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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.

Posts Tagged ‘retirement planning’

Save More for Retirement with Term-Life Insurance

There’s a new way to save for retirement. For years, many experts have suggested saving for retirement utilizing life insurance policies. The challenge is, most of these strategies are tailored for those with incomes in the millions. The average American is left searching for an alternative retirement savings vehicle. The good news is, there’s a new way to save money for retirement while utilizing life insurance. Selecting a term-life policy with the cheapest rate can help save for retirement, and unlock additional funds for investment. Here’s how the process works.

Shop Around for Term Life Insurance

Those with dependents ought to explore life insurance as a means to preserve income should a tragedy occur. This holds true for single-income homes as well as multi. Mortgage obligations, college planning, retirement and more can be secured with the right life insurance policy. Surviving family members deserve the security they’ve come to rely on.

Life insurance comes in many forms with options available to suit nearly any lifestyle. Rate vary yet term policies consistently have the lowest. Term life insurance is often purchased by those too young to retire, as a measure to secure income in case of early death. Rates and policies for term life will vary based on age, health, and other influences. In some cases, the annual rate for whole life insurance can be almost ten times than term life. a 30-year-old male may spend approximately $750 annually for a 1,000,000 term life policy, while whole life coverage can range over $9000. That’s over $8000 in annual savings which can be otherwise invested.

With numbers like that, term life may be the right decision for those trying to save more for retirement. Term length and coverage amounts will depend on personal needs, wants, and desires. Age, health, and lifestyle will also affect term length, payout, and rates. Those over 65 may encounter challenges obtaining term life insurance. Review any employer-offered life insurance to reveal coverage limitations and determine if additional coverage may be appropriate. To help preserve a term life policy and its rate, opt for guaranteed-renewable term life with a non-cancellation clause. This can help manage rates and coverage, freeing up attention for other investments.

Adding Layers of Financial Security

With annual savings in the thousands, it may be tempting to go on a shopping spree. While that may satisfy a short-term desire, investing savings into intelligent savings vehicles can achieve more.

  • Emergency Savings Funds

Creating an emergency savings fund is one of the smartest ways to immediately invest savings. Most recommendations suggest a savings account of 3 to 6 month’s income; personal requirements will dictate. An emergency fund is a barrier between the unexpected and debt. Debt can lead to late charges, interest accumulation, and adverse credit ratings.

Any number of life changes can affect income. Rest assured with the security an emergency savings account can offer. While creating an account may place a short delay on saving for retirement, the added layer of security will more than make up the difference.

  • Long-Term Disability Insurance

Long-term disability insurance can help toward securing retirement. Persons below the age of 65 are more likely to become disabled than perish, leaving many people each year unable to earn an income. Relying on government assistance will likely result in high debt, and that’s for the percentage able to claim those benefits at all. There are nuances to disability insurance. Speak with a financial advisor to find out more about preserving income with long-term disability insurance. For those living alone, disability insurance can still be a necessary protection to help cover individual expenses, should a disability occur.

Disability insurance may be carried as part of an employer insurance package and is available for individual purchase. For those with disability insurance through an employer, be sure to review policy limits to ensure adequate protection. Oftentimes, employer-offered disability insurance lacks sufficient levels of protection. Loss of income can derail any retirement savings plan. Preserve income stability with long-term disability insurance and stay on track.

Start Investing

With term life in place to protect loved ones, the cushion of an emergency savings fund, and the assurance of long-term disability insurance it’s time to invest the remaining savings into retirement savings vehicles.

With annual savings reaching into the thousands a number of investment strategies become available. Speak to a financial advisor on ways to save for retirement utilizing annual life insurance savings. Taking more control over life insurance decisions and investing savings can have a significant impact on achieving retirement savings goals.

For more on saving for retirement, additional information on term-life insurance, or questions call today. Check back often for more on this, and other ways to improve health and wealth.

