New Year’s Resolution: Health Changes for better Life Insurance Rates!
Eat less, exercise more, and help get yourself the best life insurance rate class possible! Make your new year’s resolution to evaluate your life insurance portfolio and make sure you are paying the lowest possible premiums. If you didn’t get the best rates at the time your policy was issued, you might be able to replace your existing insurance with a policy at a better rate. This could be possible if you’ve had significant health changes. Some examples:
Build: Most companies have strict build charts for height and weight. If you had a life insurance policy issued at Standard rates due your weight, but you have since lost 20, 30 or maybe even more pounds, let us know. This could help you get to the next rate class, or maybe even up multiple classes!
Smoking status: If you are a smoker, your life insurance premiums are typically double what a non-smoker would pay. Once you’ve quit smoking however, it is possible to get your premiums back down. Typically after 3 years of being smoke-free, you can get approved at a Preferred non-smoker rate.
Cholesterol, blood pressure, and other lab readings: Many people deal with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other lab values that can sometimes be higher than we’d like (A1C, liver function, glucose levels, etc). With medication control and doctor’s supervision, a person is often able to get these lowered. You might not be able to have the best lab results at the time of application, but if you are willing to get examined again, we could get new labs and shop the case around for you to see if there is room for an improved rate class.
Take some time to figure out if your situation has changed since you last purchased life insurance and we can look into if any premium savings are possible. Please feel free to reach out to us with any questions!
November is Long Term Care Awareness month, which makes it a great time to prepare for the future, and for the possibility that one day care might be needed for ourselves or our loved ones. Long Term Care is the care provided to an individual who can no longer perform the activities of daily living by themselves. While it is common for people to think that they’re healthy and won’t need long term care in the future, the reality is that many of us will need some type of care.
Who pays for Long Term Care?
The common misunderstanding is that when you need long term care assistance, the costs will be covered by your health insurance, Medicare, or Medicaid. Health Insurance and Medicare both only cover a very limited portion of a nursing home stay, and with many conditions you’ll have to meet. Less than 5% of nursing home income is derived from Medicare. These two policies also don’t cover any costs for a nursing aide, unless they are providing rehabilitation services. Medicaid will pay for a larger portion of long term care services, but you must meet minimum income eligibility requirements first.
About 70% of people over age 65 can expect to need some form of long term care. Only a long term care insurance policy will pay for services needed for day to day assistance that you’ll need when you are not able to take care of yourself. The benefits can be used for care in your home or care in a facility.
Greenberg, Wexler and Eig, LLC offers several solutions to long term care insurance. Policy types include traditional long term care insurance, hybrid long term care/life insurance policies, and Universal Life insurance policies that include a LTC rider. Please contact us if you would like to further discuss which type of policy would be the best fit for you.
By: Sarah Quinn
The IRS has come out with the 2017 indexed dollar limits …
November is Long Term Care Awareness Month and it is a great time to consider solutions for one of the most pressing needs of baby boomers. This group (born between 1946 and 1964) is beginning to retire and are challenged with planning for future health care costs. While Medicare provides most retirees with health insurance, it pays only a fraction (if any) on long term care costs.
Long term care insurance policies are available to address this concern. Over the last 20 years, we have seen much volatility in products and carriers in this market. The “dust has settled” and the three basic product types are: Stand alone, Hybrid and Life Insurance with LTC riders.
Stand-alone products are like term life insurance. You pay your premium each year and if you have a claim, the benefits begin. The main advantage of this approach is the flexibility in design. Disadvantages include premium increases and there is no value if the benefit is never used.
Hybrids products (combination of life insurance and long term care) have become popular as they provide a life insurance benefit and a long term care benefit. They also provide a premium refund feature so there will always be a benefit to the insured or their family.
Life insurance with long-term care riders have also become increasingly popular. For those who have a life insurance need, it is an inexpensive way of providing LTC benefits. And like the Hybrid products, a benefit (either life insurance, LTC or a combination of both) will be paid.
The way LTC riders work in a life insurance policy is that if the insured needs home or nursing home care, the policy allows for an “advance” of the death benefit to be used for the care. These riders do not significantly increase the cost of the policy as the insurance company has to pay the benefit either way.
However, there is a big difference in the riders. Not all long term care riders are created equally. Some are called long term care (LTC) riders and some are called critical illness (CI) riders. What is the difference?
LTC riders are very similar to LTC insurance when it comes to triggering the benefit. If the insured needs assistance with 2 out of 6 activities of daily living (ADL’s) or suffers from cognitive impairment, the benefits begin. If the client gets better, the benefits stop and the unused benefit can be used later. With CI riders, benefits are only payable if the condition is expected to be terminal. This could severely impact the insured and their understanding of their policy. Recently, some companies have removed the “terminal” requirement in order to trigger benefits, so it is very important for the insured to understand what he/she is buying. Another concern with CI riders is the waiver of premium provisions and how they affect the policy after a claim.
