The Four Main Players in a Life Insurance Policy

Life insurance can seem to be complicated. One shouldn’t be discouraged by the sometimes complex language and difficult to understand terms, however. When it comes down to it, each life insurance policy involves just four parties. Understanding the role of these four players will help improve understanding of how life insurance works. here are the four.

  1. The Insured

This is the individual on which the life insurance policy is based. A number of personal factors involving this individual will play a role in determining the rates, or premiums, that will be charged for a life insurance policy. Age, health, lifestyle, employment and even where a person lives can help decide what rates are charged. Should this person pass away while the policy is in force, the policy proceeds would be payable.

  1. The Insurer

The insurer is the insurance company issuing the policy. This obligation is not taken lightly as insurance companies are highly regulated. They use detailed mathematical algorithms in determining the rates an individual should pay to have a specific life insured. Once proof of death is provided and it is decided that all terms of the policy have been met the insurer, or insurance company, will pay the entitled amount to the beneficiary.

  1. The Beneficiary 

The beneficiary is the person named in the policy designated to receive the proceeds of the life insurance policy in the event of the death of the insured. This is frequently a spouse, parent, child or other close family member but could also be a business partner or non-profit organization.

  1. The Policy Owner

Frequently the policy owner is also the insured. This is the case, for example, when a husband takes out an insurance policy on himself to ensure the financial future of his family, he purchases and pays for the policy, so he is both the owner and the insured. There are, however, plenty of examples when the owner may not be the insured. One example is when parents take out a policy on their child or children. Another is when a company takes out a life insurance policy on a key employee or partner. The policy owner can only be the beneficiary if he has an “insurable interest” in the insured. This means he must be able to show that the death of an insured would impact them directly.

A life insurance policy is a legally binding contract. This, in of itself, lends itself to include a lot of legal language. The abundance of legal terms, however, should not either prevent or discourage you from getting coverage. If people depend on you financially and would be negatively impacted in the event of your death, you should contact us to get the coverage both you, and they deserve. Contact one of our independent agents today to get a no-obligation quote. You just may be surprised at how affordable life insurance can be.

Foundations of Health Insurance

Foundations of Health Insurance

How are your health insurance premiums determined? Why does it seem everybody pays at least slightly different premiums for healthcare? Well, it is probably not news that healthcare in the United States is complex. In spite of those complexities, there are still some basic foundations that affect the price of your health insurance you should be aware of. To get a handle on the process, here are some factors that impact the price you pay.

Your Age

While car insurance may actually become less expensive as you age, health insurance will become more expensive. This is understandable as older consumers will generally experience more health issues than younger ones.

Your Location

Where you live will definitely affect the premiums you pay based on your state and how many health insurance companies are competing for your business. The fewer the companies to choose from, the more expensive your health insurance premiums will likely be.

Use of Tobacco

While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) limits the specific factors that can impact rates, tobacco use remains one of them . Tobacco users will likely be subject to a surcharge making health insurance slightly more expensive.

Type of Plan Chosen

It is fair to assume that the less out-of-pocket expenses you will have under your health insurance plan, the higher premiums you will pay. This includes your deductible, co-pays for office visits, prescription costs and policy limits. The ACA categorizes healthcare plans in four categories.

  • These are the least expensive plans and have the highest potential out-of-pocket expenses. Deductibles can start at $5,000 and may be sufficient for those who rarely see a doctor except for preventative care.
  • Silver. These plans are slightly more expensive than Bronze plans but will also have lower out-of-pocket expenses. These may be sufficient for those who have an occasional illness but who do not suffer from any chronic health issues.
  • Gold. Although premiums for Gold Plans can be high, coverage is much better with less likely out-of-pocket expenses. This is an excellent choice for those who frequently visit the doctor or experience chronic illnesses.
  • Platinum. These plans are the most expensive but have the lowest deductibles and out-of-pocket expenses. Under certain circumstances, medical costs may be completely covered by a Platinum Plan. This is a plan that is viable for those who frequently have health issues and chronic conditions.

Health insurance can be a confusing topic. It can also have a significant impact on your finances. If you have questions about your coverage or would like to know about options available to you, please contact us. Let our independent agents go to work for you.

“Waiver of Premium” and Other Benefits Your Life Insurance Policy May Include

Although you probably purchased a life insurance policy for the protection it provides in the event of a death, a policy may contain some other surprising benefits.

