An Annual Review of Your Policies can Save You Money

Many people think of March and April as the time of year for Spring Cleaning.  The snow and ice begin to melt away and we start to think about spending more time outdoors.  We look at things that we need to to outside in our yards for annual maintenance, and we begin to prepare for tax season – where we look at our financial documents for the year and assess our financial ‘health’.   It’s also a great time of year to conduct an annual review of your insurance policies.

Our lives change on an ongoing basis, so it’s important that your insurance coverage changes as well.  How long has it been since you last assessed your policies?  Our team at Bieritz Insurance wants to make sure you are not overpaying for your policies and we also want to make sure you are not under-insured.  When you conduct a review of your insurance, you might find out that there are increases, deductions or discounts.

Things that can impact your rates are things like a new baby in your household, additions or improvements that you have made to your home, property that you may have inherited, recreational vehicles that you have purchased or sold, a college student who is renting an apartment, or maybe you have reached retirement age.  There are other things as well: new drivers in your household, real estate market changes, landscaping changes, etc.

Typically, we understand that our assets change over time. What we don’t usually think about is that the value of those assets change as well.  If your home has appreciated in value, you need to make sure that your insurance coverage allows for this increase in value in case of catastrophic loss.  If you purchased your home at $250,000 ten years ago, and the value has since appreciated to $300,000, you want to make sure that your insurance policy will cover you for a $300,000 loss in case of a catastrophic event.  In other words, if your coverage hasn’t been updated since you purchased your home, your insurance value might not cover full replacement if your home value has increased.  In this instance, a review of your policy might increase your policy payments, but you are assured of having the coverage that is right for you.

There are other instances where your policy payments might decrease.  Maybe you installed a home security system or an emergency battery backup for your sump pump or perhaps you have hit an age milestone that would qualify you or members of your family for additional discounts on your auto insurance policies.

A look through your policies on an annual basis can help you find these things and can ultimately save you money on your policy premiums.    Whether you are a current client or maybe just looking for some cost comparisons as part of your process, you can contact us in Cooperstown at  607-547-2951 or in Morris at 607-263-5170 to schedule an appointment for a review!  In most cases, we can save you money.  We work with over 20 companies so that we can find exactly the right products to fit your needs at the right price for your budget.


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Home and Household Tax Deductions

tax-468440_640With just a little more than a month left for filing tax returns this year, it’s a good time to think about what things might qualify for an extra deduction.  In addition to your mortgage and some loan interest payments, some of your 2015 household improvements might be deductible.  

Home improvements eligible for deduction or tax credit include:

  • Installation of new storm doors or energy-efficient windows, insulation, air-conditioning or heating systems can qualify for an energy efficiency tax credit of 10% or up to $500 ($200 maximum towards windows).

  • Renovations and improvements to your home due to a medical condition may be tax deductible.

  • Solar and wind power systems can qualify for as much as 30% of the equipment cost and installation under the renewable-energy tax credit.  This credit will continue into next year for systems that are installed before the end of December 2016.

Home office tax deductions:

  • Home office deductions for those who work from home can include deductions for expenses relating to a qualified office for things like phone lines, heating, electricity, and renovations as well as a portion of your mortgage interest, property taxes and insurance.

Household education deductions (for children attending college or for your continuing education expenses):

  • The American Opportunity tax credit is worth up to $2500 per  year for qualifying expenses related to the first four years of higher education.  Student must be enrolled in a degree or credential program.  The Lifetime Learning Credit, $2000 per year, is not restricted to the first four years of school.  There is also a Tuition and Fees Deduction – for up to $4,000.

If any of these items apply to you in 2015, be sure to check with your accountant to see if you are eligible for any of these deductions.  Don’t forget to provide documentation. Also, make sure that any improvements to your home are documented for your homeowners insurance.  If you have questions about this, please contact our team at Bieritz Insurance in Cooperstown at 607-547-2951 or in Morris at 607-263-5170.  We are happy to assist you!


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FEMA News:4 Reasons to Submit Loan Application Now

TRENTON, N.J. — Hurricane Sandy survivors who register for federal disaster assistance may be referred for a U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low-interest long term disaster loan.  The loans can go to homeowners, renters, business, and non-profit agencies to pay for disaster-caused damages not covered by insurance.

Hurricane Sandy survivors who receive an SBA loan application should complete it now, because there are potential benefits that can happen as a result.

They would have readily-available funds for hidden damage that may be discovered after the initial inspection.

  • Applicants may be automatically referred to other disaster assistance programs for which survivors may be eligible if they are turned down for a loan.
  • The initial estimate of the cost of repair may prove inadequate for the work that is actually required, and the loan funds could cover the difference.
  • A survivor’s insurance policy or settlement may not cover all repairs, replacement or rebuilding costs and the loan funds could be used to fill that gap.

The SBA loans are low-interest, and long-term. In some cases, SBA can refinance all or part of an existing mortgage. SBA loan officers work to come up with a plan that fits a survivor’s budget.

Loans of up to $200,000 are available to eligible homeowners to repair or replace disaster-damaged or destroyed real estate. Homeowners and renters may apply for loans of up to $40,000 for personal property, including clothing, furniture, cars or appliances.  Loan amounts cannot exceed uninsured losses.

Businesses and private nonprofit organizations may borrow up to $2 million to repair or replace real estate, machinery and equipment, inventory and other business assets that are not fully covered by insurance.

Interest rates are as low as 1.688 percent for homeowners and renters, 3 percent for non-profit organizations and 4 percent for businesses with terms up to 30 years.  Loan amounts and terms are set by the SBA and are based on each applicant’s financial condition.

Applicants may apply online using the Electronic Loan Application (ELA) via SBA’s secure website at  Applications can be downloaded from . For more information, call the SBA’s toll-free line at 800-659-2955. If you use TTY, call 800-877-8339.

Individuals can register for assistance and follow up on previous applications by registering online or by web-enabled mobile device at By phone or 711/VRS, you can call 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or TTY 1-800-462-7585.

The SBA has also opened ten Business Recovery Centers throughout New Jersey to help survivors.

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