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The More You Know

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The More You Know

Insurance can be one of the most confusing items in your life – but it shouldn’t be. If you know what questions to ask and can find someone to give you the right answers, you will find all the clarity you need. Here are some things we think you should know or ask in regards to various types of insurance:

What type of insurance do I need?
Once I have guaranteed replacement coverage for my home, do I need anything else?
If I have a home office/business, do I need any special insurance?
Does homeowner’s insurance cover me if, say, someone slips on my front steps, breaks a leg and sues me?
How do I decide the amount of coverage I want or need?
How much or how little is covered?
Should I just let the bank pick my policy?
How do I know if an item needs additional coverage?
Are all accidents in my home covered?
What discounts do I get if I have added safety features?
Is coverage for legal assistance included?
Is car insurance an absolute must?
What about life insurance?
How can I figure out how much life insurance I need?
Can I control the cost of coverage?
Does health insurance help if I’m sick or injured and laid up for a while?

There are so many other questions and items to consider for all of the various insurance you may need. We can answer all of those questions for you and give you the knowledge and control to enable you to make the most informed decisions.

The More You Know
The More You Know

Meet Debbie.

https://vimeo.com/157616296

Meet Debbie.
Debbie is going to share the story of Bob.

Bob was a man from a large family, with a lot of drive, and successful in business and at home life.
When Bob’s father died, he left his family penniless and Bob decided that he would never leave his own family in that same state of affairs. He made sure that he had insurance all of his life and was able to make it have a cash value that could be borrowed at a decent rate. This story is a real example of why it is so important to have life insurance.

Home Insurance Rates

Insurance premiums are calculated according to several risk factors. These are the factors identified by the insurance company as most likely to have an impact on the insured against risk occurring. Insurance is a significant cost associated with the item insured and should not be rushed into. It is always a good idea to shop around for the best price available. Insurance premiums will vary considerably from insurer to insurer so do your homework.

Shopping Around

Look up the various insurance companies you are interested in and ask them for a quote. They can usually give you a rough estimate fairly quickly and even more exact quotes should also be possible if you provide more details and wait. You should also look up insurers online and get instant quotes from their website. This is a very fast and effective way of shopping around. You will get a good idea of what prices to expect. You can also experiment with the quotation websites to see what effect it makes to your premium price if you select different options. With all insurance policies you will have a number of options that affect the price of the policy. Therefore you should think about these options and if there are risks that you do not wish to cover then let the insurer know as your premium should become cheaper.

Doubling Up

You should also try to make sure you do not double insure. It is a principle of insurance that you cannot benefit from the insured event’s occurrence. So you cannot get paid twice even if you have two insurance policies. So if a risk is already covered by one policy, again let your insurer know so they can remove it from their calculation.

Location, Location, Location

Home insurance rates depend on factors such as address. If your home is located in an are of high crime, or an area that flood often, or is prone to earthquakes, hurricanes or other significant risks, this will be reflected in the policy price. The security you have installed will also affect the premium you must pay. If you have a sophisticated security system this will obviously make your home safer and this will reduce the risk. Similarly, fire alarm systems and sprinklers can decrease your premium. In some areas, flood prevention measures may be taken into account. The size and value of your home will be another important factor, as clearly a more expensive home will cost more if it is damaged.

Many home insurance policies will require you not to leave the home unoccupied, and if you are renting out the home, this will also affect the premium.

Estate Planning – What About Life Insurance?

Copyright 2006 Ronald Hudkins

Not too many years ago life insurance was considered to be the indispensable platform upon which all other estate planning efforts should be based. In fact, for those in the median and lower income ranges, it was often the only recognized method for protecting one’s heirs, particularly in the event of untimely death. However, over the past twenty or so years, the concept of financial planning has changed considerably. The proliferation of varied retirement plans available through work (IRAs, SEPs, SARSEPs, mutual funds, etc) has changed people’s perspectives about the need for life large life insurance policies.

Does that mean that you don’t need life insurance? No. Most people, perhaps with the exception of the very wealthy, do need some sort of life insurance, although even the very wealthy may opt for a life insurance policy (generally whole life) to defray the costs of burial and estate taxes.

In general, the options are whole life (also called permanent insurance) and term life, with variations like universal life or variable life that combine some of the benefits of each. Different companies offer different options, but which you need and how much you need are matters for heated debate. Those who sell one and make most of their commissions from it will vehemently try to convince you that the other is not a good investment. Here are some facts for your consideration.

