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STORM SEASON
Important Note:

June through November our agency may become prohibited from binding coverage should a “Tropical Disturbance” enter the Gulf of Mexico or Caribbean Sea.

In these cases we may be unable to bind new coverage quoted in open proposals until the storm leaves our area and our binding authority has been restored.

Please arrange your coverage protection early to avoid this type of delay. While we regret any inconvenience, the carriers impose these restrictions on all agencies.

Archive for the ‘Life and Health’ Category

Life Insurance is Difficult to Talk About… But a Divorce Makes a Conversation Necessary…

Divorces are painful. They can cause emotional harm to all participants. For example, imagine what might happen if a current spouse and an ex-spouse file competing claims for life insurance on a decedent.

Divorce related life insurance conflicts often end up in the courts. Such proceedings can be an emotionally charged experience for all involved.

Is that what you would want for your estate? Let’s say you have a policy worth $1,000,000. How much of that could be lost in legal fees as competing parties fight each other over who should receive the death benefit?

It may be surprising, but life insurance is often overlooked in divorce proceedings. This sort of oversight sets up the potential for future conflicts.

It forces the courts to made decisions on behalf of the decedent… something that no life insurance policy owner wants.

But avoiding this issue is relatively easy. Be sure your life insurance is discussed during your divorce and be sure it is properly updated.

As difficult as it may be, talking with your Insurance professional about your divorce is important. They’ll be really understanding. They’ll ask you the necessary questions to help you decide how best to handle whatever changes you need to make to your policy. They’ll offer you great advice that you can count on to be sure your estate is protected and that your wishes are followed if something should happen to you.

Suddenly Becoming a Caregiver is a Shock

…They cared for you when you were young… but now your parents need your help.

…Your husband managed the bills… but now he’s suffered a stroke and needs your help.

…Your partner was the primary income earner… but now she’s become incapacitated.

You’re now responsible to manage medical visits, deal with creditors, handle insurance issues. You’ve been thrust into a nightmare scenario… are you prepared?

Do you know how money moves in and out of bank accounts each month? Can a doctor lawfully talk with you? Is there a will? Medical power of attorney? What kind of health insurance is available?

If you could find yourself in the role of caregiver, it’s a good practice to talk through potential issues and concerns with your financial adviser. Naturally you’ll need to include those who you could be called upon to care for as well.

These are difficult conversations… but necessary.

  1. Establish an Understanding

It’s important to have conversations with loved ones about what they want should they find themselves incapacitated. What are their desires with regard to finances, healthcare, and long-term treatment. What about in terminal situations?

Having these conversations when people are in full control of their mental faculties is critical…

  1. Simplify

Be prepared to automate as much as possible. Establish systems to take care of regular bills so you can have confidence they are properly paid. Make sure medical appointments (if necessary) are as consistent as possible so they become part of a regular routine. Look for any area where you see complexity and see if there’s a better way…

  1. Track and Document Everything.

Be sure to have duplicates of all important documents… from wills to Medicare and Social Security cards. Watch medicine consumption and pay attention to refills and prescription expiration dates. Find a way to keep track of passwords… LastPass.com is an interesting tool for this purpose.  For keeping copies of documents, scanning and storing them on Google Drive or Dropbox can be helpful. And in a situation like this, it is critical to track expenses.

  1. Pay Attention to Insurance.

Make sure you have the insurance you need well before it is needed. Your financial adviser can help you understand costs, benefits, and what you should expect in long-term situations. Life Insurance, Long Term Care Insurance, Health Insurance… all play a role when you are a caregiver.

  1. Seek Legal Council.

A financial adviser is well equipped to talk with you about finances. But as a caregiver there are legal issues that arise and for these you need the help of an attorney. Achieving clarity about wills, power of attorney documents, and the like can help reduce potential disputes with other family members in the future.

  1. Keep a Medical Log.

Take the time to journal notes. Keep details from medical visits, document health insurance concerns, track doctor’s orders, and keep observations about the medical condition of the individual you are caring for. This ensures that you are not improperly charged for medical care and will help you see objectively if you need additional medical intervention in a long-term care situation.

  1. Don’t Go it Alone.

Get help from friends & family members alike. Become involved in a support group. Understand that the role of Caregiver can be daunting and that it is important to not become isolated in the process.  And remember, we’re here to help you as well.

