The ABC’s of Policy Loans

The ABC’s of Policy Loans

Life insurance policies contain a variety of features and benefits that many insureds may not even be aware of. These can include a waiver of premium benefit that covers the premiums in case of disability or dismemberment. Policies may have an accidental death benefit, it can accrue cash value and dividends and build into a valuable asset for the future. A policy that builds cash value like whole life insurance may also have a policy loan provision. What is a policy loan, and how can it be a valuable aspect of a life insurance policy?

What Is a Policy Loan?

A policy loan uses the cash value of a life insurance policy to make cash available to the policy owner without having to “cash-in” the policy. This keeps the balance of the policy in force while making needed funds available.

Do All Policies Have this Feature?

No. Only cash value type insurance policies (like whole life or universal life) will build value that can be accessed through a policy loan.

What Can I Use a Policy Loan For?

Funds from a policy loan can be used for any purpose. They can be used to pay other debts, handle emergencies or be used for opportunities. You do not need to justify your use of a policy loan.

What Costs Are Associated With a Policy Loan?

There is usually a small interest rate associated with a policy loan from an insurance policy.

How is the Loan Paid Back?

The loan may be paid back directly through payments to the insurance company. It also may be paid out of the proceeds of the policy upon the death of the insured.

How Do I Know If a Policy Has a Loan On It?

You should receive a status report on the loan at least annually. This should show how much the original loan was and the accrued interest to date. You can also contact an insurance company and speak with an agent to request a policy status report.

II you have any questions about your life insurance policy or its benefits, contact one of our independent life insurance agents. Because we are independent, we are able to review the policies of any company. We can also quote you insurance rates from multiple insurance companies with just one phone call. Contact us and learn more about your life insurance today.

Keeping Important Documents Safe

Keeping Important Documents Safe

More documents than ever are being stored in digital form, but paper documents still play an important role in our lives. Is it safe to keep these paper documents in a file at home, or are there other steps that could be taken? Here is a look at some important documents in our lives and how we protect them from fire, theft and natural disasters.

Tax Forms and Receipts

You should keep tax records for seven years. Along with a copy of the forms you filed, you should also keep a copy of other tax documents and receipts. While these forms contain valuable personal information, it is unlikely someone is interested in stealing your tax documents. You will want to keep these in a safe dry place. As you keep the newest year’s records, destroy the oldest years documents.

Home Ownership Papers

These would include any papers related to your mortgage, title, insurance and major improvements. If you should have to evacuate your home due to a pending hurricane or other natural disaster, it may be a good idea to take your homeowners insurance policy with you in case you would need to file a claim. A file is usually sufficient to store these documents, although if you have a fireproof safe, you may want to consider storing them there.

Stocks, Bonds, Emergency Cash

Keep any stocks, bonds or cash in a fireproof safe in your home, one that is ideally attached to a floor or built in a wall. A safe deposit box at a bank is also a good choice for storing valuable papers like stock and bond certificates.

Important Personal Documents

Personal documents like a passport, birth certificate, original social security card and marriage certificate should be kept in a safe at home or at least, a locking file cabinet. This is also a good place for important military records that may be needed to apply for benefits in the future.

Final Plans, Life Insurance

As we get older it is a good idea to keep a file regarding final arrangements and any life insurance policies you have. These plans may include everything from your will to certain meaningful possessions you want to see go to a specific friend or relative. Make sure someone you trust knows where these documents are and how to retrieve them in the event of your death or incapacitation.

Now may be good time to consider a life insurance review. When you contact one of our independent insurance agents, we help you determine just how much and what type of coverage you currently have. They also can secure quotes from multiple companies should you choose. There is no cost or obligation. Contact us today.

The Things You Do To Protect Your Family

The Things You Do To Protect Your Family

We may not give it much thought but our days, weeks, months and years are spent trying to protect our families.

Just driving everyday we make decisions that protect our loved ones. We make sure seat belts are fastened, hopefully we are respectful to other drivers and the speed limits, and we don’t drive distracted. Many of us even choose cars that are safer for our families. We make sure tires have proper tread levels and air and or wipers and lights work effectively. That is just driving.

In our homes we lock doors, windows and many of us have at least some sort of alarm or video system. Some of us choose a dog based on their ability to offer us protection.

If you have children, you’ll spend endless hours teaching them to look both ways when crossing a street, warn them about interacting with strangers and invest in safety products like wall socket covers, safety gates, cupboard locks and more. Protecting our families takes diligence and constant effort.

