Now that January has come to a close and Super Bowl Sunday is just days away, fans will cheer on the Patriots and Falcons in the final game of the 2016-17 NFL season. Less fanatic fans will be glued to the set during commercials to see which company has the best Super Bowl 51 ad, including the first ever LIVE Super Bowl commercial: www.adweek.com/news/live
Quite often I get bored seeing every commercial try to outdo the next, especially knowing the exorbitant number of dollars being spent, and find myself switching over to the Puppy Bowl (www.puppy-bowl). This year, Fox is reportedly asking up to $5.5 million for a 30-second spot. That’s a shocking $183,333.00 per second. (And that amount is only the fee paid to Fox for the time slot. Companies often spend upwards of a million to have their commercial produced.) To help put that into perspective, in 2016 the median cost of a home in the U.S. was $193,800.00. How incredibly marvelous would it be if just one company pledged their $5.5 million to put 30 families-in-need into homes?
The majority of us, minus an elite, exceptionally-talented few, will never have the experience of playing in and winning a Super Bowl...or an NCAA Championship, or maybe not even a softball league. With that slightly humbling reality check, what is the Super Bowl of your life?
Was it buying your first car or maybe getting married? Could it be owning a home or being blessed with children? And most significantly, were you genuinely prepared?
There are so many things in life that take us by surprise that we couldn’t possibly prepare for. But for the events you know are coming, preparing financially, mentally and physically will help to reduce your stress and help to ensure your success.
Do any of the following three phrases sound familiar?
At CRS Temporary Housing, we understand that an unexpected calamity can destroy your home. Weather-related disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes and floods, along with other incidents such as a house fire or pipe burst, can thoroughly disrupt your life. Repairs and/or reconstruction of your home can be a long haul and challenging process to endure. We strive to do our very best to reduce the stress of our customers’ temporary living situation by listening to their needs and expectations to create comfortable solutions.
There are many factors that go into choosing a temporary living situation for a policyholder after a property loss. You take into consideration their coverage, loss of use amount, damages, the timeline of repairs, family dynamic, and current living arrangements. So, how do you determine what the best option is? Here are some quick tips from our expert staff to help you decide.
We suggest a policyholder and, if any, family members can stay in a hotel when repairs will take less than a month. However, it is important to know their Loss of Use and understand that hotel prices can fluctuate and may not always be available for extensions. Also, depending on location, hotels with kitchens or kitchenettes might be scarce, in which case food costs can incur. When placing an insured in a hotel, always over estimate on the time. This way you can get the best rate, and checking out early is always better than not knowing where a family will stay.
CRS Advice: Depending on location and length of stay, ask about vacation rentals. Sometimes they are easier to extend and usually have a set weekly or nightly rate.
When repairs will take 30+ days, ask for housing immediately. Temporary housing is a process that includes searching (based on the insured’s criteria), viewings, lease terms, furniture orders and delivery (if needed). It may sound like a ton of work, but once the insured accepts a property, the move-in process can be done in less than a week, depending on available move-in date of course. Choosing to place an insured in housing is the best option to save money and guarantees the policyholder a committed stay when repairs are taking longer than expected. Temporary housing will less likely have fluctuations in pricing and it is typically easier to extend on a month-to-month basis; ensuring a place to stay.
CRS Advice: Temporary Housing is typically more cost effective than a hotel, however, it is important to keep in mind that extensions can usually only be done in 30-day increments.
1. It’s not as easy as we make it look
There are thousands of rentals online, but 99% of them are for 12 months or longer, vacation rentals rarely have full months available with the ability to extend and corporate apartments aren’t for everyone.
Finding properties that will work with a short-term lease takes a lot of patience, hundreds of calls and a person who could sell ice to an Eskimo. I would know, I’ve done it. It took every tactic in the sales world including sob stories, turning on “the charm”, and of course offering more money. After the blood, sweat and tears that went into getting a house on a short-term lease, presenting to the policyholder felt victorious. However, most of the time, a policyholder will decline the first property for various reasons. For instance, it could be the location, neighbors or they don't like the carpet. Whatever the case, Residence Specialists do not give up. They have the tenacity of a bulldog and will try to give the insured everything they want in a home.
