September 2013 - Susman
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Vacation checklist

Vacation checklist

A vacation is your time to relax and enjoy life.

Use our handy vacation checklist next time you go away on vacation so your mind can really stay where it belongs – a million miles away.

  • Make sure all electrical appliances are turned off.
  • Clean the refrigerator of all perishable foods, and take out the garbage.
  • Lock all windows and doors.
  • Arrange to have the newspaper and mail held until your return, or have them picked up by a trusted neighbor.
  • Arrange to have your lawn mowed (or snow shoveled) while you’re away. Ask a neighbor to set out your trash on collection day and then retrieve empty cans and recycling bins the same day.
  • Let a trusted neighbor know you will be away and have them keep an eye on your home. It’s a good idea to leave your vacation address and telephone number with a neighbor so you can be reached in case of an emergency.
  • Never leave your house key hidden outside your home.
  • Set timers on interior lights.
  • Make sure to unplug televisions, computers and appliances susceptible to lightning and power surges.
  • Advise your alarm company and local police if you will be gone for an extended period.
  • Store jewelry and valuable items in a safe-deposit box.
  • Arrange for the care of pets.
  • Set the heating system to provide minimum heat of 55 degrees.

HIV Life Insurance

Well, here we are again. It’s time to discuss our favorite topic; insurance. Okay, honestly, it’s not our favorite topic. To most people, dealing with insurance is like going to the dentist. Although no one wants to talk about it, insurance is a vital element of financial stability and crisis management.

Another topic that no one wants to talk about is HIV. HIV is like the bad word of health conditions. Now, I have been asked to discuss both of these topics in one post. Somebody somewhere loves me, or maybe not.

The research and subsequent data on HIV has moved us light years from where we began when the disease first surfaced in America. There was a time when those who were diagnosed with HIV could not get life insurance. Those days are a thing of the past.

HIV is a term that will make you think. I cannot remember anything that struck fear into people like HIV. I remember in the late 1980’s and the early 90’ when the HIV/AIDS scare was in full swing. Here I was with my analytical mindset. HIV had become so significant that it had replaced my continuous obsession with the person that keeps setting the brush fires in California. If this is your first time reading my posts, you are probably wondering what in the world that is all about. I have this theory that all of the annual brush fires in the state of California is the work of one man. That is another story for another time. The important thing is the HIV epidemic had my attention.

I was so consumed with the growing numbers that I had become an HIV actuary. That’s right I was crunching HIV numbers like they were going out of style. I had convinced myself that I could predict who would become infected with 98.9 percent accuracy. My prediction ratio would have been higher, but he CDC (The Centers for Disease Control & Prevention [somebody please tell me how you get all of that out of a three letter acronym]) kept switching up the criteria.

During that time, there were a lot of people that were wondering why I was giving them the side eye. Little did they know that I had crunched the numbers and the outlook was looking pretty bleak for them. The truth of the matter was that there were certain people that were a part of a certain high risk group and there were others that were a part of multiple high risk groups, yet they escaped that era unscathed. On the other hand, there were those that did not meet any of the high risk criteria that contracted the disease. It simply serves to show that life and death moves on their own accord and they play by their own set of rules. We can take all type of precautions and measures, but we have very little say in the end.

As research caught up with the panic and people realized that HIV was not a death sentence, it changed the landscape of the American culture on so many fronts. People became more tolerable of those who were HIV positive. Insurance companies offered life insurance policies to those who contracted the disease. Most of all, my family’s toleration of me increased.

Update: Life Insurance now available for HIV+ people living with HIV –

Until Death Do Us Part

Okay, I am contacted and asked to write an article about burial insurance. The first thing that goes through my mind is: Are they sure they want me to write this one? Those who know me understand that I find the humor in almost everything I encounter. It is something that is as innate in me as breathing. Most people don’t find death funny at all. Neither do I. I find the humor in the things that surround situations that involve death.

Thinking about death and insurance sort of brings up one of the most consistent and enigmatic thoughts that plague me on a daily basis. Those of you that know me, know things are about to get a little crazy. My thoughts are not always the most coherent and fluid. So, it’s up to you to keep up.

I often wonder about the gravity that rests on newlyweds as they began their dissention from honeymoon bliss into the real world of matrimony. Okay, you are wondering how I got from death to marriage; if you have to ask… Back to the gravity of eternally connected to another. For you to truly grasp this, you married couples are going to have to be honest with yourselves, and you single people, oh well. There comes a point after all of the festivities and the honeymoon trip, that you wake up a look at that person and realize that you are tied to that person for the rest of your life. For some it is five years later, others 10 years later, and there are some who realize it the very next day.

