Quick Tips for Insuring Those Special Valuables

Insuring art and antiques is often quite different than the process involved for most household belongings, but certainly no less important. Use these quick tips to obtain the right coverage for the best possible price when speaking with your insurance agent:

1. Obtain an Up-to-Date Appraisal: Antiques and artwork appraisals should be done by a qualified expert and be up to date when obtaining an insurance quote. Issues such as condition, desirability, rarity and other factors may dramatically influence the estimated value of an item.

2. Insure It Separately: Most homeowner policies have limitations on the dollar value assigned to art, antiques, jewelry, collections and other high-value items. It’s easy and affordable to obtain a separate addendum or rider for nearly any item of value, including art and antiques.

3. Document and Record: If available, keep all receipts and other documentation related to the item or artwork, including certificates of authenticity, former sales records, catalog or auction descriptions, etc. Take photographs every few years to demonstrate the item’s condition. Store the records in a secure location.

4. Periodically Review the Policy: Make a practice of reviewing the policy every few years. Not only is it a good idea to increase coverage in keeping with recent appraisals, but a review helps to remind owners to remove or re-assign coverage for items that may be gifted or sold.

How to Pick the Best Insurance for Your RV

It’s also a time to get the recreational vehicle (RV) out of the driveway and onto the open highway.

Whether you’re heading out on a multistate tour in a full-size RV or on a weekend retreat with a tiny pop-up camper, learn how to stay safe and have fun at the same time by following some simple tips on properly insuring a recreational vehicle.

1. Keep It Clean, in Good Repair and Legal: RVs require a tag and title before they can be taken on the road. Routine maintenance not only helps reduce operating costs, but also ensures a safe and worry-free trip. Remember, lack of maintenance can lead to dangerous situations, ranging from blown tires to side-of-the-road breakdowns.

2. Check Your Current Insurance: Before setting out on a road trip, be sure to verify the limits of your existing automobile policy, especially if you intend to tow a smaller RV with your regular automobile or rent an RV. Don’t assume the RV is covered under a traditional plan. It’s also a good idea to double-check liability limits, coverage for personal belongings and geographic limitations before heading out on the highway.

3. Ask About Options: RV owners often find optional insurance riders more affordable when purchased through their primary plan. Ask about total loss replacement, roadside assistance, emergency expense coverage, vacation liability, attached accessories and other options. It’s a small price to pay for the peace of mind in knowing you are protected in the event of an accident or emergency, especially when far from home.

4. Consult With a Specialist for Full-Time RV Living: Full-timer coverage, hail, flood, fire, theft and other issues for those who consider their RV a home away from home are especially important. Be sure to speak with your insurance agent to select the best options for your individual situation while taking into account other means of transportation, total investment in the RV and lifestyle choices.

Supplemental Insurance: Is It Worth the Premium?

With employers cutting back on labor and benefits, supplemental health insurance has taken on new importance to individuals.

Supplemental health insurance policies are generally less expensive than regular health insurance plans. Although the lower cost is directly attributable to the lower benefit amounts, these benefits can make a big difference.

For example, in addition to medical and hospital coverage, supplemental health insurance policies pay fixed cash benefits for emergencies, outpatient services and preventive care. There are also policies that cover benefits for specific conditions such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes and other illnesses. Supplemental disability income policies help guard against the loss of income due to illness or injury by providing a monthly benefit to help pay bills. And supplemental long-term care insurance policies can provide coverage for payment of nursing homes, assisted-living facilities and adult daycare costs.

Unlike most regular insurance policies, supplemental insurance plans pay benefits directly to the policyholder. And the benefits are paid in cash to be used at the insured’s discretion. Benefits are also paid in addition to other insurance coverage and regardless of pre-existing conditions.

Although the maximum coverage is generally less than that of regular insurance plans, supplemental policies can be a nice addition to coverage with traditional insurance plans.

How Life Insurance Can Provide Fiscal Security

In uncertain economic times it might seem odd to turn to life insurance as a financial security blanket.

But there are some very good reasons you might want to take a second gander at this often-overlooked fiscal planning tool.

Life insurance can, in fact, provide you with the security you seek.

The following are some things to think about when considering life insurance.

Financial Protection for Your Family in Their Hour of Greatest Need

The loss of a loved one is never an easy thing to get over.

However, the financial burden can turn a bad situation into disaster.

Life insurance can ensure that your family is able to replace a lifetime of lost income.

Low-Cost Loans

One of the benefits of some whole life insurance policies is the ability to obtain low-cost policy loans even when the bank says no.

