22. April 2019 17:04
by Ammelia
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Making Home Warranty Comparisons

22. April 2019 17:04 by Ammelia | 0 Comments

Home warranties take the hassle out of home ownership and give you peace of mind by protecting your family from unexpected and costly bills when major systems or appliances fail. However, coverage options vary widely from provider to provider and choosing the right plan can be tricky. Here is a checklist that details what to look for in a home warranty and how you can choose the provider that's right for you.

Initial Considerations

  • Make a list of all your appliances and systems. Determine which ones are critical to your family's needs, are costly to repair or replace or are at risk of breaking down.
  • Home warranties are designed to fill in the gaps left by homeowners' insurance, but there is potential, however small, for some overlap. Also, some of your appliances may be covered under other warranties. Check and compare these policies so that you're not paying twice for the same coverage.

Coverage

  • Verify which home warranty providers offer coverage in your area. Then narrow your search based on your priorities. Some providers offer fixed plans that cover a list of appliances or systems, some specialize in only a few specific ones, while others offer the option to customize your home warranty benefits.
  • Understand the various levels of coverage. You may find that the advanced coverage offered by one provider is equivalent to the standard coverage offered by another.
  • Take note of the pre-conditions and limitations to any coverage under consideration. Many plans won't cover appliances or systems with pre-existing conditions or costs that arise from improper installation or maintenance.
  • Are you planning to sell your home? Ask if the home warranty is transferable.

Cost

  • Determine the annual cost and what's included. The cost of home warranties varies significantly depending on where you live, the kind of home you live in and what you choose to cover. Some plans include additional services, while others have a more scaled-down offering.
  • Ask about service fees or deductibles. Home warranties take care of much of the heavy lifting when it comes to repairing costs, but there still may be additional fees, such as one for each home visit if something breaks down. Compare any added costs.
  • Establish whether there are limits on the maximum amount a provider will pay for repairs.

Service

  • Easy access to a service network is one of the biggest home warranty benefits. With just one phone call, you can schedule a home visit for a wide range of maintenance issues. Investigate how many in-network contractors service your area and make sure there are a variety of specialties represented.
  • Inquire about the provider's screening process and selection criteria for their contractors.
  • With some companies, the service provider may be different from the company selling you the home warranty. Make sure you can find contact information for the company that will ultimately be servicing your warranty.
  • Ask about the provider's service level agreements, average response time and claims process. Many providers offer the convenient option of requesting service and filing a claim online, but it's also good to know that you can reach a representative when you need one. Compare the level of follow-up documentation each company may require.

Reputation

  • Check out consumer ratings and reviews to learn about other customers' experiences. You want to make sure you choose a reputable provider.
  • Peruse a company's social media and online presence to help confirm its legitimacy and level of consumer focus. Is this a company that places the customer first?
  • Verify that the home warranty providers you're considering are properly licensed if you reside in a state that requires it. These requirements vary by state.
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13. April 2019 22:57
by Harry
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How to Live Longer and Financially Plan for It

13. April 2019 22:57 by Harry | 0 Comments



Better widespread education and advancements in medical technology have been contributing factors to Americans living longer on average.  A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that the number of Americans older than 100 has increased more than 43 percent from just one decade ago.  However, the key isn’t just to live longer, but to live healthier as well.

  1. Keep a sunny disposition. One key to successful aging is your attitude.  Being optimistic, living life to the fullest, developing your full potential, and meeting older age head-on may make a difference in how your body ages.  A positive attitude may also help reduce the chances of being disabled in the future.
  2. Take care of yourself. In a perfect world, the main purpose of health care would be to prevent illness.  Unfortunately, today most health care is to fix problems that have already developed.  To improve or maintain your health, stay current with tests and screenings for cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, bone health, and cancer, and follow your doctor’s orders for any condition you already have.
  3. Keep moving. Exercise is critical to good health.  It can help you control your weight, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve your mood, and reduce your risk of many serious illnesses.  Endurance, strength, flexibility, and balance exercises can all help to improve or maintain your health.
  4. Use your brain. Lifelong learning means continuous learning throughout life.  It includes learning by thinking and doing, acquiring new knowledge and skills, and cultivating a mind that is adaptable to different ideas, people, and cultures.  Similar in the way that muscles need regular exercise to keep them flexible and strong, we need to exercise our brains as well, especially as we age.  Learn a new language or activity, play an instrument, or travel to help keep your brain fit.
  5. Eat your veggies. Eating a variety of whole foods, including lots of vegetables and fruit, can help your overall health.  Try to eat across all the food groups with an emphasis on foods the way they are in nature, without additives or processing.  Focus on nutrition rather than calories, eat smaller meals, and slow down while eating and enjoy your food.
  6. Get some shut-eye. Sleep, like nutrition and physical activity, is critical to your health and well-being.  Getting at least seven hours of sleep per night is ideal.  Adequate sleep can help improve your performance at work and in school, strengthen your immune system, and help prevent diabetes.  To get the rest you need, stick to a sleep schedule, keep the room dark and comfortably cool, and avoid glowing screens like TVs, computers, and smart phones before bed.
  7. Be a butterfly. Social relationships are a fundamental part of health and wellness.  We need to interact with friends and family, neighbors, co-workers, and strangers.  Social isolation and loneliness can be bad for your health.  To keep an active social life as you age, volunteer, adopt a pet, join a class or online community, and look for clubs that interest you.

