How To Design Around Curved Walls, Odd Angles, or Other Tricky Spots in Your Home

JamesBrey / Getty Images

Most home design advice applies only to commonplace rectangular rooms. Yet homeowners who have odd nooks, curvy walls, or other funny angles in their floor plan might be baffled by what to do, or put, in that space.

Fortunately, there’s some good news: You don’t have to hide these odd areas. Highlighting their quirkiness is actually recommended, says Ana Cummings of the eponymous design firm.

“Make your oddly shaped space look intentional, rather than try to cover it up,” adds Drew Henry of Design Dudes. But doing so, you’ll infuse your room with personality and energy, which is much more than any ol’ boxy shape can offer.

Here’s some advice to help you design looks that’ll work in spots with unusual angles.

Accent with wallpaper

Photo by DD Ford Construction 

Curvy walls are cozy, which is a good vibe to channel in a dining room.

“A round room would be a cool space for dining, so shop for a proportionally sized table, and then accent the design with a round chandelier,” suggests Henry.

Curve-backed sofas are also a fine choice against round walls, and circular rooms can work as music spaces, with a baby grand smack in the middle.

“If you have a round bedroom, I’d either go with a traditional bed enhanced with a curved headboard or a round bed—or better yet, a large custom-upholstered headboard wall,” says Amy Bly of Great Impressions Home Staging and Interiors.

Install a book nook

Photo by Cummings Architects 

An odd pocket of space with its own window can become a dreamy reading corner, says Henry—and all you really need are a few shelves and a soft seat. If you want to do it yourself, installing these accessories is a fun project, though others may rely on custom millwork and a made-to-order cushion.

Nooks like these can also be transformed into smart storage, a dry bar, or a place to display art or sculpture, says Cummings.

Choose small-scale pieces

Photo by Return on Design – Because Aesthetics Sell

When it comes to furniture placement here, Henry recommends pieces that are on the petite side because they offer more flexibility for fitting in irregular spaces.

“For instance, instead of a sectional for an odd living room, you may want to look for a love seat and a few lounge chairs,” he says.

As for layout advice, group furniture in a way that’ll facilitate conversation or over an area rug, if possible, and direct attention toward a focal point such as the TV or fireplace.

“This way, you’ll re-create a traditionally styled room without calling attention to an odd corner,” says Cummings.

Create a home office

Photo by 8Foot6 

A triangular space under a set of stairs can stand in for a homework station with the addition of a simple flat surface and a chair. Or designate this spot for wrapping presents or a hobby like beading or scrapbooking.

Even out with furniture

Photo by Kelly Rogers Interiors

Bly likes to even out odd bumps or cutouts in a room to make them useful and less obvious.

“Try putting a tall chest or dresser in the nook, or fill it with a bench and a large piece of art or a chair and side table combination,” she says.

A set of drawers or small chest can fit snugly, and it creates a line that seems to sit flush to the wall.

Trick the eye with mirrors


Photo by Marcye Philbrook

Mirrors add light, depth, and beauty to a room—and they can be a lifesaver in a spot with funny angles. Mirrors can make an area with odd features look larger, and they can help create the illusion of symmetry.

Make artwork pop

Photo by Cornerstone Architects 

Use large artwork, wall paneling, or a mural to your advantage in rooms with quirky features.

“These options can take your eye away from the asymmetry of a space and soften an oddly shaped room,” says Cummings.

You can also work around triangular spaces with strategically placed pieces.

“In this case, I’d downplay the pointy end of the room by placing furniture or two chairs ‘in’ from the point to elongate it,” says Bly.

The post How To Design Around Curved Walls, Odd Angles, or Other Tricky Spots in Your Home appeared first on Real Estate News & Insights | realtor.com®.

Source: realtor.com

Our Fixer-Upper Homebuying Journey with the Renovation Husbands

David and Stephen St. Russell of the Renovation Husbands on Instagram share their first and second-time homebuying experiences and how they got started transforming fixer-upper homes.

The post Our Fixer-Upper Homebuying Journey with the Renovation Husbands appeared first on Homes.com.

