Monday, July 23, 2018

How much Long-term Care Insurance do you need?

Although major sickness can strike at any age, the chances of suffering from a long-term medical condition increase as you get older. Requiring long-term care in your senior years is bad enough. It is even worse if you feel that you are a financial burden on your family because of your medical bills then. A well-planned long-term care insurance will give you the financial resources to manage expenses arising from chronic or long-term debilitating sickness.

While an increasing number of people realize of late the importance of having long-term care insurance, they may not have the coverage they need. Long-term care insurance is not a one-size-fits-all type of policy. If you have questions on long-term care insurance or the right quantum of coverage, here are a few important facts to keep in mind.

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  • Resources cushion: Long-term care insurance should be part of your retirement planning. What assets and income sources will be available to you in your senior years? Can some of these be devoted to possible long-term care needs? What kind of insurance is needed to cover the gap between resources and care costs?
  • Place to retire: The place where you plan to live after retirement is a variable factor in arriving at the cost of care; it varies not only from state to state but also from city to city.
  • Duration of care: The duration of the long-term care will have a major impact on the cost and the policy you need. While it is not possible to predict an ideal duration, the typical care period is around 3 years. Genetic and hereditary diseases like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s can significantly increase the duration.
  • Health history: Your current and past health history and any recurring medical issues in the family over the last few generations would be important inputs. Those details would have a direct bearing upon the probability of long-term care need and the required duration of care, which in turn would help arrive at the type and quantum of insurance.  
  •  Inflation factor: Buying a long-term care coverage policy at an early age has the advantage of a low cost; but it may be many years before you may need the care and make the claim. Therefore, inflation should be factored into the amount of coverage that you opt for.

Planning: essential though unpleasant

Sentimentally, no one wants to think about prolonged medical care, especially in old age. Everybody would prefer instead to keep perfectly fit until the last breath. Nevertheless, it is too important a subject to ignore. Do not mistake long-term care for end of life care: they are two different things.

Long-term care is medical treatment and nursing for an extended period until you recover. End of life care refers to the care you need when you are in a terminal condition. Long-term care coverage affects how well and how fast you can be expected to recover.

Guidance of an expert

The financial situation of every person/family is different from every other. The factors outlined above will give you an idea of the kind of coverage you need. However, insurance is a complex matter: making mistakes and miscalculations is easy.

Discuss your insurance needs with an expert insurance agent who will be able to guide you to the right long-term care insurance policy at the right cost. It does not take long and the peace of mind you get will be lasting.

California State: Second Most Vulnerable to Natural Disasters

Natural disasters cover a wide range of natural phenomena including hurricanes/tornados, earthquakes, floods, fires and so on. California, called the ‘Golden State’, is truly a great place to live. Ask Californians if they would like to live in another part of the country; surely a majority of them will say ’No’.

However, California has its fair share of calamitous occurrences and the Californians take them in their stride. According to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), California is the number two state most prone to natural disasters. A few of the worst disasters of the last 100 odd years that devastated California are listed below. 

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  • 1906 The San Francisco Earthquake: More than three-fourths of the city were severely damaged or destroyed, and over half the population was left homeless.
  • 1923 The Berkeley Fires: The fires gutted multiple city blocks and almost 700 buildings.
  • 1964 The Christmas Flood: 19 people died, and damage of a scale of over a $100 million occurred in Humboldt County.
  • 1982 The Alpine Meadows, Tahoe North shore Avalanche: This is the deadliest avalanche ever recorded in North America.
  • 1989 The Loma Prieta Earthquake: The images of the havoc caused remain seared in the minds of San Franciscans even today. 63 people were killed and 3757 injured.
  • 1991 The Oakland Hills Fire: Over 800 buildings were destroyed and 25 people died.
  • 2015 The Valley of Fire: Over 1,300 homes and almost 80,000 acres of land were burnt in Napa, Sonoma and Lake County.
  • 2015 onwards Savage wildfires: They are now a regular part of summer.
  • Many more have made headlines.

Survival and recovery

Surviving a natural disaster is a matter of preparedness and luck. There will of course be state and federal aid forthcoming to help survivors face the immediate aftermath. However, these are not meant or sufficient for recovery and rebuilding lives. The victims often find that their homes and sources of livelihood are demolished. The only protection, if they have one, is the insurance coverage.