Now we know in America, where the divorce rate is over 50 percent, that the definition of the term life partner is somewhat skewed, but for the sake of argument, let’s just say until death do us part actually has true significance. This means one morning you will wake up and realize that this is it. You are with this person for life.

I’m at this wedding and I am watching the groom. If you are at a wedding and you are getting bored, just watch the groom. This guy is sweating bullets. I am not quite sure what makes grooms so tense during weddings, but all I know is if I keep my eye on the groom long enough, he is going to do something significant to reveal his anxiety, and if I am really lucky, he is going to pass out. You would think that someone would tell him not to lock his knees, oh well. His loss is my gain.

Anyway, I am sitting at this wedding and I rating how long it will be before the premiums on their life insurance or burial insurance is actually put to use. Will she drive him to suicide? Will he simply get sick of her nagging exercise the “death do us part” clause in the nuptials? Personally, I don’t know if I want someone tied to me where the only option is death. I could very easily drive someone to the point of snuffing my light out. The thing is that no matter how many times I go to these weddings and how many evaluations I make I find that death has its own way of ringing the bell of finality in marriage. The key is to be prepared. The cost of a burial policy is minimal when considering the comfort that the benefit will bring one day.

You don’t get to choose when, but you have time to begin preparation.

Whole Life Insurance

Everybody gather around; it’s time to talk life insurance. Okay, don’t everybody come running up at once. Today we are going to discuss whole life insurance. For those that don’t know me, I grew up in an era in which salesman came to your home to sale you everything. There was the vacuum cleaner salesman, the linen service salesman, the milk man, the encyclopedia salesman and the ever-dependable insurance salesman.

What was so cool about the insurance salesman was the fact that after he sold you the policy he would save you the $0.02 postage by stopping by and picking up the premiums every month. So, as a youth, I heard all kinds of discussions about life insurance. You guys know that I am extremely analytical; which is a simple way of saying I am a master at transforming a mole hill into a mountain. With that being said, I took the term “whole life” to an entirely different level.

Before I get too carried away with my story, let me just explain that whole life insurance is simply a policy that has fixed premiums with a set payout. What makes whole life insurance different is its investment component. As you pay your premiums, you policy builds a cash value that you can cash out of borrow against. Sounds pretty simple right? Not for a 10 year old kid with a conspiracy complex.

When the insurance salesman leaves, with my mother’s money, I might add (I swear this woman bought an insurance policy every month. We had a lot of relatives in California, I wonder could this all be tied to the annual brush fires there? Na! [Inside joke with the publisher, read my other posts to catch up]). I asked my mother if what she just bought was a whole life insurance policy, what she was going to do with the partial one’s she had. I also wanted to know how many partial policies did it take to equal a whole. You should have seen the puzzled look on my mother’s face. For the average mother, the puzzled look would have simply been in response to the question. My mother knew that at least a two hour discussion was about to ensue.

I don’t know why she was so shocked that I had those questions. You can’t expect a child that is being taught fractions and decimals to hear the word “whole” and not have questions.

What is she getting all flustered for? It’s a simple question, and if you can’t answer it, you probably should not have given that man your money. I am sure dad is going to want to know why you have been buying partial life insurance policies anyway. Can you partially die? Can you partially be buried? I am going to need something concrete to work with here, mother.

In case you are wondering, I was not the child that you could tell, “Let’s talk about it later.” No, I needed answers to bring some type of symmetry to my thought processes. I needed to reconcile this entire “whole life insurance” concept. Once she explained it to me, I just said, what in the world does “whole” have to do with it?

You Never Know When the Hammer Will Strike: Why Health Insurance Is Important

Baltimore recently dropped healthcare insurance for over 1,600 possible dependents. According to the city, employees failed to complete paperwork proving the validity of these dependents; the insurance change saved Baltimore more than $6 million a year.

Losing health coverage because you forget to fill out a form—or never receiving health insurance because the process seems daunting—can be a big mistake. Just ask Bill, a temporarily unemployed good Samaritan who found himself with a pile of emergency medical bills.

Bill offered to help one of the older ladies in the community hang pictures in her new home. "I’m not doing anything," he said, "And I’ve got all the tools we need."

Bill arrived at Ruth’s house and began hanging pictures. The two enjoyed banter and community gossip between the sound of the hammer striking nails and Ruth’s commands to move the frame a little to the left. They took a break, had a glass of lemonade, and went back to work.

