30. November 2018 11:56
by John

3 Ways Life Insurance Can Benefit a Charity You Love

30. November 2018 11:56 by John | 0 Comments

Would you like to make a charitable gift to help organizations or people in need; to support a specific cause; for recognition such as a naming opportunity at a school or university? Perhaps you would do it just for the tax incentives. There are any number of reasons, and life insurance can be one of the most efficient tools to achieve these purposes. So the question becomes, how does this work?

Let me list the ways.

1. Make a charity the beneficiary of an existing policy. Perhaps you have a policy you no longer need. Make the charity the beneficiary, and the policy will not be included in your estate at your death. This also allows you to retain control of both the cash value and the named beneficiary. If you want or need to change the charity named as beneficiary, you can.

2. Make a charity both the owner and beneficiary of an existing policy. This gives you both a current tax deduction along with removing the policy from your estate. Once you gift the policy, you no longer have any control over the values.

3. Purchase a new policy on your life. Life insurance is an extremely efficient way to provide a large future legacy to a charity in your name without needing to write the large checks now. The premiums are given directly to the charity which then pays the premiums on the policy. The charity also owns the cash value as an asset. I am using this concept in my own planning.

Many charities would prefer to have their money upfront, but if you cannot write that large check or don’t want to part with your cash today, a gift of life insurance is a most efficient method to leave a large legacy in your name.

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23. November 2018 13:17
by Nicki

Life Insurance for a Family of One

23. November 2018 13:17 by Nicki | 0 Comments

We spend a lot of time talking about how couples, families and businesses can protect their financial futures with life insurance. But what about if you are single—do you need life insurance, too?

There are those people who have no children, no one depending on their income, no ongoing financial obligations and sufficient cash to cover their final expenses. But how many of those people do you really know? And, more importantly, are you one of them?

I think it’s important, then, to illustrate how a life insurance purchase can be a smart financial move for someone who is single with no children. Asking yourself these three questions can help you get at the heart of the matter:

  • Do you provide financial support for aging parents or siblings?
  • Do you have substantial debt you wouldn’t want to pass on to surviving family members if you were to die prematurely?
  • Did family members pay for your education?

Don’t Take My Word for It

Life insurance is an excellent way to address these obligations, and in the case of tuition, reimburse family members for their support. But don’t just take my word for it. Instead, “do your own math.” This life Insurance Needs Calculator can help you quickly understand if there is a need—a need you might not be aware of—that could be easily addressed with life insurance.

The most important reason for you to consider life insurance may be the peace of mind you’ll have.

In addition to addressing any financial obligations you might have, the current economic climate has made permanent life insurance an attractive means to help you build a secure long-term rate of return for safe money assets. The cash value in traditional life insurance can provide you with money for opportunities, emergencies and even retirement.

For young singles, keep in mind that you have youth on your side. I don’t mean to sound trite. Instead, I’d like you to think about the fact that purchasing life insurance is very affordable when you’re young and allows you to protect your insurability for when there is a future need—perhaps, in time, a spouse and children.

While all of these reasons are valid, the most important reason for you to consider life insurance may be the peace of mind you’ll have knowing that your financial obligations will be taken care of should anything happen.

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19. October 2018 19:10
by Ammelia

Life Insurance After Heart Bypass Surgery

19. October 2018 19:10 by Ammelia | 0 Comments

After a major life event like bypass surgery, it’s understandable that you’d be in a hurry to buy life insurance as soon as possible. This is often a mistake. Life insurance companies will see your past surgery and this could prevent you from receiving a policy.

To qualify for insurance after a bypass, you need to plan right and fill out a good application. To get you ready, here is a review of the insurance guidelines for after bypass surgery as well as some tips to help you with your application.

When you’re shopping for life insurance protection, there are dozens of different factors that you’ll need to consider. It can be a confusing and difficult process, especially if you’ve had a bypass surgery in the past. Life insurance is one of the most important purchases that you’ll ever make for your loved ones, and your health shouldn’t keep you from getting the protection that your family deserves.