Source: homes.com

10 home features that have fallen out of favor

Trending: 10 home features that have fallen out of favor:
1. Bold color schemes
2. Industrial-style kitchens
3. Kitchen islands
4. Granite countertops
5. TVs in the kitchen
6. Over-the-stove microwaves
7. Raised-panel cabinets
8. Wall-to-wall carpet
9. Distressed wood walls
10. Mediterranean-inspired suburban McMansions

The post 10 home features that have fallen out of favor first appeared on Century 21®.

Source: century21.com

5 Ways to Keep Winter Decor Bright

Traditionally, spring and summer corner the market on bold, bright colors, with fall and winter ushering in richer, more muted tones. However, this year’s popular colors, featured in Shutterfly’s Hottest Hues Guide, have a versatility that helps enhance decor year-round. Incorporate pops of modern color trends into everyday home accessories to warm up your house and your heart in the cool days ahead.

Fall Harvest, see larger

1. Set a Color-filled Table

’Tis the season for holiday dinners, and your dining room table is the perfect place to fill your room with color. Saturate your tablescape with chargers, plates, placemats and napkins in festive colors. Deep reds and burgundies are not only perfect for the holidays, but they add warmth to your tablescape throughout the winter season. But don’t limit yourself to the standard red and green—get creative with color palettes as you set your table, bringing in metallic and unexpected shades for a dose of fun!

2. Patch it Together

Invite color to visit by adding seasonally inspired throw pillows or a practical and colorful quilt to your couch or bed. Think outside of your regularly colored box, and experiment with contrast to create a cozy space without committing to a color scheme.

Room filled with daylight, see larger

3. Bring the Outdoors In

Flowers lend a festive touch as well as a hint of brightness to any area. A bold spray of pink orchids or peonies can add a pleasantly surprising shock of color to a sleek neutral winter space. Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you’re stuck with poinsettias. Pale pink is enjoying a comeback in the design world as a romantic neutral with a range of versatility—and rose quartz just happens to be one of Pantone’s colors of the year for 2016. As interior redesign specialist Wendy Wrzos says, “In fall, it can be paired with a rich brown and cream. In winter, a touch of pale pink will add a cozy warmth to a room, or be an unexpected addition to the more saturated colors.” Pick your palette from a favorite bouquet for a touch of color you already love.

vibrant laundry room, see larger

4. Live a Little Large

Bring big color to a small space by painting your laundry room a bold color for brightness you can enjoy all year round. “The laundry room is a room that gets used all the time, and it is rare to see one that has been decorated. A painted wall and a colorful rug takes no effort at all, and will cheer it up in an instant.” —Wrzos advised. Use a small, out-of-the-way area to be brave with a shade that brings you joy when you see it.

Living room artwork, see larger

5. Hang It Up

The artwork in a room is often a focal point and the perfect place to feature color. With a foundation of neutral furniture, flooring, and walls, art and decor accessories can take center stage. Create a canvas or three-panel piece of art from a nature-inspired vacation photo and select a matching color palette to complement your art work. If you’re looking for a more seasonal do-it-yourself option, wrap poster frame inserts in pretty wrapping paper for a temporary triptych to match your holiday decorating scheme.

Between bad weather and Daylight Savings Time, winter feels dark enough. Fill your life with brightness all year round by incorporating color in easy, unexpected ways and bring a little more boldness and brilliance into your everyday world.

About the Author

Ashley McCann shares home décor tips for Shutterfly.com. She is a mom of two and enjoys reading and karaoke. For more from Ashley, you can find her on Twitter.

The post 5 Ways to Keep Winter Decor Bright first appeared on Century 21®.

Source: century21.com

Buying A Second Home? 8 Things To Consider

Buying a second home is a major expense. You might have several reasons for wanting to buy a second house. Perhaps, you’re buying a second home for vacations or weekend getaways. Or, it might be that you want to use it as a rental property for rental income. However, there are things to consider before buying a second home.

The benefits of buying a second home

If you’re buying a second home for rental income, you’ll benefit from many perks, especially tax advantages.

For example, you will be able to deduct interest, property taxes, homeowners insurance and other expenses against the property’s income.

