Automobile Insurance Policy Danger In The Details

 

Automobile Insurance Policy Details Are Fraught With Danger

I enjoyed a great conversation with a nice gentleman the other day. He’d been referred to me for an automobile insurance policy. He readily admitted his last automobile insurance company dropped him back on July 1, 2020, for having two (2) “incidences” during the past three (3) years.

He tried, without success,  to acquire new coverage for two (2) months prior to his prior company’s non-renewal date. After many tries, he simply couldn’t understand why no one would take him up as his one accident was not-at-fault and the other incident, a moving violation, resulted only in a ticket, no points.

I ran him through one of my preferred companies and discovered why no one wanted to take him.

How Automobile Insurance Policy Owners Put Themselves In Danger

 

Auto and home insurance are analogous to term life insurance. Basically your coverage, unlike whole or permanent life insurance, runs out after a certain number of years. If your policy allows the coverage to continue, the premium skyrockets to an amount that becomes untenable to maintain. So you wind up losing your “cheap” insurance, usually at the same time it is most important for your family’s financial well being.

In New York State, auto and home insurance companies write you policies with a term of three (3) years. So, if you maintain a good auto driving record, for example, renewal is a no-brainer. Too many “incidences” though, and renewal may come at a hefty price, or not at all.

So. several years ago you called one of those over-the-phone, direct-to-a licensed advisor automobile insurance companies and got a terrific rate.

You just weren’t aware it could have even been better.

You didn’t know your new policy contained a ticking time bomb.

So you contacted your independent agent or broker who’d been through hell, high water, and even a couple of claims with you, canceled your current policies, and moved to your new company.

Which Rating Factors Matter Most To Automobile Insurance Companies When You Want To Move Your Policy?

How long you’ve been licensed.

Your gender and age.

Your insurance credit score.

How many current moving violations (with some companies, during a period of as many as five (5) years) are on your record when you apply.

Policy lapses for non-payment of premium.

License suspension or revocation.

The length of time you were without auto insurance. Nowadays, the lack of a personally owned auto insurance policy for more than 30 days even if you didn’t actually own a vehicle, will disqualify you from getting insurance from many companies. 1

And The One Factor Most Consumers Know Nothing About

Few, if any, of the major preferred companies take new business coming from indemnity or non-standard insurance companies.  

And that is where your company placed your coverage. Its indemnity or non-standard insurance company. The nice person on the phone never suggested you could request quotes for their Preferred or Standard companies. Or, even if you didn’t qualify for those companies now, you weren’t advised to try again in six (6) or twelve (12) months.

For this reason, you’re basically stuck with your automobile insurance company.

Your Policy Is Emblazoned With An Automobile Insurance Scarlet Letter

 

For this reason, and this reason alone, I couldn’t offer this gentleman a quote from any of my preferred companies. So, I took the only choice open to me. I gave him a quote from the New York Automobile Insurance Plan (NYAIP).  In many cases, the NYAIP is the last resort for those needing automobile insurance. 

The NYAIP quote? Close to $6,295 for one year, about $4,500 more than the quote I would have been able to get him from one of my preferred companies.

I called him back.

Told him the quote.

He said, “Forget it,” and hung up.

Why Do Some Automobile Insurance Companies Engage In These Practices?

Short answer? Got me. 

For many companies, the name of the game is increasing market share, no matter the immediate cost. So, if your profile permits, you will be placed into their Indemnity or Non-Standard company, offering you a competitive, lower premium just to get your business. Then as claims from other drivers in your Indemnity company roll in, your premium begins to increase. This increase will be imperceptible at first. Then one day, you will open your renewal envelope and receive the shock of your life. 

Even if your record is perfectly clean, when you begin calling other insurance companies to secure a lower-cost automobile insurance policy, your current indemnity policy status will prevent you from doing so.

What You Should Do Today

Find your automobile insurance policy and call the insurance company or agent. Ask whether you are in an Indemnity or Non-Standard automobile insurance company. If you are, request they requote your policy for either their preferred or standard company.

Now, when you want to switch companies, it won’t be the type of company preventing you from moving your coverage.


Notes:

1. In my previous post “8 Ways to Save Money on your Auto Insurance, (https://brooklyncovered.com/8-tips-to-save-money-on-your-automobile-insurance/)”,  I wrote about the good old days when most auto insurance companies allowed you to go from one to up to three years owning a personal auto insurance policy without extra premiums or flat-out rejection. Some companies didn’t even factor in the lack of automobile insurance, as long as you didn’t own a car in your own name. In either case,  I suggested the purchase of a monthly zip car membership where your membership automatically provided you with liability insurance coverage. This removed the necessity of maintaining a non-owned auto insurance policy. Thus, when you decided to purchase your own vehicle, the money you’d spent on the zip car membership:

Wound up saving you money on your new auto insurance policy as you’d been continuously insured, and,

Enabled you to qualify for a better or preferred company in an insurance company’s member companies. 


Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an NYS-licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker with over 38 years of experience. Eustace is ready to assist you with your life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, cooperative and condominium, and wedding insurance needs, and can be reached at 718-783-2722, or by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com. You can also contact him by going to his website and completing any of the available “Contact Us” forms.