Long term care insurance is very complicated, especially when dealing with combination products. At Greenberg, Wexler and Eig, we can educate you on options and assist you through the entire process. This material is provided for informational purposes and should not be construed as a recommendation, legal or tax advice. You should consult with a financial professional before making and decisions.
Let’s start with a couple of trick questions: What is the difference between a 1% return on one thousand dollars and a 1,000% return on one dollar? Nothing. Next, does it matter? Yes. And, who has more money in ten years: you or someone who invests $10,000 in the stock market today? No one knows. Finally, what is Autophagy and does it have anything to do with your retirement? Autophagy is how cells recycle damaged, diseased, or worn-out bits of microscopic machinery into new, fully functional organic stuff, see 2016 Nobel prize for Physiology or Medicine, and no it does not affect your retirement. Yet.
What does all that have to do with me you may be asking. If this discussion is framed in a retirement conversation, then these are all important questions. The likelihood that you will receive a 1,000% on anything is extremely rare, but a 1% return is much more likely although not as exciting. What is a more reasonable return? If you were to invest part or most of your retirement savings in the stock market, the average annual return since its inception is about 10% when we adjust for inflation over that time period this brings the return down to 7%. At that rate, your investment nearly doubles every ten years! Before you say the stock market is too risky, remember that stable value funds are only found in retirement plans. These are relatively conservative investments backed by a ‘wrap,’ or an insurance contract, that backs a stated positive return which are subject to the financial strength and claims paying ability of the issuer, usually an insurance company. This gives you a very valuable, relatively safe option that is not available outside a retirement plan.
If you don’t save anything or you save very little, returns don’t matter. The biggest determinant of your retirement account balance is simply how much you contribute. You cannot invest your way to retiring without putting in a substantial amount of your own money. So, how much should you contribute? That varies depending on the person. Why not do it now and adjust it as you calculate your needs? Most retirement plans are very flexible and allow for regular increases or decreases.
One rule of thumb is 10% of your pre-tax income. There are many reasons this may be a good starting point. One reason is that this may help you replace approximately 50% of your pre-retirement income if you start early enough (20’s or early 30’s) and earn about 3 – 4% per year – a reasonable return according to many investment providers when reviewing past market performance. Social Security may replace about a third of your income and the remainder would either be a reduction in your income or made up from other savings or investments.
As an advisor for over seventeen years I have heard many excuses for not saving, some bragging about investment returns, good & bad investment ideas, a variety of strategies and other interesting points, but I have never heard anyone say they have too much money!
So why not start paying yourself today by contributing to your own retirement?
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. It’s a great reminder to encourage people to take the steps needed to detect cancer in its earliest stages. Every October, many breast cancer charities try their best to bring attention to the disease and raise funds for future research.
You can work to prevent breast cancer by getting regular screenings, but also by making some lifestyle changes. These changes include watching your weight, eating vegetables, watching your alcohol intake, and also knowing your family history. However, breast cancer can affect anyone, male or female, and it’s helpful that there are so many resources and medical advances available.
A history of breast cancer doesn’t make getting life insurance impossible. Many companies are able to offer life insurance to those who are just a few years from recovery. The main factors to consider when determining if a cancer survivor is insurable for life insurance is the stage/grade of the cancer, the date of diagnosis and recovery, and the type of treatment. When underwriting a life insurance policy for any female, it is great to see that routine mammograms have been completed.
Join the fight against breast cancer and help raise awareness and encourage regular check-ups to help reduce the risk of cancer. Also, know that life insurance can be very affordable for breast cancer survivors!
As we transition away from September, we are graciously welcomed by the color pink. Everywhere you turn in October you will be reminded of the many women (and even men) who have courageously battled with breast cancer. This month isn’t about professional athletes showing their feminine side with pink patches on their jerseys but to bring awareness and support to a disease that will affect 1 in every 8 women. October embodies the color pink as its identity for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, not because it is synonymous with females, but because the true essence of the color brings a sense of comfort, warmth and hope that everything will be okay. And now there is new hope for breast cancer survivors when applying for a life insurance policy.
Not too long ago, breast cancer survivors had little-to-no hope of acquiring life insurance, even after undergoing successful treatment and remaining cancer-free for years. But with the overwhelming awareness and support for research over the past decade, the rate of survival has dramatically increased. This is BIG news for life insurance underwriters who are basing policy approvals/denials on the likelihood of post-treatment survival. Due to the increasing survival rate, the underwriting process for breast cancer survivors has dramatically changed, allowing survivors obtain to policies if they meet certain guidelines. Below is a list of the new standard questions:
- What type of breast cancer?
- When you were diagnosed?
- What stage were you in?
- How big was the tumor?
- Were lymph nodes involved
- Did it metastasize?
- What type of treatment did you receive?
- How long since treatment?
- When did you start/finish treatment?
- Was there any recurrence?
- Are you on medications, what kind?