What’s your long term care strategy?

Living longer is a trend. We’re eating healthier, exercising more, and benefitting from huge improvements in health care. Most will likely live into their 90’s and financial planners are being trained to help clients think about living past 100.

Most folks fail to think that far ahead. Yet studies show that individuals living past 70 will need additional care including home based nursing, assisted living facilities, and possibly nursing homes. In today’s dollars, such expenses can cost up to $7,000 a month.

If you are beginning to think it’s a good idea to start planning, you would be right.

Long-term care (also known as LTC) insurance is the preferred option for individuals that want to be ready for expenses that may come later in life. With a standard LTC policy, the insured pays annual premiums. These can range between $1,000 to $5,000 per year. This provides for financial resources that can be used to address the monthly costs of care in the future.

If one maximizes the benefits of a traditional LTC plan, they can be a great value. However, if the benefits go unused, it can be costly.

Another issue is that in the past, some insurance companies have done a bad job estimating the number of claims they would eventually need to pay. To address this problem, carriers have raised premiums by up to 15% per year. Some insurance companies have given up on offering Long Term Care insurance altogether.

One option to consider is a life insurance policy. With changes in insurance, a life insurance policy can offer you exactly what you need for long-term protection. Your policy can gather cash value, offer a death benefit, offer long-term treatment, as well as terminal health benefits. But should those needs never crop up, it can offer tax-free income once the cash value accumulates fully.

Many folks are surprised to learn how flexible life insurance has become. That’s why it is so important for individuals to talk with their financial advisor to understand their options.

From protecting income to safeguarding your loved ones, there are affordable options that can be tailored to fit your exact needs.

What’s your long term care strategy?

Living longer is a trend. We’re eating healthier, exercising more, and benefitting from huge improvements in health care. Most will likely live into their 90’s and financial planners are being trained to help clients think about living past 100.

Most folks fail to think that far ahead. Yet studies show that individuals living past 70 will need additional care including home based nursing, assisted living facilities, and possibly nursing homes. In today’s dollars, such expenses can cost up to $7,000 a month.

If you are beginning to think it’s a good idea to start planning, you would be right.

Long-term care (also known as LTC) insurance is the preferred option for individuals that want to be ready for expenses that may come later in life. With a standard LTC policy, the insured pays annual premiums. These can range between $1,000 to $5,000 per year. This provides for financial resources that can be used to address the monthly costs of care in the future.

If one maximizes the benefits of a traditional LTC plan, they can be a great value. However, if the benefits go unused, it can be costly.

Another issue is that in the past, some insurance companies have done a bad job estimating the number of claims they would eventually need to pay. To address this problem, carriers have raised premiums by up to 15% per year. Some insurance companies have given up on offering Long Term Care insurance altogether.

One option to consider is a life insurance policy. With changes in insurance, a life insurance policy can offer you exactly what you need for long-term protection. Your policy can gather cash value, offer a death benefit, offer long-term treatment, as well as terminal health benefits. But should those needs never crop up, it can offer tax-free income once the cash value accumulates fully.

Many folks are surprised to learn how flexible life insurance has become. That’s why it is so important for individuals to talk with their financial advisor to understand their options.

From protecting income to safeguarding your loved ones, there are affordable options that can be tailored to fit your exact needs.

Brief Walks Are a Big Benefit to Workers That Sit All Day

Brief Walks Are a Big Benefit to Workers That Sit All Day

Scientists at the University of Utah have submitted a study to the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. In it they claim that walking 2 minutes per hour of sitting can help workers offset the known bad effects of sitting all day.

The study looked at whether short periods of simple activity (such as standing up) can help workers that sit all day. The scientists also looked at the impact of slightly more intense activity on worker health. These activities included walking and workers tidying their workspace.

There were more than 3,000 individuals involved in the study. They were monitored with technology that calculated the overall strength of their bursts of activity.

The findings are compelling. Researchers found that taking a break from sitting and being active for two minutes was hugely beneficial. This simple act was directly connected to a 33% decrease in the risk of dying.

The study found that activity was the crucial component. Standing wasn’t sufficient to move the numbers. Movement is required to receive a health benefit.

Meanwhile, at the University of Missouri, researchers looked specifically at the value of taking a quick walk and its impact on capillary.