If you’d like to subscribe to his monthly newsletter, “Health, Safety, and Good News You Can Use,” go to his website, https://greavesinsurance.com, and click on any of the “Subscribe” buttons.

Have insurance, income tax, real estate, mortgage, or home inspection questions for Eustace? He’ll be happy to provide the insurance and income tax answers and will continue to call on his expert contacts for help in the other areas. Just send him an email to eustace@insuremeeg.com with the subject line, “Ask Eustace.”

What is a Loan Estimate?

What is a Loan Estimate?

Recently, a client asked me the following question:

“It has been years since I took out a mortgage. I notice that instead of the old Good Faith Estimate, I am getting a Loan Estimate. What is a Loan Estimate? Are they the same thing?”

When It’s Out of Your Comfort Zone, Seek Help

 

While I am comfortable and qualified to questions concerning life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, co-op, and condominium insurance, I don’t possess the same knowledge levels about mortgages. So, I reached out to three of the top home mortgage lenders I know for insight and informal their valuable time.

Somehow, I know this will cost me big time down the road.

My Panel of Experts Answer The Question of “What Is A Loan Estimate?”

 

Ennell Esperance, a Senior Home Lending Advisor (NMLS ID: 68006) with the Home Lending Division of JPMorgan Chase Bank, provided me with some recent history about this topic.

In 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a government agency that regulates consumer financial instruments such as mortgages, retired the Good Faith Estimate form (in part) and created the Loan Estimate form.

The Good Faith Estimate form where lenders used their own language to describe the loans, multiple estimates could seem very different. Consumers were confused by that document.

How Does The Loan Estimate Work?

 

The new Loan Estimate consolidates four forms into two: the Loan Estimate and the Closing Disclosure.

The new Loan Estimate is a three-page form that you receive within three business days after you apply. It is not a loan approval or rejection. It simply gives you loan terms, projected payments, and closing costs for review.

Standardized Wording in The Loan Estimate


Leon T. Gelzer, Sr., (NMLS ID: 41256), a Santander Bank Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) officer and Community Mortgage Development Loan Officer, highlighted how the Loan Estimate standardizes the wording that lenders can use, you’ll see which costs are fixed and which are not, allowing you to shop lenders.

Leon went on to say it also prevents surprise fees by establishing tolerance levels. If you do take the loan and the fee amount estimated is more than the amount paid, the lender makes up the difference.

I would imagine every mortgage lender does their best to avoid this reality.


How Loan Estimate Costs Are Broken Down

Peter Chace, a Mortgage Loan Officer (NMLS ID: 206181), with TD Bank directed me to the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau’s website to view samples of the Loan Costs and Closing Disclosure forms (Click Here to go to the CFPB website) and highlighted how costs are also broken down in the following categories:

  • Loan Costs (origination charges, services you can’t shop for and services you can shop for) and Other Costs (taxes, government recording fees, pre-paid fees, and initial escrow payments, for example).
  • Closing Disclosure
    The Closing Disclosure is a five-page form that buyers receive before closing. It has the final terms and costs associated with the mortgage and specifies the amount of money you need on-hand at closing. Buyers can easily compare the Loan Estimate to the Closing Disclosure. Buyers will have three (3) days to review the form and ask questions.

I want to thank these gentlemen for being so generous in sharing their time with me, and ultimately, you.

Let’s Thank Our Experts



As thanks for their generosity, here is the contact information for each expert who contributed:

Ennell Esperance can be reached by telephone at
718-810-7680, and by email at ennell.esperance@chase.com;
Leon T. Gelzer, Sr.’s office number is 718-302-5418. Leon’s email address is leon.gelzer@santander.us.
Peter Chace can be reached by telephone at 917-715-2818. Peter’s email address is Peter.chace@td.com.

You can also find a copy of the full Loan Estimator, with completed samples in English and Spanish at https://www.consumerfinance.gov/policy-compliance/guidance/mortgage-resources/tila-respa-integrated-disclosures/forms-samples/

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an NYS-licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker with over 38 years of experience. Eustace is ready to assist you with your life, disability, home, flood, renters, auto, cooperative and condominium, and wedding insurance needs, and can be reached at 718-783-2722, or by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com. You can also contact him by going to his website and completing any of the available “Contact Us” forms.

If you’d like to subscribe to his monthly newsletter, “Health, Safety, and Good News You Can Use,” just to his website, eustace@greavesinsurance.com, and click on any of the “Subscribe” buttons.

Have insurance, income tax, real estate, mortgage, or home inspection questions for Eustace? He’ll be happy to provide the insurance and income tax answers and will continue to call on his expert contacts for help in the other areas. Just send him an email to eustace@insuremeeg.com with the subject line, “Ask Eustace.”

Let’s Set The Record Straight About – Customizing Your Insurance

Today’s clever insurance commercials are a necessary evil. They provide more information about bundling and saving, and less about the coverages you, your family, and your business really need.

We can change that by simply asking the right questions.

Customizing Your Insurance

There is no insurance company that owns a monopoly on helping you customize your insurance.

None.

