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The Problem with Employer-Provided Life Insurance

Working for “the man” got you down? Just wait till he takes your life insurance policy away.

If you’re fortunate enough to work for a company that offers employee benefits, life insurance through a group policy might be among the perks you can take advantage of. Group life insurance policies generally offer a decent amount of coverage at a reasonable price and some give the option of adding a certain level of additional (supplemental) coverage.

Sounds great, right? Now you can check getting life insurance off of your “to do” list.

Or not.

While group life insurance through your employer is far better than no life insurance at all, it may not be enough to protect your family from financial hardship if the unthinkable were to happen to you.

The Downsides to Many Group Insurance Policies 

  • Coverage Limits—Some policies may set a limit on the amount of coverage you can get. Often, the coverage you’re eligible for will be based on some multiple of your income. To obtain more coverage, you may have to apply for an additional policy from another source.
  • Less Flexibility in Benefit Options—Group life insurance doesn’t typically provide the option of adding benefit riders like those for accelerated death, child term, or disability.
  • Lack of Control Over Your Policy—With the policy owned by your employer, not by you, you could find yourself with no life insurance if your boss reduces the benefits or entirely drops the group policy.

And there’s more. 

The Biggest Potential Problem with Group Life Insurance 

Now you Have it, Now you Don’t—A group policy typically disappears if you’re laid off or if you voluntarily leave the company. So, if that’s your only source of life insurance, you’re banking on the idealistic vision that you’ll be working for your employer for a long time. Unfortunately, real world data shows that’s not very likely. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median number of years that wage and salary workers had been with their current employer was 4.6 years in 2014.

While some group policies are portable, allowing you to take coverage with you by remaining a part of the group after you leave a company, with most you simply lose coverage. If you opt to continue coverage with the group policy, be warned—you might find yourself paying a rather hefty premium to the insurance company.

Some group life policies offer the option to convert them to individual policies. These are also generally quite expensive, but they offer the advantage of being guaranteed issue. 

Term Life: An Affordable Way to get More Peace of Mind

According to LIFE Happens.org, four out of every ten married couples have only group coverage. And one in four Americans believes he/she needs more life insurance. If your only form of life insurance protection is through your company’s policy, individual term life insurance might be just the thing you need to protect your loved ones financially and give yourself peace of mind.

Term life insurance offers coverage at premiums often significantly less than those for portable group and whole life policies. Best of all, they’re flexible in the amount of coverage you can apply for and the length of the time (the term) your policy will be in effect. Typical term periods are 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 years. The term period locks in the policy cost for that specific time and your rates will not increase at any point during your coverage.

You can quickly and easily get a term life quote online. And if you need help determining how much coverage your family might need or have other questions about term life insurance, reach out to a trusted life insurance professional for guidance.

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How to Avoid Trading in a Car with Negative Equity

A recent survey DealerRater conducted for Automotive News looked at the different ways car buyers deal with negative equity on their trade-ins. It found that the majority of consumers deal with this all-too-common situation in the worst possible way. 

Automotive News-DealerRater Survey

The Automotive News informal survey, conducted by DealerRater, looked at the most common actions that buyers take when trading in a car with negative equity ("negative equity" is when your car's value is less than the loan balance).

From May 5th to the 24th of this year, DealerRater interviewed 88,874 consumers who visited a dealership to shop or to have their car serviced. Of those, 46,700 respondents traded in their previous car when they bought or leased their most recent vehicle.

Over one third (37 percent) of those 46,700 respondents said they had negative equity in their trade-in. Here is how those buyers dealt with that situation:

  • 54 percent rolled their negative equity into their next loan or lease.
  • 21 percent "took some other action" (Automotive News did not specify what these other actions were).
  • 19 percent increased the amount of their down payments.
  • 6 percent opted to buy or lease a different vehicle than they had originally planned to.

Over half of the buyers polled rolled the debt into their next loan or lease. From a financial point of view, this is disappointing since this is the worst way to deal with this situation. Not only does it make your next loan or lease more expensive, it can put you in a debt spiral that's hard to escape.

Avoid Trading in a Car with Negative Equity at All Costs

Having negative equity is sometimes also referred to as being "underwater" or "upside down." Regardless of the word you use, negative equity is a growing problem with loan amounts rising and loan terms increasing.

Having negative equity isn't typically an issue if you plan to keep your car for a while and/or pay off the loan in full. It only becomes a problem when your vehicle is totaled, stolen, or you want to trade it in halfway through the loan term.

Let's look at an example of why being upside down can present an issue if you want to trade in your car. Say you have a balance of $12,000 left on your auto loan, but the vehicle is only worth $10,000. This means you have $2,000 worth of negative equity—and it isn't going to just disappear. Your options are to either deal with it now or deal with it later.

If you want to trade in your car, rolling the balance over into a new loan means paying on the new vehicle, plus the $2,000 from your last car. This means you're making payments on two cars at once, and your monthly payment and interest charges will be larger, as a result.

Worse yet, it typically means you'll be further upside down in the new loan. Rolling negative equity into a new loan just compounds your problem, which can create a debt cycle that can quickly spiral out of control.

For these reasons, every expert on the subject, including the team here at Auto Credit Express, will tell you that trading in a car with negative equity should always be viewed as a last resort option. This statement rings more true for those dealing with less than perfect credit, especially considering the higher than average interest rates these borrowers face.

Instead, it will be in your best interest to look at these alternatives:

  • Cover the negative equity out of pocket.
  • Find a new car with a big manufacturer rebate attached. If you don't have the cash to cover the difference out of pocket, this is a good alternative to explore.
  • Hold off on trading in your vehicle until you are no longer underwater or you have paid off the loan. Try making larger payments than your minimum amount to take care of this faster.
  • Try to sell the car yourself to get more than you would if you were to trade it in.

The Bottom Line

In an ideal world, you would always have equity in your vehicle so you could avoid this situation. Because negative equity is a common issue, however, it's best to figure out a way to avoid trading in a car when you are upside down in your loan. Buyers, especially those dealing with credit issues, should do whatever it takes to avoid this situation.