Even if the value of the property declines, you will still be able to deduct depreciation from your taxes.

While these benefits are great, the mortgage requirements for a second home are much stricter than for a mortgage on your primary residence. So, make sure you can afford it.

8 Things To Consider When Buying A Second Home

1. Financing options: When you bought your first home, you had available to you what’s called an FHA loan – a government loan program.

FHA loans are an appealing and favorite choice among first time home buyers due to their relatively low down payment requirement.

FHA loans require a 3.5% down payment and a relatively low credit score of 580. However, FHA loans are not available to second home buyers.

That is because FHA requires the home to be the borrower’s primary residence. So, if you’re thinking of buying a second home, you will need to either use a conventional loan or financing it with your own cash.

2. A larger down payment: If you’re using a conventional loan for your second home, you will need to come up with a larger down payment.

Lenders for a conventional loan usually requires a 20% down payment of the home purchase price.

But for a second home which will be used as a rental property or vacation home, expect lenders to ask for 30% or even 35%.

3. A higher credit score. For an FHA loan, you only need a credit score of 580 to qualify. But for a conventional loan on a second home, you will need much higher credit score — usually 750 or higher.

4. Expect a Higher Interest Rate: Lenders will likely charge you a higher interest rate on your second home than your primary residence.

The reason is because they see a second home — be it a vacation home or a rental property — as riskier. They feel that you are more likely to default on a mortgage on your second home than on your primary residence.

5. Do your research: Just as you did your homework when you bought your place to live in, buying a second home is no different.

In fact, you’ll need to spend more time researching rental property. That means researching the neighborhood you will want to invest in, knowing the zoning laws for a particular area, the sales price for the homes in the area.

You will need to know if the area has adequate public transportation, schools, grocery shopping, etc,– things that potential tenants will need.

6. Be prepared to be a landlord: if you’re buying a second home to rent, be prepared to be a landlord.

And be prepared to deal with all of the headaches that come with being a landlord. Do you have sufficient time? Can you deal with problems?

Owning a rental property and being a landlord is time consuming. It is also hard hard work and you have to do your due diligence.

You can hire a property manager to run the property for you. But if that is not feasible, you’ll have to do it yourself.

That means, screening new tenants, collecting rent, dealing with delinquent tenants, fixing problems in the property, such as a broken pipe.

So before buying a second home, make sure you have sufficient time and make sure you can deal with the day-to-day headaches that come with being a landlord.

7. Do you have a stable income? Dealing with a second mortgage on your second home is doable.

While you may be able to afford upfront costs, if you don’t have a stable income, you may have to think twice about whether it is a good idea.

Plus, you still have to consider the additional expenses of owning a second home such as insurance, property taxes, maintenance, repairs, property management fees, etc.

8. Are you out of credit card debt? If you have paid off outstanding and high interest credit card debts, then purchasing a second home may make sense.

But if you’re still struggling to pay your debt, you may need to put buying a second home on hold. 

The bottom line

If you’re thinking about buying a second home, whether it is for investment or vacation, be prepared to save some money, budget for expenses, and come up with a bigger down payment.

More importantly, spend as much time, if not more, researching for the home just as you did when your purchased your primary home.

Speak with the Right Financial Advisor

  • If you have questions about your finances, you can talk to a financial advisor who can review your finances and help you reach your goals (whether it is making more money, paying off debt, investing, buying a house, planning for retirement, saving, etc).
  • Find one who meets your needs with SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. You answer a few questions and they match you with up to three financial advisors in your area. So, if you want help developing a plan to reach your financial goals, get started now.

The post Buying A Second Home? 8 Things To Consider appeared first on GrowthRapidly.

Source: growthrapidly.com

Still Waiting on Your Second Stimulus Check? Here’s How to Track It

The second stimulus check started hitting bank accounts last week.

That means many people who have direct deposit are waking up to find an extra $600 in their bank accounts if they’re single or $1,200 if they’re married, plus a $600 coronavirus credit for each dependent child 16 or younger.

But what if your second check hasn’t arrived? There’s a new way to find out when it’s coming.