It May Build Cash Value

Many whole life or permanent insurance policies will build in cash value over time. This cash value can be tapped into at some future time through a low-cost policy loan. It also may be “cashed in” to redeem it for its accumulated cash value. Ask your agent for a policy status report on your life insurance to determine its present cash value, if any.

It May Provide for Additional Accidental Death Benefits

Frequently, life insurance policies will include accidental death benefits that multiply the coverage amount. For example, if your policy has a $10,000 face value, the policy could potential pay $20,000 or more should the death occur by a covered accident. Our independent insurance agents can quickly determine if your policy has such a benefit.

It May Include Loss of Limb or Eyesight Protection

Life insurance policies have also been known to include “Loss of Limb” coverage which also may provide a cash payment in the event of loss of eyesight. This benefit is usually a set percentage of the face value. For example, a 25% payment on a $10,000 policy for a loss of limb would pay the policyholder $2,500 should they lose an arm or leg.

It May Contain a “Waiver of Premium” Benefit

A “Waiver of Premium” benefit pays the costs of the policy while the policyholder recovers from a debilitating accident, injury or illness. It could pay premiums for a few months or in the case of a permanent disability, cover the premiums for the life of the insured. Again, our independent agents can help quickly identify if a policy has such coverage.

In the case of life insurance, you may actually get more than what you think you are paying for. For a life insurance review or to get a quote on a new life insurance policy, contact us. Let us help set you up with the protection you need along with the added benefits you deserve.

Can You Insure Income for Your Business?

Business owners face a myriad of challenges on a daily basis. There are technological changes, new competitors, disruptions and other threats. Even if a business owner doesn’t own the property they conduct business from, there are still threats to losses from theft, fire and a host of other calamities. Not only can inventory, information, and equipment be at risk, the business may have to be shut down while restocking or rebuilding. Is there insurance that will cover this loss of business? Can you insure income for your business?

The good news is yes. Business income insurance can help. When income to a business is interrupted because they can’t open their doors after a calamity, income interruption insurance can use past performance as a way to replace that interrupted income. Anticipated income can be projected and covered by the policy. There are other benefits as well. Business income insurance can help pay taxes due through the period, utility bills, rent or mortgage payments and even payroll. This can all be critical in making sure you can re-open your doors.

Protecting your company’s assets from losses and protecting yourself against liability claims is critical for any business plan. But businesses should also inquire about business income and business interruption insurance. This can safeguard a company’s future by making sure it can survive while needed repairs are made, even if it means relocation.

We encourage you to contact us and see why business income insurance should be a part of your company’s loss prevention plan. As independent agents, we’ll explore your options from a variety of insurance carriers to find the plan that is appropriate and affordable. It is just one reason having your business insured through an independent insurance agency offers such value.

Could your business survive without income for a month or two? Could it survive the costs of relocation? Could you keep qualified employees on the payroll? If not, the time to secure coverage is now. Let our independent agents go to work for you.

Baby Shoes or Life Insurance? What’s a Better Baby Gift?

There’s a cute insurance commercial on television you may have seen. In it, a country singer and retired football quarterback come across a baby shower where ”mom” is opening a gift box. The quarterback says “I hope it’s a life insurance policy.” and the singer responds “What???” The quarterback goes on to explain that a life insurance policy is a practical gift. Turns out the gift is baby shoes, causing the quarterback/spokesman to exclaim “Doesn’t make sense. Babies can’t even walk.”

It may bring a chuckle, but there’s a lot of truth to that clever ad.

Whether it is baby shoes, boxes of diapers or hundreds of toys, we tend to gift babies and small children with items of temporary value. Some items may never be used, played with or worn. Yet, many children grow up without the benefit of a life insurance policy.

What “benefits” you may ask? Well, a life insurance policy not only insures the life of a child but ensures the child will have access to life insurance no matter what health issues may lie ahead in the lives. The appropriate whole life insurance policy can build value through the years. This can be a financial resource the child can borrow against to buy a car or help pay for college someday. It may even be “cashed in” at some future point, like taking money out of a savings account. The best part is that when life insurance is purchased on a young person, it is very affordable. If the child should decide to continue maintaining the policy as an adult, it could become a significant part of their retirement plan.

Whether you are a parent, grandparent, aunt or uncle, if there is a baby or small child in the family, consider gifting a life insurance policy. Maintaining those modest premiums annually can be a lasting gift that will always be remembered. It may also be a lot more practical than another toy or outfit they will outgrow in a few months.

