What Type of Life Insurance Policy Should You Get

The primary purpose for getting life insurance will always be to protect the people you care about in case something were to happen to you. How much capital would you need in order to pay off debts, support your loved ones, or to take care of all your affairs?

After you understand what priorities you would like to protect through life insurance it is fairly easy to determine the correct amount of coverage.

What Type Of Life Insurance

The next question is what type of coverage will best serve your needs. In order to get the right amount of coverage you also have to make sure that the premiums fit comfortably into your budget.

Term Insurance Benefits

Term insurance is less expensive than whole life insurance, because you are renting the insurance. Your coverage is considered pure insurance in this case, because it doesn’t develop cash value or participate in company dividends.

Instead it allows you to get the right amount of protection for the least expensive premiums available. Term insurance has also developed over the years to offer more comprehensive options. You can get a return-of-premiums policy where you pay more during the life of the policy, but the insurance company refunds all of your premiums at the end of the fixed term.

There are also term policies that allow you to lock in your age and health for the remainder of your life, so that you can have the coverage and premiums locked in for the rest of your life. This is a great and inexpensive way to obtain permanent insurance.

How Long Should You Lock In Your Premiums

The longer you can lock in your premiums the more advantageous it will be in the long run. The insurance company takes into consideration the mortality risk during the level period of the term. If you are 35 and you get a level 20-term policy then the rates will be fixed until you are 55. And because you are locking in the premiums at a younger age, the average risk and rates will be less than if you were to lock in your premiums at 55.

Most people have an insurance need that will last throughout the rest of their lives. If you can permanently lock in a portion of your insurance at a younger age this can save you substantially on premiums. It happens quite often where people will have to apply for new coverage after the fixed rates on their current policy have expired, and because they are now older and have to pay much more in premiums.

Your health is also locked in when you first take the policy out. Many people looking for insurance in their fifties or sixties are dealing with some type of medical condition that makes the cost of life insurance double or triple in cost. The same logic that applies to locking in your age is also good to keep in mind when locking in your health. We don’t know what is going to happen to us, and if we have our insurance locked in then our insurability and premiums will be unaffected by a medical event.

Level Term Insurance

I always recommend getting a level-term policy as opposed to one that will start off lower and increase premiums each and every year. The level term policies allow you to lock in your age and health for the remainder of the term, whereas the increasing-premium policies become more expensive every year based on your new age.

Because term insurance is a less expensive way to get the right amount of protection, I believe that it is the right choice for a large majority of people looking at life insurance.

Cash Value Life Insurance: When To Consider It

First A Word Of Caution About How The Life Insurance Industry Operates

An agent who pushes one company above the others is doing his or her clients a disservice. Every company has its positives and negatives and each company has focused on certain demographics to try to create a competitive edge. There are 17 life insurance companies in the fortune 500 alone. These companies have very similar investment portfolios and conduct business in ways that are more common than not. Eight of these companies are mutual, nine are stock companies, and they all operate in order to make a profit. The most important thing that anybody can do is to have an agent who can help them shop the market for the company that is going to fit their needs best. Somebody that is a smoker with high blood pressure is going to have better options outside of the companies that target nonsmokers without health conditions. Finding the least expensive company on the market for your age and health can save you thousands of dollars.

I used to work for an insurance agency where we only sold a single triple-A-rated-insurance company. When I worked for this agency, my fellow agents and I were especially inculcated with the benefits of this company’s whole life insurance. This situation is not unique.

Captive agencies have managers that groom agents to push one company because they get paid commissions when their agents sell these products. Please don’t assume that life insurance agents are experts on the benefits of different companies and types of insurance plans, because many of them are unaware of the benefits beyond their own company. Instead of consulting their clients and shopping the market they push a single product that doesn’t always match up well. There are far too many people being given advice from agents to consider whole life insurance, because they are trained to present the same products to every client.

When You Are Considering An Insurance Company It Will Always Be Advantageous For Some People And Ill Advised For Others

If you sit down with an agent who goes over a list of benefits about a single insurance company, keep in mind that most benefits are really trade-offs. For instance, if a company is a triple-A rated insurance company than they are probably also more conservative with whom they insure. A triple-A rating is great, but it is really only necessary if you plan on participating in the companies dividends, or in other words buying their whole life insurance. There is no need to pay extra money for the privilege of having a triple-A rated company as many agents insist. A.M. Best considers a company with an A-rating to be in excellent financial health and there are many A-rated companies with less expensive insurance offers if you are not planning on participating in whole life.

When Whole Life Insurance is a Good Idea

For some people, whole life insurance can be a great complement to their financial security. I have sold whole life insurance based on the following benefits.
1) It has a guaranteed return that will consistently build up the cash value in the policy.
2) It gives policyholders permanent insurance so that they are insured throughout their lifetime.
3) It allows them to stop paying premiums after a certain number of years, because the dividends from the company will be enough to keep the policy in force.
4) It allows policyholders to take cash from the policy in the form of a loan, so that you have another option if liquidity is needed.
5) The growth of the policy is tax deferred and tax-free as long as long as the policy is kept in force.

The problem can be that many of these benefits point to life insurance as an asset or investment. Life insurance should always be considered for the death benefit first and foremost. If you have already maxed out both your Roth Ira and 401(k), have at least three months of expenses in accessible savings, and are looking for something else to build up savings then whole-life insurance can be a good option. The point is that whole life insurance is a good choice when you have the ability to max out your qualified retirement funds and are looking to complement your savings with a conservative tie in to your life insurance.

Whole life can be a mistake for a couple of reasons

There are risks when putting your money into whole life insurance. The risks aren’t always clearly explained, because the agents focus on the guaranteed dividends that will grow the cash value every year. However, one significant risk is buying into whole-life insurance, paying the premiums for a number of years, and then not being able to keep up with the premiums down the road. Life insurance companies bank on this happening to a certain percentage of policyholders.
If this occurs you are in danger of losing thousands of dollars in paid premiums without the benefit of accumulating any cash value. When a policy lapses or you can’t keep up with whole life premiums then the insurance company will retain your premiums without you having any cash value built up or any insurance in force.
These whole life polices are structured to have large front end expenses and it will take at least a couple of years before your premiums start to build up cash value. It takes about ten years before the amount of premiums you put into the policy will equal the cash value in the policy.