Commercials, Commercials, Commercials

Commercials are designed to increase brand awareness using gimmicks including celebrity spokespersons, animals, car crashes and chases, and well, anything they think you will remember when it is time to buy insurance.

Does Every Company Allow You To Customize Your Insurance?

You can customize your home, life, auto, renters, co-op, condo, disability, long term care, personal umbrella, and yes, even your flood insurance with any company licensed to do business in the State of New York as well as every other state in the Union.

Every company gives you the ability to customize your insurance.

Every single one.

Problem is, most consumers aren’t served by most of the television commercials aired today.

They are simply goaded into a perpetual state of dissatisfaction with their current carrier, even when their current carrier is doing a good job for them.

It’s What Consumers Don’t Know About Their Insurance Which Hurts Them

Each year, I make at least 25 insurance-based presentations for HUD-approved housing agencies and organizations such as Neighborhood Housing Services of New York City, Harlem Churches for Community Improvement, and Impacct. I always ask those in attendance to tell me what their automobile insurance coverages are. Inevitably, 14 out of 15 give the same answer, “Full Coverage.”

Not 25/50/10.

Not 250/500/100.

Full coverage.

And when I ask them how much their policies cover in the event of an accident, they usually reply that they’re not really sure, but they did save money by bundling their home and auto.

Yay,

Buying What You Need Is A Two-Edged Sword

As long as the policy or policies quoted for you meet your state’s required minimum coverages limits, buying the cheapest policy or bundle possible is actually all you need.

What if though, you just struck and killed a pedestrian, or lost control of your vehicle and totaled a house. Will your policy provide you with the actual amount of money you will need when the jury hands down some obscenely massive award against you?

Imagine coming home to find;

  • Your home on fire.
  • Two (2) feet of toxic sewage water sloshing about your finished basement.
  • Burglars paid you an expensive visit while you are at work or the market.
  • Your good dog had a bad day.
  • There are three feet of floodwater in your home and you don’t own a flood insurance policy.

What Questions Should I Ask?

  • What, if any hoops must I jump through in case of a claim?
  • Are policy coverages or exceptions more important to know?
  • Why do I have duties after a loss?
  • In the event of a covered cause of loss, how easily will my claim be settled?
  • Is your claim service fair?


What Should My Insurance Company and/or Independent Agent and Broker teach Me?

  • Why buying home insurance based on your home’s replacement cost is essential.
  • How to determine your condominium and cooperative apartment “walls in” insurance coverage based on what a licensed contractor would charge to completely repair fire or water damaged walls, ceilings, and floors.
  • The importance for renters to complete a personal home inventory, down to the last sweat sock.
  • How owning Life and Disability insurance will prevent financial disaster should death or disability destroy the earning power of a family breadwinner.
  • Reasons why every property policy should include Water and Sewer Backup coverage. And why every cooperative and condominium apartment owner should add the Loss Assessment endorsement to their coverage.
  • Why buying flood insurance, even when their home is not in a high-risk flood zone, is a smart financial move.

And, of course, what coverages do I actually need to protect my family and home from most disasters?

The other day a woman asked me for my honest opinion of who I felt was the best insurance company out there.

My answer?

The one with whom you secured the proper policies, with sufficient coverages, which is in force at the time of your claim.

A company that won’t make you jump through hoops to settle a  claim fairly. An independent insurance agent and broker willing and able to service your policies. With premiums accurately reflecting the coverages your policies provide.

Nothing else matters.

As for the commercials, well, give my regards to Broadway.

At least until we can enjoy live theater again. Until then, stay healthy and safe.

 

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is an independent insurance agent and broker, licensed to conduct business in New York State. Contact Eustace at 718-783-2722, 718-489-2218, by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com or by completing the contact form on this page, or  one of the many contact forms on his website, https://greavesinsurance.com.

 

 

Wash Your Hands and Your Face Too!

There’s More To Life Than Just Washing Your Hands

If there is one thing we will all take from the experience of surviving (hopefully), COVID-19, it is this:

We all learned the simple act of washing our hands properly and often is key to disease protection.

Well, to quote Derrick Coleman, “Well whoop dee ding dang do.”

No matter where you look during these Covid-19 days, you are reminded of the importance of handwashing. There are signs, videos, I mean, did most of us fail kindergarten? When I attended P. S. 129K for kindergarten, my essential education included education in the proper use of rhythm sticks, marching in a circle,  zipping up your pants before leaving the bathroom, and the correct way to wash our hands.

Oh, and eating pretzel sticks layered with enough giant salt crystals to give a bull elephant high blood pressure.

With all the hullabaloo about washing our hands, there is one important procedure no one is talking about.

What, pray tell, could it be?

Don’t Touch It. It May Be Filthier Than Your Hands

How about washing your face?

You know, the thing you’re not supposed to touch with your hands as you might transmit disease through the mucous membranes around your eyes, or into your mouth.

How many times do you wash your face each day, I mean really get your rag and soap it up and scrub your face until your skin glows? Not the glow from the makeup layered on your skin, but the healthy glow from facial pores saying, “Hallelujah! We see the light!”

Then, scrub your neck until there’s no dirt left to stain your collar.

