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.
MONDAY, JULY 16, 2012
If your end table is looking a bit flat and empty without a new book to read, and you are in the mood for a gritty, hard-boiled novel that just so happens to be insurance-related, consider Double Indemnity (1935), by James M. Cain. As Amazon. com explains:
"When smalltime insurance salesman Walter Huff meets seductive Phyllis Nirdlinger, the wife of one of his wealthy clients, it takes him only minutes to determine that she wants to get rid of her husband--and not much longer to decide to help her do it. Walter knows that accident insurance pays double indemnity on railroad mishaps, so he and Phyllis plot frantically to get Nirdlinger on--and off--a train without arousing the suspicions of the police, the insurance company, Nirdlinger's dishy daughter, her mysterious boyfriend, or Nirdlinger himself. This brief but complex novel is a perfect example of the ordinary-guy-gone-disastrously-wrong story that Cain always pulls off brilliantly. "
Later adapted into a film by the same name in 1944, it was engraved into the American film noir canon, and remains to this day an excellent example of war-time cinematic plot development and vigilant insurance agent work.
For further examples of vigilant insurance work, expert advice on your insurance policy, or more reading suggestions, look no further than Insurance Planning Service! Contact us today at 800-220-5582 or use our online contact form.
Image source: Amazon.com
TUESDAY, JULY 10, 2012
There are many issues casting a shadow over the U.S. housing market these days. It’s not just our unemployment rate and foreclosures, nor the $16 trillion dollar U.S. debt. It's also economic issues in the European Union, such as the problems in Greece, instability in the Middle East, the upcoming November elections and stagnation in Congress, and all kinds of other issues that impact one’s decision making and confidence in the economy.
When people are concerned, stressed, or have uncertainty in their lives, they shy away from making big purchase decisions. And that is happening a lot today. This is especially true for younger individuals who naturally have more insecurity about jobs and life, as well as less life experience than those who have been through many past economic downturns and are taking it in stride.
Luckily, the past has proven that our economy and country are very resilient and our citizens will always fight for a better future. And over the next few years, many of the uncertainties in our lives will hopefully be resolved. Unemployment will drop, the foreclosure crisis will settle, and our nation’s finances — and our personal finances — will even out and stabilize.
So what is a potential home buyer, who can get financed and afford to buy, to do today? First and foremost, remember to take your time, as there is no rush to buy a home, even if you are able to do so. And here are a few things to consider as you mull over one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in life
Keep those things in mind as you take your time and educate yourself regarding real estate ownership. And when you are ready, you will be able to find a great house to fit your needs.
- Buy the right property. The most important and wealth-building strategy in real estate is long-term ownership. If you buy a property that you love and that fits all the right reasons you want to own property, you’ll probably own it for a long time and be happy there. So find that near-perfect property that fits your needs and desires.
- Don’t overspend on a house. Home owners know that there are many more expenses then one ever imagines in conjunction with owning a home. Just because a mortgage lender determines that you are qualified for X dollars for a house doesn’t mean you should buy that expensive of a property. A house is only an asset if you can comfortably afford the payments and all your other bills. Otherwise, it’s a liability if you are stretching each month to keep your head above water. Buy assets!
- Stay away from fixers. Many people think it will be fun and romantic to buy a fixer-upper and make it their own, but most regret that decision. Renovating properties usually involves a never-ending stream of cash outflow and the property often ends up costing several times the amount that a non-contractor buyer estimates it will cost. Instead, try to buy a house that someone already renovated for themselves to live in, but had to sell. You want a house that's already in good shape.
- Stay away from external nuisances. There are many seemingly non-issue things that can become a problem down the road. Houses should be next to houses, not non-residential use properties. Vacant retail sites, empty lots, industrial next to residential, religious uses, etc. may not mix well with a nice quiet place for you to sleep at each night. Too many buyers disregard the negative consequences of these, so survey the area for potential nuisances and be cautious.
- Keep renting until you are sure. Don’t buy real estate unless you are sure you want to stay in the area, that your job is secure, that you won’t be transferred, and that it’s a decent and economically viable area. If you are not sure, keep renting instead. You’ll save yourself from a lot of potential hassle and financial pain in case any job or city issues go against your favor.
- Don’t obsess over the price. A house price is important, but it should be secondary to finding a place you love (within reason). If you own real estate for a long time (which you should), years down the road, you won’t care what the house originally cost you. And by keeping it a long time, you’ll probably earn plenty of equity that will keep a smile on your face. So spend more (though again, within reason) to get that great place you love.
Whether you are still renting or have decided to take the leap into homeownership, Insurance Planning Service has the expertise and knowledge to help you find the right Homeowner's or Renter's insurance policy. Call us today at 800-220-5582 or use our online contact form.
FRIDAY, JUNE 22, 2012
The amount of renter’s insurance that you should purchase depends on your personal situation, net worth, and tolerance for risk. A basic policy gives you coverage in these areas:
The amount of maximum coverage you personally purchase could be anywhere from $10,000 to however much you determine is the value of your personal property. It could also be more if your net worth is high and you prefer to carry additional liability insurance, although higher liability may be covered under a separate umbrella liability policy. Be sure to discuss this with your agent.