How Cash Value In Whole Life Insurance Works

The other risk with whole life insurance is not understanding how the cash value in the policy works and taking out too much of it. The cash value in the policy is liquid, but the insurance company will let you take out about 97% of it in order to protect against the policy lapsing. Any cash that is taken out of the policy is loaned from the policy at interest.

Lets assume that you are in the first 20 years of your whole life policy and are taking a loan from the cash value in the policy. The loaned interest rate is 8.0 %, the non-loaned dividend interest rate is 6.85%, and the loaned-dividend interest is rate is 7.9 %. Notice that the insurance company steps up the interest rate on the loaned amount or the amount borrowed from your cash value. This mitigates the cost of the loan, but the loan still creates an ongoing obligation to pay interest. For instance the cost of borrowing here would be 6.95 %.

(The loaned interest rate (8.0 %) + (the non-loaned dividend interest rate (6.85%) – the loaned-dividend interest rate (7.9%)) = cost of borrowing (6.95%).

The cash value in the policy is really a double-edged sword, because it leads to a significant risk that you will not be able to keep up with the premiums. It is practically intended for people who can repay the loan quickly so that the policy continues to develop dividends instead of an obligation to pay interest. It is great for people who aren’t ever tempted to borrow from the policy, because the dividends will compound and eventually be able to cover the cost of annual premiums. When this occurs the risk of lapsing will be negligible. However, this takes quite some time to achieve and it truly depends on how disciplined you can afford to be with the additional cost of these premiums. If you would rather have control of your money up front there is an argument that you can buy term and invest the rest instead of leveraging the insurance companies general fund.

Your Personality Profile And Budget Must Be In Line

I recommend taking a look at both your budget and how much control you want over your money for at least the next ten years if you are considering whole life. Because term insurance can now permanently lock in your age and health in the same manner as whole life insurance, the biggest question is whether or not you want control over investing the difference in premiums. Many people prefer whole life insurance because they don’t have to think about investing the difference; the insurance company does it for them. They can also grow their death benefit by the amount of growth in cash value and act as their own creditor if they ever want to borrow cash from the policy.

A Couple Other Points About Whole Life Insurance

The cash value component in a whole life insurance policy needs to be addressed. The first is that cash value is based on compounding dividends. So the longer you keep the paying premiums the more advantageous it is. The second is that if you go with a reliable insurance company they will usually pay non-guaranteed dividends that are based on the results of an insurance companies investments. This is when rating is important to consider, because you are now participating in these dividends. Also if you have allowed the cash value to grow and take out modest loans from the policy later in life, you will most likely have enough in dividends to keep pace beyond the ongoing obligation of interest. However if you do surrender the policy the gains will be taxed as capital gains and you will have to pay a surrender charge as well. If the policy is in force and you pass away while there are still outstanding loans, the death benefit will be paid out after it covers the cost of the loans that you have taken from the policy.

Term Insurance Vs. Whole Life

I believe the most important factor in all of this is the human element. If you are patient, conservative, and comfortably able to continue paying premiums without the temptation to borrow from the cash-value then you are a good candidate for whole life insurance. The majority of people have fluctuating budgets and circumstances where they are better off with something that locks in their age and health and gives them the opportunity to invest the difference elsewhere.

Types Of Life Insurance Policies – Which Is Right For You?

Term Life by definition is a life insurance policy which provides a stated benefit upon the holder’s death, provided that the death occurs within a certain specified time period. However, the policy does not provide any returns beyond the stated benefit, unlike an insurance policy which allows investors to share in returns from the insurance company’s investment portfolio.

Annually renewable term life.

Historically, a term life rate increased each year as the risk of death became greater. While unpopular, this type of life policy is still available and is commonly referred to as annually renewable term life (ART).

Guaranteed level term life.

Many companies now also offer level term life. This type of insurance policy has premiums that are designed to remain level for a period of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 or even 30 years. Level term life policies have become extremely popular because they are very inexpensive and can provide relatively long term coverage. But, be careful! Most level term life insurance policies contain a guarantee of level premiums. However some policies don’t provide such guarantees. Without a guarantee, the insurance company can surprise you by raising your life insurance rate, even during the time in which you expected your premiums to remain level. Needless to say, it is important to make sure that you understand the terms of any life insurance policy you are considering.
Return of premium term life insurance

Return of premium term insurance (ROP) is a relatively new type of insurance policy that offers a guaranteed refund of the life insurance premiums at the end of the term period assuming the insured is still living. This type of term life insurance policy is a bit more expensive than regular term life insurance, but the premiums are designed to remain level. These returns of premium term life insurance policies are available in 15, 20, or 30-year term versions. Consumer interest in these plans has continued to grow each year, as they are often significantly less expensive than permanent types of life insurance, yet, like many permanent plans, they still may offer cash surrender values if the insured doesn’t die.

Types of Permanent Life Insurance Policies

A permanent life insurance policy by definition is a policy that provides life insurance coverage throughout the insured’s lifetime ñ the policy never ends as long as the premiums are paid. In addition, a permanent life insurance policy provides a savings element that builds cash value.
Universal Life

Life insurance which combines the low-cost protection of term life with a savings component that is invested in a tax-deferred account, the cash value of which may be available for a loan to the policyholder. Universal life was created to provide more flexibility than whole life by allowing the holder to shift money between the insurance and savings components of the policy. Additionally, the inner workings of the investment process are openly displayed to the holder, whereas details of whole life investments tend to be quite scarce. Premiums, which are variable, are broken down by the insurance company into insurance and savings. Therefore, the holder can adjust the proportions of the policy based on external conditions. If the savings are earning a poor return, they can be used to pay the premiums instead of injecting more money. If the holder remains insurable, more of the premium can be applied to insurance, increasing the death benefit. Unlike with whole life, the cash value investments grow at a variable rate that is adjusted monthly. There is usually a minimum rate of return. These changes to the interest scheme allow the holder to take advantage of rising interest rates. The danger is that falling interest rates may cause premiums to increase and even cause the policy to lapse if interest can no longer pay a portion of the insurance costs.