Get Behind Your Ears, Too

And don’t forget to get the crud from behind your ears, and the surface wax and filth from the surface of your ears. It would be a shame for someone to actually want to nibble on them, only to gag and spit out whatever lives there.

So take the time to scrub your face, ears, and neck at least two or three times a day.

If nothing else, you’ll be touching a clean face with clean hands.

And you won’t be like Shrek, pulling enough earwax out of your ear to make a candle.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is a New York State licensed Independent Insurance Agent and Broker who tends to look at life way differently than most people.

You can reach him at 718-489-2218, 718-783-2722, or by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com for home, renters, life, disability, flood, coop condo insurance coverage quotes, and policy reviews.

Changes To The New York State Star Program

Changes To The New York State Star Program

My good friend and leading Real Estate Broker Marcia Clarke, the Owner and Principal at M C Realty Consulting and Management, Inc., in Brooklyn, NY does a wonderful job of keeping real estate professionals and those in related professions up to date with important information.

Marcia is a member of the Long Island Board of Realtors, which is where she found this information about changes to the New York State Star Program.

Due to changes in the law, the STAR (School Tax Relief) Program has been modified. Here are some highlights of the Star Program:

Effective July, 1 2019:

 

– If you own your own home, it’s your primary residence, and your income is $500,000 or less, you are eligible for the Basic STAR Program.

– If your income is greater than $250,000 and less than or equal to $500.000, you will receive a check for the STAR credit instead of a reduction on your school tax bill.

– If your income is $250,000 or less, and you are currently receiving the STAR exemption (a direct reduction on your school tax bill in the form of a property tax exemption), you can choose to register for the STAR credit to receive a check instead.

– The STAR exemption program is now closed to new applicants. New applicants can only register for the STAR credit.

– Homeowners with income greater than $250,000 and less than or equal to $500,000 who currently receive the STAR exemption, need not take any additional action to start receiving the STAR credit in the form of a check.

– If your income is $250,000 or less and currently receive the STAR exemption but want to receive the STAR credit instead, you have to register with the NY State Department of Taxation and Finance to make the switch.

– The taxing authority is giving homeowners an incentive to switch to the STAR credit. STAR credits may increase as much as 2% each year, but the value of the STAR exemption savings cannot increase.

– Enhanced STAR is provided to homeowners age 65 and older for their primary residence if their income is $86,300 or less for the 2019-2020 school year.

– Enhanced STAR recipients are now required to enroll in the Income Verification Program (IVP).

– Homeowners need not register every year for the STAR Program. Once registered, they are automatically reviewed for eligibility each year.

Want To Know More?

For more information, please go to: https://www1.nyc.gov/site/finance/benefits/landlords-star.page

Courtesy of the Long Island Board of Realtors, August 2019

If you would like to reach Marcia Clarke to buy, sell or manage real estate, here’s how to reach her:

Marcia Clarke, Broker – 917 841 2121
MEMBER: National Association of REALTORS-Brooklyn Board of Realtors. ABR CIPS CRS ePRO SRES; AREAA: ICSC: NAREB: projectREAPNY 2016: ULI: WCR-PMN
M C Realty Consulting & Management Inc.
1431 Nostrand Ave Brooklyn NY 11226 O: 718 484 8582 F: 718 345 0102

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF wants to help his clients “Live Life Full Covered.” He accomplishes this by combining homeowners, renters, flood, life, disability, long term care, co-op, condo, umbrella liability and auto insurance  policies with income tax strategies designed to meet and exceed client goals and needs.
If you want to ensure you and your family are living life fully covered, call Eustace today at 718-489-2218, or email him at eustace@insuremeeg.com to make an appointment.

 

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Acknowledgements: Marcia Clarke, Real Estate Broker; an more...

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Live Life Fully Covered

One of the best things you can do in life is to “Live Life Fully Covered.”

It’s time to just be honest and admit many bad things, gruesome tragedies and heart-rendering losses don’t always happen to “The Other Guy or The Other Woman.”

You Can Be “The Other Guy”

One day you could be “The Other Guy or The Other Woman” who;

  • Loses their husband or wife whose income helped meet mortgage payments, to cancer;
  • Suffers a life-changing heart attack which requires you to stay home to recuperate for six (6) months to a year or more;
  • During their prime working years finds themselves as the primary care-giver for a parent, other elderly relative, or even a sibling who lacks long-term care coverage;
  • Experiences the pain of  burying a child;
  • Watches as their house containing all their treasured belongings accumulated over a lifetime burns to the ground;
  • Comes home after a hard day at work to discover they’ve been burglarized;
  • Needs money to secure a new place to live while your home, co-op or condo is being rebuilt;
  • Gets sued by the cyclist, pedestrian or other driver who can prove you were at fault;
  • Gets sued by the cyclist, pedestrian or other driver who can’t prove you were at fault, but you must engage the services of an attorney to defend you against a baseless suit;
  •  Watches as their home is inundated by two (2) to ten feet of floodwaters even though you bought your home in a non-Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).
  • Owns the sweet and gentle nice old dog walking off the leash who rears up and mauls or takes a bite out of your neighbor’s child;
  • Wonders who stole their new car;
  • Never gets their wedding and bridesmaid dresses because the bridal shop went out of business unannounced, and the owners didn’t return your deposit.