The likelihood for acceptance and the policy rate issued relies heavily on the answers to these questions. Those survivors who were diagnosed early with no lymph nodes affected and received treatments have an almost guaranteed standard rate approval. The more mature and involved the cancer becomes, the tougher the requirements become. However, the longer the period of time one waits to apply for life insurance – postpone period – after successfully completing treatment, the better odds you have of qualifying for a standard rate.
It is worth mentioning that as research and survival rates continue to grow, some life insurance companies are now beginning to offer some breast cancer survivors standard rates, without the flat extra fee. This flat extra fee is common for cancer survivors and is an additional premium that can decrease and disappear over time, so long as the client remains cancer-free. The Good News: the upward trend in breast cancer survival is allowing companies to do away with this flat extra fee for those who had stage 0 or 1 with no lymph node involvement. This flat extra fee will most likely appear for those who had more advance staged breast cancer, but will similarly diminish over time.
Therefore, best rule of thumb is to stay up to date on your check-ups, seek a doctor for any concerns, and live a healthy, smoke-free lifestyle. The sooner any cancer is found, the better the chances are for survival as well the ability to obtain a good life insurance policy once recovered. Mammograms: good for your health, good for your life insurance rates!
Big changes take place during the month of September. The weather becomes crisper, days become shorter, kids are heading back to school and there is pumpkin flavored everything! September is recognized as the end of summer and welcoming of fall. But there is another persona September takes on that many may not be aware of, national Life Insurance Awareness Month.
This month is dedicated to bringing attention to life insurance for the many American’s that are still without coverage. Today, 4 in 10 American’s do not own a life insurance policy, with many excuses boiling down to lack of knowledge. In fact, the most common reason for not having a policy is cost. American’s believe buying life insurance is too expensive when in reality it can cost as little as $13 a month, depending on the policy. That is why Life Insurance Awareness Month is aiming at disproving these myths and providing the proper education to Americans so their families are financially covered in the event of a tragedy.
Even celebrities are jumping on board for Life Insurance Awareness Month, with TV star/comedian, Anthony Anderson, as the 2015 spokesperson. He opens up about how life insurance was a huge part of his family’s life growing up.
Life insurance is all too often over looked. Fancy iPhones and daily lattes seem to be more important than protecting the financial well-being of your family; mainly because people are not educated on the subject matter. With the help of Life Happens, the non-profit organization promoting Life Insurance Awareness Month, more American’s can learn and benefit from even the simplest of coverage. Take a few moments to check out LifeHappens.org and spread the word on life insurance.
If you have any questions regarding a current or potential life insurance policy, please call Keith Eig, at 301-656-0660 ext.306 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1. Contribute enough to get full employer match.
Many employers will match your 401k contribution up to a certain percentage – usually capped around 6%.Essentially, this is free money that you will benefit from come retirement. In order to qualify for the match, you must contribute a certain amount yourself. Yes, this might mean your paycheck is slightly smaller each month but the money comes from pre-tax dollars so there should not be a huge discrepancy. It’s better to give more now in order to have more later.
2. Utilize automatic increases.
Many will agree that your 401k contributions should equal to 15% of your annual income. (Remember, that percentage will vary depending on how early or late you begin saving in your career.) If you’re just starting out in your career, 15% can be a lot to contribute, especially when you have the burden of student loans and other big expenses. Therefore, start out around 7-10% but increase your contribution by a percent each year then on. You can set up for these increases to happen automatically at the beginning of the new year. That little extra money taken from your pay will hardly be missed but overtime will add significant value to your retirement savings.
3. Invest in stocks while you can.
Your 401k is made up of stocks and bonds, and while bonds are considered the “safe” option, stocks have historically proven a better return. Those who are just starting out have at least 30 years before they retire, therefore, they can be more risky with their investments because the stocks will have time to recover from any market fluctuations. As you mature in your career, it makes sense to slowly alter your investment portfolio to more bonds than stocks. Some plans actually offer this option, called a Target Date Funds, which will automatically invest your retirement savings appropriately according to your age, i.e. more stocks while you’re young and more bonds as you near retirement.
4. Know your vesting date.
Millennials are known for being job hoppers – staying an average of 2 years at a job. While companies are aware of this fact they are taking steps to prevent it from occurring so valuable time and resources are not wasted on their end as well as the employees. A 401k vesting period was established in order to encourage employees to stay with a company. Basically, an employee must work at a company, for a set number of years, in order to earn their employer match contributions to their 401k. While the employees’ contributions are untouched, the potential loss of the match can be devastating to their retirement savings.
5. Roll over, do not withdraw.
If you do leave your job, for whatever reason, before you retire, do not withdraw your 401k! When you withdraw from your 401k before age 59 ½, you are subject to not only income tax but also a 10% penalty. Instead, roll it over into an IRA or your new company’s 401k plan. You even have an option to keep it with your previous company and let the funds grow; you just can no longer contribute to it.
These are just a few tips to keep in mind when setting up, nurturing and growing your 401k. Make sure to consult your financial advisor and plan administrator for more in depth analysis and preparation.