To age 100 level guaranteed life insurance

This type of life policy offers a guaranteed level premium to age 100, along with a guaranteed level death benefit to age 100. Most often, this is accomplished within a Universal Life policy, with the addition of a feature commonly known as a “no-lapse rider”. Some, but not all, of these plans also include an “extension of maturity” feature, which provides that if the insured lives to age 100, having paid the “no-lapse” premiums each year, the full face amount of coverage will continue on a guaranteed basis at no charge thereafter.

Survivorship or 2nd-to-die life insurance

A survivorship life policy, also called 2nd-to-die life, is a type of coverage that is generally offered either as universal or whole life and pays a death benefit at the later death of two insured individuals, usually a husband and wife. It has become extremely popular with wealthy individuals since the mid-1980’s as a method of discounting their inevitable future estate tax liabilities which can, in effect, confiscate an amount to over half of a family’s entire net worth!

Congress instituted an unlimited marital deduction in 1981. As a result, most individuals arrange their affairs in a manner such that they delay the payment of any estate taxes until the second insured’s death. A “2nd-to-die” life policy allows the insurance company to delay the payment of the death benefit until the second insured’s death, thereby creating the necessary dollars to pay the taxes exactly when they are needed! This coverage is widely used because it is generally much less expensive than individual permanent life coverage on either spouse.

Variable Universal Life

A form of whole life which combines some features of universal life, such as premium and death benefit flexibility, with some features of variable life, such as more investment choices. Variable universal life adds to the flexibility of universal life by allowing the holder to choose among investment vehicles for the savings portion of the account. The differences between this arrangement and investing individually are the tax advantages and fees that accompany the insurance policy.

Whole Life

Insurance which provides coverage for an individual’s whole life, rather than a specified term. A savings component, called cash value or loan value, builds over time and can be used for wealth accumulation. Whole life is the most basic form of cash value insurance. The insurance company essentially makes all of the decisions regarding the policy. Regular premiums both pay insurance costs and cause equity to accrue in a savings account. A fixed death benefit is paid to the beneficiary along with the balance of the savings account. Premiums are fixed throughout the life of the policy even though the breakdown between insurance and savings swings toward the insurance over time. Management fees also eat up a portion of the premiums. The insurance company will invest money primarily in fixed-income securities, meaning that the savings investment will be subject to interest rate and inflation risk.

Life Insurance: Protect What You’ve Got

While insurance isn’t an investment, it’s an important part of sound, savvy personal financial management. Insurance is protection. It protects everything you’ve worked so hard to earn. It protects your spouse in the event of premature death. It sends the kids to college. It holds together a family at a time when money shouldn’t be a concern.

You need insurance but shopping for the right coverage to protect your family and your assets is like learning a new language. Term life, whole life, universal life, actual cash value, dividends, loans against policy – it’s a maze of insurance products out there and finding the right coverage for your needs may take a little research.

Here’s a starter course on getting the most for the least in life insurance and still have the protection you and your family need.

Types of Life Insurance

There are two basic types of life insurance with numerous variations on a theme.

Term life insurance is the simplest to understand. It’s also the most economical protection you can buy.

Term life insurance is paid when the insured (you) pass on within a defined term – a defined length of time your life insurance coverage is in effect. Term life comes with a variety of time frames: five-, ten- even thirty-year terms are available.

The younger you are, the lower the cost of the monthly premium – the dollar amount you pay for protection each month. Premiums are calculated based on two factors – your age (and general health) and the dollar amount of protection you need. It’s simple. A $100,000 term life insurance policy won’t cost as much as a $500,000 policy because you’re buying less protection.

With term life, you keep things simple. The insurance company pays X amount of dollars to the beneficiaries when the insured individual passes on, as long as the policy is in effect, that is, the death occurs during the term of the policy, thus the name term life insurance.

Term life policies don’t accumulate value, you can’t borrow against them and, if you choose a short term and your health changes, you could end up paying more for your term life insurance than you would if you buy a long-term policy – one that covers you for the long term.

To determine how much term life you need, add up funeral costs, outstanding personal debt, mortgage debt, the prospect of paying tuition and other large expenses that would drain family resources. Figure what it would cost your family for a single year.

Then multiply by a factor between 5 and 10. Use the lower factor if you don’t have a lot of debt and the higher factor if you’re carrying a couple of mortgages and you have three kids to put through school. That’s how much term life you need to protect your family and all their expectations.

The other class of insurance is whole life insurance, also called permanent insurance, universal insurance, variable universal insurance and other product names, but all fall into the general class of coverage called whole life insurance.

The first difference between term and whole life is that whole life covers you from the day you buy the policy until you die. Of course, this assumes that you pay your whole life insurance premium each month. There is no term (length of time coverage is in effect) to whole life. Buy it when you’re young and your premiums will be low and you’ll start building cash value.

That’s the other main difference between term and whole life insurance coverage. Whole life pays dividends. Not a lot, but dividends that can be used to lower monthly premiums, or they can be allowed to accumulate earning interest.

Once the whole life policy has accumulated enough cash value you can borrow against that cash value to buy a house or cover some tuition bills. The downside to taking loans against the value of a whole life policy is that it lowers the payout to family in the event of the insured individual’s death.

However, a whole life policy does increase in value while providing protection for your family. The cost of coverage is also higher. Expect to pay more for $500K of whole life versus $500K of term life insurance, simply because the insurer is paying interest on your monthly premiums.

Calculate your coverage needs using the criteria listed above. Don’t think of whole life as a money-maker. It’s not intended to increase your wealth. That’s a side benefit. An important side benefit, but the primary reason for purchasing whole life is to protect your family in the event of your pre-mature death.