Whole Life Insurance Advantages:
• Offers a guaranteed death benefit no matter how long you live
• Is generally not subject to rising premiums; rates stay the same
• Many policies become “paid up” at some point (15 years, age 65, etc.) after which no more premiums are paid
• Has investment value which can be cashed out after some specified interval
• Can be borrowed against in case of financial emergency
• Can, in many cases, occasionally earn dividends depending on the company’s solvency and accuracy in predicting actual costs
• The income from a whole life policy is tax deferred
• Can be cashed out after age 65 and used for retirement

Whole Life Insurance Disadvantages:
• Costs more than term life insurance
• Generally returns a fairly low rate of interest
• Does not begin to accumulate any real value for the first 10-15 years
• If the policy is surrendered within the first few years, money paid into it is lost
• Does not provide the investment value of a mutual fund or other investment

Term Life Advantages:
• Premiums are generally very inexpensive
• Lower premiums allow the buyer to purchase more insurance with higher death benefits
• Can be quite useful if the buyer only needs coverage for a specified period (while paying off the mortgage or while kids are in college, etc.)
• Leaves the buyer with more money to purchase other investment vehicles like mutual funds, stocks, bonds, etc. that provide higher rates of return than whole life
• Often beneficial for younger families who can’t afford whole life rates, but need to insure the primary income earner

Term Life Disadvantages:
• Only pays if and when you die; you can never personally recoup any of the money spent on term life insurance
• While premiums are lower than whole life, they also tend to go up and can become unaffordable
• Term life is only available for a specific term (up to 30 years), and then goes away; if you don’t die within the term, your premiums are lost

Almost everyone needs life insurance of one variety or the other. The type of insurance and the amount to purchase depend entirely upon you, your family and your mutual goals and needs. In any case, make sure the company you purchase insurance from is reputable and financially solvent. Don’t be convinced by a fast-talking sales person without doing your homework first. There are few remedies if your life insurance company dies before you do.

Do You Need Health Or Travel Insurance?

Obtaining medical treatment and hospital care can be costly for travelers who are injured or who become seriously ill overseas. The Social Security Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide coverage for hospital or medical services outside the United States.

Before you leave the United States, you should be informed about which medical services your health insurance will cover abroad.

Senior citizens may wish to contact the American Association of Retired Persons for information about foreign medical care coverage with Medicare supplement plans.

If your health insurance policy does not provide coverage for hospital or medical costs abroad, you are urged to purchase a temporary health policy that does provide this type of coverage. There are short-term health and emergency assistance policies designed for travelers.

You can find the names of companies that provide such policies from your travel agent, your health insurance company, or from advertisements in travel publications. In addition to health insurance, many policies include trip cancellation, baggage loss, and travel accident insurance in the same package. Some traveler’s check companies have protection policies available with the purchase of traveler’s checks.

Medical Evacuation

Although some health insurance companies may pay “customary and reasonable” hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for medical evacuation back to the United States. Medical evacuation can easily cost $10,000 or more, depending on your location and medical condition.

One of the main advantages of health and emergency assistance policies is that they often include coverage for medical evacuation to the United States. Even if your regular health insurance covers you for emergencies abroad, you should consider purchasing supplemental insurance to cover medical evacuation.

Whichever health insurance coverage you choose for travel overseas, remember to carry with you both your health insurance policy identity card and claim forms.

Do You Need Travel Insurance?

You may not need travel insurance, if you are already adequately covered by other insurance policies.

Depending on the travel insurance plan, travel insurance usually promises to cover you for cancellation or interruption of your trip, some form of emergency medical care while you are traveling, lost or stolen luggage, and various other troublesome occurrences.

Before you decide on a travel insurance plan, it is wise to investigate the plan carefully and read the fine print. You should closely check any agreements with your travel agent, tour operator, airline, or other companies involved with your travel plans. The agreements may include written guarantees.

If you have a fully refundable airline ticket, you may decide that you would not need trip cancellation/interruption insurance.

On the other h and, it may be worthwhile noting that certain insurance plans can protect you by covering the financial costs in case of the following situations:

A sudden, serious injury or illness to you, a family member, or a traveling companion.
Financial default of the airline, cruise line or tour operator.

Natural disasters or strikes that impede travel services.

A terrorist incident in a foreign city within 10 days of your scheduled arrival in that particular city.

The fact that you, a traveling member of your family, or a traveling companion were quarantined served with a court order or required to serve on a jury.

A circumstance in which you were directly involved in an accident enroute to departure for your trip.

It is a good idea to check your other insurance policies. For instance, your homeowners or tenants insurance may cover the loss or theft of your luggage.