Our independent agents know companies who offer terrific value when it comes to life insurance for children. Contact us for a quote today. It may be a gift that is a little “out of the box” but it is a lasting one with real value.

Is Increasing Deductibles a Good Way to Save on Insurance?

People are always looking for ways to save on their monthly expenses. This, of course, includes what they pay for insurance. In some cases, we may be required to carry insurance, like when operating a car or when financing a home or other real estate. In most cases, however, we carry it to protect us financially for negative events that could have a significant impact. That’s an important aspect to keep in mind when considering how best to save on your insurance.

It leads to the question “Is increasing deductibles a good way to save on my insurance?” Perhaps we should first ask does increasing deductibles work in saving on your insurance? That answer is a resounding yes. Increasing your deductible, the amount of any claim that comes out of your pocket will definitely reduce your insurance premium. If you are on a tight budget, that can be tempting. In reality, it may be those on a tight budget who can least afford a high deductible. Sound confusing?

Let’s say you have few financial resources and currently have a $250 deductible on your car insurance. If you have an accident causing $2,500 worth of damage, your only cost would be the $250 deductible. You likely can rebound from that expense. If however, you have a $1,000 deductible, your premiums may be lower but now you are faced with $1,000 out-of-pocket expenses to fix your vehicle. That can be a problem, and perhaps force you to delay fixing your car or even place you in a position to purchase another. A person with a large bank account probably wouldn’t have much problem with that $1,000. It may seem ironic, but the less likely you can absorb a financial loss, the less prudent it may be to raise your deductible.

There may, however, be other ways you can save. Comparing companies for example. You can seek out discounts for safe driving, discounts on bundling policies or saving on premiums by paying them automatically through a debit or credit card. Our independent agents can do the work for you. They have access to multiple insurance companies and can search for the best coverage at budget-friendly prices. They can assist you in acquiring the discounts you deserve, without risking coverage. Contact us and put our team of agents to work for you.

Odd, Unusual and Unique Things That Have Been Insured

Throughout history, insurance has been used to financially protect a variety of unusual items. Insurance firm Lloyd’s of London has built a reputation on insuring items that some would consider rare or unique. From body parts to expensive jewelry, if it is valuable, it likely can be insured.

During the 1940s, 20th Century Fox Films has pin-up girl Betty Grable’s legs insured for one million dollars…each.

Irish step dancer Michael Flatley, who starred in both Riverdance and Lord of the Dance had his legs insured for another reason and for a lot more money. Flatley has his legs and his ability to perform using them, insured for a whopping $47 million.

Long-legged Tina Turner reportedly had her legs insured at the height of her career for a total of $3.2 million.

Singers often choose to insure their voices to protect their careers. Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Rod Stewart were all said to have had multi-million dollar policies on their voices. Not to be outdone, Mariah Carey reportedly insured her voice and her legs, for $35 million each. It has been speculated that Jennifer Lopez had her derriere insured for an enormous amount, but that amount has never been disclosed.

Insurance plays a role in protecting more than just famous body parts. It can be used to insure against large payouts in promotional events. This is how organizers can offer large cash prizes or an automobile for hitting a hole-in-one or for a fan hitting a basketball shot from half-court.

Some companies will insure the lives or health of their key employees. Business partners will often list each other as a beneficiary to protect their company should one pass away. Some CEO’s may even carry kidnap or ransom insurance.

Insurance can be used to protect from the loss of a variety of valuable items from classic automobiles, classic art, and heirloom jewelry. Weddings can be insured as can pets and travel arrangements.

If you have made a significant investment in a collection of valuables, contact our independent agents to make sure your homeowners’ policy provides sufficient protection. Standard limits may just not be enough. We will be happy to search out affordable coverage to protect your assets.

We Bet You Didn’t Know THIS About Insurance Companies

Much of what many know about insurance companies is what we see and hear on television. We learn about insurance companies from a talking lizard, a gal in a white apron and some guy with a bandaged head who wreaks havoc wherever he goes. As interesting as all these characters are, the facts behind the insurance industry are often much more interesting.

