Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Death Benefits You CAN Take With You

Would you like spend your retirement savings on your in-laws nursing home costs? Would you want your kids to spend their life savings paying for your assisted living expenses? Most people wouldn’t, yet most people don’t have long term care insurance. Whereas 153 million Americans own life insurance, only 8 million own long term care policies.

Most of us don’t plan for long term care until it is too late:

13% actively plan for how they will live when they are old and frail
40% begin planning only after a near catastrophic health crisis
47% must make long term care decisions in a very short period of time, usually at the hospital
75% exhaust all of their savings and assets while still alive trying to pay for long term care

Most of us also don’t understand the cost of long term care or how to pay for it:

92% incorrectly estimate the cost of nursing home care ($72,000- $83,500 annually)
77% incorrectly estimate the cost of an assisted living facility ($40,000 annually)
45% incorrectly believe Medicare covers assisted living costs
59% incorrectly believe Medicare will pay for extended nursing home stay

Home equity has traditionally been a reliable source of funding for long term care. Not so much anymore. For the first time in history, there is more debt than equity in America’s homes. And if you’ve already looked into long term care, you know it is expensive- prohibitively expensive for many of us. So what can you do?

The good news is that the senior care industry and lawmakers have recognized that life insurance is a new method to pay for the cost of long term care. Recent legislation makes it easier for families unable to keep making premium payments on their life insurance policy to cash it out to pay for long term care- instead of just abandoning the policy. Another new law mandates that the owner of a life insurance policy with an accelerated death benefit rider can trigger the benefit if they have been living in a nursing home for at least 3 months.

To learn about purchasing a life insurance policy that can be converted to pay for long term care, or how you can use your current life insurance policy’s death benefit while you are still alive, call Connie Prince at Allied Brokers. Connie is our in-house expert in long-term care, disability, life, home, auto and umbrella insurance. She holds licenses in UFC, health, fire and casualty and is a Silvar Affiliate Member. 26 years of industry experience and strong relationships with major carriers such as Mercury, Travelers, CIG, Hartford AARP, Genworth, Prudential and Banner help Connie advise her clients on how to protect themselves and the ones they love.

Visit our website at http://www.alliedbrokers.com/ for information about all the types of insurance we offer. Or call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote.

Information for this article was provided by Chris Orestis, contributing editor to National Underwriter Life & Health Magazine, December 2011.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Long Term Health vs. Long Term Care

Long term care (LTC) is not something we ever want to need- and it’s definitely not something we want to pay for. Nobody likes to imagine a day when they or their loved ones cannot walk, feed, bathe or dress themselves. And who among us has enough savings or home equity to pay $83,500+ per year for a nursing home? Keep in mind that the average stay in a nursing home is 2.2 years for men and 3.5 years for women. Even home health care costs are upwards of $21 per hour- that’s $46,000 per year if you needed an assistant an average of six hours a day.

But the sad reality is that only 8-10% of aging Americans who could benefit from LTC insurance have it.  Many will get hit twice by LTC needs. Without LTC insurance, they will exhaust their finances and themselves caring for a loved one, and then face LTC needs of their own years later. The average American life expectancy is 78 years- up 29 years from 1900. Add in all the advancements in gene-therapy and biotechnology and we will likely live into our 90s.

Life is terminal, but fortunately we can delay or reduce the need for LTC through preventative health. Right now- with exercise, proper diet, stress-management and other lifestyle choices, we can combat most adult-onset diseases. The top 12 preventable causes of death, according to a Harvard School of Public Health study, are:

• Smoking
• High blood pressure
• Overweight-obesity
• Lack of exercise
• High blood pressure
• High LDL cholesterol
• High dietary salt
• Low dietary omega-3 fatty acids
• High dietary trans-fatty acids
• Alcohol abuse
• Low intake of fruits and vegetables
• Low dietary poly-unsaturated fatty acids

Interestingly, three of the top ailments requiring LTC can be prevented or mitigated by healthy lifestyle practices:

Bone fractures. Older people don’t fall just because of carelessness. More often it’s due to arthritis pain, muscle loss, declining stability and strokes. Regular exercise, good diet and stress management can postpone or lessen the severity of these conditions.

Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Learning and creative activity have been shown to improve memory, perception and mental agility- and even grow new brain cells. Exercise and diet can fight inflammation, which may be a factor in neurological disorders.

Heart disease. The Mayo Clinic recommends five practices to keep your heart pumping: quit smoking, exercise 30 minutes a day, avoid saturated and trans-fats, maintain a healthy weight and get regular health screenings.

