Human beings have engaged in betting since antiquity. For a long time gambling was an activity that took place only in exclusive casinos. Not everyone could afford or access these places. Online gambling, which became a reality around 1995, allowed gambling to be a past time for many more people. Software that simulates games of chance had been in existence for a while. The use of internet became common place and inexpensive and was crucial to the establishment of gambling websites. Another necessary factor was the mechanism to make and receive payments online in a secure manner. The final piece of the jigsaw puzzle was the creation of authorities that licensed and regulated gambling operators.Once gambling websites were established around 1995 they began to proliferate quickly. The period 2000 to 2006 was a boom time for the online gambling industry. This is because online gambling offers many advantages over land based gambling. The biggest advantage is that players can engage in online gambling from home. All that they need is a home computer or lap top with an Internet connection. Players no longer have to spend money to travel to the casinoNo spending time and money to travel to casinos or going on holidays to Las Vegas. Players can come home and immediately log on to their favorite online gambling site.Online gambling is exceptionally convenient for people who are afraid of posh casinos, with well dressed staff efficiently conducting operations and knowledgeable players who are proficient at the art and science of gambling. Internet gambling is an anonymous activity. Many of these games are played solo with the online casino software. Even in multiple player games there is no need to be face to face with other players. Most of players use nicknames and no one need know from which part of the world they are from. They can make their mistakes without fear of being made fun of and can learn the ropes at their own rate without worrying about losing a lot of money. And formal dressing can be dispensed with.Another major advantage of gambling websites is that it delivers greater average returns to the player. The costs involved in setting up and operating internet gambling sites is much lower than that for land casinos. Because there is no real estate, there are no expensive buildings and minimal staff to pay. Thus making gambling sites do not need to make a lot of money to cover their costs and provide a return to their owners. Because of the competition in the online gambling industry, the savings are handed on to the players in the form of larger average returns. This is particularly evident in online slots where the average return is around 95%. Where as land based slots the average return may be well below 90%.Online gambling today covers a wide range of product verticals. Sports betting can be conducted online. Players have access to the most current odds and can even engage in live betting through online gambling. Poker is yet another well-liked form of gambling. Players can play both fast cash games and in online tournaments. Online casinos offer gambling on blackjack, baccarat, roulette, craps, video poker, online slots and other games. Other forms of online gambling can include bingo and financial betting.
CURRENT ECONOMIC OUTLOOK
Overall, U.S. homeowners are optimistic about the next twelve months. 60% of homeowners take the state of the economy into consideration before making renovation plans, and 61% feel confident the economy is improving. Additionally, 55% of our respondents think home values will increase as well over the next year. While President Trump can be a controversial topic, only 28% report taking the presidential administration into consideration before making home improvement plans.FUTURE HOME RENOVATION SPENDING
Homeowners look to be encouraged by today’s stronger housing market, and are making investments in their homes. 55% of homeowners plan to conduct at least one renovation over the next twelve months, up from the 38% who have previously performed improvements. 41% of respondents are initiating a home improvement project to improve their quality of living, while 17% are looking to increase the value of their home, but don’t have current plans to sell, and 16% want a “new look”.Homeowners are also tackling bigger, more expensive projects this year-15% are planning to remodel their kitchen this year, 13% plan to update a bathroom, and 9% are looking to revamp the bedroom. 42% plan to spend between $3,000 and $10,000 on their upcoming renovation, up 6% from last year. A bit of good news for contractors: 61% plan to hire a professional for their upcoming project, compared to 59% who hired a professional for their past project. 49% of respondents plan to pay with cash or savings, 17% will put it on a credit card, 14% will use financing, 10% plan to use a home equity loan, and 8% are counting on their tax return to finance their project.MILLENNIALS VS. BABY BOOMERS: WHO IS SPENDING ON HOME IMPROVEMENT?
Baby Boomers and millennials have at least one thing in common when it comes to conducting home projects: 61% of both baby boomers and millennials plan to perform at least one improvement over the next twelve months. That may be where the similarities end, however. The majority of millennials (35%) plan to spend between $1,000-$2,999, while 31% of baby boomers will be spending between $5,000-$9,999. Baby boomers will primarily be paying with cash (67%), financing (13%), or taking out a home equity loan (7%). Millennials will also be paying with cash (42%), but 19% plan to use one or more credit card.Millennials are focused on renovating their kitchen (14%), bathroom (10%), and living room (9%), while 23% of baby boomers will be updating their bathroom, kitchen (19%), or replacing windows (9%). The majority of both age groups will be hiring a professional to do the work, but 39% of millennials plan to conduct the renovation themself, compared to 27% of baby boomers. Millennial respondents get a sense of satisfaction from performing the work themselves (40%), while baby boomers are more focused on keeping the project cost effective (59%). Baby boomer DIY-ers are also very specific about where they purchase their materials, with 85% shopping at building supply stores such as Home Depot, Lowe’s or Menards, hardware stores like Ace Hardware or True Value (8%) or Walmart (8%). Millennials also shop at supply stores (64%), Walmart (14%), and hardware stores (7%), but they frequent warehouse clubs like Costco or Sam’s Club (7%) and high-end specialty stores like Kohler (4%) as well.WOMEN TAKING CHARGE OF HOME PROJECTS