Bill grabbed a nail and headed toward the nearest wall. Placing the nail between his lips, he scooped up the hammer and picture and looked over his shoulder for direction from Ruth. She pointed high on the wall, so he leaned back, raised his arms, and immediately dropped the picture.

As the picture crashed to the ground, Bill turned to Ruth. He still held the hammer in one hand, but his eyes had grown wide. He stumbled toward her, the hammer slightly raised. She backed up, thinking for a moment her helpful neighbor had turned serial killer.

Just as Ruth was about to succumb to panic, Bill dropped the hammer, grasped his throat, and pointed to the box of nails. She realized he’d opened his mouth and allowed the nail to slip down his throat as he looked up to set her picture.

The image of a nail making its way through Bill’s body spurred Ruth to action. She called 911 and Bill was whisked away to the hospital. The entire community heard about his accident!

Medical staff was able to remove the nail with minimal invasion, since Bill had not fully swallowed it. Both his pride and his throat were soar for some time, but that’s nothing compared to the beating his checking account took.

After emergency room expenses, anesthesia, doctor’s charges, and more, Bill owed more than $4,000. Without insurance, he didn’t get the benefit of a reduction in charges; since he didn’t have a job, he wasn’t able to pay the bill right away. After he landed a new job, Bill spent six months paying the hospital bill for his nail accident.

Bill’s story may be humorous, but the lesson is serious. Many people don’t think freak accidents like inadvertent nail ingestion will happen to them. Bill felt the same way, though, or he wouldn’t have put a nail near his mouth.

Accidents—minor and serious—can happen to anyone at any time. Health insurance coverage is a way to ensure you don’t have to worry about treatment options or financial stress during and after an accident. Make sure you fill out the right forms to ensure your own health insurance.

**Note must use words from title as it’s in the keyword box. Just adding it here.

Benefits of Term life insurance

Life insurance isn’t a topic everyone wants to talk about, but it’s a subject that cannot be avoided. People spend countless hours searching the internet, for what they consider to be the best insurance plan, for their needs. However, people have divided opinions when it comes to choosing the right insurance.

Choosing the right insurance plan is not as easy as buying a new pair of shoes, and taking them back for a refund. Shoppers can lose thousands of dollars, before they realize just how wrong their insurance policy is for them. Insurance companies try to sell products that will meet the needs of individuals, families and businesses.

The insurance market has a lot of great products to offer consumers who are shopping for affordable insurance. Some consumers like the incentives and perks associated with owning a term life insurance policy. Term life insurance is great on so many levels, and nearly everyone qualifies. Now, that’s something to get excited about.

Term life insurance offer higher payout amounts and hassle free ways to qualify. While whole life policies require a physical or mental exam to qualify, term life does not. In fact, the majority of term life insurance plans do not require a physical.

Whole life insurance policies won’t pay off, if their applicants die within two years of purchasing their policy. Term life generally pays off right away. Term life is cheaper in terms of payments, and coverage. Individuals can apply for 1, 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, or 30 year policies.

Term life insurance has easy to understand terms. People who are on a budget can purchase term life insurance, and still get the coverage they want. Younger people might not be too enthused with term life, because term life policy has an expiration date.

If the policy owner is 20 years old and buys a 30 year policy, after 30 years the policy expires. If the owner of the policy is still alive, another policy can be obtained, but at a higher rate. However, if the policy owner is 50 years old, and buys a 30 year policy, chances are a relative or friend might be cashing in on the policy, before the 30 years are up.

Buying insurance is simple, once everyone knows what they need, not what they want. Older people do better buying term life insurance. Since term life insurance is so affordable people use it has an investment tool, or a planning tool for the future.

Death is certain and unexpected; but in the meantime, why not get affordable coverage on the entire family. Families who are planning to send their kids to college, but can’t afford the high payments associated with whole life, usually purchase term life insurance for a specific amount of time.

Shopping for insurance is like shopping for clothes. Individuals can find cheap term life insurance, at prices they can afford. Many insurance companies offer free quotes and free applications on their website. Term life insurance pays in addition to any other insurance coverage. The younger a person is when the policy is purchased the less money the insurer has to pay to start coverage.

Disability Insurance Prepares You for the Just in Case

So, you were taking out the garbage when your startled cat bolted out the door chasing what might have been a mouse, making you slip on the step, twisting your knee with a yelp. Now you are in bed for four months with your leg propped up on a pillow. Guess what, the bills keep coming in and your boss says you can’t collect because it didn’t happen at work. Now you are up the financial creek without a paddle.