Part-Time Jobs for Active Retirees

More people are working during retirement. For an increasing number of retirees, working a part-time job post-retirement is becoming the norm. A Merrill-Lynch survey found over 70% of those planning to retire were planning to find a job afterward. For those already retired, almost half reported holding a part-time job while retired. For many, it’s simply a matter of keeping busy. Others may go back to work for social interaction, or to regain a sense of purpose. For almost a third of those surveyed, part-time work after retirement offers additional income. For most retirees, the best part-time jobs draw from their previous careers. Regardless of the motivation, today there are a number of part-time jobs available for retirees.

Accountant/Bookkeeper

Those with a financial background can earn working from home as an accountant or bookkeeper. Many small business owners utilize bookkeeping services. Become a tax preparation agent and offer more services. Bookkeepers and accountants can typically create their own schedules and often, their own wages.

A working knowledge of financial software and Microsoft Excel is helpful for those interested in this position. An interest in numbers and a keen eye for detail are beneficial traits. In some cases, formal education in finance may be required.

Customer Service

Companies are always looking for great customer service help. Depending on the position, customer service positions can be on-site or remote, working from home. Retirees telecommuting from home can typically expect to answer phone calls and emails, while retirees working on-premise may speak to customers directly.

Patience is a plus for those interested in customer service. Telecommuters may benefit from previous computer experience.

Driving

Today a number of options are available for driving part-time. Ride-sharing services are appearing in more cities, enabling seniors to control their schedules while supplementing retirement income. In many cities, school districts and community organizations are hiring part-time drivers for buses and deliveries. Many of these positions offer flexibility perfect for retirees.

Depending on the (pardon the pun) route you take to become a driver, a commercial drivers license (CDL) may be required.

Tutor

For those looking to share their lifetime of experience, becoming a tutor can be a great part-time job for retirees. Tutoring comes in many forms. In this position, retirees can help both kids and adults overcome academic challenges, and aid with test preparation. There may be other positions available in education. Contact the local school district and ask about part-time positions for former educators.

Experience and formal education is a plus for this position, yet depending on the employer the requisites will vary. Tutors can work for families, as part of a larger organization, and anywhere between.

Tour Guide

For those interested in an active position interacting with the public, becoming a tour guide can be incredibly rewarding. More than just museums (amazing places to work) tour guides are found in park, wineries and breweries, local walking tours and more. Earn income, experience history, and stay active as a tour guide.

Tour guides are found across a number of industries performing a diverse variety of functions. Starting locally is perhaps the best way to find the right tour guide position for you.

Many opportunities for part-time employment are available for retirees. For many, there may the option of returning to a previous position as a part-time employee. Retirement is the beginning of an exciting part of life. Get the most from yours.

Tips for Stretching Retirement Savings

A growing number of retirees are struggling to make ends meet. An estimate by the National Institute for Retirement Security places the average retirement savings at just over $30,000. With even the best investment strategies, it will still be challenging making that last years or decades. The numbers support this. According to the National Senior Citizens Law Center, over six million retirees live below the poverty line; that number continues to grow.

It’s still possible to save for retirement. At any stage in life, creating a financial plan to prepare for the future can help create savings and security for the future. The right savings strategy will vary depending on goals and ability, yet there are some tips that apply to nearly all. Start saving with a goal in mind. Here are 5 tips for saving enough to retire.

1. Determine Annual Expenses

Each year of retirement has set expenses. These will vary for the individual yet for most people these include healthcare, housing, meals and other daily necessities. Be sure to include ongoing utility payments, HOA memberships, and all regular debits regardless of obscurity. Sufficient retirement savings will cover these obligations plus any increases over time due to inflation. Speak to a financial planner for help determining the monthly cost of retirement and creating a budget to meet it.

2. Plan for Entertainment

Creating financial plans, many people often forget to include budgeting entertainment expenses. This can lead to a dull retirement or to spending money outside the prescribed budget. Either way, planning for entertainment expenses helps balance a financial plan for retirement. Regardless of how you want to spend your time, experts recommend adding 10% to the estimated cost. This creates a buffer, allowing you to get out and enjoy retirement.