Certain credit cards may also provide additional travel insurance, if you have used them to purchase the ticket for your trip.

Your health insurance may provide certain coverage, regardless of where you travel. But it is very important to note that some policies only partially cover medical expenses abroad. Moreover, as previously explained in the section on Health Insurance, Medicare/Medicaid will not cover hospital and medical services outside the United States.

Your travel agent should be able to advise you about the right plan for you. Before purchasing travel insurance, review the plan carefully, and be wary of buying coverage that you may already have.

Disability Insurance

Disability can occur at any time. While many people take their body and health for granted, serious accident or injury can happen to anyone and if you find yourself disable, for a short period or long term, how will you cope?

Disability insurance is a sub set of health insurance that will provide the holder with income should they become disabled and thus unable to continue earning a living. If this were to happen to you, do you know what you or your family would do for income?

If you are aged 40, there is a higher chance that you will be disabled, and thus unable to work for a period of 90 days or more, than of you dying before the age of 65. There are three common ways of insuring against this risk.

Employer’s Insurance

The first is to receive insurance from your employer. This is required by law in many states. It comes as a form of short or long term paid sick leave. Larger employers can have even more generous terms. For example, a common policy might offer you 60% of your salary for five years, or maybe even all the way up to retirement. While not everyone is lucky enough to work for such a company, it is worth checking with your employer to find out what your protection is and whether or not its something you wish to provide for yourself.

Long Term Disability

The second common protection against this type of risk is social security and disability benefits. This usually only covers employees whose disability lasts for a period of 12 months or more. It also must be shown to be so severe that you cannot find gainful employment. Therefore there are some gaps here that you may be more comfortable providing for with private insurance.

Individual Policies

The third method of dealing with this risk is with an individual disability insurance policy. This means taking out a private insurance policy yourself. You should shop around to make sure you get the best deal available, but at least you will have the peace of mind of knowing in what circumstances you are covered and what the terms of the policy cover.

There are some other sources of protection. Workman’s compensation policies will sometimes step in to cover you if the injury occurred at work. Auto insurance may provide coverage if the injury occurred in a car accident and the Department of Veteran’s affairs can advise you if you think the disability is related to service in the armed forces.

Dental Treatment

There are not many people who would admit to enjoying a visit to the dentist. The trip often leads to considerable pain or at least discomfort. You are never really sure what is going to be involved and how much treatment you will need. You don’t know how much it is going to cost, unless you have dental insurance, in which case you don’t need to worry about this. But generally speaking, most people do not enjoy visiting their dentist.

In many ways we’re much like children. While people tend to get over most of their childhood fears as they get older, dental treatment is one that seems to persist into adulthood. Partly we have our selves to blame. Many people put off visiting the dentist for years and only go once they are in considerable pain. They skip check ups if they have no complaints and postpone the inevitable visit for as long as is humanly possible.

This means that by the time we do visit the dentist, which is a visit that is long overdue, we need so much work done and it costs so much money that it just serves to put us off going back again for as long as is possible. This is what causes the entire problem.

Many of the worst aspects about visiting the dentist could be avoided by going back for regular checkups and keeping on top of problems. Dentists advise that they can prevent many common problems from ever occurring if they catch them quickly enough and what could become costly and painful surgery can be dealt with simply and all the hassle avoided. But this requires that they see your teeth fairly regularly so that they can avoid problems before they occur.

Most dentists offer you the chance to book your next check up months in advance. This means that when you show up for one, you book your next check up while you are at the dentist’s surgery. This means that you will never forget to make an appointment. Then the dentist will also send you a reminder when the appointment approaches so that you will not forget to attend. What could be simpler?

Regular check ups can help you to avoid expensive and painful surgery and many dental insurance plans will cover check ups as st andard in the policy. Therefore, get insurance and start seeing your dentist frequently. Don’t put off the visit until its too late or you really will have something to fear from your dentist.

Deciding if you need Life Insurance?

Most people are aware of how life insurance works and what are the events and dangers that it is designed to protect against. They may also have family commitments and people who they provide for and know that some sort of life insurance would protect their family financially, if something were to happen to them. However, it is still often a very difficult decision to make if you are trying to decide whether or not you need life insurance.

Life insurance is a big commitment financially speaking. The premium can vary in cost but can be considerable, then there is also the issue that life insurance often extends over many years, even decades. This means that not only are you committing to pay the premium for this year, but also for many years into the future. There are not many people who can say with certainty what their earnings will be in ten or fifteen or twenty years time.