It doesn’t always happen to “The Other Guy or The Other Woman.” It’s also amazing how these types of tragedies frequently happen yesterday, last night or while you were thinking about taking action to put the proper coverage in force.

Can Life’s Tragedies Be Stopped?

You can’t stop life’s tragedies. You can, however, take intelligent, adult steps to control their outcomes using;

  • Life Insurance
  • Disability Insurance
  • Long Term Care Insurance
  • Homeowners Insurance
  • Renters Insurance
  • Co-op Insurance
  • Condominium Insurance
  • Flood Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Personal Umbrella Liability Insurance
  • Wedding Insurance

In over 37 years of helping my clients reach successful life outcomes using insurance and related financial services and products, I’ve realized for me it all comes down to one simple phrase:

“Live Life Fully Covered.”

I would be honored to help you reach your desired outcomes. Call me at 718-489-2218, or reach me by email at eustace@insuremeeg.com .

Let’s work together to make sure you “Live Life Fully Covered.”

Hurricane Season Preparation

There is no substitute for Hurricane Season preparation

With the 2019 hurricane season underway, we would like to remind you of the importance of preparing for potentially destructive storms. Here are some things you can do today, before a storm approaches, to help keep you and your family safe throughout the hurricane season.

How do Hurricane Watches and Warnings differ?

Understand the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning. A hurricane watch means that a hurricane may occur within the next 24 to 36 hours. A hurricane warning means that a hurricane will probably strike your area within the next 24 hours.

Prepare a storm survival kit.

  • A complete list of essential supplies is available on Ready.Gov.
    Certain preparations must also be made for disabled persons, senior citizens, and pets.
  • Taking any medications? Ask your pharmacist and physician for an increased prescription package so you will always have an additional 30 days of medication available in waterproof containers.
  • Make complete front and back copies of drivers licenses, identification cards, and all credit and affinity cards. Other important documents such as mortgages, deeds, birth and death certificates should be copied and the originals should stay in a safe deposit or a water and fireproof security chest.
  • Plan your evacuation route in advance of the storm.
    Arrange for a family or friend who lives far away from the danger zone to act as a central communications hub so family members who may be split up can call and confirm where they are and their condition.

Create Your Family Communication Plan

  • Establish a safe location for family members to reconnect.
    Make sure you have at least one credit card with the full credit limit available to you should you need to rent hotel or motel accommodations until you are able to return home.
    Secure storm shutters and board up all windows.
    •Stock up on drinking water and non-perishable goods.
    •Have a supply of batteries and be sure you have flashlights and a hand-chargeable portable radio in good working condition.
    •Keep your cars gas tank at least 3/4 full just in case you are forced to leave your home or town immediately.
  • Purchase a five-gallon gasoline or diesel fuel container (Yes, they are different. The gasoline containers are usually red in color, while the diesel containers are yellow.), and fill them at the first mention of a Hurricane Warning or Hurricane Watch to prevent the possibility of your running out of fuel.

Don’t Forget Your Flood Insurance

The typical home, dwelling fire,renters, co-op or condo insurance policies do not cover losses caused by a flood. And unless you’re buying your coverage for a closing, you will have to wait 30 days for your coverage to become effective, so purchase your flood insurance coverage today.

Please remember, we are here to help. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

Check your local weather

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is a New York State licensed independent agent and broker. parYou can reach him through email at eustace@insuremeeg.com, or by phone at 718-489-2218.

Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) Overview 1.5

“The new law increases the credit for qualifying children (i.e., children under 17) to $2000 from $1000, and increases to $1,400 the refundable portion of the credit. It also introduces a new (nonrefundable) $500 credit …”

An overview of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

The recently enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) represents major changes our nation’s tax code.

Here’s a look at some of the more important elements of the new law that have an impact on individuals. Unless otherwise noted, the changes are effective for tax years beginning in 2018 through 2025. That’s right. The next seven (7) years.

 