2. You will pay a higher rent
I mentioned in fact #1 that I would offer more money for a lease, and that is a standard in the industry. Very rarely will you find a landlord that will rent at the same rate for a 2-month lease as a 12-month lease. Why? Because they make more money on a 12-month lease over the short term.
If do the math, you'll find out 9 times out of 10 that you're going to save more money renting a home with a premium than a hotel's nightly rate for one month.
So, before dismissing an expensive or incomparable option, we want you to know that we have done the calculations for you and know it will be a more cost effective option.
3. Fees and deposits are (typically) mandatory
If a landlord is going to do double the work and make less, they will want guaranteed money, who wouldn’t? Fees are a great incentive because it means that they just get paid for renting the home without adding to the rent that usually goes towards a mortgage, property taxes, etc.
Deposits can be tricky, especially when the policyholder is responsible for paying out of pocket. Not everyone has $5,000 to pay in deposits and fees after a disaster, so be honest with your customers about costs upfront. Knowing their limits will help you have a more realistic expectation and timeline of their housing options.
4. Have pets, pay more
Finding a rental that will accept a large dog is hard normally, finding one on a month-to-month basis is nearly impossible. I remember one of my first claims that I handled, the family had a 200 lb Mastiff and extremely high expectations of what their 30-day rental should be. When we eventually found a home that complied with the rental terms and accepted this very large animal, the policyholder had to pay the deposits. It took a lot of negotiating and increasing the rent amount to finally come to an agreement.
The point is, if your insured wants to bring their animals, there will sometimes be astronomical fees and deposits because of the short term. Landlords want to accept small to no animals all the time because animals smell, have accidents, destroy yards, carpet, walls, or can even be considered a safety and insurance issue.
If your policyholder is in a hotel without their fur babies now, let them know they have alternative options like pet boarding.
5. Restrictions do apply
Pet restrictions, Occupancy Law, HOA, and applications can all restrict a policyholder from moving into housing.
Breed, weight, type and number of pets can limit a policyholders’ options for housing. There are certain tactics used, but they don’t always work or like previously mentioned, the policyholder can’t afford any deposits or fees. I’ve had insureds turn down the perfect properties because they couldn’t take their animals.
Each state has their own provisions when it comes to occupancy laws. For example, a family of 9 that lives in a 3-bedroom home cannot necessarily rent another 3-bedroom home. Most of the time these laws set limits on the number of heart beats per room. So instead of a 3-bedroom home we now need to locate a 5-bedroom home. Even though the house is not similar in size to what they come from, typically the cost savings is still substantial compared to the cost of 4 rooms in a hotel.
If a policyholder likes a home in an HOA, don’t expect them to move in. HOA committees in neighborhoods, condos, and townhomes control everything, including lease terms.
A family finds a home, loves the home, starts filling out the application, then suddenly realizes they don’t have the credit to rent or they’re 25-year-old son is a convicted felon; what happens next? There are a series of things that we can do, but it takes cooperation from all parties. We can’t make the application just disappear, due to fair housing laws. A majority of the time, we can provide ways around this issue, but they typically increase cost in deposits, rent or fees.
6. It won’t be perfect, but it will be worth it
A rental home is rarely “perfect”, but you make it work, especially when you’re on a time restraint. The idea around a policyholder having the perfect layout, area, and amenities is 1 in 100. We cannot build a home or force rentals, what is on the market is what’s available. If you see a rental online, look back at fact #1, because it’s probably a long-term lease, does not accept all the 12 cats or the Residence Specialist has called multiple times and always heard, "no".
Do you make one or several New Year’s resolutions each December 31st only to break them in the first week? Why not give yourself a break this year and have a Resolution Revolution!
Resolve to better yourself in a way that is attainable, realistic and sensible. Goals are good to have, but actually hitting those goals is stellar.