Thankfully, compared to past decades, the elderly are living longer and in better health than ever before; however, up to one in four elderly Americans are not living this ideal life.  If you are living longer than planned and have health issues, costs can accumulate quickly.  Health care is one of the biggest expenses in retirement.

A 65-year-old couple retiring in 2016 will need an estimated $260,000 to cover health care costs in retirement.  This number does not include long-term care and seven out of ten individuals over the age 65 will need long-term care at some point during retirement.  So, what can you do?

Retirement Accounts

First things first, if you are earning an income you should be saving for retirement.  The younger you are, the riskier you can be in your investments because you have many years to make up for any losses before you retire and need those funds.  As you near retirement, you’ll likely want to make adjustments to help protect you from market risk.

Ideally, your retirement funds will primarily be going toward hobbies and everyday living, but if health issues arise those funds will be vital.  Medicare only covers around one-half of a retiree’s total health care expenses and you may need to reach into your retirement funds to cover the rest if you have no other options.

Medicare

Signing up for Medicare is one of the first major decisions you face as you reach retirement age.  You’re eligible for Medicare benefits in the month you turn 65.  During the initial enrollment period, you have a seven-month window to sign up.  However, many people are surprised to learn that there are costs involved with the program.  Even after paying into Medicare throughout your career, you also face monthly premiums and cost-sharing provisions once you’re enrolled in the program.

There are two Medicare paths to consider for coverage when you sign-up.  Path 1 offers a blend of coverage from government and private health insurers.  Path 2 is offered strictly through private insurers approved by the federal Medicare agency.

medicare path options

medicare path chart for Quotacy blog about healthy aging

As you can see, Medicare covers a great deal of expenses, but there are also plenty of costs that will come out of your own pocket.  This is where your retirement savings will begin to come into play, unless you have some sort of long-term care plan in place.

Long-Term Care

Planning ahead for the likelihood of needing long-term care can make the difference between financial security and devastation.  Unfortunately, people don’t like talking about long-term care.  Many think long-term care (LTC) means “nursing home” but this isn’t necessarily always the case.  According to the American Association for Long-term Care Insurance, in 2014, 51 percent of LTC claimants had home health care, 18 percent were in a community care facility (assisted living/adult day care), and 31 percent were receiving 24-hour professional assistance in a nursing home.

There is a strong likelihood that you or your spouse will need LTC at some point after the age 65.  The total cost of LTC treatment can easily approach or exceed $200,000.  In most cases, Medicare does not cover LTC expenses so the burden of these costs will ultimately rest entirely upon individuals and their families.

There are insurers that offer long-term care policies, but these are becoming less and less available.  Long-term care insurance is expensive to own and expensive to pay out, so many insurers have pulled out of the LTC insurance business.  Instead, insurers are offering LTC riders than can be added on to a life insurance policy.

How life insurance basically works is that you buy a certain amount of coverage and when you die your beneficiaries are paid a check in that amount.  With an add-on long-term care rider, you can receive “living benefits” if you end up needing long-term care.

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2. April 2019 10:51
by Ammelia
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Life Insurance Child Rider That Requires No Medical Information

2. April 2019 10:51 by Ammelia | 0 Comments



Life insurance for children… sounds a little creepy, but it can actually be an extremely beneficial way to plan ahead for your children’s future.  Adding a child rider onto your term life insurance policy is the easiest way for you to purchase life insurance for your child.  How it generally works is that you pay a few extra dollars on top of your life insurance policy’s monthly premium and then each of your current children under the age of 18 and any future children you may have are covered with a small amount (typically anywhere between $1,000 – $100,000) of life insurance coverage.

