TUESDAY, JANUARY 29, 2013
Grand Rapids, Michigan - Richard D. Bernard of Insurance Planning Service of Livonia has successfully completed the annual continuing education requirement of the Society of Certified Insurance Counselors.
To earn this prestigious designation, Richard attended five courses covering all phases of the insurance business and passed five comprehensive examinations. Additionally, The National Alliance requires annual attendance in the program to maintain the designation.
Richard Bernard, a 40-year veteran of the industry, has been a CIC since 1991. Richard believes the insurance profession is best served by those who acquire and maintain a high standard of professionalism by meeting the continuing education requirements of the Certified Insurance Counselors program.
THURSDAY, JANUARY 10, 2013
Trusted Choice ® agencies are insurance and financial services firms whose access to multiple companies and commitment to quality service enable us to offer our clients competitive pricing, a broad choice of products and unparalleled advocacy.
As a Trusted Choice ® agency, we are dedicated to you and are committed to treating you as a person - not a policy. This commitment means we shall:
- Work with you to identify the insurance and financial services that are right for you, your family or your business and use our access to multiple companies to deliver those products.
- Guide you through the claims process for a prompt and fair resolution of your claim.
- Help you solve problems related to your coverage or account.
- Explain the coverages and options available to you through our agency, at your request.
- Return your phone calls and e-mails promptly and respond to your requests in a timely manner.
- Provide 24/7 services for our customers, offering any or all of the following: emergency phone numbers, Internet account access, e-mail and call center services.
- Use our experience and multiple company relationships to customize your coverage as needed.
- Commit our staff to continuing education so they may be more knowledgeable in serving you.
- Treat you with respect and courtesy.
- Conduct our business in an ethical manner.
We pledge this to you, our clients, and ask that you let us know if we fail to meet our commitment, so we may take corrective action. Call us at 1-800-220-5582 or contact us online today!
MONDAY, AUGUST 6, 2012
Almost half of workers plan to lock in an annuity at retirement. Part of the reason is that employer-provided retirement benefits are most commonly distributed to workers in the form of an annuity, according to a new report “Older Americans’ Ambivalence Toward Annuities,” published by AARP’s Public Policy Institute. The study examines the results of an AARP survey of older workers and retirees regarding their choices for distributing retirement income.
The survey polled 1,750 older workers ages 50 to 75 and 670 retired people ages 59 to 75. The survey reveals that nearly five in 10 workers (48%) plan to take an annuity, either purchased from a life insurer or through their employer-provided pension plan, and nearly four in 10 (38%) expect to receive a lifetime income annuity.
The survey also showed that nearly three in four workers (74%) are receiving, or expect to receive, income from an annuity, and six in 10 (63%) are receiving income from a lifetime income annuity. Three in 10 workers and four in 10 retires with a choice of income distribution options intend to choose, or already have chosen, an annuity.
Of workers with a 401(k) type plan who are in a position to choose, 31% plan to elect a life annuity and 24% of retirees had made a similar choice.
When respondents were asked what features about annuities are “very” or “somewhat” convincing reasons for buying an annuity, 82% say that annuities “help you manage your budget because you get a predictable amount of money each month.” Annuities insure your paycheck and your playcheck so that you can never outlive your income.
Respondents also cited the fact that annuities:
- Offer peace of mind because the payments will continue as long as you live (82% of respondents)
- Ensure that your monthly income will not fall, even there is a large drop in the market (80%)
- Can help you remain independent because the money will never run out (76.8%)
- Offer certainty in respect to the rate of return (75.5%)
We are all living longer with many of us expecting to be active into our 90s. One of the best ways to preserve our independence is to provide for a source of income we cannot outlive, and that is what annuities do—provide safety, security and guarantees.
To learn a little more about annuities and keeping your financial security as you grow older, speak to one of our insurance experts at Insurance Planning Service at 800-220-5582 or use our online contact form today!
Photo Source: lifehappens.org
FRIDAY, JULY 27, 2012
If you have insurance, chances are that your insurance company has an online social media presence. Maybe you are even Facebook "friends" with your insurance company. Insurance companies use social media to stay in touch with customers, present new product ideas directly, and create dialog between groups. Some companies, such as Geico, Progressive, and Esurance, have very rich and engaging social media campaigns that utilize Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.com to develop closer relationships with the people who are using their products.
