THURSDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2011
COBRA is a law that protects you and your family if you lose your employer-sponsored health benefits. It can help you maintain coverage while you are in transition. COBRA allows you to keep the same coverage and the same physicians.
If you qualify for COBRA coverage, then you have the option of continuing your employer-sponsored health plan for a limited period of time (18-36 months.) COBRA can provide important protection for people who have pre-existing medical conditions. You should carefully consider COBRA coverage if you or a member of your family are currently pregnant, have a pre-existing health conditions, are taking prescription medications, or have been declined for private health insurance.
However, if you and your family are relatively healthy, you may be able to purchase a comparable individual or family health insurance plan for a lot less money. In addition, since COBRA coverage is available to the unemployed, your lower income status may make your children under age 18 eligible for a low-cost government –subsidized program. MI-Child is a health insurance program for uninsured children of Michigan’s working families.
As a consumer, you need to know your COBRA strategy.
Consider continuing COBRA if:
- You are pregnant or plan to become pregnant within the COBRA coverage period
- You have a pre-existing medical condition
- You are taking prescription medications, need to undergo a medical procedure in the near future, or need extensive medical care
- You have recently been declined for private health insurance
Options after COBRA:
- HIPAA. Once a person has exhausted COBRA benefits or the company plan expires. i.e. the company goes out-of-business or discontinues the health plan, you may be eligible for an individual plan under the HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability ACT), even with pre-existing health conditions. For more information, contact the state Department of Insurance.
Consider purchasing an individual/family plan if
- You are in relatively good health
- The COBRA option is too expensive
- You are seeking health insurance coverage beyond the COBRA term (typically 18 months)
You can Mix & Match:
- Mix and match your COBRA coverage with individual and public sponsored alternatives. For example:
- If you have a pre-existing medical condition, you can choose COBRA coverage for yourself but find a less expensive individual plan for your spouse and a public sponsored program for your children.
We can assist with questions you may have regarding your health insurance. Call us at (800) 220-5582 or visit us at www.ipsagency.com for a free quote on Michigan health insurance.
Source: Foundation for Health Coverage Education
WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 21, 2011
The goal of insurance is to take some of the risk you are exposed to every day off your shoulders. You pay the insurance company and, in turn, they accept the risk that you might have an accident and agree to pay a certain amount.
Auto insurance often offers a sort of shared risk. Deductibles and limits divide the risk to make certain some of the risk is yours, and some of the risk belongs to your insurance carrier.
Deductibles are the amount of damages you’re responsible for before your carrier pays out. If the cost of your damage does not exceed your deductible, however, you’re responsible for the full amount.
Limits are the maximum amount that your insurance company will pay toward a claim. Any additional liability above your policy limits is your responsibility, unless you have an umbrella policy.
Setting higher deductibles and lower limits, allows your insurance company to assume less risk. By your carrier assuming less risk, your premiums may be significantly lower. In the event of an accident, your financial responsibility may be greater since you have an aggressive deductible and lower limits to make up for.
Ultimately, when using deductibles and limits to create an affordable auto insurance policy, you want to make sure you find the right balance.
- Can you afford the deductible? You should be able to pay your deductible without going into debt or having to remove the money from an account with penalties for early withdrawal.
- Do you have resources for claims that exceed limits? If you have a claim that exceeds the limits of your policy, you should try to pay the claim with funds that are readily available to you.
- Is it worth the risk? Finally, make sure you perform many policy comparisons with lower deductibles and higher limits to make sure that your premium savings are really worth the increased exposure you have. Consider the changes in premium that these adjustments bring and then consider the amount of money you will need in reserves to pay your additional responsibility.
Shopping for auto insurance is not just about finding the lowest premium. With a little finesse, you and your agent can design a plan with an affordable premium that offers you the coverage you need.Call us today at 800-220-5582 for more information or get a free Michigan auto insurance quote.
Posted 1:41 PM
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TUESDAY, DECEMBER 20, 2011
Here are the answers to three common questions regarding car insurance and alcohol-related driving violations.
What will a DUI conviction do to my car insurance rates?
In general, once your insurance company sees that you have a DUI on your driving record you will see an increase in your auto insurance rates. And it's not just a little hike in your rate; based on an analysis of car insurance quotes, premium amounts may increase 30 percent to 100 percent, or even more. For instance, in Colorado, your rates may spike up to 30 percent after a DUI violation, while in North Carolina, you get docked 12 points under the Safe Driver Incentive Points system for a DUI, which could cause your rates to jump 340 percent.
Driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol is seen as a major offense and seriously risky behavior by car insurance companies, so for that infraction you will be paying a lot more for your car insurance premium and will lose any preferred status that you had obtained.
Your current car insurance company may even cancel you out at the end of your policy, and then you'll have to find coverage with a new auto insurance company that takes high-risk drivers.
How long will a DUI affect my rates?
Insurance company guidelines, governed by state laws, dictate how long your rates will be affected by a driving DUI conviction. As with most minor or major convictions, a DUI will keep your rates raised for at least three years.
If your state keeps the offense on your record longer than three years, and many do, it's common for this offense to affect your car insurance rates for five years or more. For instance, in California a DUI prevents you from receiving a safe-driver discount for 10 years from the date of your DUI conviction.