Losing a child would be unimaginable and the funds a child rider provides could be used to pay for a funeral and allow the parents to take time off work to grieve.  While this death benefit is one aspect of what a child rider can offer, another benefit is that purchasing a child rider guarantees your children’s future insurability.  What this means is that once your child is of age (typically 18-25) you can convert the child rider into a permanent life insurance plan and your child would not be required to prove, via medical exams and records, their insurability.  If your child happened to develop a medical condition that could otherwise prove difficult to insure this guaranteed insurability would be a lifesaver.

Most life insurers require parents to complete a questionnaire form providing information on their children before they would approve the child rider coverage.  Depending on the insurer, some forms are simple with a few questions and some are much more inquisitive.  Below are a few screenshots of one company’s child questionnaire form.

child rider form

child rider form part two

child rider form part 3

That form would be an example of an insurer who requires more in-depth information on children before approving child rider coverage.  If any children have been, for example, diagnosed with any chronic illnesses they may be denied coverage.  So, what can a parent do?

Are there child riders that do not require medical underwriting?

Principal Financial is one life insurance company in particular that does not require any medical or lifestyle information on a child for rider approval.  They offer a maximum coverage of $25,000 and allow you to convert the rider to a permanent life insurance plan up to three times the amount of the rider in accordance with the conversion deadline in their contact.  For parents with children who have special needs or have been diagnosed with a serious medical condition, this child rider can be extremely beneficial.

In a previous blog post titled Everything You Want to Know About Life Insurance Child Riders we wrote an overview on child riders.  In this post we touched on an example in which Principal’s child rider would be especially advantageous.  Let’s dig a little deeper into that situation.

Example:

Jane Doe is 40-years-old and she is planning on purchasing a $500,000 20-year term life insurance policy from Principal.  She wants to add a child rider onto her policy as well.  Jane does not smoke and is quite healthy.  She qualifies for the Preferred risk class.

Product Age Sex Class Death Benefit Annual Premium
Term Policy 40 Female Preferred Non-Tobacco $500,000 $396
Children Term Insurance Rider       $25,000 $125

Jane’s payment options:

  • Annually: $521
  • Semi-Annually: $267
  • Quarterly: $137
  • Monthly: $46

Jane has four children – a 22-year-old daughter, twin 15-year-old sons, and a seven-year-old daughter.  Jane’s eldest is older than 18 so she would not be covered by the child rider; however, her twins and her seven-year-old daughter who has been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia fortunately will be covered by Principal since they do not require medical underwriting for child riders.

Today, most childhood leukemias thankfully have very high remission rates.  If the worst should happen though and her daughter passed away, Jane would receive $25,000 which would allow her to pay for a funeral and take the needed time off work to grieve and spend with her other children.

The child rider benefit of guaranteed future insurability is also particularly advantageous for Jane’s seven-year-old daughter.  Applicants with a history of acute lymphoblastic leukemia would typically only be able to qualify for Table B ratings, and this would only be available nine years post-treatment (on average).  Table B means the applicants would have to pay 50% more than Standard premiums (see table below for reference).   However, Jane’s daughter would be able to convert to a $75,000 permanent policy at Standard regardless of the status of her leukemia.

Table Rating
(alphabetical)
Table Rating
(numerical)
Pricing
A 1 Standard + 25%
B 2 Standard + 50%
C 3 Standard + 75%
D 4 Standard + 100%
E 5 Standard + 125%
F 6 Standard + 150%
G 7 Standard + 175%
H 8 Standard + 200%
I 9 Standard + 225%
J 10 Standard + 250%

As beneficial as a child rider would be for Jane and her children, the Principal child rider would be even more beneficial to a parent who has a child with special needs, such as Down’s syndrome.  Unlike leukemia which can go into remission, Down’s syndrome is a lifelong condition with considerably reduced life expectancy.  You would be hard-pressed to find a carrier to approve an applicant with Down’s syndrome.  Some insurers will approve coverage if the condition is mild, but the applicant would be highly rated (Tables H-J likely used) ergo the premiums would be very expensive.  With Principal, however, a special needs child would be covered by the child rider and could later be converted into a permanent policy.

