Financial Products 101 Overview

Confused by all the lingo and terms concerning the various financial products? Not quite sure which product is best for you – equipment lease or working capital loan? What are the requirements for each product and are they etched in stone? Read on for a quick lesson on 7 financing products for your business or church.

SBA Loans – Loans guaranteed by the Small Business Association, but provided through your local or national bank. The guarantee is for the lender, not you the borrower. Current approvals (up to $2M) given for purchasing an existing business, partner buyouts, real estate transactions, medical professionals. Borrower generally needs 620+ credit score. Individual lenders determine which transactions they are willing to approve and specific requirements.

Equipment Leasing – Used to acquire equipment considered essential to your business. Must provide vendor estimate/sales quote for requested equipment as funds are forwarded to vendor for payment, not borrower. Borrower can own equipment at end of term or lease new equipment. Two years TIB generally required, some start-ups may qualify. Minimum 620+ credit score generally required. Lease payments can be considered business expense and often used instead of paying large upfront amount to outright purchase equipment.

Sales Leaseback – Current owner of equipment agrees to sell their equipment to lender and make lease payments to secure working capital funds. Equipment must have large secondary market; equipment deemed too specific has limited market and not a good candidate. Equipment should be relatively new, less than 18 months. Borrower must submit equipment listing that details equipment specifics offered for sale to determine value given for leaseback. Each piece should be valued over $25,000. Generally good credit expected on borrower.

Account Receivables Financing – Also called factoring, increasingly popular form of obtaining line of credit, based on your average monthly receivables. Great way of obtaining operating capital without having to wait for your customers to pay. Approvals weigh heavily on the quality of your receivables, not as much on your credit. Receivables generally should average minimum $25,000 per month. Once approved, 60-80% of receivable is advanced to borrower after customer is invoiced. When customer pays factoring lender, the balance of invoice, minus processing fee, is forwarded back to borrower.

Working Capital Loan – This is a true loan product, reported on your credit report. Approvals generally based on overall cash flow availability (average bank balance and average credit card processing) as well as credit history. Credit score expected in 620+ range, average balances in $5,000 range. Approval amounts up to $100,000, repayment up to 12 months. Once approved, loan can be used for almost any purpose. Renewals are possible once initial loans are 80-90% repaid. Rates generally lower than merchant cash advance. Funding usually complete in 7 days.

Merchant Cash Advance – Cash advance is forwarded to borrower based on last 6 months of credit card history. Credit is not as important, but should be 500+ with no recent bankruptcies. Merchant generally must process $8,000 minimum per month – Visa, MC, AMEX and some lenders include debit card processing as well. Cash and check amounts are not affected. This can be an expensive financing product, best for those in need of quick funding, generally with no other options for securing money. Operating capital can be used for almost any purpose. Funding usually complete in 7 days. Seasonal businesses may need to submit 12 months of merchant statements.

Church Financing – equipment programs available for new and established churches. Can fund chairs, pews, audio-visual equipment, almost anything needed for the interior of your church. $5,000 minimum request, requires personal guarantor with 600+ credit. Equipment sales quote from vendor needed as payment is made directly to vendor for equipment. Church addition/construction loans also available, generally require $300,000 minimum loan request. Church financial and bank statements needed for review prior to approval.

Now you have a quick starting point to help determine which financial products best suit your needs. Be sure to be honest and upfront regarding all aspects of your financial situation when discussing and submitting your application. Credible lenders will complete due diligence activities and your request may be declined for lack of full disclosure.

The Best Way to Pick a Florida Take Out Homeowners Insurance Company

Citizens Property Insurance is Florida’s state run home insurance company. It was formed to offer home insurance coverage to consumers unable to find coverage from a private Florida home insurance company. Homeowners in Florida turn to Citizens for coverage due to one or more risk factors that make their home undesirable to private insurance companies. These risk factors include among other things – the home’s age, distance from the coast, construction materials, and roof type.

Citizens Property Insurance depends on a mix of pre-event hurricane borrowing and imposing after the storm surcharges on all Florida home insurance policies if it doesn’t have the money it needs to pay claims.

This potentially lethal mix of high risk homes along with being under funded is one of the reasons that it’s always been a good idea to try to reduce the number of policies in Citizens Property Insurance. The smaller the number of policies that the company has, there is less chance that policyholders across Florida will have to pay large special assessments for many years after a major hurricane.

One of the ways that is done is by encouraging private home insurance companies to assume or “take out” policies currently covered by Citizens Property Insurance – hence the name “take out companies”. The take out process is also referred to as depopulation.

Attracting companies to assume or take policies out of Citizens Insurance Florida is good public policy.

In addition to moving more of Florida’s wind risk to the private market, customers may also get better customer service from a private take out company that doesn’t have a massive base of over 1 million customers like Citizens. They are also usually rewarded with annual insurance premiums that are lower than what they were paying Citizens. Finally, policyholders with private insurance companies are subject to smaller special assessments after major hurricanes.

Florida take out home insurance companies come to life with an immediate customer base of policyholders without having to make the usual investments in marketing and adverting. When these companies are initially capitalized, its easier for them to raise money because investors know that the take out companies will have an immediate customer base and money coming in immediately after they assume policies from Citizens.

Despite all the good that comes from reducing the number of Florida home insurance policies in Citizens Property Insurance, the take out program is not without its problems.

Policyholders are often concerned about the financial stability of the take out insurance companies. Many are start up companies and have a small surplus available to pay claims of $20 million or less. With Florida hurricane claims averaging $30,000 or more, even after a company’s reinsurance kicks in, there might not be enough money to pay all of the claims.