Think of the things you do each and every day to protect your family. Now consider if you have adequate life insurance to protect them if you were not around. Would they have the financial protection they need for the future if you were not there? How would they make house payments, keep up with car and rent payments and other expenses if you were to die prematurely? Would college become an impossible dream?

It wouldn’t have to be. Not with sufficient life insurance coverage.

The good news it is not too late. While life insurance does get more expensive as you age, if you have school aged children, you are likely young enough to afford life insurance to protect your income and their future. But the reality is you have to make that first step. To have to call one of our independent insurance agents to discuss your situation and your needs.

With just some basic information, they can get started searching a network of life insurance companies to find the protection your family deserves at a price you can afford. Many of our clients are surprised at just how affordable it can be. Odds are good you may not even be required to take a physical exam to qualify.

Think of all the things you do every day to protect your family. Take one more step. Contact us for your no obligation quote today.

Reading Food Nutrition Labels

Reading Food Nutrition Labels

For some, they are must-read material when grocery shopping. For others, they are simply a cryptic message on the labels of food cans and boxes. Technically, they are known as Nutrition Facts labels, and they have been a part of food packaging since 1994. In the years since, they have undergone two revisions, in 2016 and at the start of 2020.

.You don’t have to be a chemist to read these nutrition labels. In fact, just the facts below will help you make better choices for you and your family.

Serving Size

This is supposed to represent the typical amount of the food product one will consume in a single sitting. This section will also say the number of these typical servings that are contained in the package. You should note that serving sizes are frequently much smaller than one would really eat. One can assume this is to make the product look healthier and make it appear the package contains more product than in actually does.

Calories

This is the amount of calories in that single serving. Again, keep in mind that serving size may be small. If you, for example, eat two servings, you would need to multiply the calories by two.

Daily Values (DV)

Daily Values are expressed as a percentage of the nutrients the product contains for a person on a daily diet of 2,000 calories. Generally, one would want a higher value in vitamins, minerals and fiber and lower levels of saturated fat, cholesterol, sodium and trans fat.

Nutrition Terms

Here are some Nutrition Facts to keep in mind when reading a product’s nutrition label:

  • A calorie count of 40 or less per serving is considered “Low”
  • When a product has 5 calories or fewer in a single serving, it can be considered Calorie Free.
  • Low Cholesterol is 20 milligrams or less and 2 grams or under of saturated fat per serving.
  • Good Source is when a product has 10-19% of a particular nutrients Daily Value.
  • High In means a single serving contains 20% or more of the Daily Value of a specified nutrient.

Ingredients

The first thing to note about ingredients is that they are listed in the order of the amount of each the product contains. It is not uncommon for many liquids to have water listed high as an ingredient. The real key to reading ingredients is knowing that “sugar” can be listed by a variety of names. This is frequently done so “Sugar” isn’t listed at the top of the ingredient list. Various names for sugar include corn syrup, rice syrup, maple syrup honey and molasses. They are often listed as “ose” products like fructose or dextrose. They may also be disguised as “ol” ingredients like sorbitol and maltitol.

Eating healthier can help you lead a longer life that is full of energy. Reading nutrition labels is a small price to pay.

Getting life insurance is another valuable way to protect your family. It may even be cheaper than you may have believed. Get your free, no obligation insurance review and price quote today.

Is a Bucket List a Good Idea?

Is a Bucket List a Good Idea?

Simply put, a bucket list is a list of things you wish to do, see or accomplish before you “kick the bucket” or die. It has been the subject of countless discussions and even a movie. Is a bucket list a good thing? Do you have one? What are some things to consider for your bucket list?

Some think the concept of a bucket list is a bit morbid. Others view it as helpful recognition of your own mortality. It can serve as a motivator and remind you there are still things to be done. Whether you have a written bucket list or a mental one, here are some things to consider about items on your bucket list.

Bucket List Items Should be a Challenge, But Not Impossible

It is one thing to want to surf in Hawaii, it is another to want to pilot a rocket to Mars.

Keep Steps to a Minimum

The more steps it takes to achieve a bucket list item, the less likely it is you will accomplish it. Some bucket list items can be broken down into steps, like “I want to learn to surf” and “I want to visit Hawaii”.

Consider What it Would Take to Accomplish the Task

A bucket list item should not be a “that would be nice” experience. It should be something that adds fuel to your life. Truly give some thought to what it would take and what is stopping you from achieving it.

Choose a Diverse Blend of Items for Your List

A bucket list should contain a good blend of travel, physical or mental challenges, overcoming fears, honing a skill or experience an event. This is your list, however, and no one can tell you what should or shouldn’t be on it.

