Sunday, May 31, 2015

Exchanging Vacation Homes

HouseSpring is here. Temperature is rising and summer is not that far away. Perhaps, it is time to think about your summer vacation -- especially if you are interested in spending the summer in a home away from home.

In recent years, swapping or exchanging homes located throughout the world is gaining more and more popularity as an attractive part of taking vacation. For an annual membership of around $50, you may enlist your home on an exchange site. If someone is interested in your home, they will email you and when you come across anything that you like, you email them. Finally you decide to cut a deal depending on mutual preferences and options. Some people even go beyond to exchange their cars too. You can even agree to take care of each other's pets.

Three leading (and Big too!) house-swap sites are:,, . Besides these there is for swapping apartments and also some quite interesting ones like which provides the specialized service of finding other teacher swappers who are very likely to search for houses for similar vacation dates.

Many Americans exchange homes outside of USA and such exchangers can often find the best choice of exchange possibilities on home exchange sites based in their country of choice. For example, a large number of american vacationers are particularly interested in home swaps in the UK and 'Home Base Holidays' or is a helpful site for that. You may also visit their blog for regular posts on all aspects of arranging home exchanges: .

Even with so many websites available, it might not be very easy to find an exchange home of your choice. Vacation is precious and you may not afford to spoil it by your hurriedly-made choice. So, start early, plan properly, have a talk with the exchangers and take sufficient time to decide how your summer home should be. Many people who did that say that they want to do it again. It's worth the trouble and time.


Thursday, April 09, 2015

Dental Insurance: To Have Or Not To Have

Is a dental policy worth the cost, especially when you know that dental insurance premiums can be more expensive than simply paying out of your own pocket for routine checkups and cleanings?

And like so many other questions  in modern world, you need to say, "Well ... the depends." The answer depends on whether you are expecting to face aching bills for your teeth.

Dental insurance comes in four varieties:
  • The HMO, or health maintenance organization, option restricts coverage to dental professionals within a specified network. 
  • The most popular plans are PPOs, or preferred provider organization, policies. Some 70 percent of dental policies are PPOs. They are similar to HMOs but allow patients to see dentists outside the network. 
  • An indemnity plan which allows a patient to see any dentist and picks up a percentage of the costs. The advantage of PPOs over indemnity plans is that here's a negotiated discount for services. Dentists within the PPO network typically agree to accept lower fees and can't bill you for the difference. 
  • Discount plan which charges an annual fee in exchange for discounted services from network providers. Enrollment fees often run between about $80 and $120 a year. Providers' discounts can range from 10 to 60 percent. Before buying in, be sure to take a careful look at what the plan covers. There is often a lot of restrictive fine print. Although these plans typically cost less than HMOs and PPOs, most often they won't save you as much money in the long run. 
Most dental insurance policies emphasize prevention and diagnostics, typically covering two annual exams and cleanings, plus X-rays and, for children and older adults, fluoride treatments. But the real benefit is being covered for bigger-ticket procedures, such as fillings, root canals and crowns.

Dental policies vary widely, and choosing the right one can be difficult. People with dental insurance commonly have what's described as "100-80-50" coverage, meaning it pays 100 percent of the cost of routine preventive and diagnostic care, such as checkups and cleanings; 80 percent for fillings, root canals and other basic procedures; and 50 percent for crowns, bridges and major procedures.

The vast majority of coverage is provided through employee and group policies, with annual premiums of between $235 and $435 per person. The cost to buy an individual policy averages about $360 a year. Paying out of your own pocket for two exams and cleanings and a set of X-rays would cost about $370, on average, according to the American Dental Association.

Most plans cap coverage at $1,500 a year, although higher annual limits can be had by paying a higher premium.

The Affordable Care Act requires insurance providers to offer dental insurance for children younger than 18. Although the new act does not require dental coverage for adults, most state marketplaces will also offer dental coverage for adults. Coverage may be offered as part of a comprehensive health plan or as stand-alone dental insurance. 

Dental plans don't bar coverage for pre-existing conditions, though some policies may restrict coverage for people with missing teeth. Cosmetic dental procedures are rarely if ever covered by insurance.

Cost savings can be had by traveling to other countries for dental care. An estimated 400,000 Americans cross international borders for dental care each year and there is a lot of competition for this business. But, if you're considering this option, do plenty of research. The decision to visit another country for dental care should go beyond simply comparing prices or evaluating the dentists' expertise. Countries differ in their standards for infection control and safety. The use of fresh gloves, sterile instruments and safe water are not standard practice in all countries. Without these precautions, patients could be infected with diseases such as hepatitis B.

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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Your Neighbor's Home

If you are trying to sell your house but your neighbor's house is a disaster, that's going to cost you too in terms of a reduced price for your home.

A neighbor's overgrown yard, peeling paint and clutter can easily knock 10% or more off the value of your home. A true disaster - a home in deplorable condition and a yard packed with debris - could cost you even more. It might even make your home unmarketable because most potential buyers will not even look at it.

So, what can you do?

Keep in mind that your goal is to get the neighbor's property cleaned up. It's going to take some work and possibly some expense on your part to accomplish that. You may be upset with the neighbor but that will not help get the job done

An adversarial approach, such as reporting them to the authorities or a homeowner's association, usually does not work and may make you more frustrated. All it does is make people mad and angry people can cause a lot of problems. You'll also have limited success if you ask them to personally do the work that needs to be done.

You'll have a much better chance of success by offering to do the work yourself. This can mean your labor and possibly some expense but given the effect on the value of your home, spending some money to improve the neighbor's house may be money well spent.

You can minimize the task by organizing a crew of your family and friends to help. Plan what needs to be done and pick a day to do it. Assign jobs to your crew and fortify them with food and drinks. Once your neighbor sees what you're doing they'll often feel guilty and pitch in and help.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Car Accident Injury: Which Insurance Pays the Bill?

The answer is: The car insurance pays first. Most states require motorists to have personal injury protection. The amount of coverage can vary depending on the premium you decided to pay. So, the medical bills will be charged up to the limits of your auto policy, and your responsibility will be to pay up to the deductible. Once that limit is crossed, your health insurance policy steps in to cover the rest of the cost for the car accident injury.

However, note that -- depending on what kind of health coverage you have -- your insurance company will determine what is covered and what is not. So, be prepared to pay, for example, the deductible amount under the health insurance policy, any co-payments that are required, any charges from hospital/clinic that are not typically covered by the policy.

If you are the at-fault driver, be prepared for increases in your future policy premium. If, on the other hand, you are not the at-fault driver, the insurance companies involved may work behind the scenes to get the at-fault party’s policies to bear some of the costs. Victims of car crashes can also sometimes recover some of their out-of-pocket expenses by making that part of any car accident settlement agreement with the at-fault driver and/or their insurance carrier.

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