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Millennials and Life Insurance

More than any other generation, millennials (born 1981-1996) are going without life insurance. In some instances this is understandable; perhaps you are debt free or never plan to have children. However there are some considerations you should take into account before writing off life insurance entirely. Here are some questions to ask yourself if you are a millennial considering (or who has never before considered) the possibility of purchasing life insurance.

DO YOU HAVE OTHERS DEPENDING ON YOU?

Whether it’s children, aging parents, or a disabled sibling, if there is someone who is financially depending on you for their future, life insurance will be there to take care of them. Although many millennials are waiting longer to get married and have children, life insurance is most affordable when you are young. This means even if you do not have children but plan to in the future, purchasing life insurance now is a good option. Once you begin having children, you can always adjust your coverage to fit your new needs.

DO YOU HAVE CO-SIGNED DEBT?

Americans owe over $1.56 trillion in student loan debt, and much of that debt belongs to millennial borrowers. While it is true that federal student loans are forgiven if you die, private loans are not. If you have a co-signer on your loan, such as your parents, they will be strapped with the responsibility of paying off the remaining debt if you pass. The same goes for any credit cards, cars, or mortgages with a co-signer. Having life insurance in place is a good idea for millennials with co-signed debts, since it will assist your co-signers in paying off the remaining balance.

IS THERE A HISTORY OF HEALTH ISSUES IN YOUR FAMILY?

If your parents have heritable health conditions, there is a chance you could be diagnosed with the same condition eventually. Since it’s the most affordable to purchase life insurance when you are young and healthy, it is best to do it before you develop any health issues that may make life insurance more expensive or make you unable to qualify.

ARE YOU AN ENTREPRENEUR?

Many millennials are interested in entrepreneurship. If you own a business with someone else, they probably depend on you to keep the operation going. You can make sure the business you’ve built from the bottom up won’t be hurt by your death by purchasing life insurance, with the intent that the benefit be used for these purposes.

DO YOU LIVE WITH A SIGNIFICANT OTHER OR ROOMMATES?

It’s increasingly common for unmarried millennials to cohabit with a partner, and many live with one or more roommates. Unlike life insurance that benefits a spouse or children, a policy intended to assist housemates with the cost of rent will not need to cover a long span of years. It will only need to help with covering expenses through the end of your lease.

Is Employer-Provided Insurance Enough?

You sit down with your new employer to discuss benefits, and they mention providing a low-cost or free life insurance policy. Great! You’re set, right? Don’t be so sure… Insurance provided through an employer group policy, especially life insurance, is likely not going to be sufficient for your needs and those of your dependents.

It Looks Good On Paper, But…

We’re human. If someone gives us something for free – or even cheaper than we expect – we jump at the chance to take it. This is completely understandable, but you shouldn’t let the “too good to be true” nature of employer-provided insurance blind you from seeing what you really might need coverage-wise. A life insurance plan provided through your employer likely amounts to only one or two times your salary. True, you may have the option to purchase additional coverage through your employer’s plan, but even this additional coverage might not be sufficient.

What Happens if You Leave Your Job?

If you find yourself in between jobs, and you have lost your employer-provided life insurance, your dependents will be left vulnerable in the unthinkable case of your death. Just like other workplace benefits, employer-provided insurance is not portable. You could leave your job for a number of reasons – health issues, termination, retirement, or simply wishing to move on. Even taking a leave of absence or switching to a part-time schedule could affect your eligibility for benefits. To protect against dangerous gaps in your insurance coverage, the smart thing to do is to purchase your own individual life insurance policy.

It’s Better to Act Now

Another factor to consider is your age and health status. If you are young and healthy, now is the best time to purchase life insurance in the individual market. Your premiums will likely be lower, and as you age your premiums may be higher, or it may be more difficult to qualify for coverage. Avoid potentially being declined in the future by securing the coverage you need now.

Determine What You Really Need

Opinions vary on how much life insurance the average person needs. Most experts recommend 10 times your salary. Some individuals may be able to get away with purchasing less, or even with sticking with or adding to their employer-provided coverage. That’s great! However, people with large numbers of dependents or significant debts will certainly need the most coverage they can afford. An independent insurance agent can assist you in determining how much life insurance you should have based on your own unique circumstances. Reach out today to get a quote from an agent with the experience to understand what you need.

What to Expect In a Life Insurance Exam

If you are reasonably healthy with no preexisting medical conditions, it is likely that your best bet for getting great life insurance at a low rate is to take a physical exam. This exam determines if you are prone to illnesses that would make you a higher risk to insure, such as diabetes, heart disease, cancer, stroke, etc. We’ve put together a list of things to expect from your exam so you can be better prepared to take it.