If the policy owner borrows from the policy, the cash value is used as collateral and interest is charged at the rate specified – or described – in the policy.

Catastrophic Cash-Out

An increasingly popular option among many forms of life insurance is the ability to obtain a cash-out equivalent in the event of a catastrophic illness or injury. It’s one more way life insurance can be there when you or your family needs it most.

Leave a Legacy

Despite their best efforts, many people find it difficult to leave a financial legacy to help their children and grandchildren.

Retirement accounts and the stock market have taken a beating in recent years.

As a result, more than a few portfolios have also taken dramatic hits.

Rather than trying to time the market, more people are locking in a true legacy through the purchase of life insurance.

Factors to Ponder in Buying a Long-Term Care Plan

When designing a long-term care insurance policy, there are a number of important factors that will determine how – and when – the benefits are paid out.

One factor is the length of coverage and how many months or years the plan will pay before benefit dollars run out.

Another factor is the policy’s elimination period, or the number of days the policy owner must pay for care before the insurance benefits begin to pay.

Many insurance companies have also designed their long-term care plans to pay benefits based on either a reimbursement or an indemnity model.

Depending on the type of plan, this factor alone can make a big difference in the ultimate benefit received by the policy owner.

Reimbursement long-term care insurance policies, sometimes referred to as expense-incurred plans, allow the policyholder to choose the benefit amount when they initially buy the policy.

This type of plan reimburses the insured for actual expenses incurred, up to a fixed dollar amount per day, per week or per month.

For example, if a policy was originally designed to pay $100 per day in benefits but the actual charges incurred were $80, the actual charges of $80 would be paid and the additional $20 per day amount would go back into the policyholder’s pool of dollars to be used at a later time.

Indemnity plans will pay the policy owner a fixed amount of dollars per day up to a fixed amount of benefits, regardless of the expenses that are incurred.

Therefore, if the insured has a plan that is designed to pay $100 per day, but the care received actually only cost $80, the policy owner would still receive the full $100 from the insurance company.

Not all insurance companies offer both reimbursement and indemnity options on their long-term care policies. It is therefore best to check with each company prior to purchasing a long-term care insurance plan.

Why a Fixed-Rate Annuity Might Be Right for You

Retirees who have modest savings and are worried about running out of cash might be good candidates for a fixed-rate annuity.

Annuities

An annuity is purchased with one or several payments and has a payout plan that starts immediately or at some point in the future.

Fixed-Rate

If the annuity has a fixed rather than a variable rate, you’ll be guaranteed a specific income stream for life when the payout does start.

That can offer peace of mind if you’re someone who’s worried about running out of money.

Such a scenario guarantees you will have a certain level of income whether you live to 80, 90 or 100.

If you’re in good health and have a long life expectancy, you will probably get the greatest bang for your annuity buck.

Risk

But there is a downside.

No investment is without risk, and that includes fixed-rate annuities.

There is little doubt that fixed-rate annuities can provide you with peace of mind, especially if you’re retired.

In spite of that, however, fixed-rate annuities can still be a tough sell these days, when interest rates are low and many investors have rediscovered their appetite for riskier types of investments.

Many retirees also don’t like the fact that the money spent on an annuity with no guarantees is gone when the annuity holder dies, leaving nothing for heirs.

Variable Annuities

As a result, you may want to consider keeping a portion of your retirement savings in variable annuities or in mutual funds in an attempt to generate higher returns.

Your financial advisor can provide you with more information about what might be suitable for you given your individual financial circumstances and goals.

How Annuities Can Protect You From the Effects of Inflation

One of the biggest risks of your financial plan might be outliving your assets – and inflation is a big part of that. If you’re entering retirement and are worried about inflation, you might want to consider little-known products called immediate-payout and inflation-protected (or inflation-indexed) annuities.

Immediate-Payout Annuity

An immediate-payout annuity is simply an annuity that is purchased with one payment and has a payment plan that starts immediately.

Inflation-Protected Annuity

An inflation-protected annuity is similar to an immediate-payout annuity, but its payments are indexed to the rate of inflation.

While inflation-protected annuities are common in other countries, most notably the United Kingdom, they are less well-known in the United States. However, they could be valuable for someone who is concerned that rising prices will cut into future purchasing power.

Keep in mind that while inflation protection might sound attractive, it can add to an annuity’s costs. Another option for an  investor who is concerned about inflation would be to invest a portion of his or her assets in an annuity and a portion in stocks and bonds.

Your financial advisor can provide you with more information about what might be suitable for you given your individual financial circumstances and goals.