Another car buying roadblock can be your credit. Having bad credit or no credit can make it difficult to get approved for a car loan. Luckily, Auto Credit Express is here to try to make that process easier.

We connect car buyers to local special finance dealerships that know how to work with challenging credit situations. Our service is free of charge and obligation, so go ahead and get started by filling out our car loan request form right now.

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Don’t Assume Earth Movement Coverage Is Standard In Your Home Insurance

 

While home insurance policies are sometimes known as “all-risk” policies, they do not always cover all risks that may cause damage to your home. One of the more commonly excluded perils on most policies is earth movement, which includes earthquakes. The reason it’s called “earth movement” is that the exclusion itself is much broader than just earthquakes. Many types of shifting or moving earth are not covered by your policy, and you may be surprised to find that some of these cannot easily be insured, no matter how much premium you may be willing to pay. Earth movement coverage is not something that is needed in California alone.

Earth Movement Exclusions

The standard home insurance policy’s definition of excluded earth movement includes sinking, rising, shifting, and the expanding or contracting of earth. And all of these exclusions can be combined with water or not. This means if you think of earth movement only in terms of earthquakes and other seismic activity, you are missing some key exclusions that can cause substantial uninsured damage to your home. Let’s look at each of these excluded movements in a little more detail:

  • Sinking – If the ground under your home settles, it is generally defined as sinking. This can be the result of many factors, such as erosion due to water or poor compaction when the home was built.
  • Rising – The opposite of sinking, if the soil under your home rises, bulges, or heaves, it will cause damage to your foundation and the house itself. While water can cause erosion, too much water in the soil can also cause it to expand.
  • Shifting – With sinking and rising covering the vertical movement of earth, shifting covers the potential lateral movements that will also impact your home.
  • Expanding – As if rising earth was not broad enough of an exclusion, the policy includes expanding earth as an additional exclusion. These exclusions are similar to each other, but the redundancy of the policy exclusion leaves no ambiguity of its intent to exclude earth movement damages.
  • Contracting – Sinking earth is similar to contracting earth, but as with expanding and rising earth, the home insurance policy seeks to broaden its exclusions, allowing no room for potential coverage.

The earth movement exclusion includes all of the above directions in which the earth can move and cause damage that is not covered by your policy. In addition to these definitions, the policy also excludes the following types of phenomena that are more commonly understood: earthquake, landslide, mudflow, mudslide, sinkhole, subsidence, erosion or movement resulting from improper compaction, site selection, or any other external forces. Additionally, the policy further excludes earth movement resulting from volcanic explosion or lava flow.

Essentially, virtually anything that causes your house to move or shift is excluded by the home insurance policy. However, direct fire caused by any of the above is usually still covered. For example, if a mudslide moved your house several inches and severed a gas line, which then resulted in a fire, the loss of your home due to fire would be covered. However, if the movement resulted in a cracked or shifted foundation, those specific damages would still not be covered, as the foundation is not a loss resulting from the ensuing fire.

Getting Coverage for Earth Movements

Unfortunately, many homeowners recently found out just how far-reaching earth movement exclusions can be after Hurricane Sandy. Even those who had purchased flood policies were still uninsured because their flood policies contained exclusions for earth movement, even if they were caused by floods. The Insurance Journal reports that the State of New York is now using some of its emergency funds to help the affected homeowners. But homeowners cannot always rely on a governmental agency to step in on their behalf if they are not properly insured.

To avoid many of the earth movement exclusions, homeowners can purchase insurance that will add the coverage back to their home insurance policies, or they can purchase separate policies separate from their existing policies. In some states, insurance companies may even be required to offer you the option of purchasing earth movement coverage.

For instance, in California, insurance companies selling home insurance policies must offer earthquake coverage to their customers, though customers do not have to elect that coverage. But this is helpful in that it reminds homeowners that they must make a conscious decision to accept or reject coverage.

Much like national flood insurance policies, California earthquake insurance is available through a special agency set up to handle the unique risk. Insurers in California can choose to offer the coverage through their own resources, but the majority elect to participate in the California Earthquake Authority (CEA) program for insurers. If you are a California resident and elect to purchase coverage from your home insurance company, it’s possible they are still providing the coverage to you through the CEA. However, you have issued a policy directly from your insurer.

Specialty Exclusions Homeowners Should Understand

Even with agencies such as the CEA setting up special programs to cover earth movement, there are still some circumstances under which no policy will insure a loss. A common example of excluded earth movement is loss due to a manmade condition. Insurance companies are particularly uncomfortable with these risks because they are unpredictable, and therefore difficult to underwrite. So even though no one can really predict an earthquake, scientists do have some information about where faults are located and therefore the expected severity of damages. This amount of data assists the insurance companies in modeling potential losses and helps them to set what rates to charge.

However, with manmade conditions, it’s impossible for the insurance company to foresee when such an activity might take place. The most common types of manmade earth movement are those from nearby construction activity. In these situations, your only recourse is usually to pursue a liability claim against the party responsible for causing damage to your home. While that process is challenging and not nearly as straightforward as a first-party home insurance policy, it’s certainly better than no recourse at all. If you have a particularly valuable home, you might be able to find an insurance agent that has the ability to access Lloyd’s of London, where virtually any risk can be insured – albeit for a price.

Earth movement is an inescapable risk facing all homeowners and there is limited insurance coverage available. Before making any assumptions about what is or is not covered, you should carefully read your policy. If you are concerned about the lack of coverage, ask your insurance company or agent about buying back some of the excluded coverages. In the event of a catastrophic loss, you will be glad you did.

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Best Term Life Policy An Ultimate Guide For You

What is a term life policy?

Quite simply, a term life policy is insurance protection that provides your beneficiaries with a cash death benefit if you pass away during the term of the policy.  For help understanding the difference between a term policy and a permanent policy, you can visit Us.