When, Where, and How Long

The exam itself won’t be much different than a routine exam with your doctor. However, there is no set office location that insurance companies operate out of, and they know that scheduling an appointment can be difficult. Therefore, they will send out a paramedical technician either to your home or workplace, depending on your preference. You’ll want to schedule the exam early in the morning if you can, because fasting blood work will be required. The exam itself should only take about 30 minutes.

Before Your Exam

To get the best results possible from your physical, drink plenty of water the day before and the morning of your exam. Also, skip your morning coffee – caffeine will elevate your blood pressure, which could mean a difference in your test results and cost of premium, even if you aren’t prone to blood pressure issues! Similarly, avoid alcohol, nicotine, excessive salt, and fatty foods a few days before your exam, as these substances can negatively affect your blood work results. Make sure to study up on your medical history and be ready to list any medications you take, as well.

During Your Exam

During the exam, your tech will perform routine health checks you would normally expect from a doctor: height/weight, pulse, blood pressure, blood work, and a urine sample. If you are an older applicant, your technician may ask you to undergo an EKG to measure your heart’s electrical activity. These tests are performed to check for the following:

  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Elevated cholesterol
  • Nicotine usage
  • Recreational drugs
  • Hyperglycemia
  • Blood diseases such as HIV and hepatitis

After Your Exam

The results from your paramedical exam will be given to the insurance company and taken into consideration along with your age, family medical history, and lifestyle. If all goes as it should, expect to hear back with your actual quote within a few weeks.

If you’ve been keeping healthy and prepared for the exam properly, you should pass the exam and score a lower premium on your policy! If you’re concerned that the results of your exam are inaccurate, you can ask your carrier to schedule a second exam. This will not do away with the results of the first exam, but the two will be combined and your new premium will be based on the composite.

Keep In Touch With Your Agent!

If you have any questions at all before or after your paramedical exam, don’t hesitate to give your independent agent a call. Not only are they experts in the insurance field, but they can direct you to the right carriers for your case to help you get the best price on life insurance, no matter the state of your health.

How Non-US Citizens Get Life Insurance

Selecting a life insurance policy is an important step for planning ahead and taking care of the financial well-being of your family. But can you still get coverage if you aren’t a US citizen? In most cases, yes. There are very few instances where your citizenship status disqualifies you from coverage. The circumstances of your policy are different than those of current citizens, so there will be some more hoops to jump through, but there are plenty of providers who should be able to give you the coverage you need.

Learn more about obtaining life insurance as a non-citizen here:

Your Identification Makes a Difference

Whether or not you’re going to have a simple time of getting life insurance depends on the type of ID you have. If you are a green card holder, you are considered a permanent U.S. resident, and you shouldn’t have any problems applying for any life insurance policy you want. The only additional step you will need to take is sending proof of your immigration status to the insurance company.

Things start to get trickier if you hold a visa or a student visa. Visa card holders can be approved by many different carriers, but the companies have varying criteria for determining your residency. Most of these criteria are based on substantial presence and significant interest (more on that below).

The group most likely to have problems qualifying for life insurance coverage is non-citizens who hold student visas. Most insurance companies are hesitant to approve policies because they know that the visa is only temporary. However, it isn’t impossible to get life insurance with a student visa. You just need to speak with your insurance agent to determine the best route to take.

Substantial Presence & Significant Interest

Substantial presence and significant interest are the two primary factors that insurance companies consider when visa card holders apply for a life insurance policy.

To qualify under substantial presence in the United States, you typically need to have lived stateside for a minimum of one year. Many carriers require you to prove you have lived in the US for one or two years, and some require as many as five years. Ask your agent which carriers you best qualify with based on your time spent in the US.

In order to qualify based on significant interest, you need to have a vested reason to remain in or frequent the US. You must prove to the insurance carrier that you own a sizable amount of property or assets in the country, such as a home or business.

Rely on Independent Agents

Shopping for a great insurance policy within your budget can be difficult enough to begin with. If you are not a US citizen, qualifying for life insurance can present even more obstacles. Trust an experienced independent agent to find a variety of good carriers with policies you qualify for!

How Whole Life Insurance Can Be Useful During Your Lifetime

Permanent life insurance, sometimes referred to as whole life insurance, is a policy guaranteed to remain in force for the insured’s entire lifetime as long as the premiums are paid. While it serves its purpose of helping your beneficiaries when you pass away, it can also help you financially during your lifetime in several ways.