3. Distribute Savings

The right savings vehicles for retirement depend on goals, ability, and much more. Planning for a successful retirement requires more than a savings account. Speak to a financial advisor about opportunities to boost retirement savings with stocks, bonds, and other investment options. With distributed savings and assets, personal income reserves are better protected from shifts in the market.

4. Postpone Social Security

Social Security payments increase at age 70. For those able to sustain on alternate sources of income before then, they stand to gain. Full Social Security benefits begin at age 66 yet a mere four years can add 32% more to the payout. A financial plan can help make this happen. Research shows 97% of Americans draw benefits before age 70. This means the overwhelming majority of people are missing out on retirement benefits. Start planning today to take advantage of increased Social Security payments each month.

5. Think About Taxes

Each year, the amount of income drawn from retirement savings is subject to taxation. Depending on the amount of income accessed the applicable tax bracket may shift. This can lead to higher tax payments than originally planned for. Speak to a financial professional about the smartest ways to draw retirement income while managing taxes.

Call today more on how to prepare for successful retirement. Regardless of age, it’s still possible to start planning for an enjoyable retirement. Take the first step, contact a financial planner today.

5 Surprises About Retirement

Retirement is supposed to be a life of leisure, or at least so the commercials say. While retirement signals the transition from the workforce there are still challenges to overcome each day. Despite years of planning and research, there are some things about retirement that may surprise you. Straight from the source, here are 5 surprises about retirement:

1. You can have too much spare time.

It’s safe to assume most people prefer time off. While some may be able to golf each day, most will find too much downtime to be redundant. After years in the workforce, retirement can feel lacking in structure and routine. Before long, they may experience a longing for simple water-cooler conversation again. For those with too much time on their hands, part-time employment or a volunteer position may be the answer. Retirement is simply the transition into a new phase of life; find ways to stay active and engaged.

2. You can spend too much time together.

After retirement, there is a lot of extra time for spending with your spouse. Too much of anything can be grating, including the people we love. If spending too much time together is leading to tension be proactive and ask for some space. Previously, personal meditative time may have been the morning commute or lunch break. Being home all the time is a big change. Find ways to decompress. This can be a walk or hobby, or as with the first surprise a job or volunteer position.

3. You may need to move.

Retirement is a big lifestyle change. This means the home that made sense for the hustle and bustle of before may become too much. For some, this could be keeping a large lawn. For others, the home may feel too large. Moving to a smaller home, apartment, or retirement community can ease the burden of home and lawn care, and replace lost social interactions.

4. You may face financial challenges.

With all their careful planning it’s surprising many retirees grapple with financial challenges. Retirement may last years, and that’s a good thing! Saving enough to last can be challenging and many find themselves pinching pennies, afraid to run out. A budget, alternative savings vehicles, and active frugality can help stretch dollars. Keep medical and life insurance current for a layer of protection.

5. You may pay increased rates for healthcare.

Planning for retirement should take into account rising healthcare costs, inflation, and more. Many retirees find as time goes on they pay in increased percentage of savings on healthcare expenses. According to a survey of retired couples by RetiredBrains.com, retirees need to think bigger. Half those surveyed anticipated only 10% of actual health care costs. Healthcare through retirement can range into the hundreds of thousands; plan for adequate protection.

7 Tips for Saving on Healthcare

Savings are always welcome, especially for seniors living on a retirement income. For annual healthcare spending, small savings can add up. Get the most from the golden years while maintaining a quality lifestyle. Reduce annual spending with these 7 tips for saving on healthcare:

1. Take advantage of cash discounts

According to the AARP, many medical practices offer discounts of 10% or more for customers paying with cash. Ask about discounted medical tests and exams.

2. Limit Emergency Room Visits to Emergencies

Ambulance transport and emergency room care can become expensive utilized frivolously. For minor injuries and other non-emergencies, urgent care facilities offer an affordable alternative. Additionally, wait times and the length of visits may be shorter than for hospitals.

3. Call a Nurse

Today a number of telephone resources are available for speaking directly to a registered nurse. This can help reduce visits to the doctor, saving time and money. The nurses offer guidance for home care, making an appointment with a physician, or seeking immediate treatment.