Life insurance companies will offer a term life policy for those individuals who qualify under a company’s underwriting guidelines. 

Underwriting guidelines are the criteria that insurance companies use to determine if you are an acceptable risk.

It’s important to remember that each life insurance carrier has different underwriting guidelines. They will all look at your health and lifestyle differences.

How do I know which life policy is the best?

To determine which life policy works best for your situation it is important to do a little bit of homework. By reviewing this article and with the help of google you should be able to gather enough information to make a wise decision regarding your life insurance needs.

Let’s break down some of the common questions surrounding a term life policy and how to go about finding the best plan.

How much coverage do I need?

This is probably the best starting point when purchasing life insurance protection. Here are some of the common reasons individuals purchase life insurance:

  • Replace income– this is probably what most people think of when trying to determine how much life insurance protection to buy. If you are not around to earn an income, then your family will suffer a significant lifestyle challenge. Six to Ten times income is a good starting point.
  • Mortgage Protection– another common reason a family might purchase life insurance is to make sure the mortgage balance is paid off in case of an untimely demise.
  • Children Education– Planning for a college education can be very expensive. Who knows where your child may want to go to college. And with college costs rising every year, protecting this need with life insurance makes a lot of sense.
  • Final Expenses- the cost of final expenses such as funeral and burial continues to rise. Also paying off any outstanding credit card or auto loans may be something that needs to be planned for.
  • Estate Planning Needs– Life insurance can often time be a good tool for those who expect to have a large estate tax due upon death. Other estate planning needs that life insurance can assist with include college endowment or charitable giving.

Now, it is important to remember that each person’s needs are different and we recommend a complete needs analysis from an insurance professional, CPA or estate planner to determine exact needs.

But, if you wish to do a quick needs analysis in order to get coverage in force as quickly as possible, the link here will help you narrow down your coverage needs.

To this point, we have primarily talked about term life coverage for personal family needs. But, term life insurance can also be used the same way for business needs. Here are some of the common ways that term life insurance can satisfy business protection needs:

  • Key Person Insurance– Life insurance protection on a key member of a business or organization. Someone who is vital to the continuation of the business.
  • Buy-Sell Insurance– A buy-sell agreement between two business partners can be funded with life insurance. This insures an easy transition of the business if one of the partners dies.
  • Collateral Assignment– Many times banks want a life insurance policy assigned to them as the lender on a business loan.
  • Executive Bonus– Often times a life insurance policy can be used as a special bonus to an important member of the business. This type policy can offer extra protection for the employees family.

 

Who is the life policy for?

Another important question that must be answered when you are thinking about purchasing a life insurance policy is who actually is the policy for?

Most often this is fairly straight forward when a personal policy is a purchase. Many times the spouse is named as primary beneficiary. But, the need for coverage may be more complicated than this.

What if you want to leave money to your kids from a previous marriage? What if you have a former spouse that must have her as the beneficiary due to a divorce decree? Are there step-children involved? If leaving to minor children is there a guardian or trustee set up?

These questions on the surface may sometimes seem simple, but often times can get confusing. Again, it is important to know who the benefit of the life policy is for and make sure to update any necessary beneficiary changes.

How long do I need the protection?

Okay, this question is sometimes the most difficult to answer. After all, most people want the coverage to be in force for as long as possible. But, it is very important to remember that term life insurance is temporary protection, not permanent protection. This simply means that at some point when the original term period has expired the rates will increase dramatically if you want to continue the coverage.

Term life insurance by its very nature is the least expensive type of coverage you can purchase. It is meant to provide you with the most death benefit protection for the least amount of premium. So, it is important to know why you are buying the coverage and how long you want the coverage to offer protection.

Let’s look at a few examples of term life policies that are offered in the marketplace:

  • 10 Year Guaranteed Level Term–  This policy offers a guaranteed level premium for 10 years. At the end of 10 years, the rate will adjust higher. This policy should only be for a short-term need. An example would be perhaps someone who has just 10 years remaining on a home mortgage. A 10-year term policy would not make sense for someone who needs protection to last 20, 30 years or longer.
  • 15 Year Guaranteed Level Term- Offers guaranteed level premiums for 15 years. Rates for this policy will be more expensive than a 10-year policy, but will also offer an additional 5 years of coverage. This policy could make sense if your needs are limited to around 15 years. An example might be a married couple with a young child that will be through with their education/college within 15 years.
  • 20 Year Guaranteed Level Term-  A 20 year guaranteed level premium plan offers many people a good compromise. The rate will be more expensive than a 10 or 15-year policy but offers an additional number of years of protection. An example of this policy would be an individual who is age 45 and wants protection to last until they retire at 65.
  • 25 Year Guaranteed Level Term- The 25-year term policy is not offered by as many insurances carries as the 10,15 and 20-year plans, but can be a great fit for someone that has a new baby or new mortgage and wants to have coverage with guaranteed level rates for 25 years.
  • 30 Year Guaranteed Level Term- The 30 year guaranteed level term is very popular especially for young families and those with new mortgages. The rates are higher than those of the other terms but provide excellent long term protection during most of the working years.
  • Return of Premium Term– The return of premium term policies offered in the marketplace allows you to still lock in most of the guaranteed level rates mentioned above, but with one caveat. These policies allow you at the end of the return to recoup most if not all of the premiums you have paid in. Of course, these rates are higher priced, but for those individuals who may need a simple way to ensure and save, this product can be a solution.

What if I have health problems? Can I still get a term life policy?

Okay, so you have determined you have a need for life insurance. You know the amount of coverage you desire. You know the plan of coverage you want, but what happens if you have a history of pre-existing medical conditions? Or perhaps you scuba dive, race cars or have a high-risk occupation.

Finding affordable protection for those who may be in less than perfect health is possible. But, there are a couple of things you need to do to help your cause. First, you must work with an agent or agency who specializes in this niche area of underwriting.

Any agent in the marketplace can write a term life policy on someone who is in perfect health. But, only agents who have years of experience and knowledge working with all kinds of health impairments can find you the company that specializes in your particular risk.