A significant number of take out companies were created after Florida’s 2004/2005 hurricane seasons. Policyholders are concerned that if their home has a hurricane claim in 2009, that their home will be “on-the job” training for the customer service staff at these newly formed companies – inexperience that could cause delays in paying claims fairly and prompty.

Many of these take out companies milk the policy base they assume and never go on to write any new business beyond the policies they take out of Citizens. Companies that don’t diversify their policy base beyond the original take out policies are more vulnerable to collapsing after a major Florida hurricane.

Last but not least, Florida insurance agents who originally wrote the policies that are being removed from Citizens might not want to become an agent with the new take out companies – even if it means they will lose the business. They simply might not want to add a new company to the mix of companies they already represent. Or they could have real concerns about the financial stability of the new take out company. The agent can’t stop consumers who want to benefit from a take out offer. However, an agent’s reluctance to be an agent with a particular company should at a minimum cause a consumer to pause and move forward with caution.

Here are the questions you should be asking your current Florida insurance agent if you are with Citizens and you are sent a take out offer – before you decide whether to move your Florida home insurance from Citizens to the new take out company:

How long has it been in business? Has it ever handled Florida hurricane claims before? If so, how many customers have filed complaints against that company for inadequate customer service.

How financially strong is the take out company? What are its financial ratings? How diversified is the company’s policy base across both Florida and other states? Are the policies being assumed by the take out company in North Central Florida, or in hurricane ground zero along the South Florida coast?

If your agent is not willing to become a new agent of one of the take out companies, that alone should be a warning sign to you. By taking this position, your agent is risking the loss of the commission your policy. Find out from your agent why they don’t want their agency to accept an appointment with the new take out company. The answer your agent gives you, might tell you everything you need to know about whether you should accept the offer from the new take out company.

Last but not least, ask your agent if there are any other Florida home insurance companies who might want to cover your home. The private home insurance market in Florida is always changing and there might be other companies now covering homes like yours that are a lot more stable.

Don’t forget, if you don’t bother to investigate these take out insurance companies, you will be the one that could be living with an unpaid claim after the next Florida hurricane.

What to Know Before You Compare Financial Products

If you are considering any borrowing then you need to know a couple of things before you go putting pen to paper.

The APR for Financial Product Comparisons
A company will always claim that the APR that they have placed on a product is inclusive of all the costs; it never is. There are always going to be hidden extras and the sooner you realise this the better. Financial institutions use clever wording and other underhanded techniques in order to make a product look more favourable than it actually is.

As aforementioned they will always say that everything has been considered so that a customer can look at their product and compare it to similar products being offered by other companies. They never include everything, and by the time you have been charged for the likes of insurance and administration, and only brief you about it in the fine-print when the contract is sent out to be signed.

The Credit Score Issue
There are always nice big banners everywhere advertising this irresistible APR and it is only natural for people to assume that this APR is applicable to all and sundry. The truth is though that people who benefit for such rates are those that have a coruscating credit record.

Good for you if you do have an immaculate credit rating as you can get these deals, but for the people that have made the mistake of perhaps making one late payment it is a case of having to get a product with a far less favourable APR attached to it. You see this is the trick that the banks like to play. They get people interested and in their typically insidious, insipid manner, they turn a good deal into a not so good deal. people think ‘Oh well now I’m here I might as well…’

Make sure if you are about to get sucked into the ‘ostensibly good APR on a product’ vortex, that you speak to a person from the financial institution and you find out what the actual cost of a policy is going to be once they have actually added everything up and charged you what they had every intention of charging you in the first instance.

Compare Cheap Car Insurance Quotes – You Could Be Wasting Hundreds of Dollars Each Month

Have you ever wondered why most people don’t compare cheap car insurance quotes? Some people chose their insurance companies by asking family or friends for their company’s name. Other chose their insurance by going with the highly advertised names they heard on TV or the radio. But when asked if they ever compare car insurance quotes, many individuals just give you a weird look like you asked them something strange or ridiculous.

Many have been with their insurance brokers for so long they’ve become close friends. Others will tell you they never speak to the same broker twice because the company is so large they don’t get personal service anymore. It’s come to the point where receiving a letter or bill in the mail is the only correspondence we get from our insurance companies. Think about it folks, when was the last time you received a call or letter from your insurance broker letting you know that your rates were going to be lowered because you’ve been driving well this year? OK, stop laughing I was just trying to make a point.

Nowadays, anyone can go online and compare cheap car insurance quotes before deciding on which company to buy insurance from. It’s no longer necessary to pay the same rates every year without any chance of having your rates lowered. Why do insurance companies raise our rates the first chance they get? My insurance was raised after having a 10 year clean record because I was involved in an auto accident that was proven to be the other guys fault. It was explained to me that my rates went up because I was now considered to be a high risk. Well, I immediately asked where my discount was for my past 10 years of safe driving. You guessed right; the phone went quiet and I was put on hold to speak with a supervisor. After that experience, I found out that many online services would offer me a number of different rates from various insurance companies making it much easier and faster for me to make my decision for buying insurance for my car.

It’s time for all of us to wise up and decide to compare cheap car insurance quotes from other companies. Getting the best rates is now a choice we can make by educating ourselves on which companies are offering the lowest rates in our area for the year and specific model car we drive. Don’t be fooled into thinking that dealing with large national insurance companies will get you automatic discounts and the lowest rates because they have so many customers.