4. Choose the Generic Medication

From cough medicine to prescription drugs, the generic label is always more affordable than the name-brand. Ask about generic alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter medications. Other discounts may be available by filling prescriptions at large retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart. Generic medication programs are available at some retailers helping save more on medication.

5. Get a Discount Card

Options for prescription drug savings cards are available. Some offer discounts of 80% or more on prescription medication, helpings people save thousands annually. Ask a pharmacist for more information

6. Compare Prices

Pharmacies may charge different rates for medications. Prior to filling prescriptions, contact local pharmacies to compare rates. Save the drive by asking your regular pharmacist to match or beat competitor pricing.

7. Utilize Your Network

Health insurance carriers work with local medical agencies to offer discounted rates for treatment. Receive treatment from a medical professional outside the network and pay up to 20% more, according to the AARP. Medical offices performing elective treatments often defer to the out-of-network rate. Ask about costs and network coverage before agreeing to a medical procedure or receiving treatment. Ask your health insurance carrier to recommend options for treatment within the network.

Saving and planning for successful retirement are active endeavors. Save more by making smart decisions about medical treatment and prescription drug service. Health coverage can vary, contact an agent to update your policy today and start saving.

Secrets to a Successful Retirement

A large number of people between 30-50 are ready to think about retirement. For many, retirement is a goal market yet rather than completion, retirement marks the beginning of a new adventure. Planning is an important part of successful retirement yet questions abound. Help is here. The financial folks at MoneyTips.com completed a survey of 500 American retirees to find the secrets to a successful retirement. The survey found while the definition of retirement varies across the board, successful retirees shared several traits in common.

An increasing number rely on a set income.

Of the 500 retirees surveyed, almost half have under $500,000 in total assets. 67% of the respondents have a set annual income under $100,000; 27% under $50,000. Of all the retirees polled a whopping 85% rely on social security for some or all of their retirement income.

Many worry about the future.

Almost half the retirees surveyed reported having similar financial concerns about the future. The most-commonly reported financial concerns were:

  • Depleting savings accounts (25%)
  • Incurring serious medical debt (24%)
  • Maintaining a comfortable lifestyle (23%)

Other responses included paying for grandchildren’s education (7%) and planning an estate (5%).

They’ve found ways to pinch pennies.

Finding ways to save each day helps extend savings. Successful retirees shared these tips on saving money during retirement

  • Create a spending budget
  • Reduce monthly expenses
  • Limit luxury purchases

Successful retirees also create financial plans including investment and insurance options.

They planned ahead.

Successful retirees are there by design. Among those surveyed, the majority responded as having planned for retirement early. For those reading this that have yet to begin, there is still time. Of all the successful retirees surveyed, over half waited until after 40 to start saving. The amount people can save for retirement will vary. Consider setting a percentage of income as a savings amount. Of those surveyed the majority saved between 6-10% of their income per year. Those in the highest category, saving 21% or more each year, only formed 8% of survey respondents.

For answers on what to do with those savings, 62% reported utilizing the help of a financial professional at some point. That included those with little financial experience to those merely seeking a second opinion for a decision. 44% of successful retirees report retaining primary control of their investment portfolio. 67% opted for traditional IRA accounts and 27% chose Roth IRAs. a 401(k) plan formed a portion of income for 53%. A number of other investment vehicles formed the remainder.

Getting Your Prescriptions During a Disaster

During Hurricane Harvey thousands of rooftop evacuations were performed, some on live television. Those rescued took whatever they could grab and left the rest behind. In the chaos of the storm, this often meant prescription medications. Those living in hurricane-affected areas may one day be the person rescued. Prepare with a plan to get emergency prescription medication.

Texas law permits pharmacists to dispense 30-day supplies of medicine in case of emergency. In the aftermath of Harvey, local and federal responders created mobile medical facilities for dispensing medications and limited care to affected communities. These operate within the worst-hit areas, and outside offering care to stranded motorists and other evacuees. The American Red Cross is also an active participant in disaster-relief efforts, creating access to prescriptions through a network of volunteer medical staff.