As we mentioned earlier, all life insurance companies have certain criteria they look at when evaluating someone for coverage.

But, there is also a handful of companies who underwrite certain risks better than others. The secret is finding the company that will offer you the lowest rates for your condition.

Fortunately, you have landed on the right page. We are experts at finding the companies who do this type of underwriting the best. In fact, with our over 30 years of experience, we often times can instantly tell you if an offer is possible and what even give you a quote.

Optional riders that can be added to a term life policy

Many of the hundred, if not thousands of life insurance carriers offering term life policies also offer riders that can be added to the base policy.

A rider is simply an additional benefit added to the base policy at an additional charge. Here are some of the most common riders that can be added to term life policies.

  • Waiver of Premium– this benefit which is typically available up to about age 55 allows the insurance company to waive your premium should you be disabled.
  • Child Rider– A child rider offers a low-cost way to add child(ren) coverage to your policy. Most child riders are limiting to $10,000 of benefit per child.
  • Spouse Rider– Much like the child rider, the spouse rider allows you to include your spouse on the base policy. The benefit amount for the spouse is usually limited to $50,000. Important to note that all riders are subject to same underwriting review as the base policy.
  • Long-Term Care or Critical Illness Rider– these riders are fairly new and only a few carriers offer them. But, they do offer you the ability to accelerate your death benefit and use for a long-term care or critical illness. The definition of the long-term care or critical illness rider is different for each carrier, so it is important to review carefully.
  • Accelerated death benefit rider–  This rider has become very common on most term life contracts and often times has no additional premium charge. Most define this rider as the ability to accelerate up to 50% of the death benefit early subject to a maximum amount if you are diagnosed by a doctor with a terminal illness and have less than 12 months to live.

Real Life Example of the use of Term Life Insurance

David is a 35-year-old married man with 3 children ages 8,5, and 3. David has a small amount of life insurance at his work but feels the need to have more coverage. David has approximately $225,000 left on his mortgage. His income is 85,000 per year. David wants to be sure that his wife and kids have enough money to pay off the mortgage, put the kids throught school and still have the income to live off of. David calculates his needs at $1,000,000 of coverage.

David would also like a policy that will stay in force until he retires in approximately 30 years. In order to keep his premium cost down, Dave wants to ladder his policies. This laddering will help his coverage stay in effect for the needs as he goes thru his life. Dave decides to purchase a $225,000 15 year level term to match the approximate time left on his mortgage.

Dave’s youngest child is 3 so he determines that a 20 year guaranteed level term policy for $250,000 should be set aside for education purpose. The remaining $525,000 of coverage will be carried under a 30 year guaranteed level policy.

Dave would also like to add some coverage for his wife and kids. So, he decides to add a child rider for $10,000 of protection for each child and he places a spouse rider of $50,000 for his wife.

Dave now has a complete line of protection for most of his foreseeable needs.

Conversion option with term insurance

One of the most important features that is offered for free with most term life policies is something called the conversion option.

The conversion feature is included in most term policies, but it is important to check your particular proposed plan to see the details of this option.

Some companies only offer the conversion option for a limited time. Perhaps only during the initial guaranteed level period or to a certain age. Knowing how long your conversion option is offered can be particularly important if or when you need it.

Here is exactly what the conversion option is. The conversion option allows you to convert any or all of your term death benefit to a permanent lifetime death benefit with no medical underwriting or health questions.

Now, you may ask why is this so important. Here is why. Suppose your needs change and so does your health. Let me give you an example.

Joe purchased a 10-year level term to cover him until is youngest kid gets out of college. Joe has originally issued a $250,000 policy at super preferred non-tobacco rates. Approximately 5 years into the term policy Joe is diagnosed with diabetes and high blood pressure. Joe also finds out a new surprise. His wife is pregnant.

Joe knows his current 10-year term policy only has 5 years remaining. He is worried if he will not be able to qualify for new insurance protection due to his medical history.

Fortunately,  Joe has the conversion option on his current policy. He can now convert any or all of his current term policy to a new guaranteed lifetime level premium policy with no medical exam or health questions. The conversion option is guaranteed.

When or if he converts his current coverage to a new plan he will receive the super preferred non-tobacco risk class that he was originally approved at 5 years earlier. This is a huge advantage for those whose health has changed but still need insurance coverage.

Bottom line is, you never know if you will need to extend your coverage. You also never know what your health will be. It is vital that your current term life policy has the conversion option included just in case.

Who are the best term life policy companies?

In the life insurance arena, it is common to see some of the same company names show up year after year as having the best term plans. Of course, occasionally you will have a company that wants to make a splash in the term market and they will lower their rates to be competitive.

Or, you may find a company that wants to be more competitive in the “impaired” risk marketplace, so they begin to price their rates better for those with diabetes, heart disease, etc.

But, as of the time of this blog, below are the companies that typically show up as being competitive both in price and underwriting. In addition, all of these carriers are rating excellent by most of the rating services such as A.M. BEST, Standard & Poors and Moody’s. In no particular order:

  • Protective Life
  • Banner Life
  • Prudential 
  • Lincoln National Life
  • Principal National Life
  • Cincinnati Life
  • Ohio National Life 
  • American General Life
  • John Hancock
  • Mutual of Omaha
  • Pacific Life
  • Assurity Life 
  • North American Life
  • Mass Mutual Life
  • Savings Bank Life 
  • Independent Order of Forresters

How to apply for a term life policy?

Nowadays there are many ways to buy life insurance. Below are some of the ways you can purchase a term life policy.

  1. Online from a big box quoting service perhaps hundreds of miles away.
  2. From your hometown property and casualty company
  3. Direct toll-free number to an insurer
  4. The use of an independent insurance adviser
  5. A bank
  6. Financial Adviser or CPA

It’s important to keep in mind, how much assistance you will need when purchasing coverage. Will you need help finding the lowest rates? Do you want to be sure to have somebody to call on policy issues that come up after the policy is placed? Do you have a pre-existing medical condition that needs an expert assistance? Do you need to know every detail about the policies? (conversion, riders, etc.)