This study was published in the journal Experimental Physiology. Its results show that sitting induced vascular problems in the lower part of the body could be completely reversed with a short 10-minute walk. The key here is the individual could walk at whatever pace felt comfortable to them. Yes, a stroll still offered measurable improvement!

The study also found that walking alone was not sufficient to help the upper body.

What we know for sure is that sitting for extended periods is terrible for one’s health. It’s been proven as a significant contributor to heart problems and diabetes. But these two studies show there may be a simple answer to this problem. Simple changes to how we work and how we take breaks can yield big health benefits. More frequent, shorter breaks that involve some moderate activity are the key. The result of this subtle but important change would be happier, healthier workers that live longer too.

And if your work environment isn’t quite so flexible, you still have options. Take 2 minutes each hour to stand at your desk and perform some form of light activity such as light calisthenics. You may feel silly but your body will thank you. Likewise, use the last break of your day for that 10-minute walk.

You may find that your overall outlook of life and health improves as you take these action steps.

Be sure to reach out to us for other tips on managing risk and creating peace of mind. We have many great ideas and options that we can custom tailor for you!

Brief Walks Are a Big Benefit to Workers That Sit All Day

Scientists at the University of Utah have submitted a study to the Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. In it they claim that walking 2 minutes per hour of sitting can help workers offset the known bad effects of sitting all day.

The study looked at whether short periods of simple activity (such as standing up) can help workers that sit all day. The scientists also looked at the impact of slightly more intense activity on worker health. These activities included walking and workers tidying their workspace.

There were more than 3,000 individuals involved in the study. They were monitored with technology that calculated the overall strength of their bursts of activity.

The findings are compelling. Researchers found that taking a break from sitting and being active for two minutes was hugely beneficial. This simple act was directly connected to a 33% decrease in the risk of dying.

The study found that activity was the crucial component. Standing wasn’t sufficient to move the numbers. Movement is required to receive a health benefit.

Meanwhile, at the University of Missouri, researchers looked specifically at the value of taking a quick walk and its impact on capillary.

This study was published in the journal Experimental Physiology. Its results show that sitting induced vascular problems in the lower part of the body could be completely reversed with a short 10-minute walk. The key here is the individual could walk at whatever pace felt comfortable to them. Yes, a stroll still offered measurable improvement!

The study also found that walking alone was not sufficient to help the upper body.

What we know for sure is that sitting for extended periods is terrible for one’s health. It’s been proven as a significant contributor to heart problems and diabetes. But these two studies show there may be a simple answer to this problem. Simple changes to how we work and how we take breaks can yield big health benefits. More frequent, shorter breaks that involve some moderate activity are the key. The result of this subtle but important change would be happier, healthier workers that live longer too.

And if your work environment isn’t quite so flexible, you still have options. Take 2 minutes each hour to stand at your desk and perform some form of light activity such as light calisthenics. You may feel silly but your body will thank you. Likewise, use the last break of your day for that 10-minute walk.

You may find that your overall outlook of life and health improves as you take these action steps.

Be sure to reach out to us for other tips on managing risk and creating peace of mind. We have many great ideas and options that we can custom tailor for you!

Best of 2016: Even the Young and Healthy Need Health Insurance

Key Steps for a Healthy Heart

While it’s true that health issues tend to multiply with age, even young people can find themselves in need of a doctor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the top cause of death among Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 are unintentional injuries. Other common health risks include smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity—all of which play a role in the development of a variety of life-threatening diseases. For those without health insurance, the costs of emergency treatment in the event of an accident or long-term treatment due to disease can be financially devastating—no matter how old you are at the time. Consider these reasons you need health insurance even if you’re currently young and healthy.

Accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time.

You don’t have to go skydiving, bungee jumping or mountain climbing to be injured in an accident. Every year, 43 million Americans visit emergency departments as the result of unintentional injuries according to the CDC. In 2014, the leading causes of nonfatal, unintentional injuries included falls, overexertion, motor vehicle collisions, poisoning, bug bites or stings, fires and burns, dog bites and suffocation—most of which could realistically happen in your own home.

Health issues become more difficult to treat if you ignore them.

While an accident may force you to seek medical help, having health insurance also makes it easier to see a doctor about other health concerns before they become major issues. Without coverage, you’re more likely to put off seeking treatment because you’re worried about the associated costs. In fact, a Gallup survey found that 57 percent of uninsured Americans had put of medical treatment because of cost. Unfortunately, failing to address health issues early on can have serious consequences for your long-term health.