While home improvement has stereotypically been thought of as a male-dominated industry, women are picking up power tools and narrowing the margins. Of our respondents, 55% of women are planning to conduct a home improvement project over the next twelve months, compared to 57% of men. The majority of men (33%) intend to spend between $5,000 and $9,999, while 29% of women are looking to spend $1,000-$2,999. Cash is king for women funding their project; 54% of women are using cash, whereas men will be using cash (40%) or financing (21%). The genders are focused on improving different areas of the house as well; men will be remodeling the bathroom, while women plan to update the kitchen.The majority of both sexes-63% of women and 58% of men-intend to hire a professional for their upcoming project. 56% of women feel they do not have the skills or equipment necessary for their planned project, while men value the expertise that comes with hiring a professional (47%). Another dissimilarity between the genders is how they find professionals to hire. Women prefer to ask a friend for a referral (40%), look on a review website such as Yelp.com (18%), or ask a contractor for a referral (17%). Men also ask friends for referrals (30%), but would rather use a search engine like Google.com (24%), or look on Yellowpages.com (21%).The motivated women who plan to DIY prefer it because it gives them a sense of personal satisfaction (41%), whereas DIY men like that it’s more cost effective (53%). The majority of both men (74%) and women (75%) plan to purchase materials at a building supply store like Menards, Home Depot or Lowe’s, but that’s where the congruity ends. 10% of men intend to shop at Sears or IKEA (6%), while women will head to warehouse clubs like Costco (8%) or Walmart (8%).THE YEAR AHEAD
The current housing market inventory is very competitive, so it is logical that many homeowners are choosing to invest in remodeling their current home, rather than get into a bidding war. Additionally, with the economy and housing market more stable, homeowners now have more income-and equity-so they’re making renovations to create their dream homes. Our study found that the majority of homeowners are focusing on discretionary projects such as kitchens and bathrooms, which may have been put off after the housing crisis. Judging from our report, it looks like 2018 will be a profitable year for homeowners, contractors, and material suppliers alike.
There is a defined moment when many of us start to consider getting life insurance to protect family members and loved ones. It could be after a child birth or a catchy insurance commercial that tweaks your interest. When this moment strikes, the first thing most people do is get a quick online quote to understand their ballpark rates. A more detailed assessment follows afterwards. Some elements of this assessment are intuitive (age, health condition, smoking status, occupation, etc.). There are, however, some other surprising assessment criteria that underwriters also consider. Such as…
Driving History: Yes, your driving history matters, not only for your auto insurance premiums but also your life insurance rates. If you had a DUI accident in the recent past, you will likely experience significant higher quoted rates than somebody who has a clean driving history. Remember that smaller offenses fall off your driving record after three years (for insurance purposes).
Be Happy: Having a history of depression can hijack your life insurance premiums, almost doubling them. Happy people experience less health issues and stress, and thus represent lower risk for insurance companies.
Policy Date: The policy’s starting date can be sometimes adjusted (also called backdating), meaning that in some cases you can benefit from lower premiums (based on your younger age; if you turned 50 this week but backdate your policy to last month, for example). Obviously you will need to pay all the premiums starting from the backdated time point, but you can benefit from a lower rate going forward.
Dangerous jobs (e.g. stuntmen, bomb squad member) can mean higher risk for your life and thus lead to higher insurance premiums. Do you think that your job is dangerous?
Payment frequency: Paying for a life insurance policy on an annual basis saves insurers administrative costs, and they reward you with lower premiums than if you’d paid for your insurance monthly. In this case, though, you’d need to plan carefully because a big annual charge can create a significant hole in your household budget if you forget about the annual premium.
Travelling (to dangerous destinations): Some destinations are more dangerous than others and some are very dangerous (war zones, areas with known history of kidnapping, etc.) Consult an insurance broker or your agent to understand how your future plans can impact your insurance coverage. Your policy can be declined or you might be able to get a life insurance policy, but it would explicitly exclude the time you are abroad. In some cases, a simplified issue no medical life insurance policy is a solution since it does not ask travel questions. It is important to know, though, that a simplified issue policy is more expensive than a standard one and its coverage is typically limited to $50,000 – $300,000. You can test this out by getting an anonymous simplified issue no medical life insurance quote via one of numerous insurance online platforms.
Sports (extreme): Being involved in extreme and/or dangerous sports, especially professionally, can impact your life insurance premiums (for example: sky diving, cliff diving, scuba diving). Similarly to getting insurance while travelling to dangerous locations, you need to understand which cases are not covered by your life insurance policy.
Private pilot licenses: This one usually falls into a category of dangerous hobbies – licenced pilots (only private) might experience higher insurance rates. When calculating insurance premiums, an insurer will consider both the pilot’s age and experience. This information will probably not asked during the initial quoting process, but will be required during the detailed assessment later.
Your citizenship: If you are not a Canadian citizen or resident, you will not be able to apply for a Canadian life insurance policy.
Your income: Insurance companies can decline your life insurance policy if your household income falls below a particular threshold, typically $30,000. The reasoning behind this is so insurance does not stretch your budget beyond its capabilities. Note that you should still speak with a broker to create a detailed future plan for insurance protection, and brokers that are also financial planners can help you triage your upcoming financial expenses to best manage your needs. It’s a good idea to check with your insurance broker, if your income might be an issue, before submitting your application. Remember, that once you have been declined for a life insurance application, it may impact your next applications since some insurers include in their surveys, “have you ever been declined for a life insurance application?” Similarly to a pilot license, this question might be not be included in initial quote questions, but will be asked later by your insurer.
As you can see, many aspects outside of your health impact your life insurance quote and policy. You should remember that underwriting rules (application assessment) are different across insurers and thus, it is advisable to work with an insurance broker who deals with numerous life insurance companies and can share his/her expertise with you as you navigate through this complex process.