Most people buying life insurance know that somebody will get paid a commission to help with your policy. All life insurance policies pay a commission to someone- no matter how much assistance you get. The commissions are already built into the price of the policies, so there are no negotiations on commissions like with a car sale or any other large ticket item.

In other words, let’s say you buy a Prudential policy from an agent in California even though you are located in Georgia. The rate would be the same in Georgia as it would be in California. So, what you are paying for is the service you get into helping you obtain the protection and the service you get once the policy goes into force.

So, although a quick toll-free number to someone sitting in a stall may be a quick way to get a quote- what actual personal service will you get thru the underwriting process and after the policy is completed? I mean will you ever be able to get a hold of the person again from the 1-800 number.

Of course, we are probably biased, but we feel you will get the best rates, knowledge, and service from an independent agent who has been in the business for 20+ years.

An independent agent will represent hundreds of companies and will be able to give you expert advice on the questions you need to be answered. Also, an independent agent who has been in business for many years is here to stay. No worries about not being able to reach your agent when the time arises.

Remember, someone on the end of that phone is getting paid to sell insurance. We think it should be someone who will be there to answer any questions that arise and represents your best interest, not theirs.

Information needed to quote on a term life policy

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Amount of coverage needed
  • Type of plan (if known)
  • Tobacco use within 5 years
  • Family history of cancer or heart disease before age 60
  • Current medications
  • Brief medical history
  • Any foreign travel
  • Any motor vehicle violations
  • Any hazardous activities or hobbies

Exam or non exam term life policy

Many insurance companies offer individuals the opportunity to purchase life insurance with or without an exam depending on the circumstances. If you are a relatively healthier individual less than 50 years of age, you can typically buy coverage up to $1MM without a medical exam or blood work.

Now you will typically pay a bit higher rate to buy insurance without an exam or labs, but if you are in a hurry for protection and a few extra dollars does bother you, then a no exam policy could be a good idea.

If you are not in a hurry and want the absolute lowest rates than a fully underwritten policy with exam and lab work will give you the best chance for the lowest rates.

Again, an experienced agent who offers all the different options will give you the information you need to make the best decision.

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Life Insurance for Business Owners

Are you a small business owner or a co-owner of a company? Among the many days to day responsibilities you encounter, you also are responsible for your family. You need to protect your family at home as well as your business family.

Life Insurance for Business Owners

Life insurance for business owners can help lay a proper financial foundation by protecting your current and future business. Let’s look into the different situations that life insurance can benefit your company or business.

Collateral Assignment Life Insurance

A life insurance policy can be used for business owners that require cash to begin a business or buy a company. Typically, when you buy a life insurance policy you will name a beneficiary. This beneficiary has an insurable interest to the insured. This beneficiary can be a family member, spouse or a business partner or company. When you’re getting a life insurance policy for an SBA loan or bank loan – it is the same overall concept. You have to assign a primary beneficiary, however- the lender will be named the collateral assignee. If you were to die the lender will get the balance of the loan from the life insurance death benefit. Your primary beneficiary will then get the balance once the loan is paid off.

What would happen in the event that you didn’t use a collateral assignment? If you had the lender the sole beneficiary, the lender would then collect one hundred percent of the life insurance policy’s death benefit. E-exchanger life insurance can help you avoid that.

Executive Bonus Plan Life Insurance

With an executive bonus plan, you’re using a compensating method for specific employees by paying the life insurance policy premiums on the key employee’s life. The employer or business owner will pay for a benefit that is owned by the executive or employee. There are benefits to both the employer and employee when it comes to Executive bonus plans.

For the employer, there is no administration needed, the plan is simple, and costs are tax deductible. For the employee, the executive is the owner of the life insurance policy and of the cash values. The policy is not lost if they were to change employers. The death benefit can be income tax-free.

Key Person Life Insurance

The purpose of key person life insurance is pretty basic:

A company buys a life insurance policy on a key employee, business owner or executive who is very important to the business. The company will apply for a life insurance policy, pay for all of the premiums and own the policy. The business is also the beneficiary of the life insurance policy. If the key person were to die, the company will receive the death benefit of the key person. The tax-free benefit can be used in a variety of ways. It can help make up for company sales as well as lost earnings. The benefit can also help cover some or all of the costs of finding a good replacement and provide proper training.

What would happen if the key person were to die unexpectedly? Could your business move forward without a hiccup? The life insurance death benefit can provide liquidity quickly so you can provide ongoing financial demands.

How about securing loans for your company’s growth? Sometimes loans are needed to help with the financing opportunities of expanding a business. Your lender will often seek collateral as security and the death of a key employee may pose too much of a risk to your lender. It is very common for a lender or bank to require key person life insurance on anyone that is vital to the life of your company.

One of the most important uses of key person life insurance is when there’s a need to buy out a deceased co-owner's interest in a company. There are some unfortunate situations that can arise if a key person policy isn’t in place. How would the deceased co-owner's family receive their share of the interest in the business without selling it off? How would the surviving owners pay off the dead owner’s family in order to avoid becoming partners with them?

Buy Sell Agreement with Life Insurance

When you’re an owner of a company or a partner in a business, a buy sell agreement can be an excellent way to avoid uncertainty. When a partner or company owner dies, the life of the business and its future are uncertain. With a buy-sell agreement, you can make sure you’re helping to protect you and your company from the unexpected or unintended transfer of ownership. By considering a buy sell agreement and funding it with life insurance, you can provide protection and extend the life of your company.

The buy sell agreement will aid the sale and purchase of a company based on a specified event. The most common events are retirement, disability or death of the owner of the company. The buy-sell will lay out specifically who will get what with regards to shares of the business. It will define how much and it will guarantee the buyer at a predetermined price. The buy-sell agreement also allows for the purchasing of company shares from the estate of the surviving family. Lastly, a buy-sell can be beneficial with creditors. Creditors will most likely be much easier to deal with when they can see that a company has protection established to make the loan decisions easier.