Inspect all medication for water or other damage. Medications can become hazardous if exposed to water and other elements. Consult a professional for advice on questionable medications.

In Hurricane Harvey, floodwaters rose quickly. Many were caught off-guard due to controlled flooding and rapid rainfall. Plan ahead with a list of resources for obtaining medical care and prescription drugs during an emergency:

  • Community centers and designated storm shelters often have charity and medical staff on-site. They are authorized for dispensing prescription medication and immediate medical care.
  • RxOpen.org lists American Red Cross shelters and pharmacies in the are. Maps are available with updated open/closed status for each pharmacy listed.
  • The National Cancer Institute offers direction for locating cancer treatment care during emergencies. For more information visit Cancer.gov or call 1-800-4CANCER.
  • Medicare recipients can call 1-800-MEDICARE for information on prescription drug access, dialysis, and other medical needs

Storms form quickly and can be unpredictable. Prepare ahead of time. Plan for medical care during an emergency and never miss a dose. Our insurance agents are always on the lookout for great topics to help save money and live better. Call anytime for answers for an insurance quote, or answers to insurance questions.

When Can Medicate Cover Nursing Home Costs?

Many families struggle understanding the complex requirements to qualify for Medicaid nursing home care. The language can be confusing, nursing home regulations are complex, and requirements vary by state. Specific requirements will vary by individual but that being said, here are the basic qualifications for Medicaid nursing home care:

Eligibility Requirements

The Medicaid program is a joint federal and state effort representing the largest source of retirement home revenue in the United States. This program offers care options for those in need due to health or financial position. Medicaid eligibility begins with a valuation of income, savings, and assets. The valuation process will vary by state, and several calculations are considered when determining eligibility.

  • Complicated math. The math to qualify can become tricky. In some states, qualification begins once personal worth dips below $2000.00. Housing factors separately, with calculations changing based on home value. Some personal property and household goods are counted separately, and life insurance policies may be independently factored. Bear in mind that while home values may be viewed separately, applicants deemed unable to return home may have potential home sales values taken into effect. There are exceptions, of course, speak to a health insurance carrier for more detailed information.
  • Medicaid is a supplement. Once all sources of income (including investments, retirement pensions, social security and others) are tallied, prepare to still spend 80-90% of personal income on nursing home care. Medicaid is used in conjunction with personal income. An allowance of 10-20% of personal income is typical for those residing in nursing homes.
  • Financial records. The net-worth requirements are investigated dating back five years. For those planning to quickly give away possessions to qualify, think again. Medicaid officials are thorough, exploring bank records for the past five years. Suspicious activity, including a rash of gift-giving, may raise red flags suspending care upon investigation. Using determined formulas, officials can help identify those trying to expedite Medicaid eligibility. For example, gifts totaling $50,000 in a state where typical monthly nursing home costs are $5,000 would disqualify eligibility for ten months ($5,000 x 10).

Spousal Security

Medicaid has specific guidelines for couples. When one person goes into a nursing home and the other continues to live at home, the healthy spouse can keep 50% of the couple’s possessions. There is a cap on this amount which will vary by state. Assets included in this calculation include the house, furnishings and household goods, as well as one car. The person living at home can also receive a portion of the other’s income, usually between $2,030-$3022. Income beyond the allowable amount will go towards paying nursing home costs.

Medicare is Different

Medicare is the government medical insurance program for adults aged 65 and older. The program also serves some younger individuals with serious health problems. Medicare is structured for medically-necessary, short-term rehabilitative care. Nursing home care is unavailable through the Medicare program.

Finding More Information

For more information on Medicaid contact the state Medicaid office. Contact information can be found at www.Medicaid.gov. The State Health Insurance Assistance Program (Shiptacenter.org) can help with any Medicare or Medicaid questions.

We’re always hunting for insurance-related topics to share. Reach out with any questions; we’d be happy to hear from you!