When you apply for term life insurance online at Quotacy, during the process you will receive a form in which it asks if you have children and if you would be interested in adding on a child rider.  If you have a child with special needs or a serious medical condition, consider choosing Principal when applying.  Not every applicant or policy will qualify for a child rider, for example, most insurers do not give the option of adding a child rider if an applicant is over the age of 55.  But for the majority of applicants who need a child rider, the option is there.  Adding a child rider onto a policy is quite inexpensive and can be very beneficial to your family.  Contact us or comment below if you have any questions or want more information about child riders

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19. March 2019 12:50
by Harry
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How Does Life Insurance Benefit You?

19. March 2019 12:50 by Harry | 0 Comments


If you are the sole or primary breadwinner in your family, it is imperative that are covered by a life insurance policy. Going through life without life insurance is not only irresponsible, it could lead to financial ruin for your spouse and children. If they were dependent on your income for their survival, they would be left destitute if you were to die suddenly. If you still owed money on your house, they would lose that as well. Having life insurance prevents these horrific scenarios from occurring by giving your surviving family members money to support themselves. You might also consider getting medicare supplement insurance. This type of policy helps to pay for some of the costs not covered by Original Medicare, such as deductibles, coinsurance and copayments. Here are some of the benefits of being covered by a life insurance policy. 

It Protects Your Family
The primary purpose of life insurance is to provide the means for a family to live comfortably when the main or primary breadwinner is no longer around to support them. Along with paying for the mortgage, rent, groceries and utilities, life insurance can also be used for college tuition and the estate taxes that the families of deceased people will need to pay.

You Can Use the Money While You Are Alive
If you need money for some reason while you are still alive, you will be able to take out a loan against your life insurance policy's value. One of the really great things about borrowing money in this manner is that the interest rates are much smaller than those that are charged by banks, credit unions or various online lenders. You will have the option to repay the amount of money you have borrowed in installments or all at once. 

Premiums Do Not Change
This is true in the case of term life insurance. When you are covered by this type of policy, you do not need to worry about your provider raising the price of premiums. You will be locked in at a set rate for the complete length of your agreed upon term.

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21. February 2019 12:46
by John
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How Do Smoking Cessation Products Affect Life Insurance Rates?

21. February 2019 12:46 by John | 0 Comments

 

Are you using cessation products to quit smoking?  There are ways for you to get great non-smoker prices on life insurance.  There are endless benefits to quitting a smoking habit.  It helps to increase both your lifespan and your wallet.  To quit smoking you need strong will power and sometimes the help of products whether those are gum, lozenges, patches, or e-cigarettes.  These products all contain nicotine and are used to wean your body off cigarettes while supplying you with the nicotine but sparing you from the other chemicals found in tobacco.

Because there is nicotine in these products, some life insurance companies will still classify you as a smoker even if you don’t actually smoke anything.  The use of these products will cause cotinine to show up in your urine test which would be enough for the carrier to classify you in one of the tobacco risk classes and issue you smoker rates.

Have no fear cessation product users!  There are insurance companies that will consider you for the non-tobacco risk classes and therefore be given non-smoker pricing.  To be offered non-smoker rates, you have to be cigarette-free for at least 12 months.  Let’s say you have been using a cessation gum to quit smoking, but you have only been cigarette-free for 5 months.  Even though you currently do not smoke, you will still get the smoker-rate because it has not yet been at least 12 months.  However, if you have been cigarette free for at least a year but still, for example, chew Nicorette Gum daily there are insurance carriers who will offer you non-smoker pricing.

Insurance carriers rate certain tobacco/nicotine uses differently.  While one company may give non-smoker rates to gum and e-cigarettes, another company may only give non-smoker rates to gum.  We asked 20 life insurance carriers if they would consider giving a non-tobacco risk class to an applicant who uses nicotine gum and four carriers said they would consider it.  Of these carriers, three said they would consider giving a non-tobacco risk class to e-cigarette users.

These examples explain why it is very beneficial for you to work with an independent life insurance agency, like Quotacy, who has contracts with multiple carriers.  It also shows how important it is for you to be very detailed about your tobacco and nicotine product use on your life insurance application.  If we have all the correct information we are able to go to the appropriate life insurance carrier to ensure you get the best policy for your individual situation.

You can still protect your loved ones with life insurance even if you use smoking cessation products, and what’s better is that there is even a possibility you can get great non-smoker rates.  No one ever anticipates needing to use life insurance, but the unexpected happens.