Business Succession Planning

Life insurance plays an important role as the driving force in succession planning. It is key that you have adequate coverage for you and your business partners. You need to get a formal valuation of your company and make sure that your coverage is updated with the growth of your company. Succession planning is a very important topic and can be vital to your business. If you let the estate plan dictate how your company transitions, it may cause significant issues. There are many companies that have had disastrous results due to poorly designed succession plans. Just ask the Robbie family and the Miami Dolphins.

Get Started

If you’re ready to get started, make sure you work with the following 3 resources:

  • Attorney
  • CPA
  • Life Insurance Broker

You’ll need experts in each of these areas in order to secure the best strategy and policy for your business succession plan.

How to Get Quotes and Apply

Once your plan is in place you can begin shopping for your life insurance policy. Simply use the free quote on this page to get an idea of rates.

However, the best way to secure coverage is to have our research customized quotes. You can simply contact us at CseZone.com.  We’re independent and licensed life insurance agents. We’ll find you the best policy at the most competitive price from dozens of top rated life insurance companies. Once we find you the lowest rate, we’ll help you apply conveniently online or over the phone. We’ll help you from start to finish.

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How to Reduce your Risk of Water Damage

Water damage is one of the leading causes for personal property insurance claims in Ontario. Learning how to deal with preventable water damage is essential for everyone who lives in Ontario.

Water damage has surpassed fire as the leading cause of personal property claims in Ontario.

The challenge with water is that even the smallest amount of water can be a major headache, resulting in the homeowner having to claim under their personal property insurance. Intact Insurance classifies water damage as the following; flooding, broken pipes, sewer backup, and leaky plumbing.

Protecting your home from water damage

Since water damage is so widespread throughout Ontario, it’s important that you inform yourself and ensure you have the coverage you require to protect your home. Speak to your insurance broker to confirm what your insurance coverage protects and adjust if necessary. Furthermore, we suggest contacting your local municipality to find out if there are any special programs that may be in place to protect your home against water damage. 

Reducing your risk with preventative tips

We cannot control Mother Nature; however, we can implement preventative tips to help reduce our risk of having unwanted water in our home. The following checklist has been adapted by Intact Insurance.

Tips for Preventing Water Damage outside your Home

  • Clean eaves troughs and downspouts to ensure proper drainage
  • If you have any damage on the outside of your home (including cracks, etc.) repair them
  • Ensure you caulk window trim and door frames
  • Check your roof and flashing for repairs
  • Install weather stripping on exterior doors and windows
  • Winterize your pool or hot tub
  • Turn off the water supply to outdoor taps after the taps have been left open to drain completely. Leave the taps in the open position until the spring
  • Always clear snow away from the foundation of your house

Tips for Preventing Water Damage inside your Home

  • Check heat-duct and water pipe insulation
  • Inspect any washing machine and dishwasher hoses for cracks or leaks, and clean the filters
  • Water shut-off valve - learn the location of it and learn how to use it
  • Have the furnace and air conditioner professionally serviced annually
  • Have any chimneys cleaned annually and repaired as needed

We’d love to help you navigate water damage prevention - Contact Us if you have any questions or would like a no obligation CseZone home insurance quote. 

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Going in for Surgery? Avoid Surprise Medical Bills

It’s always a good idea to confirm that your hospital is in your health plan’s network before you go in for a procedure – but this proactive step still may not be enough to avoid surprise medical bills.

Millions of Americans get surprised bills from doctors who don’t participate in their health plan but who practice in hospitals that do. This often happens when an anesthesiologist or assistant surgeon you didn’t even know was going to be in the room during your surgery (and who doesn’t participate in your health plan), scrubs up and steps in during your procedure. When it’s all over, the out-of-network doctor bills you for the difference between what your insurer paid and what the doctor charges. The practice is called “balance billing.”

The Affordable Care Act requires insurers to cover out-of-network emergency services at in-network rates. But the law doesn’t stop doctors from balance billing, and it doesn’t release patients from their responsibility to pay surprise medical bills.

Although you don’t have complete control over whether or not you’ll get a balanced bill, there are steps you can take to reduce the likelihood and to fix the problem once it happens.

Plan ahead. Before a planned surgery ask about the team of healthcare providers who will treat you while you’re hospitalized.

It’s very difficult to control who sees you at the hospital or to know which doctors participate with your health plan. But it can’t hurt to ask that they keep non-participating providers out of your room.

Check for mistakes. It may be that an in-network provider got recorded incorrectly as out-of-network in your insurer’s system when your claim was processed.

When you get a bill, don’t pay it right away. Instead, call your health plan to discuss the bill you received and ask if you can get the charges removed if they’re incorrect.

If you get health insurance at work, your employer may be able to help dispute the bill.

Talk to your doctor. Physicians are sensitive to the financial burden patients are under these days, including those caused by surprise medical bills. It’s worth calling to ask if the doctor is willing to reduce the price of the bill.

Your health plan should also be able to step in and help. In some cases, your insurer will negotiate for you with physicians to either lower or waive out-of-network charges.

Check your state. Federal law does not protect patients from balance billing. However, about a quarter of the states do have laws in place that protect consumers from balance billing by health care providers that don’t participate in their health plan. Check with your state’s department of insurance to learn about the protections where you live.

File an appeal. The law entitles you to both an internal appeal with your insurer and an external review by an independent third party. Your health plan must provide guidelines about how to go about the appeal process.

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The difference between an Automobile Warranty and an Extended Auto Warranty / Extended Service Program

When you buy a vehicle you will be provided various options to buy along-side of it and one such choice is that of extended automobile warranty. Sometimes referred to as a service contract, or extended service program, an extended automobile warranty is designed to offset repair expenses following the purchase of a new or used automobile. In essence, an extended warranty is a safeguard against costly, unforeseen repairs. Not to be confused with manufacturer’s warranties, an extended warranty kicks in subsequent to the expiration of the manufacturer’s bumper to bumper warranty. An extended auto warranty is typically sold as a separate contract, and – unlike a manufacturer’s auto warranty – is not included in the purchase price.