Life Insurance Sources

There are hundreds of insurance companies and even more life insurance products so talking to a knowledgeable professional is a good first step.

An insurance broker can advise you but, keep in mind, each insurance broker carries a “line” of products from a limited number of insurance providers so each broker will tell you her products are the best value.

If you do the math yourself, you know going in, how much coverage you want to buy, at which point, it’s just a matter of finding a reputable insurance company offering competitive rates and the benefits you’re looking for.

Another resource is your local bank – often the best place to start researching your life insurance needs. Banks sell a broad range of life insurance products and, because insurance isn’t the primary business of a bank, you’re more likely to get straightforward answers to your questions.

Another reason to visit your bank’s insurance rep is that your bank knows the financial you – how much you have in accounts, how much comes in and goes out on a month to month basis, your tax status and other personal finance information needed to get the right kind of life insurance at the right price.

Talk to your employer. Life insurance may be a benefit along with health care and two weeks vacation, but you may also be able to increase the dollar amount of coverage with money deducted from your paycheck painlessly.

Unions, associations, your local Chamber of Commerce and other organizations are also sources for low-cost term or whole life coverage. Purchasing life insurance coverage through an industry association, for example, gets you group rates that translate into more coverage at a lower monthly premium. On the other hand, when you purchase term or whole life through your union you usually don’t have a choice of insurers and that’s an important point to consider.

Go with an insurance company that’s ranked highly by Standard and Poor or some other rating organization. Your broker or banker will steer you toward quality of coverage so you get more for your money.

Life insurance sounds complicated but, when you break it down into simple terms, it’s something you can do with a trusted advisor to point you down the right path.

Get life insurance. Get term life if you want lower premiums; get whole life if you want your insurance to build cash value against which you can take loans.

It’s your choice. Making the right one saves money and delivers the peace of mind that only quality life insurance protection delivers.

How Some Life Insurance Policies Fail and Leave Grieving Families to Struggle Financially

Many people own life insurance, but let’s face it. It’s probably not a purchase that most people brag about to their friends like they might if they had just purchased a new Corvette, but they made the purchase anyway because they love their families and want their family to carry on living their current lifestyle in the event of the primary breadwinner’s untimely death. While this article doesn’t apply to people who own term insurance, those who bought permanent life insurance, which is life insurance with an additional savings component, will find this information very important.

To understand the problem, I will first give you a brief primer on life insurance, and then explain how something that seems like a sure bet can go so wrong. Life insurance can be separated in to two basic types, term and permanent life insurance. With term insurance a person pays a certain amount of money, called a premium, for a period of time, from one year up to 30 years. During the specified period of time, as long as the insured person is paying the premium, the insurance company is obligated to pay a certain amount of money, called a death benefit, to the insured person’s beneficiary in the event the insured person dies during that time period. If the person does not die in that time period the insurance company keeps the money as well as the earnings on that money. While there are different types of term insurance nowadays, including “return of premium” term which returns the insureds premium dollars at the end of the term(but not the earnings on the money), the general jist of term insurance is that a person is covered during a certain period of time. If they want coverage beyond that time period they have to buy another policy. Term insurance is really not the focus of this article so if that’s what you have you can stop reading now if you wish, and rest assured that as long as you pay the premium, and the insurance company remains financially solvent, your family will be paid in the event of your untimely death.

The other type insurance is called permanent insurance. Permanent insurance is insurance that has a death benefit to it, similar to term, but also contains a savings “sidecar”, this gives the policy a value called cash value. The premiums are paid on the policy, a portion is pulled to pay for the insurance and the remainder goes into the savings sidecar. There are three primary types of permanent insurance that vary depending on what is done with the savings component. The first type of permanent insurance is Whole Life Insurance. The savings component of Whole Life Insurance is invested in the general fund of the insurance company where it earns interest. The amount of interest apportioned to a particular individual is depended on how much of the money in the general fund belongs to that individual. Some policies if they are are “participating” policies also earn dividends. Generally speaking whole life policies are not a lapse danger as the amounts that it earns are guaranteed by the insurance company. As long as the insurance company remains solvent it will pay out a death benefit. The only problems a person who owns a Whole Life policy typically runs into is overpaying for insurance, and the death benefit not keeping pace with inflation.

The second type of permanent insurance is called Universal Life Insurance. With Universal Life Insurance the savings sidecar is a separate account, as opposed to Whole Life where the savings sidecar is invested into the general fund of the insurance company. Universal Life Insurance’s main advantage is it’s flexibility. For example, if you are a landscaper in the northeastern part of the country and basically have your winter months off, you could buy a Universal Life policy, fund it heavily during the spring, summer, and fall when you’re raking in the big bucks, and then not pay anything during the winter months. As long as there is a certain amount of money in the savings sidecar (based on insurance company formulas), nothing needs to be done. Also, if you need additional insurance because you just had a child, you don’t need to buy another policy. As long as you are insurable you can increase the death benefit on your current Universal Life Insurance policy and pay the extra premium. The money in the savings sidecar of a Universal Life Insurance policy is typically invested in ten year bonds. The Universal Life policy has a guaranteed interest rate to it, as well as a current rate. The money in the sidecar typically earns the slightly higher current rate, but the policy owner is only guranateed the guaranteed amount. Keep this last thought in your mind because after I describe Variable Insurance in the next paragraph, I’m going to tie these two together in the following paragraph and that final concept is the thing that’s going wrong

The final type of permanent life insurance is Variable Life Insurance. It can be either straight Variable Life Insurance, or Variable Universal Life Insurance, which combines the versatility of Universal with Variable Life Insurance. Variable Insurance came about due to the awesome bull market in stocks that ran basically uninterrupted from 1982 through 2000. People wanted to invest as much as possible in the stock market and the thought of investing money in an insurance policy that invested in lower yielding bonds was quite distasteful to many. So the Variable Insurance Policy was built. With Variable Life the savings sidecar can be invested in insurance “sub-accounts” which are basically mutual funds within a Variable Life, or Variable Annuity. In fact, many sub-accounts exactly mirror a particular mutual fund, some mutual fund managers manage both their respective fund as well as its sub-account “sister.” So with the Variable Life policy buying insurance no longer meant leaving the high flying stock market, you could have the best of both worlds by protecting your family AND investing in the stock market. As long as the savings in the sidecar was at an adequate level things were fine. Again, remember this last line because I’m about to show you how the whole thing goes to pot.

