The ABCs of Life Insurance: Key Terms to Know

Life insurance policy definitions may seem like alphabet soup, but here are some key terms you may want to know.

A is for accidental death benefit. This is an added benefit payable in addition to the principal benefit in the event of accidental death.

B is for beneficiary. This is the individual who will receive the life insurance benefits.

C is for cash value. This is the amount of cash value available in your policy’s account for withdrawal or loans.

E is for expiry. This refers to the termination of a policy at the end of its coverage period.

F is for face amount. This is the benefit that will be paid in the event of your death.

I is for insurability. This refers to an applicant’s level of acceptability to an insurance carrier.

J is for joint life annuity. This is a policy that will pay benefits that continue over the joint lifetime of two individuals but terminates after the first death.

M is for maturity date. This date indicates when the face value of your life insurance will become payable.

P is for principal sum. This is the amount that will be paid out as a lump sum in the event of your accidental death.

R is for renewable term insurance. This is a term life policy that is eligible for renewal at the end of the term.

S is for surrender. This is forfeiting a policy.

T is for term insurance. These are policies that are limited to a specific term.

Y is for yearly renewable term. This is a term life policy that you can renew annually without first having to provide evidence of your insurability.

Do you have questions or concerns about life insurance? Call or email us, and we can walk you through each of the components. We’re always here to help.

Debunking 4 Common Health Insurance Myths

With all the conflicting information out there, it can be challenging to navigate health insurance. Plan benefits, costs and enrollment timeframes can leave you confused and overwhelmed. Let’s put you in the know and look at the truth behind four common health insurance myths.

Myth 1: Original Medicare has no cost. Premium free Part A is for those 65 and older. You usually don’t pay a monthly premium for Part A if you or your spouse paid into Medicare taxes for at least 10 years. The standard Part B cost for 2021 is $148.50. If your modified adjusted gross income is above a certain amount, you may find an extra charge.

Myth 2: I need to enroll in COBRA when my group coverage ends. You will have 60 days to enroll in COBRA to continue your group health insurance benefits. Enrolling anytime during these 60 days can backdate your coverage start date to the first day of lost coverage as long as you pay the retroactive premium. You may be required to pay the full cost of the coverage plus a two percent administrative fee.

Myth 3: My annual physical is covered each year. Under the Affordable Care Act, preventive screenings include a set of shots and are covered at no cost to you when performed by a doctor or provider in your plan network, but other aspects of a physical are not. These exams can be scheduled every 365 days.

Myth 4: My children can stay on my health insurance policy. Typically, when your children turn 26, their coverage on your health insurance policy ends and triggers a qualified event. This qualified event allows them to enroll in one of the various plans available.

There is a lot of uncertainty around health insurance, so let us be your source of knowledge. We are always here to help, and we’re just a phone call away.

Top Tips for Managing a Chronic Medical Condition

The pain and isolation of a chronic illness can be debilitating. Here are some tips for managing chronic medical conditions.

First, find a doctor who understands your condition and partners in your care. Your primary care physician (PCP) should be able to refer you to appropriate providers, but if your PCP seems unhelpful, it may be time to search for a new one. Next, invest in your care. This may mean dropping those 10 pounds, which can reduce your blood pressure and your glucose level. See if your healthcare insurer offers discounts or free memberships to local gyms, such as the Silver Sneakers program for seniors.

Never skimp on medications. To manage high prescription costs, call the manufacturer for discounts or ask your doctor about free samples. Depression accompanies chronic pain for over a third of those with frequent illnesses, according to Harvard Health. The Affordable Care Act guarantees access to mental health services, as does Medicaid. Contact your health insurer to review coverages and find treatment. Therapy does not have to be long-term to provide relief. Even a few visits with a therapist can help you create a plan to better cope with your chronic condition.

Finally, support groups for almost any kind of condition flourish in today’s online world. Facing an organ transplant? There’s a group for that. Feeling the effects of your diabetes? Start with the American Diabetes Association or Google “diabetes support groups.” Whether in person or online, support groups can help you find common ground with those who share your condition and provide helpful tips to help you better manage your disease. You don’t need to suffer with a chronic condition alone.

If you have any questions about what sources of support may be covered by your health insurance, call or email us. We are always here to help.

Understanding What Auto Insurance You Need

Even for people with stellar driving records, auto insurance premiums can take a bite out of everyone’s pocketbook. Understanding what each element of your coverage means is the key to saving money while ensuring you have a tailor-made policy that’s exactly the right fit for you.

Liability. While this coverage is required by law, the minimum amount varies by state. Liability insurance protects you in the event you are held responsible for bodily injury or property damage to another party. Sage advice is to carry a bodily injury liability policy with a minimum of $100,000 per person/$300,000 per accident (with the addition of enough property damage liability coverage to cover the cost of a new car). Considering all the potential costs of chaos, from medical bills to potential lawsuits, it’s often recommended to increase your limits to $250,000 per person/$500,000 per accident to be on the safe side.

Collision. This type of insurance is not required by law, but it covers the cost of damage to your car after an accident. Depending on the current resale value of your car, collision coverage may not make sense for you to carry, since you’ll be paying more than what your car is worth.

Comprehensive. This coverage protects you from things that aren’t included under collision, such as fire or theft. If you lease a car, this coverage may be required, but most vehicle owners choose to add this coverage anyway, since it is often inexpensive and covers virtually any type of damage to the vehicle.

Deductibles. The higher the deductible, the lower the premium. If you have a decent savings fund, are a good driver and are willing to assume the risk, paying less for your premium may make sense for you.

We’re here to help steer you in the right direction! Make an appointment today to review your auto policy. Let’s work together to meet your financial goals and match your coverage preferences and requirements.