You need to be aware of the benefits of this extended service program which coincide with this option even as you consider whether to obtain this kind of warranty for your car and this will assist you to find out whether an extended auto warranty is the suitable choice for you. There are a couple of benefits of having this kind of warranty. First, it provides the car owner of with peace of mind in recognizing that a number of aspects are covered. Because each warranty type will differ with regards to what’s covered under it, it’s imperative to peruse the extended service program document in order to see the coverage points included. By choosing an extended auto warranty you will understand that certain areas are covered on your vehicle in case something happens, which will result in the vehicle requiring to be fixed.

Extended auto warranties will also ascertain that your financial investment gets protected. Because many people live on a restricted budget, it is usually a good idea to put forth the finances whenever you have them in order that you won’t be caught short in the future should anything go wrong with the automobile and you’ll have to get it fixed. Besides, the cost of an extended automobile warranty is oftentimes much more reasonable as compared to what you would be needed to pay should one necessitate to have their car fixed in the future. As a result, by you spending a smaller sum of money in the beginning you might save quite a couple of dollars eventually should replacement parts or repairs be necessary for your automobile.

In the strictest sense of the word, this is not a warranty at all. Like auto warranties, this plan covers repairs for an agreed upon period of time. True warranties, however, are included in the cost of the car; extended auto warranties are actually service contracts, or extended service program because they cost extra and are sold separately. An extended automobile warranty may be bought at the time you purchase your vehicle; it is also possible to buy one much further along in your car ownership experience. If you are the type who prefers to be prepared for all eventualities, an extended warranty may be just what you are looking for. Considering the ever-increasing cost of car repairs, these service contracts do make a lot of sense. If you are interested in buying an extended automobile warranty, you need to know that the car service contracts industry is slowly moving away from the phrase “warranty” since it is confusing to consumers. Try looking for “Extended Service Programs” instead.

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The Impact of Health Insurance on Your Life

For most of us, a health insurance policy is yet another document to be safeguarded in a cabinet in our house and/or a folder in our computer until circumstances require us to put it in use. Less do we realize how investing in a health plan transforms our life for better.

Uncertainty is a part and parcel of our being and a health policy plays a major role in helping us lead a peaceful lifestyle. It backs us up against any medical emergency that might strike unexpectedly.

 

We catalog here all the major health insurance benefits that you gain from your health insurance policy, in detail; Get to know your plan better, to live better:

Budgeting

Let us start from the foreground. The major purpose of buying a health plan is to ensure that you have adequate money to fund your medical treatment in the time of need, which translates to effective financial planning. This forethought also applies when it comes to making an investment in purchasing the policy, in the first place. Insurance companies offer a range of plans and premiums to fit everyone’s paying capacity.

Flexibility

Now the question arises, does spending what we can is evenly matched with what we should; or are we missing out on any important features? Fortunately, to match the changing healthcare needs, the insurers allow customization of health insurance policy at the time of purchase or renewal. So whenever an upgrade is available, use it to enhance your existing policy with a top-up feature. It can also be utilized to fit your changing needs. For instance, you might need a Family Health Insurance few years down the line.In that case, you’ll not have to sign up for a new policy as you will be able to alter your existing one. The mantra here is to pick the basics and load it up as and when you can.

Medical Concierge Services

To have the treasure and not know how to put it to good use is as good as no treasure. Not all of us are well-versed with our treatment requirements or the facilities available in our nearest hospitals. Our little knowledge further restricts in the state of panic, which often accompanies such situations. To support you through these perils, your insurance company provides medical concierge services that assist you through your illness—everything from making appointment and arrangements for the treatment to clearing off the bills.

Lifelong protection

Most of the health policies come with an upper cap on the age-limit of the individuals they cater to. This may mean leaving you unprotected at an age when you need it the most. However, certain insurance providers, like HDFC ERGO, offer policies with a lifetime renewability feature. Moreover, if you buy this policy before the age of 45, you would not even be required to take a preliminary health check-up.

Cashless Hospitalization

The help that you have when you most need it is the only help you have. Going through difficulties to arrange money for paying off your hospital bills and getting the reimbursement later cuts down your worries, but does not cease them completely. For your outright peace of mind, companies offer Cashless Hospitalization Service. Here, you just need to report your case and policy number at the insurance help desk in your desired network-hospital and the rest will be taken care of.

Recovery Benefit

The end of the course of hospitalization/treatment does not necessarily mean the complete recovery of your health. The best Health Insurance Policy will support you through the post-hospitalization period too. Here, your company provides extended financial aid, also called as convalescence benefit, to fund your daily expenses till you are fit to restore your daily lifestyle.

Attendant Allowance

Everything that is a part of your health re-establishment, be it your hospital or a loved one who takes care of you while you are sick, is your company’s responsibility. An attendant allowance pays towards the food and refreshment of the person who looks after you in the hospital.

Portability

Like I have mentioned before, you do not freeze the policy after you buy it for the first time. With changing circumstances over time your requirements may change too. To redesign your plan, in order to help it adapt to your present situation, you can transfer your existing plan to a different company that you may find better.

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When Should Parents Consider Child and Car Safety?

If someone asked us when parents should consider and begin to practice child safety as it relates to cars, we’d answer that these things should start before their child is even born.

This may sound strange, but as any mother will tell you, the impact from a child begins months before birth. Thus, our answer to the previous question. Since mothers are carrying unborn children for the gestation period, child safety is impacted by the mother’s safety.

While expectant mothers are undergoing physical changes to their bodies, such as the expansion in their abdomens and widening of their hips in the first trimester — changes that continue for all 40 weeks they’ll carry their child — we suggest the same for them as we would any other driver. Wearing their seat belts.

