The Importance of Reviewing Your Insurance Policies During The COVID-19 Pandemic

The Importance of Reviewing Your Insurance Policies During The COVID-19 PandemicThe COVID-19 pandemic has taken the world by storm. Millions of people all over the world have been infected and businesses have ground to a halt. During this time, it is important for everyone to take a breath, pause, and look at their insurance policies.

The reality is that the economic crisis is following in the footsteps of the obvious public health emergency. In order for everyone to hold their finances together, it is important to explore all of the options. This includes looking at insurance policies.

Business Interruption Insurance

One of the first policies or riders that everyone has to look for is called business interruption insurance. This is an insurance policy that might be able to assist companies that are struggling with reduced revenue streams due to interruptions in their normal business operations.

For example, if a business is forced to shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this might fall under the category of business interruption insurance. This can help businesses bridge the gap until they can reopen again.

Civil Authority Clauses

This is a feature that is common in property insurance. This insurance claim can be triggered if government policies restrict the entry of people onto the property of the policyholder. If this restriction leads to lost income, then the insurance policy can be triggered. Everyone should check their policies to see if this clause is included as this can provide funds to businesses that might not otherwise be able to stay open.

Defensive Policies And Riders

Finally, defensive policies are often put in place to help companies defend against lawsuits that might be filed against the company related to injuries and illnesses. Without a doubt, there will be a slew of lawsuits filed related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Defensive policies can help companies cover legal fees, settlement costs, and other expenses related to these lawsuits.

Defensive policies are also called D&O insurance (Directors and Officers Insurance) as well as General Liability Insurance. It is important to read the insurance policy carefully to see if these policies are included.

Businesses need to explore every available option when it comes to reopening. These insurance policies can help them survive the COVID-19 pandemic.

Do You Really Need Mortgage Insurance?

Do You Need Mortgage Insurance Even if It's Not Required by Your Lender? Let's Take a LookFinding a proper mortgage loan and understanding the processing procedures behind the loan is the basis of good research. The down payment on a mortgage loan is typically significant when dealing with mortgage insurance.

Most loan applications with less than 20% down payment are required to include mortgage insurance with the loan. However, mortgage insurance may still be required even if it’s not typically required by your lender.

Underwriting Requirements

Most home mortgage applications undergo a strict set of standards for approval. These standards are known as underwriting and make up the bulk of time spent on a mortgage application. Unique situations in employment or credit history may require an additional down payment percentage to avoid PMI or private mortgage insurance.

Most underwriting requirements require adequate information on the borrower’s credit and employment history for complete application. Self-employed individuals or those with alternative forms of credit may need a few additional hoops to jump through when dealing with mortgage insurance requirements.

Lender-paid Mortgage Insurance

Lender-paid mortgage insurance is a popular option with potential homeowners that seek to avoid the cost of a PMI or FHA-backed insurance on a home loan. Most lenders incorporate payment of private mortgage insurance in exchange for a slightly higher interest rate.

This is one example of the points system on a mortgage application that eliminates the cost of PMI. The increase in interest rate may or may not warrant the need for a lender-paid mortgage insurance arrangement.

What’s Involved With Risk Assessment?

Strict lending requirements and banking policy now limit the number of mortgages with zero down payment options. Conventional mortgages and FHA both require private mortgage insurance if it is less than 20% down payment. However, FHA loans can be more flexible with the initial down payment requirements with adequate credit. FHA mortgage costs are now for the life of the loan. Lenders will look at mortgage insurance as risk protection.

The risk protection process may or may not require mortgage insurance in your home loan. For example, VA and USDA loans do not usually require mortgage insurance if the borrower’s credit and employment history are adequate.

Conventional loans have a reduction in risk once there is at least 20% equity in the home compared to the principal of the mortgage. Don’t hesitate to contact us about potentially dropping mortgage insurance in the future to reduce overall loan costs.

Understanding Mortgage Insurance Differences When It Comes To Your Home Loan

Understanding Mortgage Insurance and the Difference Between FHA, VA and USDA MortgagesAre you thinking about using mortgage financing to buy a new home? If so, you’ve likely heard about mortgage insurance policies requirements and you may be wondering how they will affect you. In today’s blog post we’ll explore mortgage insurance and explain the difference between conventional, FHA, VA and USDA mortgage insurance policies.

How Does Private Mortgage Insurance or “PMI” Work?

While there are a number of reasons that your lender may require mortgage insurance, in general you’ll be required to purchase a conventional PMI policy if you are putting less than 20 percent of the home’s value in as a down payment. Another way your lender might explain this is that you have a “loan to value” or “LTV” ratio of higher than 80 percent, which means that the amount of your loan divided by the value of your home is higher than 0.8.

The cost of your private mortgage insurance policy will vary depending on a number of factors, such as your financial situation, FICO credit score, the cost of your home and more. Generally speaking you’ll be required to pay from one-half to one percent of the cost of your monthly mortgage payment in insurance fees. Once your LTV ratio moves below 80 percent you may no longer be required to pay for PMI.

How Does VA Mortgage Insurance Work?

If you qualify for a mortgage from Veterans’ Affairs you’ll be pleased to know that you won’t be required to pay for monthly mortgage insurance. In some instances you actually won’t be required to pay a down payment either, meaning that you may be able to borrow up to $417,000 to purchase a home without having to invest a cent of your own capital.

How Does USDA Mortgage Insurance Work?

Did you know that the Department of Agriculture runs a mortgage program? The USDA Rural Development mortgage offering is government-backed and like the VA mortgage program, you can finance 100 percent of the cost of your home without investing a down payment. However, unlike the VA program you’ll be required to pay for mortgage insurance. Currently the annual mortgage insurance premium on USDA loans is 0.5 percent.

