Why insurers love smart homes – The Week Magazine

Here are three of the week’s top pieces of financial advice, gathered from around the web:

Why insurers love smart homes
Upgrading your home with smart devices could help you snag a deal on insurance premiums, said Stacey Higginbotham at Technology​Review.com. State Farm, for example, offers discounts for homeowners who install a Canary home-security monitor. New policyholders with Liberty Mutual can receive a free Nest Protect smoke detector, worth $99, as well as get a discount on their fire coverage. Insurers hope to use smart-home gadgets to obtain data that could help them make better underwriting decisions as well as prevent losses. Internet-connected moisture sensors, for instance, could help companies warn homeowners when a pipe is about to fail. But there’s a privacy trade-off, too. The same technology might be used to identify riskier customers, “and their premiums might quietly be raised.”

How to invest $1,000
Even for a market newbie with $1,000 or less to spare, there are plenty of savvy investing options, said Jonnelle Marte at The Washington Post. If you already have an emergency fund set aside, start by funding your retirement account, such as a 401(k) plan or IRA, especially if your employer offers matching contributions. Having $1,000 in the bank is also enough to open a do-it-yourself brokerage account with a firm such as E*Trade or Charles Schwab, so that you can invest in individual stocks. Most rookie investors, however, are probably better off investing in a mutual fund or exchange-traded fund. Online robo-advisers such as Acorns or Stash can also build a personalized portfolio with a starting contribution as small as $5.

Medicare shopping season
It’s time to review your Medicare coverage, said Mark Miller at Time. Medicare open enrollment runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7, “yet very few Medicare beneficiaries bother to re-shop their coverage during annual enrollment.” Just 10 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees do so, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. But those who did change plans between 2013 and 2014 saved an average of $190 annually on their monthly premiums and lowered their out-of-pocket limit by $401. Shoppers, however, “should not base their selection on premiums alone.” They should also take into account deductibles, co-insurance, and any restrictions on covered medications, all of which can change from year to year. To comparison shop plans online, use the Medicare Plan Finder at the Medicare website.

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