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13. February 2019 17:54
by Jamie
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5 Reasons Why You Should Have Homeowners Insurance

13. February 2019 17:54 by Jamie | 0 Comments

 

Home ownership is one of the largest investments you will make, so protecting this investment with quality homeowners insurance is a crucial part of being a responsible homeowner. However, while many Americans understand the importance of homeowners insurance, some don’t understand the specifics of what it covers if a burglary, natural disaster or other property damage occurs.

Here are five things your homeowners insurance policy should cover if an unexpected or unforeseen loss were to happen.

1. Sudden and accidental flooding.

This coverage is for the overflow of water from systems or appliances within your home, including plumbing, heating or air conditioning units, an automatic fire sprinkler system or certain household appliances. For example, if your hot water heater suddenly springs a leak and floods the recreation room in your basement, the water damage to your furnishings and carpeting or flooring would be covered. There may be certain exceptions depending on the cause of the flooding, so be sure to discuss the details of this peril with your insurance agent ahead of time. Your homeowners policy would typically not cover flooding resulting from a naturally occurring event outside your home, such as an overflowing river, mudslide or storm surge near the coast. You must purchase separate flood insurance to cover events like these.

2. Fire.

Near 1.5 million fires were reported in USA, resulting in $14.3 billion in property damage, according to the National Fire Protection Association. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires, but heating equipment, electrical cords and wiring, and candles can also be culprits. Wildfires are another potential danger for U.S. residents living in dry climates, and as the temperatures heat up you should be prepare for this very real danger. Homeowners insurance covers your property if it’s damaged in a fire, but you should always be sure to never leave stoves or candles unattended while lit.

3. Theft.

The FBI reports there were nearly 1 million residburglariesrgulais during 2015, averaging $2,296 in property losses per offense. Most burglaries occur between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. when most people are at work or school. Be sure to keep all windows and doors locked, even if they’re on a second floor – you don’t want to make it easy for thieves to access your belongings. A home security system is also a good deterrent and may qualify you for a homeowners insurance discount. It may even cover property that is stolen from you while you’re traveling anywhere in the world. Check in with your agent on an annual basis to ensure you maintain enough coverage to protect against possible losses to your ever-changing home inventory.

4. Objects falling from the sky.

Imagine you’re home alone, binge-watching your favorite show on Netflix when, suddenly, you hear a loud crash in the next room. When you go to examine the cause of the ruckus, you discover remains of a defunct satellite have landed in your kitchen. The likelihood of this, a meteorite or other space debris hitting your home isn’t very high, but your insurance covers it if it happens.

5. Vandalism.

Acts of vandalism often happen under cover of night. For example, a group of unruly teenagers looking to create some Halloween mischief throws eggs and pumpkins at your home, breaking a window in the process. Or you wake up to find your garage door covered in spray paint. These types of situations are covered under the vandalism peril in your homeowner's insurance policy. If your home is vandalized, be sure to file a police report to aid with the claims process. Installing surveillance cameras and floodlights are also good ways to deter it from happening in the first place.

You should also make sure your homeowners policy covers additional living expenses. If your home becomes uninhabitable due to damage from a covered loss, your homeowners insurance may reimburse you for the expenses you incur while you’re living elsewhere. This coverage helps you maintain your normal standard of living while your home is being rebuilt or repaired, and includes hotel accommodations, meals and more. Be sure to keep all of your receipts for your adjuster.

Is there anything homeowners insurance doesn’t cover?

Homeowners insurance helps ease the process of getting back to normal after damage from an unexpected or unforeseen event. However, be aware the following natural events are not included in your coverage.

  • Earthquakes
  • Mudslides
  • Landslides
  • Flood damage caused by storms

Speak to your local insurance agent to learn how you can get coverage for these.

If you happen to be a victim of any of these scenarios, follow these steps when filing a homeowners insurance claim:

When filing a claim

  • Contact your insurance provider immediately to report a loss.
  • Be prepared to provide your policy number.
  • Do not remove debris or damaged property that may be related to your claim.

Steps immediately after filing a claim

  • Prepare a detailed inventory of destroyed or damaged property.
  • Gather photos or videotapes of your home and possessions for your insurance adjuster, if these are available.

Steps while the claim is processed

  • Keep copies of communications between you and your adjuster.
  • Keep records and receipts for additional living expenses that were incurred if you were forced to leave your home and provide copies to your adjuster.
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