  • Tax Rates.  The new law imposes a new tax rate structure with seven tax brackets: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%,  32%, 35%, and 37%. The top rate was reduced from 39.6% to 37% and applies to taxable income above $500,000 for single taxpayers, and $600,000 for married couples filing jointly. The rates applicable to net capital gains and qualified dividends were not changed. The ‘kiddie tax’ rules were simplified. The net unearned income of a child subject to the rules will be taxed at the capital gain and ordinary income rates that apply to trusts and estates. Thus, the child’s tax is unaffected by the parent’s tax situation or the unearned income of any siblings.
  • Standard Deduction.  The new law increases the standard deduction to $24,000 for joint filers, $18,000 for head of household, and $12,000 for single and married taxpayers filing separately. Given these increases, many taxpayers will no longer be itemizing deductions. These figures will be indexed for inflation after 2018.
  • Exemptions.  The new law suspends the deduction for personal exemptions. Thus, starting in 2018, taxpayers can no longer claim personal or dependency exemptions. The rules for withholding income tax on wages will be adjusted to reflect this change, but IRS was given the discretion to leave the withholding unchanged for 2018.
  • New deduction for “qualified business income.”  Starting in 2018, taxpayers are allowed a deduction equal to 20 percent of “qualified business income,” otherwise known as “pass-through” income, i.e., income from partnerships, S corporations, LLCs and sole proprietorships. The income must be from a trade or business within the U.S. Investment income does not qualify, nor do amounts received from an S Corporation as reasonable compensation or from a partnerships a guaranteed payment for services provided to the trade or business. The deduction is not used in computing adjusted gross income, just taxable income. For taxpayers with taxable income above $ 157,500 ($315,000 for joint filers), (1) a limitation based on W-2 wages paid by the business and depreciable tangible property used in the business is phased in, and (2) income from the following trades or businesses is phased out of qualified business income: health, law, consulting, athletics, financial or brokerage services, or where the principal asset is the reputation or skill of one or more employees or owners.
  • Child and family tax credit.  The new law increases the credit for qualifying children (i.e., children under 17) to $2000 from $1000, and increases to $1,400 the refundable portion of the credit. It also introduces a new (nonrefundable) $500 credit for a taxpayer’s dependents who are not qualifying children. The adjusted gross income level at which the credits begin to be phased out has been increased tp $200,000 ($400,000 for joint filers).
  • State and local taxes. The itemized deduction for state and local income and property taxes is limited to a total of $10,000 starting in 2018.
  • Mortgage interest. Under the new tax law, mortgage interest on loans used to acquire a principal residence, and a second home is only deductible on debt up to $750,000 (down from $1 million), starting with loans taken out in 2018. And there is no longer any deduction for interest on home equity loans, regardless of when the debt was incurred.
  • Miscellaneous itemized deductions. There is no longer a deduction for miscellaneous itemized deductions which were formerly deductible to the extent they exceeded 2 percent of adjusted gross income. This category included items such as tax preparation costs, investment expenses, union dues, and unreimbursed employee expenses. So, all of your auto expenses, for example, are no longer deductible.
  • Medical expenses. Under the new law, for 2017 and 2018, medical expenses are deductible to the extent they exceed 7.5 percent of adjusted gross income for all taxpayers. Previously, the AGI “floor” was 10% for most taxpayers.
  • Casualty and theft losses. The itemized deduction for casualty and theft losses has been suspended except for losses incurred in a federally declared disaster. So, if you are renter, or a coop or condo or dwelling owner who lacks comprehensive coverage for your personal property, now is the time to purchase coverage.
  • Overall limitation. The new law suspends the overall limitation on itemized deductions that formerly applied to taxpayers whose adjusted gross income exceeded specified thresholds. The itemized deductions of such taxpayers were reduced by 3% of the amount by which AGI exceeded the applicable threshold, but the reduction could not exceed 80% of the total itemized deductions, and certain items were exempt from the limitation.
  • Moving expenses. The deduction for job-related moving expenses has been eliminated, except for certain military personnel. The exclusion for moving expense reimbursements has also been suspended.
  • Alimony. There is some truth in the old song, “It’s Cheaper To Keep Her.” For post-2018 divorce decrees and separation agreements, alimony will not be deductible by the paying spouse and will not be taxable to the receiving spouse.
  • Health care “individual mandate.” Starting in 2019, there is no longer a penalty for individuals who fail to obtain minimum essential health coverage. (This will probably lead to fewer Americans purchasing health insurance, and more states reducing or eliminating Medicaid contributions for health care plans.)
  • Estate and gift tax exemption. Effective for decedents dying , and gifts made, in 2018, the estate and gift tax exemption has been increased to roughly $11.2 million ($22.4 million for married couples).
  • Alternative minimum tax (AMT) exemption. The AMT has been retained for individuals by the new law but the exemption has been increased to $109,400 for joint filers ($54,700 for married taxpayers filing separately), and $70,300 for unmarried taxpayers. The exemption is phased out for taxpayers with alternative minimum taxable income over $1 million for joint filers, and over $500,000 for all others.

As you can see from this overview, the new law affects many areas of taxation. I plan to hold at least one (1) public seminars in Brooklyn, to ‘drill down’ into just how the new law will affect you. There will be a fee charged for attendance at these seminars to offset the cost of the venue, and painkillers.

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF is a frequent presenter in the areas of personal insurance, personal income taxation,  and budget and credit strategies for many organizations, including, Neighborhood Housing Services of NYC, Inc., HCCI, Impacct Brooklyn, and Bridge Street Development Corporation. He is a New York State licensed insurance agent and broker, and  NYS Defensive Driving Delivery Agent and Instructor.

You can reach Eustace at Eustace@insuremeeg.com, or 718-783-2722.

 

Someone Else’s Opinion

“Then, I just wound up viewing to a T. D. Jakes sermon. Next thing I knew, I was listening to him, Dr. Myles Munroe, and Dr. Jasmin Scurlock. I pulled out all of my old tapes by Les Brown, Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, James Weldon, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and other speakers, and did nothing but listen to them, and read books necessary for the feeding of my soul, for about a month.

So, I arrive home from another long insurance and income tax preparation day at my office when, lo and behold, there is one car with it’s lights on and another where the owner-driver is getting ready to open his door.