What is an SR-22 and will it affect my rates?
The SR-22 is a certificate of financial responsibility that many states require when you get your license reinstated after a DUI, though the certificates are not limited to just alcohol-related driving offenses.
When you are notified of the need to carry a SR-22, you should be told what the minimum car insurance limits are that the state will accept for this filing. When you purchase the required coverage and have your insurer file the SR-22, the form verifies with the state that you have the mandated coverage in place -- the whole reason for the filing.
You must continue to carry the SR-22 for a certain number of years -- typically three but it ranges from one to five. If you cancel your insurance during this time period the state will be notified and usually your license and/or vehicle registration will be suspended.
The car insurance coverage that is associated with the SR-22 form will be rated according to all the factors that ordinarily go into rating a policy, regardless of the SR-22 form filing. The SR-22 itself typically incurs a filing fee of $15 to $25.Courtesy: Fox Personal Finance
Contact Insurance Planning Service for further information on auto insurance or for a free Michigan auto insurance quote.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2011
It is very difficult to put your life together after any traumatic event, but after a fire it can be especially challenging. Not only will you need to deal with the emotional aftermath of the event, but you also need to organize your belongings and arrange a place for your family to live for as long as it will take to make your home livable again. When you understand all the steps you need to take after a fire before it happens to you, you might be better prepared to deal with the aftermath. Here is a list to help you in the event that you are affected by a fire.
- Make sure you and your family have a safe place to stay. Make sure you have a place to sleep, clothes to wear and a place to bathe. If you need eyeglasses, prosthetics, food, certain medications or any other basic living essential, contact your local charitable and emergency management organizations like the Red Cross and they should be able to offer you a temporary supply or contact information to a group that can.
- Notify your loved ones about where you will be so that they know you are in a safe place. Your fire might make the evening news, and leaving your loved ones to find out about it that way is maybe not a good idea. Make some calls and ask others to spread the word for you so that no one in your circle is unduly concerned about your family’s well being.
- Do not linger on the premises until you get the all-clear from the police and fire department.
- Call your insurance company to have an adjuster come out as soon as possible. You should do your best to leave the site intact until the adjuster arrives. Do not begin any cleanup efforts or sort through the rubble until after the insurance adjuster has met with you and completed the list of personal effects that are missing or damaged. You should also give your adjuster copies of any pictures you have of your home and contents taken before the fire.
- If possible, try to find your driver’s license, social security cards, passports and other important personal documents first along with copies of your insurance policies. Leaving them exposed could open you up to the risk of identity theft, something that you really don’t need to deal with during this difficult time.
- Remove items that are salvageable and find out how to properly clean them. You may have some possessions that can be salvaged after a fire but don’t assume that just because they look intact that they actually are. Find out how to restore them so that they are once again safe to use.
- Call your post office and utility companies. You may want to have your mail held until you are once again able to inhabit your home, and you should consider having your utilities temporarily shut off.
For more details about how to safely handle yourself after a fire, you can visit the U.S. Fire Administration website. You can also contact us 800.220.5582 for more information about home insurance or to get a free Livonia home insurance quote.
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16, 2011
Life Insurance Awareness Month is dedicated to educating consumers about the need for life insurance. LIAM is an industry-wide effort coordinated by the LIFE Foundation, a nonprofit organization devoted to helping consumers make smart insurance decisions. Launched as an educational campaign with the intention of alerting the American population about the devastating effect that life’s uncertainties can cause, the main purpose is to bring greater visibility of the need for life insurance. This effort is supported by the Michigan Legislature’s House Resolution 122.
According to the Independent Agents Magazine:
3 in 10 adult Americans have no life insurance.
Insured Americans on average have only four times their annual income in life insurance coverage. Many insurance experts believe that an individual’s true need for coverage is 10 times their gross annual income and sometimes more.
Only 41% of adult Americans have individual life insurance. Many rely on insurance provided by their employers, leaving many employees without coverage if they were to lose their job or change jobs.
Each year, a significant number of Americans (550,000) die prematurely. In fact, the chances a 25-year-old male will die before reaching the retirement age of 65 is nearly 1 in 5; for a female the odds are 1 in 9.
When a premature death occurs, insufficient life insurance coverage on the part of the insured results in 75% of surviving family members having to take measures to meet financial obligations: Working additional jobs, longer hours, borrowing money, withdrawing from savings and investments and, in some cases, moving to smaller, less expensive housing.
As many Americans are struggling to survive on a day-to-day basis, it may seem hard to think about life insurance. But the sad story is that many don’t think about it until it’s too late. The financial safety net life insurance provides is especially important now given that many people have far fewer resources to fall back on in the event of a death in the family.
What better time than now to contact Insurance Planning Service about life insurance? We can discuss your family situation, assist in determining your life insurance needs, and put together a program that will help accomplish your goals. We are an independent insurance agency offering a full range of insurance products – auto – home – business – life – health – to individuals, families and businesses throughout Michigan. Call or visit us on the web today for a quote on your insurance!
734.421.9900 | 800.220.5582 | www.ipsagency.com