- ~ contents on and off premises
- ~ additional living expenses
- ~ personal liability
- ~ medical payments
- ~ property of others
To help you determine how much renters insurance you should purchase, you should add up the value of your personal property based on what it would cost you to replace it all if there is a total loss. Take an hour or so and make a comprehensive list of everything you own in the property. You can even search for a home inventory list on the Internet, as there are plenty of them available for free.
Your list would include items such as:
- Clothing and Soft Goods – suits, shirts, slacks, ties, shoes, jeans, athletic clothing, towels, linens, comforters, carpets, rugs, and everything else you have and can document
- Electronics – computers, video games, stereos, clocks, DVD players, iPods, Kindle, iPad, cell phone, TVs, and all the add-on devices like backup storage, software, game controllers, coffee makers, toaster ovens, microwave ovens, washer/dryer, refrigerator, air filters, etc.
- Furniture and Kitchen Items – couches, chairs, beds, dressers, artwork, plants, patio items, desks, lamps, and any other furniture, silverware, pots and pans, baking and cooking equipment,
- BBQ grills Other – bicycles, athletic equipment, jewelry, coins, collectibles, books, wall shelves, lamps, ironing board, luggage
- Another other items you own
By taking the time to list and categorize your belongings, you will be able to better ascertain the values and properly insure your belongings. By taking the time to properly document and assign values to your personal assets, you can be sure to obtain the proper insurance coverage.
The next task is to take the list you have prepared and assign values to each item on the list. You should assign a value that would cover the cost to replace that item with a new one. You can use the Internet, or go to stores to help you determine the monetary value of your items if you are unsure about what they are worth.
You will likely be surprised at the total value of your belongings when you start adding up everything to determine the maximum amount that you need to have insured. It's a good idea to over-insure a little too, because you will likely have forgotten some things on your list, and that extra coverage will help you purchase those items you need to continue should you suffer a total loss. After all, a little extra insurance typically only raises your premiums a little, while making certain that you will be able to maintain your current standard of living even if disaster strikes.
With the list of your items and total value, you can discuss the amount of coverage you need with your agent. Your agent will take your requested amount and prepare a policy and premium quote for you. Once your pay the premium, you are covered for losses up to the maximum policy amount for the length of your insurance term. Typically, this is one year.
Make sure you save the list of your personal property in a separate location because you do not want to lose the list if there is a loss at your house. It's a good idea to email the list to yourself too so that it can be stored and accessed on any computer with Internet access. As an extra precaution, you could also take digital photos and/or videotape your belongings. This is especially important with more valuable items so that you can prove to an insurance adjuster that you owned the items and validate the quality of them.
Remember too that the policy will cover you for liability. If you have significant financial net worth, or special valuables like artwork, you need to discuss those with your insurance professional to see what the appropriate amount of insurance coverage would be for you.
To answer more of your Renter's Insurance questions, contact Insurance Planning Service at 800-220-5582 or use our online contact form today!
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 6, 2012
Much like sunscreen, business insurance is one of those things you don’t realize how important it is until you’ve been burned: A lot of entrepreneurs don’t have it, and those who do, may not be fully covered.
While large corporations have staffers specifically trained to be sure the business is protected adequately, small business owners are often not aware of the risks their business faces.
“Smaller businesses tend not to get the right amount of coverage,” says Loretta Worters, vice president of the Insurance Information Institute, an industry trade group that aims to educate the public about insurance. “They will get too little or not the right coverage.”
Here, three of the most common mistakes to avoid when deciding on business insurance.
1. You view insurance as one-size-fits-all. Think again. There are four basic types of insurance that all businesses need, according to Worters. Property insurance protects the building that your business is housed in and the inventory, raw materials and computers that you own. Liability insurance protects you against lawsuits. Business vehicle insurance covers any autos owned by the business. Finally, in every state except Texas, a business with employees must have workers compensation insurance should an employee be injured on the job.
In addition, every industry has its own specific risks and your business may require a specialized policy. “You need to get an agent that understands your line of business,” says Worters, noting that you should talk to an agent before just signing up with one. Ask a local business group or association for a recommendation.
2. You think you're covered by another policy. “The biggest mistake [business owners] make is they assume they don’t need coverage,” says Ted Devine, CEO of Dallas-based Insureon, an online small-business insurance agency. He says business owners often falsely believe their company is covered by their client's policy or they're no longer at risk when a client leaves. Not true, according to Devine. A client can come back and sue you years after an event or transaction occurs, he warns.
And don't think your homeowner's policy will bail you out, either. Even if you have a home-based business, a homeowner's policy won't protect it should you get into any legal issues with employees or business litigation. Whether the homeowners’ policy will protect your business property in your home depends on the policy, says Devine.
3. You think you're invincible. Worters says many businesses don’t even consider what is called either business income or business interruption insurance. If a natural disaster hits, for example, and your business closes, your revenue can be immediately shut off for an undetermined amount of time, and that can really threaten the life of your business.
The professionals at INSURANCE PLANNING SERVICE can assist you in tailoring an insurance program that specifically meets the needs of your business. Call us today at 734.421.9900 or use our easy Contact form.
Article Source: Yahoo! Finance / Entrepreneur.com
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