Bucket lists can be a terrific conversation starter and a terrific way to gain further insights even into people you may think you know well. Enjoy working on and thinking about yours.

Thoughts of a bucket list could have you wondering whether you have sufficient life insurance. Fortunately, acquiring life insurance is generally an easy task. Contact one of our professional, independent life insurance agents to get started today!

Unusual Questions About Life Insurance

Unusual Questions About Life Insurance

They say there are no stupid questions, but there sure are some interesting ones. Especially when it comes to life insurance. Here are a few.

Can I buy life insurance on someone without them knowing it?

In some cases that would be difficult, particularly if a health exam is required. But even without a physical exam, you can’t buy an insurance policy on someone without their consent.

Can I buy life insurance on someone I don’t know?

The question itself makes one wonder what they were planning. The fact is you can’t legally buy a life insurance policy on someone you don’t know. This is because you must have what is called an “insurable interest” in the person. This would mean that you would somehow be personally impacted by their death. This generally means a spouse, parent, close relative or even a business partner.

Does an accidental death pay double?

Some policies include an accidental death benefit, others offer such a benefit for an additional fee. If a life insurance policy includes an accidental death rider, it will pay a multiple of the original face value. It could be two, three, five or more times the face value. All life insurance policies will at least pay face value in case of an accidental death.

Is it possible a lapsed life insurance policy to have value?

It is possible a policy that appears to have no value could still be in force. Some policies that appear to have lapsed for non-payment may have built up cash value, paid up insurance or had a policy loan feature that kept it in force. Should you find any life insurance policy among the papers of a deceased, have the issuing company run a policy status on that policy. This can determine if the policy is in force or has value.

Do I have to give up a dangerous hobby to get life insurance?

You don’t necessarily have to give up rock climbing, skydiving or race car driving to get life insurance, but you should be prepared to pay higher rates. High risk activities often translate into higher premiums.

If you have any questions about life insurance, please feel free to contact us. We can review any current policies you have and help you determine an appropriate amount of life insurance for this stage of your life. Because we are independent agents, we can do the shopping for you. Contact us today to get started.

How Do You File a Life Insurance Claim?

How Do You File a Life Insurance Claim?

Filing a life insurance claim isn’t necessarily difficult, if you have what you need and are prepared. Life insurance claims often involve large amounts of money, so insurance companies want to be sure the policy was in force, the insured is deceased, and the beneficiary is accurate and has their identity verified. While insurance companies may have slightly differing process and procedures, they generally follow a similar path.

Obtain the Insurance Policy and Contact the Insurance Company or Agent

If you have the insurance policy, your first step is to contact the insurance company or an agent. The company’s name is usually prominent on the policy and the business card of the selling agent may be stapled or included with the policy. If the agent is no longer with the company, any representative should be able to assist you. Ask them about their specific procedures for filing a claim.

Acquire a Copy of the Death Certificate

Filing a claim will likely require a certified copy of the insured’s death certificate. This can usually be secured from the funeral director. If you happen to be the executor for the deceased’s estate, you should request multiple copies that you will likely need later.

Fill Out the Insurance Company Forms

The insurance company may send you claim forms in the mail, the agent may provide them, or they may be available online. Follow the directions for filling out the form completely and accurately. The completed forms and a certified copy of the death certificate will need to be sent to the insurance company through the agent or via mail.

Specify How You Want to Be Paid

Insurance companies may offer multiple options for you to receive your funds. Once you decide how you want the proceeds to be paid, it is just a matter of time.

Depending on the state, insurance companies usually have up to 30 days to pay a claim, request further information, or deny a claim.

One of the values in working with our independent insurance agents is they are available to assist you when needed, even during the claims process.

If you have questions about life insurance or think you could benefit from a life insurance review and quote, please contact us. We would be pleased to assist you.

Situations When You Should Change Your Life Insurance Beneficiary

Situations When You Should Change Your Life Insurance Beneficiary

One of the reasons a life insurance policy review can be helpful is due to the changes we experience through life. Whether it is graduating from college, getting married, purchasing a home, having children or retiring, life’s changes provide opportunities and offer challenges.

Those changes can impact who is the best person or persons to list as a beneficiary on our life insurance policy or policies. The beneficiary is the one who will get the proceeds from these policies, so keeping them updated is crucial. Here are some situations when you should review your life insurance and your beneficiary.

If a Beneficiary Should Die

This can happen especially when a life insurance policy was taken out when you were young, and a parent or parents were named as beneficiaries. Of course, there may be other situations were a beneficiary may pass before the insured, including a spouse. .

When You Get Married

When you get married, odds are you will want to change your life insurance beneficiary to your spouse. This is a time of changing responsibilities as well and a life insurance review can be prudent at this time.