It is insurance that is likely to help rebuild homes, restart businesses and keep families protected and fed. Unfortunately, many Californians are either uninsured or underinsured. This is due to a feeling that disasters always happen to ’other people’, not ‘us’. Many of those who were unable to recover from the disasters listed above too thought so.

Insurance: The Best Protection

Do not remain unprepared for calamities, taking your insurance for granted. You may feel you are well protected, but in reality, you could be underinsured or there may be gaps or catches in the coverage that you are not aware of.

It is best to contact an experienced and reputed insurance broker  at the earliest. They will  examine carefully whether you are sufficiently protected from natural disasters, and whether you need any additional coverage.

Hopefully, you will never ever need to file a claim. Nonetheless, a carefully planned insurance that covers all possible eventualities would surely give you immense peace of mind that you CAN rebuild your life come what may!

Friday, June 22, 2018

Stay Protected this summer with an Umbrella Policy

Summer is here and millions of Americans will be hitting the road to travel and make the most of the sunny days with occasional rains. You and your family will probably be among them. You may have the safest of vehicles and be an excellent driver, but there are factors beyond your control that could affect your safety on the road.

An accident could occur at any time for no fault of your own. Fender benders are no big deal, but if it is a major accident resulting in major vehicle damage, serious injury or in the worst case, the death of someone in the car, you depend on insurance to get you through the terrible time.

Nevertheless, what happens if the driver at fault does not have auto insurance or has inadequate coverage? How will the medical and other expenses be covered? This is where an umbrella insurance policy can save you.

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This could happen to you

Peter and Martha along with their children are driving to the neighboring town for a party. The car is in good condition and Peter is a safe driver. However, the kids in the back seat soon start fighting, and this distracts Peter. He pulls over to stop the quarrel and pacify them; still distracted a bit, pulls out into the traffic without checking for other vehicles.

You are out for a Sunday drive with your family, when Peter suddenly pulls out in front of you. There is no time to avoid the imminent accident; your car is badly damaged and all of you in the car suffer major injuries.

You all need hospitalization, surgeries and long rehabilitation. If Peter is underinsured and his policy is not enough to cover your expenses, what happens? You could sue him for the money, but that will be a long battle, and he could declare himself bankrupt, in which case you are back where you started. If you have an umbrella insurance policy, that will kick in, after Peter’s policy is exhausted, to cover your medical expenses. It's as simple as that.

Obviously, this is a worst-case scenario. You hear reports of things like this always happening to others, and thank God for that. However, there is no absolute certainty that it will not happen in your case. Maybe in other contexts, what you thought the remotest possibility would have taken you by surprise by becoming a reality. Umbrella insurance is a very inexpensive way to get the extra protection you need even in a worst-case scenario.

Why an umbrella policy?

Umbrella insurance is a simple and safe way to protect yourself from situations where other insurance coverage is not enough for your medical and other expenses. An umbrella policy can also cover pain and suffering as well as emotional distress and lost wages. It is the most cost-effective way to get the extra coverage you need to remain protected.

Consult a reputed insurance broker to know more about the advantages of an umbrella policy; they will tell you what kind of coverage is right for you.

Life Insurance Questions you need to consider

Buying life insurance is a major decision that impacts not just the lives of all those who depend on you, but also your own life and the way you live your life. Life insurance is today an extremely complex subject with a vast number of companies offering a huge number of coverage options. Trying to find your way through this maze can leave you dazed to the extent that you could easily make the wrong decisions on your coverage.


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Often the flaws or nasty catches in a policy will not be realized until the holder passes away, and the dependents do not receive the benefits as the policyholder had planned. Having a life insurance policy is not enough – you must have the right and foolproof coverage.

Seeking a reputed professional insurance agent would be the best way to ensure that the policy you buy is what you actually need, and the terms and conditions of the policy have no traps. Here are a few basic questions you should consider yourself first, and later in consultation with the insurance agent.

Do you need it?

Only a person with no dependents can do without life insurance. You do need life insurance, if: you have people who depend on you; your salary is what is supporting your family (either fully or in part); you have a mortgage to pay off; you have recurring expenses. The benefits that accrue on your life insurance will meet your financial obligations after you are gone.