In the heyday of Universal Life Insurance and Variable Life Insurance interest rates were high and so was the stock market, and the insurance industry had two products that were custom designed to take advantage of the times. The problem came about when the agents designing these policies for the public assumed that the high interest rates and high flying stock market would never end. You see, whenever these products are sold, several assumptions have to be made outside of the guaranteed aspect of the policies which is typically about 3-5%, depending on the insurance company. The current values are paid out based on the prevailing rates or returns of the time, and that’s exactly how the policies were designed. I can still remember when I began in the insurance industry back in 1994, when the experienced agents in my office were were writing Universal Life with a hypothetical 10-15% interest rate. Variable Universal would be written anywhere between 10-20%. Happy days were here to stay. Or were they? Unfortunately, those interest rates started heading south about the mid-1990s, and as we all know, except for a couple of years, the stock market didn’t do so swell after the 2000 tech bubble, maybe two or three “up” years out of eight and possibly nine. This is a real problem because many families’ futures were riding on the assumptions that were made in these policies. Many policyowners were told to pay during their working years and then to quit when they retired and the policy would be fine, the returns earned on the savings sidecar would keep the policy in force. There are countless Universal and Variable Life policies in bank and corporate trust accounts, as well as in dresser drawers and fire proof safes that were bought and assumed that as long as the premiums were paid, things were good to go. Many of these policies are sick or dying as we speak. Some people, or trustees will get a notice letting them know that they need to add more money or the policy will lapse, of course by this time “red line” has already been reached. The people who get this notice may even ignore it because hey, the agent said that all would be well, “pay for 20 years and the family will be taken care of when I meet my maker.” So the policy will lapse and nobody will know it till it comes time for the family to collect their money, only to find out that they will meet the same fate as Old Mother Hubbard’s Dog. If anybody reading this can picture the litigation attorneys licking their chops, waiting to let insurance agents and trustees have it with both barrels for negligence, don’t worry that onslaught has already begun. But if you have one of these policies, don’t count on the 50/50 prospect of winning a court case, do something about it!

One of the first things I do when I get a new client that has an existing permanent life insurance policy is do an “audit” of that policy. Just like the IRS does an audit to find out where the money went, I do an audit to find out where the premiums went. The way this is done is by ordering what is called an “In Force Ledger” on the policy from the insurance company. The In Force Ledger will show the status of the policy now under current conditions, as well as several other scenarios paying more or less money. It will also show if the policy is lapsed or will lapse in the future. By doing this audit the policyholder may get something that they didn’t have before, OPTIONS!

For example, take a 50 year old policyowner, who is also the insured on the policy, and the In Force Ledger showed that the policy, under current condtions is going to lapse when the policyowner is 63 assuming premium payments were going to be kept the same, and stock market conditions were going to stay the same (this was in early 2007 and this policy was a Variable Universal Life, it probably would not have lasted till 63, given what has happened in the stock market.) Since the policyowner is the family breadwinner, they have a 16 year old daughter, and their savings could not sustain the wife and daughter in the event of an early death of the breadwinner, whether or not to keep the life insurance is not even a question, life insurance is absolutely needed in this case. Now the next question is, does he keep on paying on a policy that is going to lapse or write a new one? For that I go to some business associates at an insurance brokerage I work with, and find out how we can get a new policy without a huge increase in premium, in some cases the it is possible to get an increase in death benefit and a decrease in premium. How can this be done since the policyholder is older than when the policy is written? Easy. With the advances in medicine between 1980 and 2000 (the years the mortality tables used were written), people are living longer, conditions that used to cause death such as cancer, people are surviving and even live normal lives after the cancer is eliminated. It used to be you either smoked or you didn’t. Now allowances are made for heavy smokers, social smokers, snuff users, cigar smokers etc. One company will even allow mild cannabis use. So in some cases your policy may not be lapsing, but a person may be overpaying even though they are older. Maybe they smoked socially then, but quit 5 years ago, but their policy still has them listed as a smoker paying the same premium as someone that smoked like a chimney. What happens if the solution that makes the most sense is a new policy? We do what is called a 1035 Exchange into a new policy, that allows the cash value of the current policy to be transferred to the new one without being taxed. What if the insured doesn’t want another life insurance policy but wants to get out of the one they are currently in and not pay taxes? Then we do a 1035 Exchange to an annuity, either variable or fixed. I’m currently using a no-load annuity that works great and the expenses are low. Is a 1035 Exchange right in every situation? Absolutely NOT! Many things must be explored before making the exchange, especially on a policy written before 1988 when the tax law on insurance policies changed for the worse, in the above example it proved to be the correct move, but in the end it’s up to the policyowner and family as to what direction to go.

In conclusion, if you have a permanent life insurance policy that is 5 years old or older, make sure you have it audited. The cost (nothing), versus the benefit (a family that doesn’t have financial worries in their time of grief) makes this decision a no-brainer.

How I Became An Expert on Doors

Why You Should Use the Best Window Replacement Companies

When building your property, you’ll realize that you will need to have Windows especially because they are an important part of controlling the amount of light and also, the ventilation. You have to be able to look at the quality of the windows that you have so that you can be able to determine if the windows require some work or not. Normally, having your windows replaced will always be very important especially if they are not in perfect condition. Although there are many reasons that can motivate you to replace the windows, some of the most common reasons include the fact that the windows may be outdated or, they may be damaged. One thing you realize is that you have to look for the best company that is going to provide you with window replacement services if you want to get the most benefits. Looking for the companies that will be able to deliver the kind of windows that you want to be good for you. One of the biggest things that you will notice is that you’d be able to have an easier time if you decide to work with companies that provide the best replacement services.