Fixed Premiums & Tax Free Benefits

The premiums on a whole life insurance policy are usually higher than premiums on term life, but the good news is that whole life premiums are fixed. The premium is based on the age of issue, and they usually do not increase with age. The policyholder either pays premiums until death, or establishes a limited pay policy that can be paid up in 10 to 20 years, or by age 65. The death benefit paid by a whole life insurance policy typically passes on to your beneficiaries income tax-free.

Opportunities for Policy Dividends

When insurance companies experience better-than-expected performance, they sometimes pay whole life insurance policyholders a return of premium. These dividends are never a guarantee, but they can be a nice surprise to increase a policy’s death benefit or cash value! What you receive from the dividends is also not usually considered taxable income, so the reward is 100% yours to keep.

Cash Value

The cash value of a whole life insurance policy makes it valuable to you long before death. A whole life insurance policy allows for accumulation of cash value on a tax deferred basis over time. The policyholder can use this cash value to help cover unexpected expenses, debts, or simply go towards retirement income. Unpaid loans and withdrawals will reduce the cash value and the death benefit, but utilizing this option may be worth it if you find yourself in a tight spot financially.

Get the Coverage You Need Today

Are your beneficiaries protected in the event of your death? If not, it’s time to look into a life insurance policy. The benefits in this blog accompany a whole life insurance policy, but there are multiple coverage options available depending on your needs. Contact our independent agents to get your questions answered and get on the road to great coverage!

Will My Family History Affect My Life Insurance Rates?

You’ve probably heard that you can’t get good rates on life insurance if you have an existing medical condition. But what if you’re a healthy person with a not-so-healthy family history? Unfortunately, those odds of pre-existing conditions can be stacked against your life insurance premium as well. However, there are benefits to being educated about what to expect and how to get the best deals on life insurance regardless of your family history, so we’ve outlined some advice for you below:

Know What Underwriters Are Looking For

To fully understand what you’re getting into when you apply for a life insurance policy, you need to know what policy underwriters consider a risk and what they don’t. There are a lot of disorders that are known to recur through generations more than others. If one of your immediate family members has been diagnosed with any of these inherited conditions, the policy underwriter may consider you more of a risk because your likelihood of developing that same condition is higher. This, of course, can lead to higher premiums.

Some inherited conditions that underwriters may consider include:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Blood disorders
  • Alcoholism/drug dependency
  • Neurological disorders
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • And more…

Don’t Try to Get Out of It

We understand it can be frustrating knowing that your premiums will likely increase because of your family history, even if you’re healthy as a horse. But knowingly omitting information in the hopes that the insurance company won’t notice is a really bad idea. When reviewing your life insurance applications, the companies access your Medical Information Bureau reports. This report includes your family’s medical history. When the insurance company sees the information, they will automatically raise your risk class and premium that you will be offered. This may come as a real shock if they quoted you for a lot less originally! If there are too many discrepancies between your application and your medical information, the company may refuse to cover you altogether.

If you do manage to pull a fast one on the insurance company, know that they will investigate your claim upon your death when you’re unable to control any course of action. During this time, if they find out you lied about your history when you applied, they can reduce or completely deny any payout to your beneficiaries. Would it then be worth it to have had that lower premium for so many years? Probably not.

The best thing to do is be upfront with your independent agent about your family history and let them shop their carriers for rates that won’t run you dry.

Realize That the Underwriting Process Varies by Carrier

This is one of the big reasons why you should start your search with an independent insurance agent who works with the big companies and has a good idea of their varying processes. For example, some insurance carriers only consider your parents’ health history, but not your grandparents or siblings. If your family’s health history is already affecting your health, you may consider going with a no exam policy. In this case, the premiums tend to be higher, but some companies may give you a preferred plus rating if your parent did not die before age 60 from a serious medical condition. Other carriers won’t give you that benefit and will only qualify you for standard coverage.

These policy differences are precisely why shopping around and comparing your options is so important, and that is what we’re here for! As independent agents, we work to give you good options for your life insurance policy, despite your family’s medical history. It is possible to take care of your beneficiaries even when the odds are stacked against you. Contact us today to learn more about the perks of working with an independent insurance agency!

Will Using Nicotine Replacement Products Increase My Life Insurance Rates?

As a former smoker, you heard it a million times: you need to stop smoking for your health and your budget. So you did! And you started using smoking cessation products like gum, patches, or e-cigarettes that contain nicotine in order to kick the habit. However, the time has come for you to upgrade your life insurance policy, and you’re wondering if being a nicotine user is going to affect your premium. Even though you aren’t a smoker anymore, are you still eligible for non-smoker benefits on your life insurance? Keep reading to find out.