Now the driver in the first car occupied a space large enough for two cars. Unfortunately, as many people tend to do, the driver was running the engine, wasting precious gasoline, and making their own contribution to global warming while checking messages and updating their social media sites (“I’m in the car, class was okay, too many interruptions while I was Pinning. On my way home. Weather is yucky””.

So, I waited for the other spot. Now this car had about 5 inches of clearance on either end of the car. No problem, those are the spots I usually slide into on the first try.

The driver, a Black man with an African accent., kept looking at me and finally walked over to my car and with the most condescending attitude proceeded to tell me how he didn’t think I would be able to get my car into the spot he should have been in the process of vacating.

As he walked back to his car, I prayed God would make the other person in the two-car spot leave quickly, because this fool needed a good talking to.

Well readers, the Lord answered my prayer and Social Media vacated their spot. I zoomed into it, leaving enough room for another vehicle, got out of the classic, and walked over to the human I named Captain Stupid Head.

He opened his window and I got right in his face. “Let me school you Bucko. I don’t know where the you’re from, or what they taught you about the American Black Man before you got here, but don’t you ever again in your life, never again in your life, think you have the right to tell another Black man what he can and cannot do. You don’t know me, you know nothing about me, but I’ll tell you this slick, my ancestors picked cotton in this country without the benefit of paychecks, pensions, vacation days, the ability to love and legally marry, the right to watch their family sold away, and without the right to even learn how to read the slave master’s Bible, and your trifling ass shows up here with a student visa and probably all kinds of funding to get a college education, the benefit of which you will never realize if you keep telling people what you feel their limitations are. You feel me dog?

“Now stop driving like a damn punk, get out of this spot and go home. And give thanks to whatever Creator you worship you ran into me and not some fool with a gun, a foreclosure notice, and a layoff notice. At least with me, you’ll get to go home tonight. Next time, you could come across the wrong one and you won’t be so lucky.

“Oh, and if you get any stupid ideas in that empty head of yours, I wrote down your plate number and I just got the year and make of your car from your window registration. So got straight home, and please pray my car doesn’t ever even catch a cold.

“Leave. Now.”

My apologies to the cars at either end of his – he got out real quick.

Was I wrong, even foolish, to approach his vehicle and spew my mild venom?

Yes.

Absolutely.

While many will agree with my yes, others, knowing what my life has been like the past few months, are happy I didn’t pick up his car with him in it and toss them both into the bushes.

I believe God made this particular meeting possible for three reasons. One, Captain Stupid Head needed to be put in his place, possibly for the sake of a family back home, depending on whatever he can send back.

Two, I released a ton of pent-up despair I didn’t know I had, or refused to acknowledge I had. And oh boy, am I feeling better.

Number three, he knew this one wouldn’t try to shoot or stab me.

Thank you, God.

In other words, a rather propitious meeting.

Sometimes in life, the words of others can destroy us. And yes, I do mean destroy us to the point of wanting to say to hell with this thing called life. Recently, while sitting in the office wondering where I’d gone wrong in life (don’t act so sanctimonious, I’m sure a lot of you wonder the same thing at times. If you can really be honest with yourselves), when I felt compelled to call a client I hadn’t spoken to in ages.

I called the number I had on file without success. Temporarily disconnected, the message said.

Don’t ask me why, but I went a step further and sent her emails to every one of her email addresses. Couldn’t figure out why. Just had this impelling need, for some inexplicable reason to connect with this lady. Wrote some of my funniest, off the cuff material. Don’t know why. Just felt good doing it.

About five minutes later, my phone rang and lo and behold, it was her. The first thing she said to me was, “If it had been anyone else, I’d of gone through with it … ”

“Gone through with what?

“Killed myself. I was so finished with this life, and you had to send me those emails, you had to make me laugh again, when all I wanted to do was cry myself to sleep. Forever.”

“Where you at?”

“My girlfriend’s house. I’m staying here now.”

“What about your apartment?”

“Gave it up.”

“Why? That was a great, huge, and rent-stabilized apartment.”

“Uhhhhh, duh?”

“Oh yeah. Tell you what, give me your girlfriend’s address, I’m on my way.”

We talked, went for the coldest walk I’ve ever endured, shared coffee at a café, shed some tears together.

“Why?” I asked.

“I thought he loved me, he told me he loved me, but he just decided one day he could do better.”

She turned and looked at me. “G, what did you do when your heart was broken?”

“When I stopped crying, I sent my heart out for repair.”

“What? Where do you send a heart for repair?”

“The Universal Twenty-Four Repair Shop. Always an open bay. No need to schedule an appointment, drive-in service is available twenty-four hours a day, no waiting. You see, whichever Creator you believe in knows just when you are coming in for some work. You don’t even need money. Just give thanks for the repair. Heck, they’ll even loan you tools to do your own tune ups after the initial maintenance.”

“And guess what? All of the work comes with a lifetime warranty.”

Tears started falling from her face,her body began to shake and quake, and she began to moan, “Oh God, oh God.” I just put my arm around her shoulder and waited.

After a time, her quaking and crying stopped. “Where do you find this repair shop to start the healing?”

“You already found yours. You called out his name. The work’s begun.”