Homeowners Insurance Doesn’t Cover All Catastrophes

Congratulations! You’re a homeowner! With the pride this accomplishment entails, you’ve also quickly become familiar with all of the obscure yet critical details, responsibilities and laws it includes. Here’s a primer on some items not covered by typical homeowners insurance and what additional policies might be needed to protect your investment.

Earth. Anything that can do the hokey pokey and move your home around; earth movement that lifts, lowers, shifts, sinks, expands or contracts your home is included in this category.

Water. The ultimate “other” category; damage not covered by a standard policy, including items such as sewer main blockages, stormwater and backups from growing tree roots. Also, while damage from an exploding water heater might be covered, you’re responsible for the cost to replace the unit.

Maintenance. Become familiar with how insurance views “general maintenance”; items not covered are defined as “neglect” or “failure to properly maintain” your property. This can include rust, rot, mold and general wear and tear. Other notable items include damage from termites, insects, birds or rodents. Depending on your proximity to industrial or agricultural operations, damage caused by smog or smoke may also not be covered.

Prized possessions. Many standard policies only cover losses due to theft up to $1,500. So on top of the emotional damage as an unfortunate victim of burglary, you’ll also have to go through the process of replacing precious jewelry and other high-value items.

If you’re a new homeowner or haven’t updated your policy in years, it might be time for a second look. Give us a call today, and we’ll help to make sure that you’re pragmatically protected.

8 Ways to Protect Your Business from Fraud

To the tune of an estimated annual $7.4 billion loss, fraud poses a major global threat to all types of organizations. Small businesses with fewer than 100 employees are hit even harder than larger corporations, carrying over half of the crime load and, at almost double the losses, experiencing a higher than average cost per event.

According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), weak internal controls and fraud prevention protocols are the number one reason these crimes occur. Having systems in place and a solid strategy around internal anti-fraud controls results in overall quicker detection and thereby lowers losses incurred. Here are the top ways you can protect your business.

Stop playing ostrich. Accepting that fraud does happen and having awareness that this could happen to you are paramount. Understanding the modalities through which fraud occurs and identifying the vulnerable hotspots within your organization are key to both preventing and combating these crimes. When identifying weak spots, remember to also assess risk with customers, contractors and third parties.

A focus on culture. Building a transparent culture of checks and balances, honesty and transparency as well as a focus on maintaining and building happy employees is one of the best ways to prevent fraud from arising internally.

Employees who are satisfied in their roles and overall happy with their jobs have more to lose and thereby less incentive to commit fraud.

Educate to eliminate. Help your people help you. Small businesses often don’t have training programs for managers and employees to help identify the “red flags” and “gray areas.” Consider investing in training your people to help uphold your core values. With this, a stated anti-fraud policy in the employee handbook or code of conduct helps to reinforce your position.

Take a tip. Noting that an estimated 40% of all fraud cases were originally detected with an internal tip-off, with a third of those tips coming from outside parties (such as customers and vendors), those companies that had encouraged reporting systems, such as hotlines, detected and resolved fraudulent activity more quickly than those without measures in place.

Technology upgrade. With technological advances, why aren’t businesses better at preventing such crimes? Lack of full-spectrum fraud detection software across separate platforms and multiple disparate legacy systems in place turn accurate detection into one of manual tracking and audits across the multiverse of papers, platforms and processes. Seek to harmonize your digital and paper trails into a unified system and protocols.

Surprise audits. Considering the average time of detection for fraud crimes is about one year, increasing the frequency of internal audits helps to catch these activities earlier (and, considering most victim companies recovered nothing, also helps with loss prevention). More than this, companies that proactively implemented the “surprise audit” experienced the largest reduction in fraudulent activity.

Take active measures. Most importantly, take an active stance and implement measures that combat fraudulent activity. Organizations can reduce the fiscal damages and impact fraud creates by pursuing multilevel accountability, internal controls and policies that actively detect fraud.

Those that take a “passive” stance are likely to experience schemes that persist for much longer, resulting in higher overall losses (and future headaches).

Insurance coverage. Even the most risk-averse business owner cannot cover the unforeseen. The best way to minimize the impact of fraud is to have an insurance policy in place. We can help you better understand your overall risks and evaluate which commercial crime insurance plan is right for you. We’re here to keep you covered, and we’re just a call or email away.

Should I Consider a BOP or CPP Insurance Bundle?

To briefly discuss a critical and complex topic for small business owners, let’s do a quick overview with an analogy to something simple we can all enjoy: pizza!

Business Owner Insurance (BOP) is like a standard Domino’s pizza. Its preset bundle of ingredients is designed to meet the needs and requirements of most small businesses and is practical in terms of cost and coverage.

A Commercial Policy Package (CPP) is more of a build-your-own, à la carte menu of options for those with more specific appetites or dietary requirements when there are unique risks within that business’s industry that necessitate extra coverage. This might sound expensive, but because it can be built from the ground up, it facilitates nearly unlimited options and has the capacity to be more cost-effective (rather than purchasing a standard BOP policy and adding additional menu items to your order).

Keep in mind, while BOP and CPP packages cover the majority of the gamut of coverage business owners need, they often do not include vital coverage for other key ingredients, such as commercial flood insurance, workers’ compensation and other crucial liability insurances.

Also, with the impact that COVID-19 has had on many brick-and-mortar businesses, it is critical for those now operating businesses out of their homes to know that homeowners insurance policies specifically exclude liability coverage for all business operations.

We’re here to help you painlessly place your order; we’ll assist you in understanding and confidently deciding which policy type is best for you. Our goal is to help you navigate toward options that make the most holistic sense for your business in terms of risk management, budgets and bringing you a personal sense of stability.