You Need To Be Smoke-Free For at Least 1 Year

In order to qualify for non-smoker rates with any insurance company, it is a requirement that you be cigarette-free for at least 12 months. If you need a life insurance policy immediately and you’ve only stopped smoking for a few months, you won’t qualify for non-smoker rates when you start your policy, even if you haven’t touched a cigarette. Carriers require this timeframe as a way to protect themselves. If you haven’t smoked in a year, they can trust that you are committed to the switch and are at a lower risk of smoking-related health issues.

It Depends on the Company

Different insurance companies rate nicotine uses in different ways. For example, one company might give non-smoker rates to gum and patch users, but not to e-cigarette users. Another may give e-cigarette users non-smoker rates. The reason is because the use of cessation products cause cotinine (a biomarker for exposure to tobacco smoke) to show up in your urine test whether you smoke or not, which puts you in a tobacco risk class. Every company has a different classification system for insuring customers with a tobacco risk, so your rate depends on who you’re insured by.

Go With An Independent Agent!

Finding a policy that gives you non-smoker rates while you’re using nicotine replacement products can be a complicated process because of the way carriers define tobacco risk status. This situation calls for the expertise of an independent insurance agency like ours. We specialize in finding you the best rates from a selection of carriers. No matter what cessation method you are using to quit smoking, make sure you get a policy with rates that are fair to you and how far you’ve come.

If you don’t smoke cigarettes, you deserve to qualify for non-smoking status on your life insurance policy. Contact us with any questions you have about how your health can affect your coverage options!

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting Life Insurance

Choosing any type of insurance plan can be a daunting task because there are so many factors to consider. What are your risks? How much coverage do you actually need? How much will it cost?

The stakes only get higher when it comes to life insurance, because it’s the one type of insurance that requires your death in order for its benefits to come through. You want your beneficiaries to be protected in the event of your untimely death, but you don’t want to pay exorbitant premiums every year on the off-chance that you live to be 105!

Fortunately, there are solutions for you at all stages of your life. We’ve put together a few questions you should ask yourself when considering life insurance policies, so you can feel comfortable choosing a policy that only covers what you need.

How Healthy Am I?

If you get for an individual life insurance policy (one not offered through your employer), one of the first things you may need to do is take a physical exam. This is good news if you have great health! Being healthy actually keeps your premiums lower, so you will want to opt for an exam when picking your insurance policy.

However, if you have major health issues, there are individual life insurance plans available that do not require an exam. The premiums on these are more than what a healthy person pays with an exam, but you will still be saving money if you know your health problems would seriously increase your premiums. Get a regular check-up to verify how healthy you are before talking to an agent to weigh your options.

Who Are My Beneficiaries?

People depend on you no matter what stage of life you are in, but just how much? The answer to that question will determine so much about your life insurance policy. If you are single with no children and no major debts, you probably won’t need any coverage beyond your group policy, which will cover any funeral expenses and small outstanding debts for your family.

If you are under 40 and in decent health, with a spouse and children, a term life insurance policy is usually a good, inexpensive option. This policy will care for your loved ones in the event of your unexpected passing. It is generally large enough to pay off your home and debts, which gives your family time to grieve and figure out their future finances in peace.

If you take care of a dependent for the duration of their life, such as a special needs family member or elderly parent, their needs will also have to be taken into account when you purchase a life insurance policy.

How Much Life Insurance Can I Afford?

As with any insurance, this really just depends. Group life and term life policies exist for “covering the basics” so to speak. These are usually the most inexpensive policies, and they do a good job at getting your beneficiaries back on their feet.

Permanent life insurance is more expensive. In some cases, it is necessary for making sure a beneficiary with special needs is covered long-term after your passing. In other cases, you may want to look into permanent life insurance if you can afford the higher premium and would like to give your loved ones extra benefits, like premiums that do not increase with changing health conditions, and a good cash value you can use to borrow against throughout your life.

Whatever your needs may be, our agents know the ins and outs of insurance, and we want to answer your questions! Reach out today to start discovering your life insurance options.

Term and Whole Life Insurance: Explained

Life insurance is nobody’s favorite subject of conversation. Most people associate life insurance with expensive monthly premiums and, more importantly, their own mortality. For that reason, many people aren’t sure how life insurance works, or what their options are. However, thinking about your life insurance policy is very important! It is intended to lessen the impact of death on your loved ones, and it doesn’t even have to be expensive. Below, we discuss the major differences between term life insurance and whole life insurance to help you determine which one may be best for you.