How much coverage do you need?

No standard formula is available to help you calculate the ideal coverage you need. It is contingent upon the number of dependents, the stages they are in life, their and your lifestyles, and the financial obligations of every one of you. There is, however, a thumb rule that the policy value should be 10 times your annual income, and here again every family is different from every other. It is important, therefore, to have professional advice when calculating the value of a tailor-made policy you should buy.

What type of policy is right for you?

Term policies that pay the insured sum promptly on the death of the policyholder are the least expensive. Whole life policies that have a death benefit, as well as cash value, are more expensive. Within these two broad categories, there are options, and so you should get again expert advice on what is right for you.

What is the right premium?

Premiums vary depending on the insurance company and the plan you opt for. Each company has its own advantages and possibly some catches. An expert insurance broker that represents different companies will be able to guide you to the right company and the right policy.

Have you covered all the bases?

It is often difficult to consider objectively all the vital factors your insurance needs to cover.  Make a detailed list of all issues that will impact your policy choice. Discuss with the insurance agent who will be able to tell you if anything is left out.

Expert guidance is essential

These basic questions show how difficult it is to make the right life insurance decisions. The guidance of an experienced insurance broker will ensure peace of mind that comes from the right coverage you have made; in case of an unwelcome eventuality, those who depend on you will not suffer financially.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Preparing for a Life Insurance Medical Exam (Part-1)

One of the biggest questions people face when buying life insurance is how much coverage they can afford. Everyone wants the maximum indeed, because the policy beneficiaries can live in security and comfort after the policyholder passes away. The issue, however, is not that simple – of seeing how much a family can afford to spend on insurance premiums month after month.


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How much you pay for life insurance is dependent on a number of factors. Besides your age, a major consideration is your health. The reason is simple: insurance is a business and the healthier you are, the longer you are likely to live and that means you will be able to pay more premiums. That is more income to the insurance company and so the amount of each premium can be reduced.

Insurance is a very competitive industry: every company wants to attract as many customers as it can, and low premiums are the best way to do it. However, the business cannot run at a loss: a company, therefore, looks at the total amount it can expect you to pay. The calculation is the healthier you are, the longer you live, and the more income for the company.

On your part, you have your life cover with low premiums; you are content with the thought of security of and benefits to your family. Thus, the company and the policy holder are both winners. An experienced insurance broker can give you more information about this issue.

The difference that health makes

There is nothing you can do to exercise control over advancing age. The older you are, the more you will pay for insurance. Heath, however, is another matter. Every insurance company has its own policy on how it evaluates a customer’s health. There is no definitive rule in place. Having said that, customer health is crucial; it is typically divided into 4 categories:

1. The healthiest 20% are rated as “Preferred Plus” and pay the lowest premiums.

2.The next 30% are rated as “Preferred”. They will, on an average, pay about 20% for the same coverage.

3.The next 30% are rated as “Select” and pay about 20% more.

4.The last 20% are given a “Standard” rating and pay about 20% more in premiums.

This is only a general guide and the rating nomenclature will vary from company to company.

Better health saves money

The higher your heath rating is, the less will be your insurance premium. Consequently, you can reduce the cost of insurance or go in for a higher coverage. It is obvious that a lifestyle without adequate exercise, rest and sleep, or one that suffers from bad nutrition, smoking, excessive drinking, substance abuse and so on will affect your health. It will thereby increase the cost of insurance.

If you are planning to buy life insurance, changing your lifestyle just for a few days before the medical exam will not make any measurable difference to your health. However, you can do a few things before the medical exam. These simple efforts can surely help to improve your health rating; that way you can reduce the amount you pay towards insurance premiums.

The next part of this blog post will walk you through these useful things to score better in your medical exam results.