Life Insurance Underwriting after Bypass Surgery

When you apply for life insurance, you’ll need to answer several questions about your bypass surgery for your application. You’ll need to answer:

  • What did you have your bypass surgery?
  • Why did you need to have bypass surgery? Was it an elective or emergency procedure?
  • Have you ever had any other types of heart surgeries like a heart valve replacement?
  • Were there any complications after the surgery like internal bleeding, cardiac tamponade, or a stroke?
  • Do you have any other high risk factors for heart disease like smoking, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure?
  • Do you have a history of heart disease?
  • What medications are you taking because of the bypass surgery?

Common medications for after a stroke include: Clopidogrel, Beta blockers, Nitrates, ACE inhibitors, and Lipids.  All of these medications for a stroke could be insurable depending on your health after the surgery.

Be sure to answer all these questions in detail for your application. For life insurance underwriting, more information is better. If an underwriter felt your application was incomplete, especially after something major like bypass surgery, there’s a good chance you’d get a poor rating or a denial.

Life Insurance Quotes after Bypass Surgery

If you’ve had bypass surgery, it’s very important to delay your life insurance application for some time after your surgery. This is because life insurance companies typically deny applicants that just had bypass surgery; there are too many complications that can come up. It’s best to wait at least 6 months to a year before applying.

When you apply, insurance companies will review the details of your bypass surgery as well as your overall health to make a decision. Your rating would depend on how well the surgery went as well as whether you are taking steps to avoid future heart problems. While each insurance company uses slightly different underwriting standards, here are some general guidelines to help you estimate what rating you’ll get for your life insurance.

  • Preferred Plus: It’s not possible to get a preferred plus rating after bypass surgery, even if you are healthy and the procedure went well. There is just too high a chance of future heart problems for insurance companies to be willing to give the best rating.
  • Preferred:  Also usually impossible for applicants that have had bypass surgery. In very rare cases, someone that had an elective bypass and was otherwise in perfect health might qualify for a preferred rating, but this is not something you should expect.
  • Standard:  The best possible rating for most applicants after a bypass surgery. Applicants need to have waited at least a year after the surgery and be in perfect health otherwise. The bypass surgery also must have been a minor procedure, like elective surgery to get around a blockage early.
  • Table Rating (substandard):  A table rating is the most likely rating for applicants that have had bypass surgery. Applicants should have waited at least 6 months after their surgery to qualify. Rating will depend on the severity of the bypass surgery, whether there were any complications, whether the applicant had other procedures like a heart valve replacement, and the applicant’s general health and family history.
  • Declines: Applicants that apply within 6 months of their bypass surgery. Also, applicants that aren’t regularly seeing their doctor, have a history of serious heart problems, and/or have heart risk factors like smoking or high cholesterol could also be denied.

Bypass Surgery Case Studies

If you’ve had bypass surgery, it’s very important that you plan your application right. Here are a couple real life examples that show the difference your application can make.

Case Study #1: Female, 63 y/o, non-smoker, had bypass surgery for a small blockage at 61, tried applying right away and was denied, otherwise in good health.

This client has a small valve blockage a few years ago that she decided to have removed through elective bypass surgery. Immediately after the procedure, she tried to buy more life insurance. Since she didn’t give anytime between her procedure and her application, the insurance company denied her application. At this point, the client thought she couldn’t get coverage. After contacting us, we recommended she try again. Since she had waited the appropriate amount of time, she qualified for a standard policy this time around.

Case Study #2:  Male, 57 y/o, needed bypass surgery at 54, former smoker, recently lost weight and reduced cholesterol levels, taking lipids for cholesterol.

This applicant had an unhealthy lifestyle. He smoked, had a poor diet, and didn’t exercise. This lifestyle eventually forced him to have bypass surgery. After the surgery, this client started living a much healthier life. He also started taking lipids for his cholesterol, as this was a big part of why he had heart problems.

Despite these improvements, this applicant still had trouble getting life insurance. We believed this was because insurance companies were too focused on his past history. We recommended this applicant meet with his doctor and get a note vouching for his improved health. By reapplying with this note, the applicant got a Table Level 2 Policy, a decent rating for someone in his condition.