 

Term Life Insurance

Term life insurance is a simpler, cheaper type of life insurance that’s a great way to institute a policy without having to cut too deep into monthly expenses. Term life is purchased for a specific time period, anywhere from 5 to 30 years. Death benefits will only be paid if the death occurs during the term of the policy. More often than not, term life will become much more expensive as you age. After the age of 50, the cost of term life quickly creeps up to the cost of permanent life insurance, so you should look into getting it sooner rather than later. Also, these policies can also be converted into whole life insurance in some cases, which is another option if you feel like it may be the time to consider whole life.

 

Whole Life

Term life insurance covers you for a set period of time, while whole life does exactly what you’d expect: it covers you for your whole life! Not only does it provide death benefits when the time comes, but it also provides a cash value accumulation that builds during the life of the policy. This means that you can actually see payoffs of your premium at a certain time, sort of similar to a retirement policy with your employer. It usually takes anywhere from 12 to 15 years to build up a considerable cash value. This cash value is based on how much the return on investment is worth.

 

Acquiring a whole life policy does usually mean a medical examination, but this is not always the case. Sometimes, with a higher premium, whole life insurance can be purchased without a health examination. This type of insurance works great for estate planning, and although it is initially more expensive, you can potentially save money through whole life insurance in the long run. Be sure to see what works best for your finances by speaking with a risk advisor today.

 

Choosing What’s Right

There are many different factors to take into account when deciding what kind of life insurance is right for you. Before speaking with a risk advisor, you should consider several factors:

  • Your current age
  • State of health
  • Financial needs (for yourself and family)
  • Plans for funeral and death expenses
  • Children’s ages
  • Long-term health expenses
  • Mortgage and current debts
  • Retirement plan
  • Future monetary needs of your children
  • Your estate
  • Your thoughts on paying a full term policy and never receiving the value of it

 

Although that may be a long list, factoring in as much as possible is important because life insurance is a big investment. Give our agency a call today so we can help find you the best policy for you and your family.

Group Life vs. An Individual Policy: Which One Is Right For You?

Life insurance is one of those things that most people don’t give much thought to until later in life, although we do recommend younger people explore their life insurance options early. Either way, many people are only on the life insurance policy offered by their place of work. Is that a bad thing or a good thing? Well, that depends. Take a look at some pros and cons of both types below.

 

Group Life Pros & Cons

The base life insurance you receive from your employer is typically 1-3 times the amount of your salary at no cost to you! This is a good cushion for anyone, and a good life insurance plan period if you’re single with no major payments or debts for your beneficiaries to pick up. You also don’t have to go through a medical exam or provide medical records to qualify for coverage on a group life policy, so any preexisting medical conditions won’t count against your premium.

 

However, if you have dependents, your needs will be drastically different. They may need to live on the money from your policy, or pay off your mortgage or student loans, along with using it to pay for a new health insurance plan if theirs was previously covered by your employer. Suddenly, that 1-3 years salary doesn’t stretch very far. In order to cover your beneficiaries properly with your group plan, you would need to pay an additional premium through payroll deduction.

 

With group plans, your premiums tend to be higher because no one on the plan is required to undergo a medical exam. The contract also has to be renewed every 5 years, so it is likely that they will be renewed for higher rates. Lastly, if you ever leave your place of employment, you can’t take your life insurance policy with you. This leaves you and your beneficiaries completely unprotected until you find another job.

 

It is also important to remember that life insurance is a benefit, not a guarantee. If your company needs to make budget cuts, your life insurance policy could be done away with — even if you’ve been paying for additional coverage.

 

Individual Policy Pros & Cons

An individual policy is just that — it is written for you based on your health and financial goals. Unlike a group policy, you have control over your individual plan and can take it with you wherever you go. You can insure your life for much more than 1-3 times your yearly salary, and know that the monthly premium will be locked in for the duration of the policy so there won’t be any surprise rate increases.

 

You will need to pass a medical exam to qualify, but whether or not this is a pro or con depends entirely on your health. If you are a healthy individual with no preexisting medical conditions, you can benefit from a lower premium. Even if your end premium is higher than what you would pay for additional coverage through your company, your beneficiaries will be insured for much more money in the event of your passing, and you can rest easy knowing that your policy isn’t going anywhere.

 

Barring a small percentage of single people with no major payments or debts, the average person will need to pay some kind of premium in order to be properly covered by their life insurance plan. Our agents understand the ins and outs of these policies, and we are here to help you determine what works. Contact us today to get started on a life insurance plan that is right for you.