“G, I don’t know last time I prayed, and I don’t know how to pray, but …”

“Hell, if there is one thing I’ve learned over the past couple of years, it’s that the same people who think they are qualified to tell you how to pray really need to go in for a refresher course on what real prayer truly is.”

“Tell you what, let’s hold hands, and you just talk to The Universal Power. Some say God, some Yahweh, some Jehovah, some Allah, and some Buddah. Just talk, that’s prayer to me. Pray for what you want, not what you have. Work from your imagination, not your history.”

“How do I start, G?”

“Just talk. Tell you what, start by giving thanks and gratitude for life.”

“G, that seems so easy.”

“Yep, no need for soaring theatrics, loud screaming, jumping up and down. It’s not a performance, just a simple talk. Such a beautiful, simple prayer.”

We sat for a time, just talking when she looked at me and asked, “How did you survive feeling like you were inadequate, you weren’t enough?

“One day I looked my daughter’s high school yearbook, and realized I did something right for her to be positioned for the Blessings she enjoyed, enjoys now,  and the many more she will enjoy. Then, suddenly, I found all the photographs of her at college, photographs I’d had trouble finding before.

“Then, I just wound up viewing to a T. D. Jakes sermon. Next thing I knew, I was listening to Dr. Myles Munroe. I pulled out all of my old tapes by Les Brown, Earl Nightingale, Jim Rohn, Brian Tracy, James Weldon, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, and other speakers, and did nothing but listen to them,  and read books necessary for the feeding of my soul, for about a month.

“What’s funny is I finally heard a quote, something Les Brown says every time he speaks. I mean, I’ve heard it at least 50 times, but I finally heard it for the first time.”

“What quote G?”

“Someone else’s opinion of you does not have to become your reality.” I would add though, “Unless their opinion of you speaks to your greatness,your kindness, your love, your glory, and your ability to use the unique gifts and purpose God has given you to positively affect his world.”

“Now, make me a promise.”

“Anything G. Anything.”

“Promise me you’ll obey the three-day rule from this day forward.”

“What’s the three-day rule?”

“When you are under attack, take the problem, put it aside for three days, and then examine it again. Chances are during those three days you’ll come up with a solution, the problem will resolve itself, or you’ll realize what you thought was a problem or a failure wasn’t that at all. It is just the way you reacted to what you thought was a problem, and you now recognize it for the Blessing it really is.”

“You sure must have listened to a lot of tapes, huh?”

“You mean still listen to daily. You’ve got to feed what feeds you. And these meals are delicious.”

“Does the hurt ever go away?”

“I’ll let you know when it does. In the meantime, you do learn who loves you for you, who truly values you for who you are and what you bring to the table. You will smile and laugh at good jokes, and your heart will learn to soar again as you watch a play or movie, or hear a choir sing. And, as Les Brown would say, if you’ve got to fall, then fall on your back, because as long as you can look up, you can get up.

“And remember, the only people who don’t feel pain, don’t know hurt, are dead. Or damn liars.”

“Thanks G. Wait a minute, isn’t this your cell number, a number more difficult to get than President’s Obama’s?”

“Yep. I save it for the really special people, people who may need to reach me, especially when Evil declares war on my buddies. And don’t you ever leave home without it.”

 

Eustace L. Greaves, Jr., LUTCF, is a New York State licensed Insurance Agent and Broker, Income Tax Preparer, New York State licensed Continuing Education Monitor, and a Defensive Driving Delivery Agent and Instructor for Empire Safety Council.  You can reach him at 718-783-2722 or Eustace@insuremeeg.com to buy  flood, life, home, disability, condo, coop, renters, wedding, and long-term care insurance coverages you need to solidify your financial pyramid.

And, if you are his friend, he is available for the talk you never thought  you’d need.

 

Meet Marcia Clarke, 2017 President, Brooklyn Board of Realtors

“Last, networking and staying informed of new laws, developments, and marketing strategies are the mainstays of functioning like a professional. I consider it fundamental and it requires no batteries or internet. No matter how many years you’re licensed, you can always learn something new or discover how to do something you already know better.”

Meet Marcia Clarke, 2017 President, Brooklyn Board of Realtors

Marcia Clarke, 2017 President of the Brooklyn Board of Realtors addresses the audience after taking the Oath of Office

 

On January 10, 2017, another Presidential installation was held, one which those in New York City’s’ Real Estate industry feel carries more importance than the inauguration in Washington, D.C. For on that day, Marcia Clarke, Realtor, Owner and Principal Broker of M C Realty Consulting & Management, Inc., became the new President of the Brooklyn Board of Realtors.

Her installation ceremony was held at the Hudson River Yacht Club in Brooklyn’s Bergen Beach.

Richard Schulhoff,  the Executive Officer of both The Brooklyn Board of Realtors (TBBOR) and the Brooklyn Multiple Listing Service (BNYMLS) served as emcee, and Dawn Carpenter, respected Staten Island colleague and Marcia’s friend of many years in the real estate business, and the President-Elect for the New York State Association of Realtors, introduced Marcia.

Maryann Arbia, VP at Fillmore Real Estate Brooklyn

 

Richard Schullhoff, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Board of Realtors, and the Brooklyn Multiple Listing Service is the host with the most