Some common resolutions are to lose weight, get in shape, quit smoking or save money. Instead of making a general plan to “lose weight”, try to more clearly define your goal. For example, are you trying to lose a specific amount of pounds, or slim down 2 sizes? Breaking down your goal into more manageable, bite-size pieces makes hitting those milestones achievable.
Have patience. Making lasting behavioral changes takes time. Keep in mind, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t expect to go from eating badly to eating perfectly healthy overnight. Take small steps to change your diet gradually, thoughtfully and mindfully.
When you slip, and you will, get up and get back on track. Don’t quit! If you missed a day of exercise or you had that whole pint of ice cream instead of just a half cup; don’t punish yourself. We are human and we mess up. Resiliency is the key.
If you have a financial emergency and can’t save your full 10% this month, just save what you can. Any effort towards your goal is better than no effort at all.
We at CRS strive to improve our services based on customer feedback. By listening carefully and continually improving our processes, we hope to better serve families in need of temporary housing.
Do your best in 2017 to be a part of the 8% of resolution-makers who actually attain their goal.
By CRS Guest Blogger, Vince Salazar, CRS Customer Care Specialist
and the date was chosen to commemorate the signing of the armistice with Germany that ended hostilities during World War I.
Many observe Veterans Day by simply flying the U.S. flag at their house, having a picnic or cook out with friends and family, and watching war movies or other patriotic programming on TV. Many also donate to veterans' causes and show appreciation to veterans they meet or are already acquainted with, and some veterans will donate their military uniforms on this day, making themselves “easy to spot.”
Veterans Day is an important time to remember those who risked their lives to defend the freedom of others, and you will find there are many festive and patriotic activities to take part.
On this day of remembrance, we would like to acknowledge and thank our CRS employees who have proudly served our country: Acacia Oudinot, Vince Salazar, Lionel Jerry, Richard Macias, Mindy Campbell and Dennis Allen.
About the writer, Vince Salazar
Born in Michigan (Go LIONS)
Served in the US Army Band between 1980-1986
Forged a career on stage as an actor, singer, dancer and musician ~ performing in over 200 major theatre touring companies over 20 years.
Headlined the show LEGENDS IN CONCERT in Las Vegas for over 10 years doing the Blues Brothers.
Recovered from a head-on car accident (left me in a wheel chair for over 2 years), and recently survived cancer.
As we begin to approach the end of summer and continue to see the widespread flooding in Louisiana and growing fires in California, we ask ourselves, “what’s next, and will my community be affected?”.
It is important to know that we are still in the midst of hurricane season, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has recently increased their hurricane estimate from 10 to 16 named storms to 12 to 17. They are now expecting five to eight of those storms to become hurricanes.
Much of the US will feel the impact of these storms. Are you prepared? Does your family have a plan in place in case your home or community are flooded? Do you have flood insurance?
Even if you’re located in a part of the country not commonly impacted by hurricanes, sudden microbursts, severe thunderstorms and melting snow can also lead to flooding. Don’t hesitate to prepare in advance; the best time to put a flood plan in place is when it’s not flooding.
Here’s a few tips on what you can do now to be better prepared for flooding throughout the year:
- Know your flood risk. (www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/pages/flooding_flood_risks/understanding_your_risk.jsp)
- Make a flood emergency plan. (www.ready.gov/make-a-plan)
- Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit, including a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies. (www.ready.gov/kit)
- Consider buying flood insurance.
- Familiarize yourself with local emergency plans. Know where to go and how to get there should you need to get to higher ground, the highest level of a building, or to evacuate.
- Stay tuned to your phone alerts, TV, or radio for weather updates, emergency instructions, or evacuation orders.
How will I know when a potential flood is coming?
The last bullet point above advises us to stay informed by phone, TV and radio for weather updates. It’s necessary to understand the terminology you are hearing:
Flood Watch = “Be Aware.” Conditions are right for flooding to occur in your area.
Flood Warning = “Take Action!” Flooding is either happening or will happen shortly.
Educating yourself and your family about potential flooding can be one of the most important things you do.