Even though insurers pump out ten tweets and four status updates a day to stay up to date with their plugged-in consumers, a new study says that the very same companies may not be using these social media outlets to stay in touch with their independent agents. Insurance Networking News reports:
"More than 70 percent of insurers that distribute through independent agents also use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn as a part of their communications strategies, according to a new report from Novarica.... Many insurers with independent distribution now use social media for one-to-one contact with their agents, which suggests social media is beginning to replace telephone or email usage. Not surprisingly, the adoption of social media is still dictated by age. A quarter of agents under 40 use LinkedIn to communicate with specific underwriters at their insurers, which is twice as many as those over 40. "
So what does this mean for you? Basically, if insurers are using social media to communicate with their independent agents, and are supporting their efforts on the web, you get better, more unified service that is supported by both the insurer and your independent agent.
For example, let's say that you have a question about your insurance policy, and you post your question onto your agent's Facebook page. If your insurer is keyed into your agent's social media outlets, you may get two responses: one from your agent, and one from your insurer. Even if both responses aren't technical or an in-depth answer to your question, that communication is key to making sure that you, as a customer, feel like these people care about you and that you are happy with the services being provided.
What do you think? Do you look for more interaction with your insurance company and your independent agent? Leave us a comment or response below to let us know how we can better communicate with you.
Hook up with Insurance Planning Service on Facebook and Twitter or call us at 800-220-5582. You can even use our online contact form to ask questions or get free quotes!
By Dave Bernard
TUESDAY, JULY 17, 2012
More than a million women will go through a divorce this year in the United States, if Census Bureau figures stay similar to last year’s. The emotional and psychological toll cannot be measured, but the financial impact often can.
In addition to the outright costs of a divorce that can be viewed on a spreadsheet, there are hidden financial bombs, that if not acknowledged or addressed, can explode and destroy a divorced woman’s carefully reconstructed future.
There are myriad financial traps that divorcing or divorced women face. I’m going to highlight just a few to watch out for:
If your spouse was the one that carried the health insurance benefits (and the company has more than 20 employees), then you may be eligible to continue the coverage under COBRA for 36 months. During that time, you may find employment that offers health insurance coverage, or you can look for individual coverage in the open marketplace. The latter solution becomes difficult if you have a preexisting condition. Some states do have a guaranteed program that waives a preexisting condition if you are coming from another plan. However, much is up in the air with health-care reform, so it’s best to talk with an agent to understand your options.
If you were covered as a dependent under your spouse’s group plan, you’ll need to check to see if the benefits are portable (meaning you can continue your coverage if you pay the premiums) or if the coverage terminates when you are no longer a dependent. If you are in good health, it makes sense to find out if an individual policy purchased on your own is a better deal. It may be less expensive than carrying over the group coverage. If you have a health problem, it would make sense to keep the group benefits, if that’s possible.If you have an individual policy you may be OK, although it’s smart to review the amount to make sure it is adequate for your dependents, given your new marital status. Also, in all cases, check your beneficiaries to make sure your ex-spouse is no longer listed, unless that is your intention.
Another common mistake is not to review the beneficiaries of a qualified plan (your retirement account). According to federal law, your spouse is the default beneficiary of your plan, unless a waiver is signed. When you go through a divorce, you need to make that change. Otherwise, if something were to happen to you and you were remarried, for example, your ex-spouse not your current spouse would get the money.
Disability insurance, which provides income if you become sick or injured and unable to work, becomes critical when you are single, as your support system has been cut in half. There is no longer that second salary or the same amount of savings and investments to rely on if something were to happen. This coverage can often be obtained through your work; keep in mind that this coverage ends when your job does. Or you can purchase an individual policy on your own. Either way, the key is to know before something happens what kind of coverage you have and how much of your income it will cover.
In your 50s? Long-term care insurance
If you are in your 50s, it’s smart to look into long-term care insurance. Historically the most financially challenged people have been older, divorced women, because they have fewer Social Security benefits from often having been out of the workforce and many times do not have a pension. Long-term care insurance is there for you if you need care, so you won’t have to tap into money set aside for your retirement.
To receive more information about any of your policies, contact the experts at Insurance Planning Service today by calling 800-220-8852 or using our online contact form.