Sound far-fetched? Not necessarily, it happens to millions of Americans who thought they were covered only to find out they weren’t. Better to plan ahead and expect the unexpected less an accident outside of work pulls the financial rug out from under your feet. Disability insurance covers you when the unexpected passes by your door and you find yourself unable to work for an extended period of time.

Is Disability insurance worth it? Ask Carl who had been working full-time as a manager at a grocery story until he tore his meniscus playing soccer with his ten and eleven-year old sons, and has been laid up for the past five months. Fortunately for him, he had already researched his company’s insurance coverage and had picked up extra Disability insurance the year before, just in case he was injured outside of work. Not only are his mortgage and bills being covered, but he has been able to get a lot done around the house without having the worry about where his next paycheck is coming from. Scheduled to return to work next month, he hasn’t missed a beat and his wife is as happy as a pig in the mud.

Why buy Disability insurance? AARP explains “We buy insurance to protect something. Homeowners insurance to protect our dwellings. Auto insurance to protect our cares. Disability insurance” protects us from when the “just in case” happens. While AARP focuses on persons 50-years-old and older, Disability insurance for persons in their prime working years, between 30 and 50 makes the ultimate sense. Why should you experience a serious financial setback right when you are in your prime working years?

New York Times Wealth columnist and author Paul Sullivan explains, “Death and disability are two of the most difficult things for a family to discuss. But insuring against both is an important part of safeguarding a family’s future.”

If you still aren’t convinced ask Carl’s second cousin Roger. He was hanging curtains for his wife when he stepped a bit too high on the step ladder and found himself face down on the floor. He broke two fingers on each hand in the process, and was laid off from his work as a machinist in a company that made parts for off-set presses, and couldn’t get back to work for close to a year. He lost his car and is at least four months behind on his credit cards. Back to work after 11 months, it is going to take him at least a couple of years to get back on his feet. Carl, on the other hand, had learned from his favorite uncle that “wise people learn from other people’s mistakes” and he took the cue from his unfortunate cousin, preparing himself for what might happen. Two years later, Carl and his family are planning two weeks in Cancun, while Roger is working double shifts to pay off his bills.

Disability insurance is a small investment that can provide stability and peace of mind. Preparing for the unexpected pays off in the long run!

Words from title: Disability Insurance

10 of the Most Interesting Reasons to Buy Life Insurance

Have you heard the phrase “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get”? Some of the best reasons to consider life insurance may vary depending on the individual; however, let’s take the focus off all the “what ifs” and highlight reasons why life insurance is a crucial financial investment for all.

  1. “Chris was at the yellow light when the prancing horse on his Ferrari took a left turn in the right lane.” Be honest, consider how many times you’ve been distracted in the car and almost took “a wrong turn.”
  2. "Lee was going to join the army and wanted to learn how to shoot a gun; unfortunately, he did not hire a professional instructor.” Playing video games are one thing, but chasing your dreams without the proper insurance is another.
  3. “John started a landscaping business and did not read the instruction manual for his equipment; his power tools got the best of him.” Sounds like a typical everyday scenario right? Most of life’s unpleasant events happen when we think we know what we are doing.
  4. “The Anderson family took a family trip to Peru and no one warned them about the deadly plague that took Aunt Jeanne’s life back in 2006.” Every family dreams of traveling the world. What every family does not enjoy is catching the bubonic plague, a rare but deadly disease.
  5. "On a visit to Grandma’s retirement home, Dad got ran over by a man in a wheelchair and fell down five flights of stairs.” You cannot stop visiting Grandma and surely it is not her fault her fellow friend has Alzheimer’s.
  6. “Free Willy wanted to personally say hello to little Johnny while in San Diego whale watching." Being eaten by a whale may not be the most common reason of death; however, never say never.
  7. “Black Friday shoppers broke out into a craze and started a riot resulting in two deaths.” Now to think Black Friday is a yearly event that most shoppers plan months, if not years, in advance, talk about a tough crowd.
  8. “Aston recently went skydiving for the first time and, to his surprise, his parachute was placed inside the backpack….left on the ground.” Not too many people think a freak accident like this happens too often, but when it does, be ready.
  9. “Uncle Chuck finished putting up the Christmas tree, but after he plugged it in, the electrical outlet blew and Uncle Chuck is no longer with us.” Electricity is a powerful commodity; we often forget the power of overworked electrodes.
  10. “The Butler Family went for a summer vacation on their family yacht; they somehow got lost and hit an iceberg.” Titanic took many lives, however no one thinks history will repeat itself anymore. Do not underestimate the power of ice.