It would be very easy for you to make the right decisions in the process of replacing your windows because these companies will be there to advise you. You are going to have a lot of window replacement options when it comes to working with the right companies and that is an important point to look at. You really need to be working with the right companies especially because they understand the options that are openly available to you and, they will help you to understand the pros and cons of each type that you can know how to choose. The companies are also going to advise you on the different designs and which ones are going to be perfect for your property. You will actually be able to get all of the necessary materials when you work with these companies and that is something that you have to focus on. Because they have connections with the different companies in the industry, they will always be able to get all of these problems and very affordable prices.

Providing very affordable services will also be another advantage that they will give you. The window replacement work is always going to be done by these companies especially because they understand and they have the technicians to do everything that you need. The fact that you will not be able to have new windows of your premises means that you’d be able to have better temperature regulation, better lighting, and many other advantages.

Twelve Secrets and Tricks to Buying Life Insurance

Secret #1: Don’t spend too much time on a life insurance quote.

Do not be fooled by the low price quotes you get online – they don’t apply to you unless you are extremely healthy. Statistically only 10% of people who apply actually get the lowest priced policy. The premium you end up paying has nothing to do with the initial quote you get online or from an agent. It is amazing to me how often I see people getting duped by an agent who quotes company X at a lower price than another agent.

Life insurance policies are the same price no matter who you buy from! One agent or website quoting a lower premium means nothing. Prices for any given policy is based on your age and health. There are a few exceptions to this but that is beyond the breadth of this article.

Most life insurance companies have 10-20 different health/price ratings and no agent or website can assure you the quote they give you is accurate. You have to apply, do a health check, and then go through underwriting (meaning you complete a mini-exam with a nurse in your home and then the company checks you doctor records and reviews and ‘rates’ your health) to get the real price of the policy. Remember that a health rating also factors in your family history, driving record, and the type of occupation you have. Only use quotes to help narrow down your choices to the top companies. You may want to consider a no load or low policy. The more that you save on commissions the more money builds up in your policy. You can even buy term insurance no load, and save a lot on premiums. You will not get the help of an agent, which may be worth something if they are very good.

The most important factor determining price is matching your particular health history with the company best suited for that niche. For instance company X might be best for smokers, company Y for cancer survivors, Company Z for people with high blood pressure, etc.

Secret #2: Ignore the hype on term versus cash value permanent insurance.

You can go crazy reading what everyone has to say on buying term insurance versus a whole or universal life policy. Big name websites give advice that I think borders on fraudulent. Simply put there is NO simple answer on whether you should buy permanent cash value policies or term insurance.

But I do think there is a simple rule of thumb – buy term for your temporary insurance needs and cash value insurance for your permanent needs. I have read in various journals and run mathematical equations myself which basically show that if you have a need for insurance beyond 20 years that you should consider some amount of permanent insurance. This is due to the tax advantage of the growth of the cash value within in a permanent policy. I am divorced and have taken care of my children should I die. I probably no longer need as much insurance as I now have. I have earned a great return on my policies and have paid no taxes. I no longer pay the premiums, because there is so much cash in the policies. I let the policies pay themselves. I would not call most life insurance a good investment. Because I bought my policies correctly, and paid almost no sales commissions my policies are probably my best investments. I no longer own them, so when I die my beneficiaries will get the money both tax free, and estate tax free.

Since most people have short term needs like a mortgage or kids at home they should get some term. Additionally most people want some life insurance in place for their whole life to pay for burial, help with unpaid medical bills and estate taxes and so a permanent policy should be purchased along with the term policy.

Secret #3: Consider applying with two companies at once.

Life insurance companies really don’t like this “trick” because it gives them competition and increases their underwriting costs.

Secret #4: Avoid captive life insurance agents.

Look for a life insurance agent who represents at least fifty life insurance companies and ask them for a multi company quote showing the best prices side by side. Some people try to cut the agent out and just apply online. Just remember that you don’t save any money that way because the commissions normally earned by the agent are just kept by the insurance company or the website insurance company without having your premium lowered.

Plus a good agent can help you maneuver through some of the complexities of filling out the application, setting up your beneficiaries, avoiding mistakes on selecting who should be the owner, the best way to pay your premium, and also will be there to deliver the check and assist your loved ones if the life insurance is ever used.

Secret #5: Consider refinancing old life policies.

Most companies won’t tell you but the price you pay on your old policies has probably come down dramatically if you are in good health. In the last few years life insurance companies have updated their predictions on how long people will live. Since we are living longer they are reducing their rates rather dramatically. Beware the agent may be doing this to obtain a new commission, so make sure it really makes sense.

I really am amazed at how often we find that our client’s old policies are twice as expensive as a new one. If you need new life insurance consider “refinancing” your old policies and using the savings on the old policies to pay for the new policy – that way there is no extra out-of-pocket costs. We like to think of this process as “refinancing your life insurance” – just like you refinance your mortgage.

Secret #6: Realize life insurance companies have target niches that constantly change.

One day company ‘X’ is giving good rates to people who are a little overweight and the next month they are super strict. Company ‘Y’ might be lenient on people with diabetes because they don’t have many diabetics on the books – meaning they will give good rates to diabetics. At the same time company ‘W’ might be very strict on diabetics because they are insuring lots of diabetics and are afraid they have too big of a risk in that area – meaning they will give a bad rate to new diabetics who apply.

Unfortunately when you are applying a life insurance company will not tell you, “Hey, we just raised our rates in diabetics.” They will just happily take your money if you were not smart enough to shop around. This is the number one area a smart agent can come in handy. Since a good multi-company agent is constantly applying with multiple companies he or she will have a good handle on who is currently the most lenient on underwriting for you particular situation. The problem is that this is hard work and many agents are either too busy or not set up to efficiently shop around directly to different underwriters and see who would make you the best offer. This is a lot harder than just running you a quote online.

Secret #7: Don’t forget customer service.

