed to cover the ransom and and any related expenses associated with getting the kidnapped person back.
Such insurance could come quite in handy when you are known to frequently travel on business or on vacation to kidnapping hotspots, and it's not just the usual suspects like Cambodia, Afghanistan or Somalia, but vacation spots like Mexico, and with more of us having family all around the world, we are all more susceptible to kidnapping abroad.
Kidnapping insurance particularly makes sense when you know that estimates on the prevalence of kidnapping range from 12,000 to 30,000 a year worldwide. However, figures revealed that hostages are released or saved in 94% of cases, with ransoms paid in almost two-thirds of them, which means, those with kidnap insurance have a much better chance of being released because the insurance is guaranteed to be able to cover the ransom.
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Sure, it's not often that you break a leg, so you think the chances of it happening during your holiday are low. But, then again, how often do you play around on a jet ski? And think about more common traveller health complaints, such as food poisoning or that trip to the hospital to relieve your child of that scary asthma attack.
Royal Bank of Canada says about one in 10 Canadians will travel outside Canada this spring break, according to a poll of more than 1,000 Canadians.
Not only can such a thing free you to pursue your many life goals and dreams, but free you emotionally from the added stress of crushing debt.
This is why these days you see just as many money motivated resolutions right alongside the recommendations that deal with diet and exercise.
Yet with so many out there to follow, it can be hard to determine what is the best and most universally applicable financial advice. So here are ten diamonds in the rough we think everyone should take notice of.
1. Resolve Your Debts -- This is the one resolution that must be tackled before everything else, but it's also the one that takes the most discipline. The quickest path to living debt-free is to cut your spending and put the extra money in your budget towards paying off your debt a little at a time. The key is sticking with it, but you don't have to do it alone. A credit counselor can go over your strategy and support your effort, while a debt reduction service can settle debts over $10,000 to a smaller, more manageable amount for a fee.
Filed under: Insurance
Home insurance is a must for any homeowner. Not only do lenders require it, it only makes sense to protect what is likely the biggest investment you will ever make. And while nobody enjoys paying for insurance, here are some easy ways to save on your insurance premiums.
Almost all of us have some assets worth insuring -- our homes, our cars, our health. But the insurance business goes far beyond the basics.
If your possessions are worth a bit more, you might have separate policies for your jewelry or art. Businesses take out insurance to protect their executives against lawsuits. And when they consider certain employees to be vital to their bottom lines, they may even take out life insurance policies on them.
Celebrities are no different. They take out insurance to protect their most important assets -- themselves.
To find out what the 9 craziest celebrity insurance policies are, click on the link (or the lovely picture of Keith Richards) below. Story continues below the gallery:
Filed under: Insurance
It's often said that active hobbies promote healthy living. Some people, however, take their fun to the extreme, engaging in pastimes that put their health -- and even their lives -- at risk. Insurance companies refer to such activities as "hazardous vocations," and charge higher premiums to those who engage in them. Sometimes, they even deny such people coverage altogether.
24/7 Wall St. compiled data from government agencies and the organizations associated with these "extreme" activities to determine which had the highest rates of accident and death. We also looked at several insurance estimates to determine how much premiums would increase for those who listed these activities among their regular hobbies. (We excluded risky activities that are generally performed by professionals, rather than as hobbies, such as rodeo riding or racing sports.)
In terms of strict numbers of fatalities, these hazardous vocations are less likely to get you killed or seriously injured than riding in a car or on a bicycle. Nevertheless, insurers consider them high risk factors.