Where’s My Second Stimulus Check?

The IRS released an updated version of the Get My Payment application on its website Monday, Jan. 4, that allows you to track your second stimulus check. You can use it on your computer, phone or tablet.

Here’s all of our coverage of the coronavirus outbreak, which we will be updating every day.

Click on the link, and then click the blue “Get My Payment” button. Don’t be surprised if you have to wait a couple minutes to get through. This corner of IRS.gov is getting a lot of traffic right now, because people really want to know when they’re getting their $600 stimulus check. When you do get through, you’ll get a warning that the system is for authorized use only. Click “OK.”

Next you’ll need to enter your Social Security number or Individual Tax ID number, date of birth, street address and ZIP code.

Once you submit your information, the website will tell you the date your payment is scheduled to be made and whether it will be by check or direct deposit. If it’s scheduled for direct deposit, it will tell you the last four numbers of the bank account it will be deposited into.

You can also use the tool to provide your bank account and routing numbers. If the IRS can’t pay you via direct deposit, you’ll get one via paper check or prepaid debit card. The first paper checks were sent last Wednesday, Dec. 30.

What if Something Is Wrong With My Payment?

What if you haven’t gotten the payment that should have been deposited already? Or what if your payment isn’t scheduled, or the wrong amount has been deposited? Check this FAQ page, but don’t bother trying to call the IRS right now.

If your payment hasn’t been made by Jan. 15, you’ll need to submit a tax return and get it in the form of a rebate recovery credit. The same applies if you were eligible for the first round of checks but didn’t received one, or if you got the wrong amount.

Payment status not available? Here’s what that means, plus a few hacks that worked in the first round.

Your coronavirus stimulus check is not taxable — so however you plan to spend that money, just know that you don’t need to save any of it for Uncle Sam.

Robin Hartill is a senior editor at The Penny Hoarder and a certified financial planner. She writes the Dear Penny personal finance advice column. Send your tricky money questions to DearPenny@thepennyhoarder.com.

This was originally published on The Penny Hoarder, which helps millions of readers worldwide earn and save money by sharing unique job opportunities, personal stories, freebies and more. The Inc. 5000 ranked The Penny Hoarder as the fastest-growing private media company in the U.S. in 2017.

Source: thepennyhoarder.com

Popular Housing Markets During the Pandemic

There’s something weird happening with the real estate markets today. Normally in a recession, demand for rentals goes up while demand for houses goes down. But if there’s anything 2020 has taught us, it’s that everything is turned on its head right now. 

Instead, we’re seeing an interesting trend: despite the ongoing pandemic, home-buying is experiencing higher demand now than they have been since 1999, according to the National Association of RealtorsⓇ (NAR). If you’ve been hoping to buy a home soon, you’re probably already aware of this weird trend, and excited. But is it the same story everywhere? And is a pandemic really the right time to buy? 

How the Pandemic is Changing Homeownership

This pandemic is different from any other in history in that many people — especially some of the highest-paid workers — aren’t being hit as hard as people who rely on their manual labor for income. This, coupled with an ultra-low mortgage rate environment and a new lifestyle that’s not fit for a cramped apartment, is creating the perfect storm of high-dollar homebuyers. 

“I didn’t want to pay someone else’s mortgage to have three roommates,” says Amy Klegarth, a genomics specialist who recently purchased a home in White Center, a suburb of Seattle where she was formerly renting. “I moved because I could afford to get a house with a large yard here for my goats, Taco and Piper.” 

Whether you have goat kids or human kids (or even no kids), you’re not the only one looking for a new home in a roomier locale. According to the NAR report, home sales in suburban areas went up 7% compared to just before the pandemic started. In some markets, it’s not hard to understand why people are moving out. 

Where Are People Going?

Apartments are small everywhere, but they’re not all the same price. For example, homes in cities tend to be 300 square feet smaller than their suburban counterparts. Some of the hottest home-buying markets right now are in areas where nearby rents are already too high, often clustered around tech and finance hubs that attract high-paid workers. After all, if you can’t go into the office and all of the normal city attractions are shut down, what’s the point of paying those high rental costs?