Most people shopping for insurance focus on companies with the lowest price and the best financial rating. Unfortunately I know of some A+ rated companies with low rates who I would not touch with a ten foot pole simply because it’s easier to give birth to a porcupine backwards then it is to get customer service from them.

Before I understood this I used a life insurance company that gave a client a great rate but 2 years later the client called me and said, “I have mailed in all my payments on time but just got a notice saying my policy lapsed.” It turned out the company had been making lots of back office mistakes and had lost the premium payment!

We were able to fix it because we caught the problem so early. But if the client happened to have died during the short period the policy had lapsed, his family might have had a hard time proving that the premium had been paid on time and they might not have received the life insurance money – a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars in that case.

Secret #8: Apply 3-6 months ahead of the time you need the insurance if possible.

Don’t be in a hurry to get a policy if you already have some coverage in force. But go ahead and apply right away knowing that you might need months to shop around if the first company does not give you a good rate. Even though the life insurance industry is getting more automated your application will still often be held up for weeks or months while the insurance company waits on your doctor’s office to mail them a copy of you medical records.

If you are in a hurry and buy a quickie ‘no-underwriting’ policy without going through the full health checks and underwriting that a mainstream life insurance company requires, you will end up paying 20%-50% more because the insurance company will automatically charge you higher rates because they don’t know whether you are healthy or about to die the next day.

Secret #9: Avoid buying extra life insurance through work if you are healthy.

I am sure there are exceptions to this “trick” but I have rarely found one. By all means keep the free life insurance your employer provides. But if you are healthy and you are paying for supplemental life insurance through payroll deduction you are almost certainly paying too much. What is happening is that your ‘overpayments’ ends up subsidizing the unhealthy people in your company who are buying life insurance through payroll deduction.

Usually the life insurance company has cut a deal with your employer and will waive the required health exam for all employees – instead they just average the price for all the employees and offer one or two rates for males or females at any given age. Life insurance companies know they will pick up lots of unhealthy clients this way so they jack up the price on everyone so that the healthy people end up overpaying so that the unhealthy employees get a cheaper policy. Also, unlike the guaranteed term policies which we recommend, most life insurance you buy through work will get more expensive as you get older.

Also group life insurance is generally not portable when you retire or change jobs meaning that when you retire or change jobs you might have to apply all over again even though you will be older and probably not as healthy and risk being turned down for a policy. If the group plan does allow portability they generally limit your conversion choices and force you to go into expensive cash value plans.

I remember helping someone evaluate his supplemental life insurance. He was sure it was a better deal than any policy I could find him. Little did he know that the price of his group plan would go up every year? By the time he retired his premium would have risen to over $10,000/year. I found him a policy for around $1000/year that would never go up. Also, unlike his old group life policy, he could take the individual policy with him when he changed jobs or retired.

Secret #10: Do a trial application on a COD payment basis.

Only send money with the application if you need the life insurance coverage right away. Sending a check with the application is a traditional practice agents used to do – I think mostly because it got them their commissions faster. If you send money with an application you usually get temporary coverage immediately but if you already have plenty of coverage and are just trying to get better rates ask your agent to do a trial application on a COD basis so you only pay once the policy is approved. If you do not send money, and you die before paying for the policy there is no coverage.

Secret #11: Wear your shoes when the nurse measures your height.

When the insurance company sends out the nurse to do your health check try to be as tall as possible if you are overweight? In most states you are allowed to wear shoes and if you are a little overweight your taller height/weight ratio will look a little better to the underwriter who is determining your health rating and policy price. Also do your exam early in the morning with no food in you – this will make your cholesterol count and various health ratios look the best.

Secret #12: Be careful with extra perks and riders.

Most policies come with options like accidental death benefit, child riders, disability riders, return of premium etc. If you do the math on most of these “extras” they usually don’t make smart financial sense. Life insurance companies are out to make money and these riders are usually profitable because they either cover something that rarely happens or they are so stringent that the benefit never gets paid out. Keep things simple and focus mainly on getting a life policy to cover your life without many strings attached. Again a good agent can help you weigh the benefits of the extra riders. But be wary of an agent who tries to tack on every possible extra rider.

Life Insurance Basics

Buying Life insurance often seems like a daunting and unnecessary task, but neither statement needs to be true. Buying Life Insurance can be simple, if given the right tools and the need for life insurance is a matter of financial responsibility.

Before diving into the process of purchasing, it’s important to understand which type of insurance you may need. There are two types of life insurance, Term Life insurance (temporary) and Permanent life insurance (such as whole or universal). Both types of policies offer financial benefits for the policy holder or their beneficiary to protect against death or life-altering accidents. Which type of insurance to purchase is dependent upon the needs of the insured and the purpose for which you are seeking life insurance.

To better understand which type is best for you, let’s take a look at the two types of insurance and what they offer:

TERM LIFE INSURANCE

Term life insurance is often the easiest and cheapest type of insurance to purchase. Term Life is an excellent source of added insurance, especially during the work years of life. The benefits of purchasing term life insurance are it’s initial affordability and renewability.

Term Insurance can be purchased relatively cheap and is carried for a specified period of time (referred to as relevant term). This type of insurance is paid, dollar for dollar, there is no equity and no cash value to the holder. Upon death, the insurance would pay out to the beneficiary (person designated by insurance holder) the cash benefits. The cash is often used to cover debts incurred such as mortgage, loans, funerals and college tuition for dependents.

The fixed term of the insurance is set dependent upon your needs. You can set it for one year, with a renewable term. The downside is that each year you have to prove insurability and in general the cost of purchasing the insurance will increase. Once the policy has reached it’s date of expiration, you can opt to renew the insurance, at an increased cost.

WHOLE LIFE INSURANCE or PERMANENT LIFE INSURANCE

Whole life insurance policies or permanent insurance carries less initial investment as compared to the cost of Term Life insurance rates. The policies are held over a longer period of time and often are paid out with death as long as the payments are made and current.