Preparing for a Life Insurance Medical Exam (Part-2)

Preparing for a life insurance medical examination is not cheating – that is almost impossible to do and usually illegal. What you can do is to have your health information ready and use the few days before the exam to reduce the bad effects your lifestyle may have had on your health. Here’s how to prepare for the day:

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  • Paperwork: Have all your paperwork ready. That includes your medical history and a list of your current and former doctors with their contact information.
  • Habits and health status: Have your answers ready. You will be asked about your current health status, any therapies you are undergoing or medications you are taking, any food or vitamin supplements you are using and why, and so on. You will also be asked about habits like smoking, drinking, use of narcotics etc. There is no point in trying to hide facts, it is better to be honest about any negative factors that may affect your health.
  • Dangerous activities: You will also be asked about any activities that could be dangerous such as motor racing, deep sea diving etc.
  • Remaining well hydrated: Once the paper work and questions are done, the usual blood and urine lab tests and measurement of height, weight, blood pressure and the rest will follow. Drink as much water as you can for the week before your exam. This will enable your body to flush out toxins and this will impact the test results. Being well hydrated will make drawing your blood easier, which will also be noted.
  • Eating for health: Stop eating junk food. Replacing carbs and saturated fats with lean proteins, leafy vegetables and fruit, and using healthy fats like olive oil will make a difference to your health. Also, cut back on sugar and salt as much as possible. Salt can affect your BP, and sugar consumption will affect your blood sugar levels.
  • No alcohol: Cut back on alcohol. If you can cut it out completely for a few days, your blood test will not show alcohol in your system, which is a positive.
  • Moderate coffee: Drinking coffee is not bad for you but excessive amounts of caffeine from coffee or energy drinks will not help your test results. It will also affect how well you sleep and how rested you are for the exam.
  • No smoking: Stopping smoking for a few days before the exam will not make much of a difference to your health. However, a medical exam is a good reason to stop it for good, and that is a huge health positive.
  • Remaining rested and relaxed: Take it easy the day before your exam and try to get as much rest as possible.
  • No tension: Do not worry about the exam. No one really ever enjoys perfect health: the more you worry about what may happen and how healthy you are, the tenser you will get. That will show up as a negative in the exam results.
The best person to give you advice on what you can expect from your life insurance medical examination and what you can do to prepare for it is your insurance broker.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Training for a Faster Recovery from Surgery (Part-2)

Basically, the process of training for surgery involves common sense things, which anyone can do easily. An impending surgery weighs on your mind so heavily often that you forget all about those common sense things; it is a pity! Getting started is simple, though! Here are a few such things you can do easily.

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Talk to your doctor

A detailed medical evaluation is usually done when a condition you face requires surgery. Discuss the evaluation with your doctor to find out exercises, if any, you should avoid, or any you should pay special attention to.

Start early

Seven days of training can help you in your recovery, even if your surgery is due in just a week. The longer you can train, the better would be the preparation.

Don’t overdo it

Since there is a definite cut off point, the date of the surgery, you may tend to push yourself too hard to get as fit and as fast as you can. That is a big mistake! Don’t overdo it!

Start slow

Begin with gentle exercises and as your comfort levels increase, move on to higher levels. Don’t force the pace – that could lead to more harm than good. If in doubt, consult your doctor.

The duration

How long you exercise is as important as the type of workout. That does not mean pushing yourself to the point of exhaustion, which could be counterproductive. Increase the duration the way you increase the intensity – slowly and gradually.

Be regular

Be as regular as possible doing your exercise – try to work out five or six days a week. If you miss a day, do not try compensating it the next day – you could hurt yourself doing extra time without knowing it.

Having company is nice

Since the reason for the training is a medical condition, having a friend along is a good safety net: they can spot signs of any new problems earlier than you do.

Food

If your doctor has not given you any dietary advice, it probably means that there are no restrictions on what you can eat. However, controlling your diet can be very beneficial to your recovery. Ask the doctor if you can consult a nutritionist or dietician for advice on changes in food habits that will help you to prepare for surgery.

Bad habits

If you have been planning to give up smoking or reduce your alcohol intake, this is the right time to do it. Even a few weeks without these habits can make a difference to your overall health and ability to recover.

Talk to your insurance agent

As soon as you come to know you will be going in for surgery, talk to your insurance agent. You should get a clear pre-surgery picture of your coverage, the costs covered by the policy and the amount you will have to pay from your own funds. That will make you get ready for the inevitable, with a better frame of mind.

The last thing you need is a hospital bill that would spell disaster. That kind of shock could slow down your recovery!