As you can see from the examples, there are dozens of different factors that the insurance company is going to look at, and every applicant is going to be different. There are no two applications that are the same, and every company is going to view your application differently. Some insurance companies are going to view a history with a bypass survey more favorably than other companies are going to. Finding the right company could be the difference in getting approved for affordable coverage or getting a plan that’s going to break your bank every month.

Getting Affordable Life Insurance Coverage After Bypass Surgery

As an applicant with a bypass surgery in the past, you’re going to be facing higher premiums, but that doesn’t mean that you have to purchase a policy that is going to break your bank every month. There are several ways that you can get lower insurance rates for your coverage.

The first thing that you should do is cut out any tobacco. Using tobacco is hands-down one of the worst things that you can do for your life insurance premiums. In fact, anyone that uses tobacco is going to pay twice as much for their plan versus what a non-user is going to pay for the same sized plan.

Another way to save money on your life insurance protection is to improve your health. As a person with a bypass surgery, you’ve already have one red flag on your application, which means it’s important that you improve the rest of your overall health. Starting a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol, and a whole host of other health benefits. All of these are going to translate into lower rates for your insurance coverage. If you want to save money every month on your coverage, it’s time to lace up your running shoes.

Comparing different policies is always going to be the best way to save money. As we mentioned, every company is different, and all of them are going to give you different premiums. You’ll get drastically varying rates based on the company that you get the quote from.

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19. October 2018 12:31
by John

11 Things You Should Know About Cobra Health Insurance

19. October 2018 12:31 by John | 0 Comments

What you don't know about COBRA could come back to bite you.

If you've lost or left a job and have employer-sponsored health insurance, you'll likely be offered something called COBRA. This extends your employer-sponsored health insurance for a period that typically lasts 18 months.

Here are 11 things you should know about COBRA coverage:

1. What is COBRA?

COBRA is a federal law designed to let you pay to keep you and your family on your employer-sponsored health insurance for a limited time after your employment ends or you otherwise lose coverage.

2. What does COBRA stand for?

COBRA is an acronym for the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, the federal law that also amended ERISA to enable temporary health insurance for people who have lost or left their jobs. The law took effect in 1985.

3. Who is eligible for COBRA?

People who qualify for COBRA include employees who have voluntarily or involuntary lost their jobs, had their work hours reduced, are transitioning between jobs, or have experienced a life-changing event such as a death or divorce. This coverage is available to covered employees, their spouses, their former spouses, and their dependent children. Each year, about 3 million individuals and families use COBRA benefits.

4. How will you learn about your COBRA eligibility?

You'll receive a letter from the employer or the health insurer outlining your COBRA benefits.

HR director at Seattle-based real estate developer Geonerco Management, warns that the six-to eight-page letter can be difficult to understand “because it contains all manner of mandatory government language." If you're having trouble deciphering that language, contact the employer's HR department or the insurer.

5. Which employers are required to offer COBRA?

Generally, COBRA requires that group health plans sponsored by employers with at least 20 employees (in the previous year) must offer employees and their families the opportunity to temporarily extend their health insurance in circumstances like the ones outlined above. State and local government agencies also fall under the COBRA umbrella. Some states have COBRA-type laws that apply to employers with fewer than 20 employees.

6. Which employers are not affected by COBRA?

The law does not apply to health insurance plans sponsored by the federal government, churches, and certain church-related groups. However, federal employees are covered by a law similar to COBRA.

7. How much does COBRA cost?

The cost depends on how much insurance coverage you received from your previous employer. If you decide to accept COBRA coverage, you'll pay up to 102 percent of the insurance premiums, including the portion that your employer used to pay. In 2012, the average COBRA premiums for a family plan totaled $15,745, plus the 2 percent fee.

For some, the steep increase in financial responsibility that accompanies a COBRA plan is not always realistic—especially when unemployed. The Affordable Care Act marketplace offers alternative coverage options that can be “a lot cheaper, particularly with tax credits,” says Ivan Williams.

8. What sort of benefits will you get under COBRA?

Once you choose COBRA coverage, you retain the same rights as an employee who remains with the employer sponsoring the insurance, Szymanski says. “That means that you must go through open enrollment, which may change insurance companies, benefits offered, pricing and coverage," he says.