According to a December 2020 Zumper report, the top five most expensive rental markets in the U.S. are San Francisco, New York City, Boston, San Jose, and Oakland. But if you’re ready to buy a home during the pandemic, there are nearby cheaper markets to consider.

If You Rent in San Francisco,  San Jose, and Oakland, CA

Alternative home-buying market: San Diego, Sacramento 

  • Average rent: San Francisco, $2,700, San Jose, $2,090; Oakland; $2,000
  • Average home value (as of writing): San Diego ($675,496) and Sacramento ($370,271)
  • Estimated mortgage payment with 20% down: San Diego ($2,255) and Sacramento ($1,236)

Big California cities are the quintessential meccas for tech workers, and that’s often exactly who’s booking it out of these high-priced areas right now. Gay Cororaton, Director of Housing and Commercial Research for the National Association of Realtors (NAR), offers two suggestions for San Francisco and other similar cities in California. 

San Diego

First, is the San Diego-metro area, which has a lot to offer people who are used to big-city living but don’t want the big-city prices. An added bonus: your odds of staying employed as a tech worker might be even higher in this city. 

“Professional tech services jobs make up 18% of the total payroll employment, which is actually a higher fraction than San Jose (15.5%) and San Francisco (9.3%),” says Cororaton.

Sacramento

If you’re willing to go inland, you can find even cheaper prices yet in Sacramento. “Tech jobs have been growing, and account for 7% of the workforce,” says Cororaton. “Still not as techie as San Jose, San Francisco, or San Diego, but tech jobs are moving there where housing is more affordable. It’s also just 2 hours away from Lake Tahoe.”

If You Rent in New York, NY

Alternative home-buying market: New Rochelle, Yonkers, Nassau, Newark, Jersey City

  • Average rent: $2,470
  • Average home value (as of writing): New Rochelle ($652,995), Yonkers ($549,387), Nassau ($585,741), Newark ($320,303), or Jersey City ($541,271)
  • Estimated mortgage payment with 20% down: New Rochelle ($2,180), Yonkers ($1,834), Nassau ($1,955), Newark ($1,069), or Jersey City ($1,807)

Living in New York City, it might seem like you don’t have any good options. But the good news is you do — lots of them, in fact. They still might be more expensive than the average home price across the U.S., but these alternative markets are still a lot more affordable than within, say, Manhattan. 

New Rochelle and Yonkers

Both New Rochelle and Yonkers are about an hour’s drive from the heart of New York City, says Corcoran. If you ride by train, it’s a half hour. Both New Rochelle and Yonkers have been stepping up their appeal in recent years to attract millennials who can’t afford city-living anymore (or don’t want to be “house poor”), so you’ll be in good company. 

Nassau

“NAR ranked Nassau as one of the top places to work from home in the state of New York because it has already a large population of workers in professional and business services and has good broadband access,” says Cororaton. If you have ideas about moving to Nassau you’ll need to move quickly. Home sales are up by 60% this year compared to pre-pandemic times. 

Newark or Jersey City

If you don’t mind moving to a different state (even if it is a neighbor), you can find even lower real estate prices in New Jersey. This might be a good option if you only need to ride back into the city on occasion because while the PATH train is well-developed, it’s a bit longer of a ride, especially if you live further out in New Jersey. 

If You Rent in Boston, MA

Alternative home-buying market: Quincy, Framingham, Worcester

  • Average rent: $2,150
  • Average home value (as of writing): Quincy ($517,135), Framingham ($460,584), or Worcester ($284,936)
  • Estimated mortgage payment with 20% down: Quincy ($1,726), Framingham ($1,538), or Worcester ($951)

Boston is another elite coastal market, but unlike New York, there’s still plenty of space if you head south or even inland. In particular, Quincy and Framingam still offer plenty of deals for new buyers.

Quincy

If you like your suburbs a bit more on the urban side, consider Quincy. Although it’s technically outside of the city, it’s also not so isolated that you’ll feel like you’re missing out on the best parts of Boston-living. You’ll be in good company too, as there are plenty of other folks living here who want to avoid the high real estate prices within Boston itself.