There are also early termination penalties, which means if you want to end the policy before the expiration of the entire term, you will be financially penalised. This is generally more relevant for life assurance but can also apply to life insurance if your rate has been calculated on the condition that you remain insured for so many years into the future.

If you have life assurance, then it will also be a method of saving for the future. This is a very popular concept, especially these days with the growing concern about the state of pension funds, but it again deserves careful consideration. There are many ways to save for the future, and by deciding to do so by way of a life assurance policy still entails deciding that life insurance is something that you want and are willing to pay for. If you do not need life insurance, then there are probably more efficient ways of saving for retirement than with life assurance, which places a proportion of your savings against the insurance aspect of the policy.

In general, most people will really only be considering life insurance if they have a family to support. This can be a spouse and generally children. However, situations frequently change, people get divorced, and children always grow up and become independent. If your family situation is likely to change, you should familiarise yourself with the ways you can end the policy early and what penalties would apply. However, if you have a young family and are concerned about their financial security for the future, then life insurance will be a great opportunity for you to provide for these concerns.

Criticism of Insurance

Insurance policies work by taking premiums from customers in exchange for baring the risk of certain costly events occurring. For example, if there is one fire in your town each month, everyone could just sit tight and hope their house doesn’t burn down next, or could pitch in and pay an insurance premium each month and this is then used to rebuild the house that burns down. Very simply this is how insurance works. It is a method of spreading a risk over a far wider area, so that it will not be as devastating as if it was concentrated solely on the person who experiences the loss.

Exclusion Clauses

There are a few problems with this however and they attract much criticism. One criticism is that by taking on the risk for people, insurance makes people take greater risks than they otherwise would. For example, if you know your home contents are insured against burglary, then you may not be as careful about locking the doors and windows every time you leave the house. Or if your bike is insured, you may not bother to lock it as much as if it wasn’t insured. In the insurance industry, this problem is known as the moral hazard.

Insurance companies protect themselves against this by inserting exclusion clauses into their contracts, which remove their obligation to pay out if the insured performs or fails to perform certain stated actions. They might for instance require that you fit smoke detectors, or use good locks on your doors, or other things that will reduce the risk of the insured against event occurring.

Too Complex

There are also certain risks that you are not allowed to insure against in most countries. This is first of all because it would be too difficult for the insurance companies to quantify, but mostly it’s because they are risks that governments want the person at risk to bare himself or herself. They generally apply to multinational companies.

There is also the criticism that insurance policies are far too complex for the vast majority of consumers to underst and. It is simply unreasonable to expect the customer to underst and lengthy documents that have been drafted by not one, but usually teams of specialised lawyers. This can lead to consumers being misled or buying insurance policies on unfavourable terms. To get around this, most countries regulate the content of insurance contracts to ensure that they remain fair to consumers.

There is also the option of using the services of an insurance broker to shop the market for you.

Cheap Medical Insurance

If you want to get a good deal on your medical insurance, there are a couple of things you should consider doing. Some of them are optional and some of them are absolutely vital and cannot be passed by.

The first is to shop around. You really cannot get a good deal on medical insurance unless you are prepared to shop around and search the market. Finding out what is available on the market really is the only way you can know if any particular offer is good or not and whether or not you should accept it. By getting to know what kind of offers are out there, you will know what you should be expecting to pay for what kind of benefits and are far less likely to get ripped off by making an uninformed decision on which medical insurance to buy.

You should also consider speaking to an insurance broker. These will be able to advise you on the plans offered by a wide range of insurers and let you know what kind of offers are available. Therefore, they can save you a lot of the legwork of shopping around since they have access to an array of insurance companies. They will also have access to preferential rates and deals since they can bargain with companies and use their knowledge of the industry to get good deals. They can then pass these savings on to you in some form or another.

However, even if you are going through a broker, you cannot forgo shopping around and informing yourself properly of what is on the market. This is because you will not be sure if the offer the broker is giving you is any better than that of other brokers or even of prices you can find your self.

Shopping online is another good idea. The Internet gives you access to virtually all the insurers in the market. They are right there at your fingertips and can often give you instant quotes right there on the website. This means that you can do a lot of shopping around and get a good idea of what is on the market just be going on line and visiting their websites.

Medical insurance is a very important purchase for you and your family. It can determine the level of health care and service you will have access to in the case of an accident or serious illness and also represents a significant cost to you when you pay your premiums. Therefore you should always shop the market and make sure you are getting as good a deal as possible before you commit to any one policy.

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