We’ve heard the myth that seat belts endanger the lives of the unborn, but it’s just that — a myth, as long as seat belts are worn properly. That means expectant mothers should wear their seat belts, with the lap belt should be across her hips and below her belly, and the shoulder belt should be across her chest, between the breasts.

Car Seat Installation

With the new arrival of a bundle of joy, we shift from the safety of the mother to the child itself. It may be easy to think that installing a car seat is a simple matter. Put the child seat in the car, insert child, and we’re done, right?

Not so fast. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) says 75% of car seats are installed and/or used incorrectly. Fortunately, many hospitals have Child Passenger Safety (SPC) Technicians who can help parents of newborns properly install and secure their car seats.

But what do you do if you’re on your own? While the documentation and instructions included with the child seat is a good start, we think the NHTSA’s free child safety seat inspection centersare also worth the few minutes of time they’ll take to visit. These government-funded centers are based throughout the nation, and they’ll help to ensure a child seat is installed correctly, preferably using the LATCH system.

LATCH, or the Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children system, has been standard equipment on every car sold in the United States since 2002. All child seats produced since that time are also LATCH compliant. The system employs different sets ofÿanchors to be used with child restraints.

However, if you don’t have access to these resources then you’re left to install it yourself. With all the latches and straps installation may seem complicated. But don’t worry; we’ve got you covered below.

Installation for Infants

The primary role of a car seat for infants is to protect the head and neck, which are the most vulnerable to long-term complications in the event of a collision. There are two types of car seats for infants: rear-facing, infant-only; and convertible seats. Rear-facing, infant-only care seats are ideal for newborns but they become obsolete once the child grows to more than 20 pounds. When you’re installing your little one’s car seat we suggest you follow the steps outlined in the manufacturer’s instruction manual. However, here are some general tips that will help you properly secure your newborn. If you’re more of a visual learner you can watch installation videos provided by the NHTSA.

  • If you can move the car seat more than an inch then the straps aren’t tight enough. To get them tight enough we suggest you find a way to put your weight into the car seat and then pull the straps as hard as you can. It’s important that the seat moves as little as possible while you’re in transit.
  • Ensure the carrier straps are tight and the harness clip is even with your baby’s shoulders or armpits and the straps are in the slot that lines up close to the infant’s shoulders.
  • If your baby has some extra space in the seat you can place rolled receiving blankets or towels on each side to keep him or her from wobbling. Avoid placing anything under the harness straps.
  • Locking clips are necessary for some vehicles made before 1997. This is necessary because these vehicles don’t have seat belts that lock when the brakes are slammed, so the clip keeps belt from slipping if an accident occurs.
  • Your baby’s head should be at least two inches below the top of the safety seat and make sure the seat is set at a 30 to 45-degree angle.
  • You can see more tips at DMV.org or Kids Health.

Convertible seats, the alternative to rear-facing, infant-only seats, are designed so that they can be used by infants after they’re heavier than 20 pounds. When the baby reaches that weight the seat can be turned to face forward and it’s secured with three types of harnesses: T-shield, tray shield, and five-point. All of these types meet required safety standards, but the five-point harness is regarded as the best option since it can be tightened to fit snugly and it doesn’t get in the way of the baby’s head. When installing a convertible seat you should make sure all straps are as tight as possible to prevent it from wobbling.

Ages One to Three

While infants should always be placed in rear-facing car seats, once a child has reached at least one year of age and weighs at least 20 pounds they can utilize forward-facing child safety seats installed in the rear of the car. That being said, they’re safer in a rear-facing seat, so keep them in one for as long as possible.Forward-facing seats, like the ones that come before, should be installed using LATCH rather than seat belts, if possible. Here are some other tips:

  • If you’re installing a forward-facing seat make sure it’s set directly against the back and bottom of the car seat. When you’re installing the seat make sure to put weight on the seat to push it back as far as possible so the straps will be as tight as they can be.
  • Make sure the seat can’t move side to side or tip forward more than an inch. If it does then unbuckle it and try again.
  • If your car was made before 1996 then you’ll probably need to buy a locking clip to prevent the lap and shoulder seat belts from slipping.
  • Make sure the straps lie flat and tug on them to make sure they’re secure once your baby is fastened into the seat.
  • If you can pinch any of the harness material between your fingers then it’s too loose and needs to be adjusted.

Ages Four to Seven

There are no rear-facing car seats available for this age group, and we don’t know of any children of this age group that would be content to sit facing the rear of the car. So, once a child reaches age four, you’ll have no choice but to move to a forward-facing seat.

Keep a child in this age range in their child seat until they outgrow either the height or weight limits specified by the seat manufacturer. Once this happens, it’s time to switch to a booster seat.

Ages Eight to Twelve

Once a child reaches eight years of age or is at least 4’9” tall, they should be placed in booster seats. Most booster seats simply elevate the child’s seating position and enable them to use the standard seat belts on a car. LATCH is not required nor should it be used with booster seats.

At some point during this period, you’ll likely transition the child from booster seat to just using the standard seat belt of the automobile with no otherÿencumbrances. Make sure they’re wearing the belt properly, with the lap portionÿacross their upper thighs and the shoulder portion across their chest.

Other Considerations

We’ve heard lots of chatter regarding the so-called “combination seats.” These seats are marketed as being able to go from a rear facing infant seat to a forward facing toddler seat and then finally to a booster seat for older children. A testing study performed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found significant problems with these combination seats.

Children should always ride in the back seat of a car, if possible, no matter if they’re in a car seat, a booster seat, or if they’re old enough to wear seat belts.ÿAll modern cars now have both driver side and passenger side front airbags, which are designed for full-sized adults. Airbags can injure or kill a child, and the back seat is simply the safest place in the car.

Finally, don’t assume that just because your child isn’t in a car that all auto-related dangers areÿabated. Child pedestrians are killed at a greater rate than any other age group. In fact, male children, aged 5 to 9 years old, are the largest group of pedestrians killed every year. Children can still fall victim to an automobile by darting into a road without looking or by playing on a street.

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