If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll have to pay a fine.

If you choose not to buy health insurance coverage mandated by law under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), you will have to make an “individual shared responsibility payment” when you file your taxes each year. The government calculates the fee you owe two ways. You’ll have to pay whichever is higher, whether that’s 2.5 percent of your household income or $695 per adult plus $347.50 per child. If you don’t pay the fee, the IRS will withhold it from your future tax refunds.

While the open enrollment period for 2016 ended on January 31, you may still be able to sign up for qualifying healthcare coverage and reduce the penalty you’ll pay with this year’s taxes next April. Special enrollment periods under the ACA are triggered by a number of events including losing your employer-sponsored health coverage, getting married, having a baby, getting divorced, and moving to a new zip code or county.

If you’d like to learn more about special enrollment periods or discuss your health insurance options prior to the open enrollment period for 2017 that will begin on November 1 of this year, we’re here to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any health insurance questions or concerns.

Best of 2016: Even the Young and Healthy Need Health Insurance

While it’s true that health issues tend to multiply with age, even young people can find themselves in need of a doctor. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the top cause of death among Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 are unintentional injuries. Other common health risks include smoking, obesity and lack of physical activity—all of which play a role in the development of a variety of life-threatening diseases. For those without health insurance, the costs of emergency treatment in the event of an accident or long-term treatment due to disease can be financially devastating—no matter how old you are at the time. Consider these reasons you need health insurance even if you’re currently young and healthy.

Accidents can happen to anyone, anywhere and at any time.

You don’t have to go skydiving, bungee jumping or mountain climbing to be injured in an accident. Every year, 43 million Americans visit emergency departments as the result of unintentional injuries according to the CDC. In 2014, the leading causes of nonfatal, unintentional injuries included falls, overexertion, motor vehicle collisions, poisoning, bug bites or stings, fires and burns, dog bites and suffocation—most of which could realistically happen in your own home.

Health issues become more difficult to treat if you ignore them.

While an accident may force you to seek medical help, having health insurance also makes it easier to see a doctor about other health concerns before they become major issues. Without coverage, you’re more likely to put off seeking treatment because you’re worried about the associated costs. In fact, a Gallup survey found that 57 percent of uninsured Americans had put of medical treatment because of cost. Unfortunately, failing to address health issues early on can have serious consequences for your long-term health.

If you don’t have health insurance, you’ll have to pay a fine.

If you choose not to buy health insurance coverage mandated by law under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), you will have to make an “individual shared responsibility payment” when you file your taxes each year. The government calculates the fee you owe two ways. You’ll have to pay whichever is higher, whether that’s 2.5 percent of your household income or $695 per adult plus $347.50 per child. If you don’t pay the fee, the IRS will withhold it from your future tax refunds.

While the open enrollment period for 2016 ended on January 31, you may still be able to sign up for qualifying healthcare coverage and reduce the penalty you’ll pay with this year’s taxes next April. Special enrollment periods under the ACA are triggered by a number of events including losing your employer-sponsored health coverage, getting married, having a baby, getting divorced, and moving to a new zip code or county.

If you’d like to learn more about special enrollment periods or discuss your health insurance options prior to the open enrollment period for 2017 that will begin on November 1 of this year, we’re here to help. Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any health insurance questions or concerns.

Insurance Coverage Linked to Cancer Survival Time

Insurance Coverage Linked to Cancer Survival Time

Two independent studies that looked at two different cancers came to similar stunning conclusions. Individuals with private insurance were found to be diagnosed sooner&live longer as well than those who had Medicaid coverage or those without insurance altogether.

For one study, information was examined from 13,600+ adults diagnosed between 2007 – 2012 as havingglioblastomamultiforme, the single most common kind of malignant brain cancer.

In the other study, researchers reviewed information from 2007 – 2011 where they examined testicular cancer cases of 10,200+ male adults.

The studies relied on information from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER program (Surveillance, Epidemiology, End Results), which tracks cancer cases (incidence & survival) in the United States. Both studies results were released online in the journal Cancer.