Of course, this is easier said than done. So if you can’t give up the donuts and Doritos, or you’re just interested in learning more about LTC insurance, call Connie Prince at Allied Brokers. Connie is our in-house expert in LTC, disability, life, home, auto and umbrella insurance. With 26 years of industry experience and strong relationships with major carriers such as Mercury, Travelers, CIG, Hartford AARP, Genworth, Prudential and Banner, Connie will help you plan for the future and protect the ones you love.

Visit our website at http://www.alliedbrokers.com/ for information about all the types of insurance we offer. Or call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote.

Information for this article was provided by Richard Samson, contributing editor to National Underwriter Life & Health Magazine, December 2011.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Protect Your Family Jewels

Does your homeowner’s policy automatically cover your jewelry and watches if they are stolen? Sure, up to $1,000- maximum. Is your engagement ring covered if the diamond falls out of the setting and is lost forever? Nope. The most common uncovered loss we see is theft of jewelry and watches.

Most people think that expensive personal possessions, such as jewelry, are covered under their general home owner’s insurance policy. The truth is that insurance companies set low limits on the kind of possessions they know will be expensive to replace, such as Rolexes, tennis bracelets, Super Bowl rings and your grandmother’s pearls.

So what do you do? Protect yourself by adding a jewelry rider to your home, condo or renters insurance policy. It’s a bargain- only $150 per year per $10,000 of coverage. One type is scheduled coverage, which lists each item individually with an appraisal, receipt or a prior insurance policy list. Or you can choose blanket coverage if you have numerous items of lesser value and don’t want to hassle with lists and appraisals.

Due to the volatility of silver, gold and diamond prices, it’s a good idea to have your most precious swag re-appraised every 5 to 7 years. We can recommend a jeweler who can do this for you inexpensively.

To find the right policy for your valuables, call Chris Falcon at Allied Brokers. Chris specializes in personal insurance lines such as home, auto, umbrella, fire and casualty. His in-depth knowledge and years of industry experience will help you protect the things you cannot afford to lose.Visit our website at http://www.alliedbrokers.com/ for information about all the types of  insurance we offer. Or call 1-888-505-7988 for a free rate quote.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Employers Beware - New Laws for 2012

Governor Brown recently signed into law state legislation that directly impacts business owners with employees. Many of these laws will require revisions to employee handbooks, policies and procedures. In addition, several of the laws that expand leave rights and focus on wage and hour practices are sure to lead to an increase in claims. Here are some highlights:

1. Written commission agreements are now mandated by state law: An employer must now provide a written commission plan fully explaining how commissions are calculated and paid.
2. Enhanced penalties for wage theft prevention: Basically, employees get more time to collect wage judgments and penalties from employers and employers pay higher fines for failing to pay.
3. Extended pregnancy disability leave: Employers are now required to maintain and pay group health coverage for an employee on pregnancy disability leave- up to four months maximum.
4. No routine consumer credit checks: Employers and prospective employers are prohibited from obtaining consumer credit reports unless the person has or will have a position in finance, management or law enforcement, among others. Check the Consumer Credit Reporting Agencies Act for details.
5. Huge fines for willful misclassification of independent contractor: Don’t even think about trying to avoid employee status by calling someone an independent contractor- you can be fined up to $25,000.
6. Paid organ and bone marrow donor leave: Employers are now required to grant up to 30 paid business days for an employee who donates an organ and up to 5 days for bone marrow. Employers can require employees to use their vacation and sick leave, but if none has been accrued, the employer must grant the leave with pay.
7. Out-of-state Workers’ Compensation Coverage: California employers no longer have to buy a separate workers’ comp. policy to cover employees who occasionally work in another state. The State Compensation Insurance Fund will now cover injuries that trigger a workers’ comp. liability outside of California.

Information for this article was provided courtesy of Alan Parker at the Weintraub, Genshlea, Chediak Law Corporation: 916 558-6041

To know learn more about business insurance that meets your specific needs, contact Mimi Watson at Allied Brokers. Mimi, our Commercial Line Manager, works with a variety of businesses. In her nine years at Allied Brokers, Mimi has gained a wealth of experience and is exceptionally knowledgeable about
compliance issues and Workers’ Compensation regulations.

Visit our website: http://www.alliedbrokers.com/ for information on the services and insurance policies
we offer. Call 1-888-505-7988 (toll free) for a free rate quote.