9. What are some alternatives to COBRA?

If you reject COBRA coverage, your health coverage options include your spouse's health insurance plan, the federal government's health insurance marketplace, your state's health insurance marketplace, the government-backed Medicaid program, or a short term medical policy designed for gaps in health coverage. These alternatives may or may not cost less than COBRA coverage, so it pays to weigh all of your options.

One option that Szymanski doesn't recommend: skipping health insurance altogether. “Electing to go uninsured is almost always a very unwise decision, with lots of potentially catastrophic downsides and very little upside," he says.

10. What if you change your mind and decide you want COBRA?

If you are entitled to elect COBRA coverage, you must be given an election period of at least 60 days. If you decline COBRA coverage during the normal 60-day decision period, you must be allowed to rescind your coverage waiver. However, you must reverse your decision during that period, and your final decision will become permanent after the 60-day window closes.

11. What happens if you miss a COBRA payment?

Szymanski cautions that you must pay premiums (usually via monthly checks sent by regular mail) in a timely manner (often a grace period of 30 days) or your coverage will be canceled.

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19. October 2018 12:29
by Harry

4 Things You Probably Don’t Know About Your Life Insurance at Work

19. October 2018 12:29 by Harry | 0 Comments

For the first time ever, more Americans have employer-provided life insurance (108 million) than have individual life insurance coverage (102 million), according to a new LIMRA study. And while that statistic sounds good, it actually hides a few important facts you should understand.

1. There’s more to the stat than meets the eye. When you dig a little deeper into the study, you find that households that have life insurance coverage through their employer is actually down to 46%, from a peak of 54% in 1984, so the fact is that the percent of employers offering coverage is declining.

2. If you have it, it’s most likely not enough. Most employer-provided life insurance coverage is one to three times your salary. So if you make $50,000, having up to $150,000 of life insurance sounds like a lot, right? But if you try to put that money to work in today’s interest rate environment, you’ll soon find out it doesn’t go very far. And if your family needs to spend $50,000 each year, what are they going to do after the third year?

I would also add that while your salary may be $50,000, what about your other benefits like health insurance? Employers pay an average of $19,000 a year for health care for an employee with a family of four. What if your family had to pay for their health insurance from that $50,000, too?

3. It’s a benefit, not a guarantee. Most Americans believe employers should be required to make life insurance coverage available (73%, according to the same study), but the fact is employers are not obligated to offer it. And remember that just because your employer is offering it now, doesn’t mean they will next year—or at any point in the future. A lot of companies are in cost-cutting mode, and benefits like life insurance can disappear without notice.

4. It doesn’t protect your insurability. Think about what would happen if your health changes while you only have employer-provided health insurance, but then they drop the coverage and you’re no longer able to get life insurance? Or what if you lose your job, or change jobs and the new employer doesn’t offer life insurance as a benefit?

Typically, employer-offered group life insurance is not portable, meaning you can’t take that coverage with you when you leave a job. Some have the option to convert it to permanent life insurance, but what if you can’t afford that option? Buying an individual policy prevents this because it’s something you own.

The bottom line, then, is that it’s good to have employer-provided life insurance, but don’t ignore the larger need you may have for individual life insurance coverage, too.

Use an online calculator like this Life Insurance Needs Calculator to get a working idea of what you need. Then if you need help to figure all this out, reach out to an agent. They can help you get the most coverage for your budget—something that you know will be there in case the worst were to happen. If you don’t have an agent, you can use this Agent Locator to find one near you.

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25. September 2018 16:06
by Jamie

The Myth of No Medical Exam Life Insurance

25. September 2018 16:06 by Jamie | 0 Comments

We live in a fast-paced world. Internet access and mobile technology have made immediate gratification the new standard. Social media allows us to follow news and world events in real-time, stay in touch with family and friends and publish our thoughts and experiences with the touch of a screen. Online shopping and next-day shipping are expected, demanded even.

We’ve come to expect things to happen quickly and on our terms. And the term life insurance industry has taken notice.

Many companies have developed new term life insurance policies to fit the demands of today’s consumer. They are designed to move applications through the long, traditional process quicker. The goal is to reduce processing time and get a new policy into your hands sooner.