Framingham

Framingham is undergoing an active revitalization right now in an effort to attract more people to its community. As such, you’ll be welcome in this town that’s only a 30-minute drive from Boston.

Worcester

“Now, if you can work from home, consider Worcester,” says Cororaton. “It’s an hour away from Boston which is not too bad if you only have to go to the Boston office, say, twice a week.” Worcester (pronounced “wuh-ster”) is also a great place for a midday break if you work from home, with over 60 city parks to choose from for a stroll.

Renting Market(s) Average Rent for 1-Bedroom Apartment Housing Market Options & Avg. Monthly Mortgage*
San Francisco, CASan Jose, CAOakland, CA $2,700 San Diego ($2,255) Sacramento ($1,236)
New York, NY $2,470 New Rochelle ($2,180) Yonkers ($1,834)Nassau ($1,955)Newark ($1,069)Jersey City ($1,807)
Boston, MA $2,150 Quincy ($1,726)Framingham ($1,538)Worcester ($951)

*Average home mortgage estimates based on a 20% down payment.

Should You Buy a House During a Pandemic?

There’s no right or wrong answer here, but it’s a good idea to consider your long-term housing needs versus just what’ll get you through the next few months. 

For example, just about everyone would enjoy some more room in their homes to stretch right now. But if you’re the type of person who prefers a night on the town, you might be miserable in a rural area by the time things get back to normal. But if you’ve always dreamed of a big vegetable garden or yard for the family dog, now could be the right time to launch those plans. 

Another factor to consider is job security. And remember that even if you’re permanently working from home today — and not everyone has this ability — living further from the city could limit your future opportunities if a job requires you to be on-site in the city.

Finally, consider this: most homes in outlying areas weren’t built with the pandemic in mind. For example, “… open floor plans were popular, pre-pandemic,” says Cororaton. “If the home for sale has an open floor plan, you’d have to imagine how to reconfigure the space and do some remodeling to create that work or school area.” 

Here are some other things to look for:

  • Outdoor space
  • Area for homeschooling
  • Broadband internet access
  • Proximity to transport routes
  • Office for working from home

Is It More Affordable to Buy or Rent?

There aren’t any hard-and-fast rules when it comes to whether it’s cheaper to rent or buy. Each of these choices has associated costs. To rent, you’ll need to pay for your base rent, pet fees and rent, parking permits, deposits, renters insurance, and more. To buy, you’ll have an even bigger list, including property taxes, maintenance and upgrades, HOA fees, homeowners insurance, closing costs, higher utility bills, and on.

Each of these factors has the potential to tip the balance in favor of buying or renting. That’s why it makes sense to use a buy vs. rent calculator that can track all of these moving targets and estimate which one is better based on your financial situation and the choices available to you. 

In general, though, most experts advise keeping your housing costs to below 30 percent of your take-home pay when setting up your budget. The lower, the better — then, you’ll have even more money left over to save for retirement, your kid’s college education, and even to pay your mortgage off early. 

The post Popular Housing Markets During the Pandemic appeared first on Good Financial Cents®.

Source: goodfinancialcents.com

Questions to Ask When Shopping for Health Insurance

Whether you are acquiring it through your employer or on your own, shopping for health insurance coverage is a task that many adults will be faced with at some point. Health coverage is not a one-size-fits all amenity, and it comes in many forms such as Point of Service (POS), Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs), Preferred Provider Organizations (PPOs) and more. 

Buying health insurance is a big commitment, so do the research and look over all your options before making any hasty decisions. Technical information about different health insurance policies can be overwhelming, which is why seeking the help of a licensed insurance agent or a health insurance broker might be your best bet. In the following sections we will discuss ways you can prepare to meet with a health insurance agent as well as what questions to ask. 

How to prepare to meet with a health insurance agent 

Health insurance exists to protect us financially when we get sick or injured, which is why it’s so important for you to look at plans that fit the unique needs of you and your family. Whether you are an employer shopping for insurance plans for your employees, or just an individual browsing your options, choosing a caring agent who takes their job seriously is key to finding the right plan. To start, you will want to work with an insurance agent who is experienced, knowledgeable and trustworthy.