What we can extract from the rare but possible life events above is the fact we never know what life may bring. Life only carries one guaranteed, and that is the fact of death is promised. Safeguard your family ensuring you do not miss life’s most memorable events.

Out of This World Discovery Made by Alien Hunters! It’s Not What You Think!

Josh Sanders, a 31 year-old resident of Los Angeles, and Marie Miller, a 29 year-old resident of Brentwood have been working as amateur alien hunters for the past five years. Their efforts to find proof that life on other planets or even the galaxy has turned up empty. That was until a recent trip in July.

Sanders and Miller received a lead that there was possible proof that aliens existed somewhere along the beautiful and scenic Pacific Coast Highway. Packing up their car with tons of clothing, recording equipment, and top secret alien hunting gear, the alien hunters set out to see what proof they could find.

After several hours of driving, the duo encountered what appeared to be a random burst of light came out of a densely wooded area. Sanders and Miller pulled the car to the side of the road and started to explore.

The dynamic duo is unsure what happened during that search or if aliens were ever found. Even to this day, they claim to have no memory of what happened.

Arriving back at their car several hours after leaving to explore the area, Miller immediately started showing signs of an odd looking rash. The rash appeared to be spreading over her back, legs, and arms. It even appeared that the rash was starting to spread out in some oddly shaped pattern that has never been seen before. Unable to account for what happened during that time, the duo immediately assumed the worst – the rash was a symptom of a rare alien based disease.

If this were the result of some random alien disease, it would explain why the duo could not remember a huge chunk of time.

The rash became so itchy and bothersome that Sanders took Miller to the hospital. After running several tests, it was determined that a rare alien disease was not discovered. The discovery was that Miller apparently had a severe allergy to oak tree leaves.

While it may not have been the discovery the alien hunting duo was looking for, it can be helpful to them in the future. The couple credits this random discovery of oak wood allergies to the fact that Miller was able to obtain cost-effective health insurance.

If she had not happened to have the health insurance policy in place, she would have chosen to treat it at home and would never know just how dangerous oak wood leave could be. The alien hunting duo is even planning on listing health insurance as a requirement for future alien hunters, as you never know what health problems you may run into when hunting for aliens.

The alien hunting duo is not letting this near miss get them down. There are too many unanswered questions, such as what happened during that time in the woods, what caused the white light, and why did the rash appear in a shape of a pattern. These questions and much more will be explored by the alien hunting team in the future. Of course, both will be protected by health insurance in case something should happen again.

The Necessity of Buying Final Expense Life Insurance: What You Should Know

It’s not always a pleasant thing to consider, but if you are over fifty, you are probably going to want to start thinking about what you want to happen to you after you pass, and how you are going to cover the cost of your final expenses. It’s not a fun thing to take time out of your busy life to deal with something so morbid, but your family will thank you for having prepared for the worst.

Cemetery costs can be very high, with the average price tag of funeral – including a casket and vault – running over seven thousand dollars. If you include the costs of funeral expenses like funeral notices and flowers, the costs begin to rise to as high as ten thousand dollars, which is a hefty price that your loved ones would be better off not having to deal with unexpectedly.

There are a lot of high costs associated with being buried and with cemetery services, and you may not always have time to plan ahead. For example, if you choose to pre-pay for your funeral expenses, some funeral directors will offer a price guarantee, allowing you to lock your price in at the current rate and potentially save money, but this is not always an option for everyone, especially if their passing comes unexpectedly or at a time of financial insecurity. With how pricey hospital bills can be for end of life care, it is more important than ever to plan ahead.

You may want to consider whether or not you want to cremate your remains, though this remains a less popular option among Americans. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, in 2011 only 42% of adults chose to have their remains cremated. This is a personal decision that should be made with your loved ones, but it is worthwhile to know all of the options available to you. According to the same NFDA statistics, the average cost of a funeral – including a vault – is around $7755, but that does not include miscellaneous costs like flowers or obituaries. By comparison, to cremate your remains may cost as little as $1500.

Depending on whether or not you want to cremate your remains or be buried in a cemetery, there are options available to you in the realm of final expense life insurance, which you should strongly consider, even if you are in excellent health. This kind of life insurance policy will pay out and cover your cemetery and funeral expenses, and can cost as little as ten thousand dollars. There are options available for everyone, and a final expenses life insurance plan can save your already bereaved loved ones a lot of money, saving them stress and grief in an already unpleasant time.

You have undoubtedly planned ahead for medical or automobile emergencies by buying health and car insurance, so if you’re over fifty, even if you’re healthy and intend to live forever, it’s not a bad idea to look into final expense life insurance – your loved ones will thank you.