How Does FHA Mortgage Insurance Work?

Finally, don’t forget about the Federal Housing Administration’s mortgage program. If you qualify for a FHA-backed mortgage, you’ll be paying about 1.35 percent in mortgage insurance premiums if you make the minimum down payment.

As you can see, there is a bit of a learning curve involved with fully understanding how all of the different types of mortgage insurance work. To learn more about mortgages and how insurance can benefit you, contact us today.

Understanding Title Insurance and How It Impacts Your Mortgage Loan

Understanding Title Insurance and How It Impacts Your Mortgage LoanWhen you buy a home, you will be given a title to your new property. A title is a legal document that proves you own the property, and in most cases the title excludes other parties from making an ownership claim.

However, not all titles give you free and clear ownership of the property. Title insurance protects you and your lender from title disputes and other ownership issues that may arise.

Here are just a few ways that title insurance can impact your mortgage.

How Title Insurance Protects A Lender

There are certain situations in which someone might put a lien on your property. New owners might see liens if the previous owner failed to pay the mortgage, if a contractor did work without the new owner’s consent or if the previous owner owes unpaid property taxes.

If these liens were not disclosed prior to the sale, a buyer could face a situation where a third party is making a claim to the property. Should the title by voided in court, the insurance policy would repay the lender the outstanding balance on the mortgage. The policy is valid until the mortgage loan is paid off.

When a homeowner refinances, it may be necessary to purchase a new title loan policy, as the new loan will technically pay off the old loan.

How Title Insurance Protects A Buyer

Title loan policies do not just protect the lender. In many cases, the lender will require the buyer’s title insurance to include an owner policy. This policy confirms that the buyer owns the title and that the title is free from defects.

The policy is in effect for as long as the buyer or his or her descendants own the house. Should a homeowner have his or her title challenged, the policy will cover all losses up to the amount of the original purchase price of the home.

How Much Does Title Insurance Cost?

The cost of title insurance can vary between locations. Sometimes, the purchase contract will stipulate that the seller is responsible for buying title insurance.

If this is the case, the buyer may pay nothing. However, it is common to pay on a sliding scale. Title insurance is usually a few hundred dollars for houses selling for under $500,000.

Title insurance is a great way to protect your investment in your home. It insures you against ownership disputes and liens, which means your house is truly yours. For more information about title insurance, contact us today.

Benchmark Colorado

What You Need To Know About Mortgage Insurance

What You Need to Know About Private Mortgage InsuranceIf you are on the verge of buying real estate, you’ve probably heard the term Private Mortgage Insurance. Mortgage professionals talk about it a great deal, but you may be asking, “What is it exactly? And why should I care?”

Private Mortgage Insurance Defined

PMI is required by lenders if the down payment of a purchase is less than 20 percent of the home’s value. It protects the lender if the borrower defaults on the loan.

It also makes the lender more apt to loan, even if the down payment is as low as 3%, because in the long run, the lender’s investment is protected.

You Pay For It

Unlike other types of insurance which you pay to protect your interest in an asset, you pay Private Mortgage Insurance to the mortgage company to protect its interest in your new real estate. (Note that PMI is not usually tax deductible. Check with a tax professional for details.)

Make It Go Away: PMI Can Be Terminated Once You’ve Paid Down Your Loan

Once you pay down your mortgage to the point where it hits the magical 80% of the original purchase price or appraised value, whichever is less, you can request cancellation of PMI. The Homeowners Protection Act requires that loans made after 1999 include notifications to the borrower when you arrive at this point in your payments.

Your PMI payments must be automatically canceled once you pay down your loan to 78%. At closing, and on a yearly basis, you should receive information from your lender about when you can request cancellation.

Whether you’re ready to buy real estate or need more information before taking the plunge, we can help. Contact us today.

5 Important Tips To Save Money On Your Tax Bill

Tax Saving Tips For 2012 Tax ReturnApril 15th seems a long way off, but it will be here before you know it.

Now is the perfect time to start getting your paperwork in order.

Owning real estate can make a big difference on your tax return, so make sure that you’re taking advantage of all the deductions you’re entitled to.

We’ve outlined a few below:

Mortgage Interest

Unless you paid cash for your purchase, you probably took out a loan to buy your Colorado Springs home.

Mortgage interest is one of the best tax deductions available, so be sure to hang on to that 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement from your lender.

You can almost always deduct the entire amount of interest paid per calendar year.

Real Estate Taxes

Depending on where your property is located, you are likely paying real estate tax, either to the state or to a local governing authority.

Taxes based on property value are generally deductible as well. You may have an escrow account to hold these funds during the year, so be sure that you only deduct the amount of taxes you actually paid.

Home Equity Line of Credit

You may deduct home equity line of credit (HELOC) debt interest as long as you are legally liable to pay the interest, the interest is paid in the tax year, and the debt is secured by your home.

The home equity debt has a limit of up to $100,000 ($50,000 if married filing separately).

Mortgage Insurance Premiums

Depending on how your loan is structured, you may have mortgage insurance. With the recently passed American Tax Relief Act of 2012, all mortgage insurance premiums are tax deductible for the 2012 and 2013 tax year. There are some qualifications, so check with your tax advisor.

Mortgage Interest on Land

If you purchased land with the intent to build, the interest you have paid may qualify as deductible mortgage interest as long as the structure becomes your qualified residence within a 24-month period.

This deductibility of bare land mortgage interest is a tricky one. You can see the IRS explanation here.

Your home could be one of your greatest resources for reducing your tax liability. Most times these deductions are itemized on a Schedule A (Form 1040) when you prepare your taxes.

A great next step is to call a qualified tax planning professional.  Please feel free to contact us if you would like a referral.