Coping With Age Bias When Looking For a Job

For adults on the job hunt, age presents a challenge. Switching careers and re-entering the workforce are challenges enough to overcome. Older Americans are further challenged by discriminatory practices due to age. A lifetime of accomplishments and knowledge are still worth something. Before sending off a resume, update it in language for today’s interviewers. Prepare for interviews beforehand to warm up.

Age discrimination is a real issue for older Americans in the workforce. Complicating matters, recent actions by the United States Supreme Court render it practically impossible to know whether age bias played a role during an interview. Thanks to the Court, the Age Discrimination Employment Act (originally designed to protect older adults from age bias) has limits on protection. This ruling complicates the job search for older adults that want to continue working. Almost two-thirds of employees from ages 55-64 responded age is preventing employment, according to a 2017 AARP survey.

Workplace culture placing emphasis on older employees could introduce openings or promotions rewarding those with years of experience. AARP Senior Attorney Laurie McCann encourages this type of forward-thinking. Tulane University professor Patrick Switch is an age bias researcher. Switch says people today enjoy working beyond retirement age. Employers should view age and experience as a bonus.

Age as an Advantage

For those already employed, addressing age bias can be easier than for those applying for a position. Keeping track of potential age discrimination in the workplace can help address and correct age bias. Often, employers may be unaware of their actions. Age bias happens in more places than the interview. Employees passed over for management and training opportunities due to age are victims of age bias as well.

For job seekers, a resume is the first line of defense against age bias. Tailor a resume for the industry and audience it will reach. Include the most-recent experience. Demonstrate a willingness to learn, and be part of a team. During an interview, combat stereotypes. Dress for the environment. If the office has a casual environment, leave the three-piece suit at home. Show a willingness to work with a younger team. Rather than age, draw attention to experience.

Oftentimes, smaller and younger corporations are eager for older talent. The experience comes as a boon to smaller operations where team members wear many hats. Additionally, age-friendly employers can be found through the AARP and by using sources such as seniorjobbank.org. Persistence is your best ally; sending resumes will eventually result in an interview.

Visit back often for more great information about insurance topics affecting all aspects of life. Call anytime with any insurance-related questions.

Get Extra Help For Prescription Drug Costs

For people taking prescription medications costs are a priority. Those facing increased costs may turn to methods such as taking half-doses or skipping altogether to get more from prescriptions. Health is important. There are ways to save on prescription medication while taking the doctor recommended dose.

Ask a Doctor

Ask a medical professional whether generic or more-affordable options are available. In many cases there may be less-expensive alternatives. Switching from a name-brand prescription medication to a generic can save up to thousands per year or more.

Ask About Aid Programs

Many pharmaceutical companies have assistance programs for qualifying Medicare recipients. An estimated two million Medicare recipients taking prescription medication qualify,

There are 12 million people today, or about one in three people who have Medicare coverage taking advance of this cost-saving method. An estimated two million more qualifying people have yet to take advantage.

Qualifying recipients for full assistance pay reduced rates for generic and name-brand prescription drugs. Limits set at $3.30 for generic medication and $8.25 for name-brand help prescription drugs become affordable. Partial qualification reduces medication cost by 85%. Aid depends on income and revenue.

Qualifiers

For single people, an income cap of $13,820 limits participation. For married persons, $27,600. Relatives living in the home may affect income considerations. Savings accounts, stocks, and bonds count toward income and resource levels. Assets, gift amounts, and some other sources remain separate. These programs help people save thousands each year.

Register for Aid

For those interested in applying, three options are available:

  • Find an application and detailed instructions online anytime at socialsecurity.gov/extrahelp.
  • Request for SSA-1020 over the phone, or apply by calling the Social Security Administration at 1-800-772-1213
  • Ask for aid and assistance in-person at a local SSA office.

Applications are easy to fill out. Instructions are available online or by asking an SSA representative. Bring a social security card, drivers license or similar, and bank information including account balance, assets, and investments. The Social Security Administration reviews applications with replies generally sent in a month.

Check back often for more information on prescription medications, wellness, and ways to save money. Topic suggestions are always welcome. Contact an agent anytime for all insurance-related questions.