Finding the right agent to work with isn’t the only important piece of the puzzle, you’ll also want to do your part as well. Coming prepared to the appointment will help things run more smoothly and will ensure that you to ask the right questions. 

Before meeting with the insurance agent, make sure that you:

  • Know how much you are willing to pay: Before your appointment with an insurance agency, you should consider how much risk you want to assume for yourself versus how much risk you want the insurance company to assume for you. In other words, would you rather make higher monthly insurance payments and have a lower deductible or would you rather pay a lower monthly insurance payment and have a higher deductible? If you’re okay with paying a hefty deductible during a medical crisis, then you might consider choosing a plan with a lower monthly payment. On the other hand, someone who needs more consistent medical care might opt for a plan with a lower deductible. 
  • Research the insurance agency that you will be doing business with: Ask friends and loved ones for feedback on the agencies they’ve worked with and find out how their experience was. If you are an employer, do some research to see what agencies other companies do business with. The important thing is that you choose an agency that you trust. 
  • Know what to bring with you: In order for the agent to help you the best they can, they will need to know as much information as possible about yours and your family’s medical history. The agent will want to know about any of yours or your family’s medical conditions and personal habits such as drinking, smoking, diet, etc. Call in advance and find out exactly what you need to bring. Be truthful and thorough so that your agent can find the best health insurance policy for you. 
  • Make a list of the questions that you will want to ask: It’s easy to get overwhelmed during these appointments. Writing down your questions will not only help you to be more organized, but it will also lower your chances of forgetting to bring up important topics.  

Questions to ask your health insurance agents

Before meeting with a licensed insurance agent, you should write down a list of questions that you want to have answered during your appointment. Here are some questions you should be asking your agent about your insurance before buying:

    • How much will it cost? This is probably the most dreaded part of the conversation, but it has to be discussed! The overall cost of your health insurance policy will depend on your premium, deductible and out-of-pocket-max. When browsing through plans, you’ll want to take notes on how much these three items will cost up front, because each plan varies in rates.
      • Premium: Health insurance premiums are rates that you will pay every month in order to secure your coverage. The initial payment you receive will be a premium, and will continue monthly. 
      • Deductible: If your plan has a deductible of $2,000, then that means you will be responsible for paying the first $2,000 of health care before your plan begins covering certain costs. Once you pay your deductible, you’ll pay significantly less for your health care. 
  • Out-of-pocket max: This is basically the maximum amount of money that you will ever have to be responsible for paying while covered—as long as you stay in-network, that is. Let’s say your out-of-pocket max is $5,000, but you end up needing surgery that costs $30,000. You would only have to worry about paying $5,000. Additionally, if you’ve already reached your $2,000 deductible, then you would only have to pay $3,000. The purpose of an out-of-pocket max is to protect you from having to pay extremely expensive bills, but remember—the surgery would need to happen at a medical facility that is in-network.  
  • Is my current doctor covered? If you’re already receiving health care, you’ll want to know if your current doctor is a part of any prospective insurance company’s network of health providers. This information should be fairly simple to find out but could be an important factor in your decision. If you are currently taking any medications, you’ll also want to ask your agent to check the formulary to see if your prescriptions are covered.
  • Who do I contact when I have questions? It’s important to find out if your prospective health insurance company has a customer service team you can call or message when you need to inquire about bills, claims, copays or anything else insurance-related. Does the company have a separate phone number to call when you want help finding a health care provider? Is this customer service line automated or will you be speaking to an actual insurance representative? These questions are important to determine what kind of support is available long after you’ve signed a contract. 

What happens during an emergency? When going to see a doctor for a normal visit, you have time to plan and make sure that the doctor is in-network. However, during an emergency, we may not have the same luxury. It’s possible that in a case where you need dire medical attention, the closest health care provider may not be in-network. You should ask about your prospective company’s policy on emergencies and what the standard routine consists of.

Questions to Ask When Shopping for Health Insurance is a post from Pocket Your Dollars.

Source: pocketyourdollars.com