The downside to purchasing whole life insurance is the overall cost of the insurance vs. the benefits. In other words, will the amount you pay in premiums be worth the pay-out benefits when you need them? It’s important to get an accurate idea of what the cost vs payout will be from an authorized insurance provider.

On the upside, whole life insurance increases in value and can often, if needed, be borrowed from by the insured prior to cashing in the policy. This benefit can often assist a family during tough financial times.

When deciding which type of life insurance policy suits you best, consider the purpose of the policy, the cost and the payout. An authorized insurance agent can often help you decide which policy will best meet the needs of you and your family.

The internet can be a wonderful tool to assist you in comparing rates on various types of insurance against various companies. This is a great first step to purchasing life insurance, but should not be the only step.

It’s important to do your homework when shopping for life insurance. Like any other financial investment, knowing the pros and cons of each company can be beneficial in the long run to prevent surprises when trying to cash in the policy. You can check up on the rating of insurance companies through a variety of national life insurance rating policies and can be found on the web.

Purchasing life insurance can be beneficial and offer financial security once you understand the basics.

What You Should Know About Houses This Year

Are Lawn Care Services Beneficial Or Not?

If you have a lawn in your backyard, whether big or small, you will want to make sure that it is well kept and fully maintained. But the truth is that dealing with your own lawn care is a not easier said than done. But you should worry and stress over that fact because you can hire a lawn care service to rescue you in this area. To be sure, lawn care services have a lot of benefits in store for you. You can be sure that these benefits are yours when you hire lawn care services. However, you might ask yourself what kinds of benefits do lawn care services provide. This article is actually going to explain the greatest benefits that you will receive if you hire lawn care services. So here now are the top 3 benefits.

You can be sure that, with lawn care services, you will be able to enjoy great convenience. The truth is that you are going to face inconvenience after inconvenience if you do your own lawn care. And to be sure, these inconveniences will increase if you are busy with other things. The reason how lawn care services offer convenience is simple, and that is that they will do the lawn care for you, from start to finish. So this is benefit number one that you will receive from lawn care services.

The second benefit that lawn care services offer you is the peace of mind you will enjoy. It can be really stressful when you want your lawns well kept and maintained but you can never find time to do just that. If you want to ensure that your lawns are well kept, then not doing anything about it will produce even greater stress and worry over it. But that stress can be replaced with peace of mind when lawn care services come to the rescue. So the fact that lawn care services offer peace of mind is the second great benefit that you will receive.

The third benefit that lawn care services offer you is the high-quality tools that they will use. If you want to care properly for your lawn, then you will need to use the right tools for it. You will surely have to go out and get those tools if you do not own any for your lawn care. The best thing about lawn care services is that they have all the tools needed, and these tools are the best in quality. So the fact that lawn care services offer the right and best tools for the job is the third great benefit that you will receive.

The Art of Mastering Cleaning

Top Factors When Choosing a Carpet Cleaning Company

Your carpet plays an essential role in adding comfort and adding to its beauty, and getting it to be appropriately cleaned is one way to maintain enjoying these benefits. Getting a professional to carry out carpet cleaning services is an excellent decision. Among the different carpet cleaning companies, you need to be able to know what’s to choose so that you can get the best carpet cleaning services. Find out the top factors to consider when choosing a carpet cleaning company in this article.

It is necessary to look at the expertise level that a particular company has in providing carpet cleaning services. You need to look at the level of training that a specific company has invested in for it stuff so that they can handle high-quality carpet cleaning services. When staff members are adequately trained, not only will they do the job well, but they will also do it within the time set for it. When time and quality specifications are met, the expenses involved are likely to go down. When such staff members are also experienced in providing carpet cleaning services, they also are likely to offer high-quality and efficient results.

The degree of flexibility and reliability that a specific carpet cleaning company can provide is something necessary to consider. Even when you’re not present to look at the work going on, you need to get a reliable service provider who will offer carpet cleaning services that are of high quality every time. The company that you choose should also be one that provides flexibility so that it can adapt to your busy lifestyle.

The customer service levels that you get to access if you choose a specific carpet cleaning company is something you need to consider. You are likely to prefer working with a company which has friendly staff compared to one that does not portray these traits. A company that offers additional services to satisfy you as much as possible is also likely to be an attractive option. Among the additional services that a cleaning company can provide include tile and grout cleaning and floor cleaning services.

The cost is also something essential for you to consider. You need to compare the value that you will get if you obtain your required carpet cleaning services from a specific company with the prices charged for the services. It is necessary that you do not choose a company based on lowest prices but, instead, the value that you expect to get when you receive the services from a particular company.

Finding Similarities Between Fabrication and Life

Tips for Choosing a Suitable Welding Expert

When you want to build a certain structure that will use metallic material it will be a good idea to make sure that you hire the services of a welding expert. A lot of people make a choice to hire the services of a welding expert as there are a lot of benefits that they are able to get by hiring an expert. You will have to make sure that you choose the right welding expert from the many that you will be able to get. The discussion below is about the tips that you will have to make sure that you consider when you are choosing the right welding expert to hire.

You will have to make sure that you consider the welding method that you need when you are choosing the right welding expert to hire. There are many different welding methods that are available and each of them is different from the other. By knowing the welding method that you need it will be easy for you to know the welding expert that you will choose for the welding method that you need.

The second tip that you will have to make sure that you consider when you are choosing the right welding expert to hire is working quality. By choosing to work with a person that has a lot of skills you will be able to get quality finishes that will serve you for a long time. It will be a good choice to make sure that you hire a welding expert that produces quality finishes.

When you are choosing the right welding expert that you will have to hire you will need to consider the affordability of the welding expert. There are a lot of welding experts that you will be able to get and mostly they will tend to charge different amounts for the services that they give. The best welding expert that you need to hire must be able to charge you an amount that you can be able to afford.

You will have to make sure that you consider the recommendations that you will be able to get when you are choosing the best welding expert to hire. Your friends and family members will be able to tell you the best welding expert that you can be able to hire. The discussion above is about the tips that you will have to make sure that you consider when you are choosing the best welding expert to hire.