Known as a highly aggressive cancer, individuals diagnosed as havingGlioblastomamultiformetypically live a little more than a year past the diagnosis. The five-year rate of survival is less than 5%. On the other hand, testicular cancer reacts well with chemotherapy treatment even if it has actually spread throughout the body. Individuals that get treatment are found to have a 95% survival rate at the 5-year mark.

Again, this is an important point: Patients that had private insurance were found to have better survival rates.

  • For testicular cancer:
    • Uninsured individualshad a 26% increased chance of being found with metastasized cancer and Medicaid patients were 62% more likely to have a metastasized cancer. (Important: the research study clarified that in many states people can get approved for Medicaid once they have a cancer diagnosis thus increasing the percentage of those with Medicaid who were found with the cancer.)
    • Uninsured men had an 88%+likelihood of passing away from the cancer while Medicaid patients were 51% more likely to die from the illness.
  • For glioblastomamultiforme:
    • Both uninsured and Medicaid patients were found to have bigger growths when diagnosed than those with private insurance.
    • Uninsured patients had a 14%+ chance of having a much shorter survival time. Patients on Medicaid saw a 10% increase in the chance of shorter survival times.

Per Dr. Wuyang Yang who is a research study fellow at Johns Hopkins University co-authored the research study, ” We were expecting that the uninsured would do even worse than insured clients, but we didn’t anticipate that Medicaid clients would do significantly worse than [privately insured] patients,” (For more details visit Kaiser Health News http://khn.org/news/studies-link-cancer-patients-survival-time-to-insurance-status/)

We have three recommendations based on these findings:

  • Talk with your insurance agent about life insurance to make certain your loved ones are protected in case the worst happens to you.
  • Be sure you consult with your health care insurance specialist to make certain you have adequate coverage.
  • Always leverage your available health care options when you notice things aren’t quite right in your body… early intervention makes a big difference!

 

Insurance Coverage Linked to Cancer Survival Time

Two independent studies that looked at two different cancers came to similar stunning conclusions. Individuals with private insurance were found to be diagnosed sooner&live longer as well than those who had Medicaid coverage or those without insurance altogether.

For one study, information was examined from 13,600+ adults diagnosed between 2007 – 2012 as havingglioblastomamultiforme, the single most common kind of malignant brain cancer.

In the other study, researchers reviewed information from 2007 – 2011 where they examined testicular cancer cases of 10,200+ male adults.

The studies relied on information from the National Cancer Institute’s SEER program (Surveillance, Epidemiology, End Results), which tracks cancer cases (incidence & survival) in the United States. Both studies results were released online in the journal Cancer.

Known as a highly aggressive cancer, individuals diagnosed as havingGlioblastomamultiformetypically live a little more than a year past the diagnosis. The five-year rate of survival is less than 5%. On the other hand, testicular cancer reacts well with chemotherapy treatment even if it has actually spread throughout the body. Individuals that get treatment are found to have a 95% survival rate at the 5-year mark.

Again, this is an important point: Patients that had private insurance were found to have better survival rates.

  • For testicular cancer:
    • Uninsured individualshad a 26% increased chance of being found with metastasized cancer and Medicaid patients were 62% more likely to have a metastasized cancer. (Important: the research study clarified that in many states people can get approved for Medicaid once they have a cancer diagnosis thus increasing the percentage of those with Medicaid who were found with the cancer.)
    • Uninsured men had an 88%+likelihood of passing away from the cancer while Medicaid patients were 51% more likely to die from the illness.
  • For glioblastomamultiforme:
    • Both uninsured and Medicaid patients were found to have bigger growths when diagnosed than those with private insurance.
    • Uninsured patients had a 14%+ chance of having a much shorter survival time. Patients on Medicaid saw a 10% increase in the chance of shorter survival times.

Per Dr. Wuyang Yang who is a research study fellow at Johns Hopkins University co-authored the research study, ” We were expecting that the uninsured would do even worse than insured clients, but we didn’t anticipate that Medicaid clients would do significantly worse than [privately insured] patients,” (For more details visit Kaiser Health News http://khn.org/news/studies-link-cancer-patients-survival-time-to-insurance-status/)

We have three recommendations based on these findings:

  • Talk with your insurance agent about life insurance to make certain your loved ones are protected in case the worst happens to you.
  • Be sure you consult with your health care insurance specialist to make certain you have adequate coverage.
  • Always leverage your available health care options when you notice things aren’t quite right in your body… early intervention makes a big difference!