  • As of 2017, there were 5,954 insurance companies in the United States, over half of which were property/casualty insurance companies. There were 852 companies offering life/annuity insurance.
  • The average face value of a life insurance policy in the U.S. is about $160,000.
  • Research indicates that over 12% of drivers in the U.S. do not have auto insurance. That means that if you are involved in an automobile accident, there is a one in eight chance the other driver will not have car insurance. That alone is a good reason to consider uninsured motorist’s coverage.
  • While there is no such thing as “hurricane insurance”, most homeowners insurance policies cover high winds, including hurricanes. Many coastal states, however, may require separate windstorm coverage.
  • Generally, a standard homeowners’ insurance policy does not cover flooding. Flood insurance coverage is sold separately through select insurance companies under a FEMA sponsored program.
  • The five largest insurance payment claims were for Hurricane Sandy ($36 billion), 9/11 ($40 billion), The Lehman Brothers ($100 billion), Hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma ($130 billion) and the 2008 Financial Crisis ($21 trillion).
  • It is estimated that there is over $1 billion in unclaimed life insurance policy benefits. The odds you are owed money from a life insurance policy are about 1 in 600.
  • Insurance agents generally fall into one of two categories, captive or independent. Captive agents represent a specific company’s products while independent agents can represent you.

You can get the most from your insurance budget by allowing our independent insurance agents to go to work for you. We compare rates from multiple insurance providers to get you affordable coverage you deserve. For auto, home, life insurance and more, contact us today for your complimentary insurance review.

Insurance Fraud. Yes, It’s a Thing and Yes, It’s a Crime.

Insurance fraud is defined as any act related to obtaining improper funds from an insurer in regard to an insurance claim. The severity of insurance fraud ranges from homeowners overstating the value of some of their personal property in a claim to doctors filing for payments for services never provided. Insurance fraud costs insurance firms and their policyholders billions of dollars annually.

It is also illegal.

Before you say “Not me” when it comes to insurance fraud, take a look at some common practices.

Car Insurance

Car auto insurance policies are ripe for insurance fraud. Common forms include getting inflated estimates to cover a deductible, not fixing the vehicle with settlement funds or attempting to get previous damage included in a damage claim. Insurance fraud can even start in the application process when an insured underestimates their driving mileage or “forgets” to mention a licensed driver in the family.
Health Insurance

Health insurance fraud can occur on both the insured and provider sides. Providers may bill the insurance company for services never provided. Insureds may overstate how healthy they are to secure better, more affordable coverage. If you’ve ever reviewed a hospital bill you understand how complicated the process can be.

Staged Claims

Some insurance fraud is pretty straightforward. This type of fraud includes staging losses to make claims against an insurance company. This can include burning down a failing business or staging an automobile accident to secure funds dishonestly.

If you file an insurance claim and feel like you may be asked some uncomfortable questions, it may be to limit insurance fraud. Insurance companies need to perform their due diligence in determining claims are legitimate. In spite of these efforts, fraudulent claims are filed daily.

There is a tendency for insured’s to try to “get the most” out of an insurance claim, and that to some degree is understandable. Just be cautious about crossing the line into an area of insurance fraud.

The best way to get the most from your insurance budget is by seeking the assistance of an independent insurance agent. Our agents can compare rates from multiple insurance companies getting you a better rate for the coverage you desire. Contact us and let our independent agents go to work for you!

How Do My “Toys” Affect My Insurance?

Someone once said boys never really grow up, its just the size of their toys that changes. If you have acquired an RV, jetski, boat, motorcycle, ATV, antique vehicle or other such “toys”, It is likely you’ve made a significant investment in it. You should be aware that whether it is on or off your property, it may not be fully covered when it comes to your insurance.

First of all, things that move are generally not covered under a homeowners’ insurance policy. When it comes to automobile insurance, toys that are being towed may be covered by liability insurance under your auto policy but that would not cover any damage to your “toy”. Your TV, motorcycle or go-kart may also not be covered if it is stolen.

So how do you cover such valuable assets? Fortunately, there are a variety of loss prevention products that address these toys. These policies can provide appropriate coverage if these items are damaged in an accident, if someone is injured while riding them, and even if they are stolen. Policies are common for boats, RV’s and motorcycles. They are available even for specialty vehicles like dune buggies, antique and restored vehicles. The key is contacting your independent insurance agent to inquire about this specialty coverage.

Rates may be impacted by how and how often these items are used, their value, where they are stored and the age of their primary user. There are other risk factors that an insurance company will review in determining premiums.

There may be instances where the risk outweighs the value. This is why it can be wise to check with your independent agent before acquiring a toy that may be expensive to insure properly. While you may be able to afford the toy, you may find the insurance too expensive. It would be prudent to know that ahead of time and our agents can help.

If you are relying on your auto or homeowners’ insurance to cover your toys, you may be at a loss. Contact us to make sure your “toys” are covered.