If You Get a Divorce

Unless you believe your ex remains your best option, you will likely want to change your beneficiary should you get a divorce from them. In some instances, you may wish to change beneficiaries when divorce proceedings become imminent.

When a Relationship Changes with Your Beneficiary

You may have a special friend named as a beneficiary and your relationship has changed. Perhaps a beneficiary has moved out of state or even out of the country. There could be a myriad of reasons relationships change that could trigger a beneficiary change.

Beneficiaries are a key component in the life insurance process, and it is often a good idea to select a primary and a secondary beneficiary. The secondary beneficiary would serve as a default if something would happen to the primary beneficiary and/or a delay occurs in updating the primary beneficiary. Changing beneficiaries is a straight-forward, simple process that can be easily accomplished by contacting one of our independent insurance agents.

While you are checking and updating beneficiaries, organize and review those policies to ensure you have sufficient coverage. Again, our independent insurance agents are here to help. Call for your no obligation life insurance review today!

Let’s Talk About the MINIMUM Amount of Life Insurance You Should Carry

Let’s Talk About the MINIMUM Amount of Life Insurance You Should Carry

Life is full of minimums and maximums. What is the maximum air pressure we should have in our car tires, and what is the minimum state required insurance? What is the maximum capacity of a room, and what is the drink minimum at the comedy club?

When it comes to life insurance, there really isn’t a maximum. Many view life insurance as a way to pay final expenses, bills, mortgage payments, and even provide for the children’s education. Some will want to provide financially for their families for years beyond their death. This can quickly add up to a million dollar plus life insurance policy.

In many cases, maximum amount of life insurance should be the most you can afford. But what should the absolute minimum be? To begin with, the minimum should include enough to cover your final expenses, whether you are planning a full traditional funeral and burial or a cremation. Even with a more cost-effective cremation, costs can easily reach into the thousands of dollars.

You will also likely want to assure that any debts you have are paid. Be sure to include credit cards, loans, mortgages, car payments and any other personal debts.

You may also want to keep in mind that life insurance proceeds can be paid out rather quickly to your beneficiary. That can mean a ready source of cash during a difficult period. You may want to make sure there are sufficient funds for this period.

There are no legal maximum or minimums for life insurance. You should simply carry an amount you feel comfortable with, you can afford, and will at least offer some financial relief for your loved ones in the event of your death. You may not need a million dollar life insurance policy, but you should at least carry a minimum for your situation. Our independent life insurance agents can help. They can not only help you determine an appropriate amount, but can show you options in achieving that amount. It may be through whole life insurance or term insurance or a combination. Many are surprised at how affordable life insurance can be, especially when young and healthy.

Get your no cost, no obligation quote today. We look forward to assisting you.

Keeping Up With Life’s Clutter

Keeping Up With Life’s Clutter

It is almost inevitable that as we journey through life it will get more complicated and cluttered. We collect more clothing, souvenirs, photos, knick-knack, tools, kitchen utensils and more. At the same time we use up more of our space ranging from closets to attics and drawers to storage containers. Do you really need those extra 150 high school senior photos? Can you live without that foam finger from the big game? You do know that VHS tapes aren’t making a come back, right? Every once in a while a purge is in order in the form of a yard or garage sale, a trip to Goodwill or simply by bagging it up and taking it to the curb.

But life’s clutter can include more than “things”. It could include bills, credit cards, apps on our phones, streaming services and a whole host of miscellaneous “stuff”. Here’s how you can better manage and limit life’s clutter.

Clothes

If you haven’t worn it in a year, pitch it, sell it or donate it. Don’t encourage bad behavior by keeping fat clothes and if you lose weight, reward yourself with new skinny clothes.

Drawers and Closets

Adopt a 75% rule where no drawer or closet should be filled up to more than 75% of capacity. If something new goes in, something old must come out.

Apps

It is estimated the average smartphone user has about 30 apps on their phones, many which go unused. Commit to be below average and set a limit to your maximum apps.

Credit Cards

Credit reporting agencies state that the average American has four major credit cards. Credit cards have high interest rates and encourage spontaneous spending. Reduce your debt and limit your cards.

Bills and Subscriptions

Most people don’t even know how many monthly bills they have or how many subscription services they are signed up for. Take inventory and reduce, reduce, reduce.

Now may also be a good time to take inventory of your financial plans including life insurance coverage. Our professionals can help. Contact us and make the move to refine or start your life insurance program. Get a complimentary life insurance review and review some no-obligation price quotes. You will feel better and sleep better!