These new policies go by a variety of names like no-medical exam life insurance, simplified issue life insurance, accelerated underwriting life insurance, and others. For simplicity, we’ll just call them accelerated underwriting life insurance as that’s the common end goal.

As a group, these products have the same basic goal of speeding up the process. Individually, they attempt to do this in different ways. It’s important for you to understand these difference so your expectations are realistic and you don’t end up frustrated with a process that’s not what you thought it was.

Types of Accelerated Underwriting Products

  • No Medical Exam Life Insurance

    The name says it all. With no medical exam term life, you are not required to complete a exam to apply for a policy. From there, the process can vary from completely online/electronic, to a telephone interview, to a paper application. Because of these differences, the process can range from as little as one day to several weeks. So, although you will not need an exam, you may still have a long process on your hands.

  • Simplified Issue

    Products with a simplified underwriting process often have requirements removed from the traditional underwriting process. One of those may be the exam. Some companies will require them and others will not. Medical record review is another requirement that companies may remove. Eliminating the need for medical records can save weeks, even months, from the application process.

  • Accelerated Underwriting

    Speed is the primary focus of accelerated underwriting. Companies typically do not remove underwriting requirements from the process to speed it up. Instead, they may create dedicated teams or internal processes that move applications along faster. These teams may have a smaller case load to work with, or they may only process applications with fewer requirements. Companies may also screen applications initially and assign some to the accelerated teams and others to the traditional groups.

The Truth About Accelerated Underwriting

We should clarify some myths, or misconceptions, about accelerated term life insurance products.

  • Myth – You will not need to complete a paramed exam.
  • Reality – This is not always true. You may not have to take an exam initially to apply. However, if you don’t qualify due to medical history or something else, the company may move your application to a more traditional process and ask you to complete an exam.
  • Myth – Term life insurance without an exam is easier to qualify for. After all, no exam, right?
  • Reality – Quite the opposite is true. No medical exam policies are harder to qualify for. The underwriting guidelines are stringent because the company is limited in what it can review. For example, the application may ask if you have high blood pressure, but the company cannot see how high it is without an exam. Or you may have diabetes, but the company cannot confirm your current A1C level. These restrictions force the company to be more strict with its underwriting.
  • Myth – Accelerated means I will get my policy faster.
  • Reality – This is always the goal and only sometimes the case. Even though your application is on a faster track, there’s always the chance something could derail it. For example, an item on your motor vehicle report may require additional review, including a written explanation from you. Or, a previous application with another company may appear on your MIB report showing recent tobacco use. This could force the company to order medical records from your doctor and require you to submit a urine sample.
  • Myth – All no-medical exam life insurance policies are the same.
  • Reality – Life insurance companies put limitations on these policies. Restrictions include:
    • Coverage amount – This can range from a minimum of $25,000 to a maximum of $1,000,000. Most companies max out around $500,000.
    • Term length – Policies are available for 10 – 30 years, but some companies only offer up to 20-year policies.
    • Age – Most policies are only available to applicants age 65 and younger. A limited number of policies in smaller amounts are available for older applicants.
    • Rating Class – Some companies make these policies available only for people who qualify for the best rating class. This means if you have a medical condition, family history, or anything else that disqualifies you from the Ultra-Preferred class, you won’t qualify and will have to go through full underwriting.
  • Myth – The cost is the same.
  • Reality – In general, no medical exam policies cost more. Companies often charge more because they take on greater risk with these policies. But sometimes the difference is small. Make sure you review your quotes closely.

Tips for Choosing a Policy

  1. Figure out what’s most important to you. Is it speed? Convenience? Cost? Are you willing to sit for an exam if it will save you money? Or would you rather skip it, even if it will cost you more?
  2. Once you know what you want, find a company that offers it. Look closely at the product descriptions and talk with one of their representatives, if you can.
  3. Be realistic. You’ve done your homework, and you know what to expect. There shouldn’t be any surprises, but if there are, work with your agent or company representative to keep your application moving along.

Simplified underwriting policies are here to stay. Although these policies are new, life insurance companies will continue to figure out what works best and how to price it so you will buy it and they will make money. Expect to see new offerings roll out periodically and, if they are consumer-friendly and competitively priced, we’ll add them to our website. Because a faster, easier process is good for all of us.

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