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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.

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!

When to Update Your Life Insurance Beneficiaries

Life insurance: you may not want to think about it too hard, but you need to. It can be difficult to consider the possibility of your own passing, but when you realize what the financial consequences of your death might be for your loved ones, you’ll realize just how important life insurance is. If you have a policy, that’s the first step. However you cannot simply let that policy sit untouched for all the years of your life. There are certain changes you may go through that would necessitate updating your life insurance beneficiaries. But what are those changes? We’ll dive into it a little deeper.

You Get Married

When you consider the many changes your life will go through after tying the knot, updating your life insurance beneficiary might not be the first thing that comes to mind. But when two become one, often combining their finances, ensuring your spouse will be taken care of in the unthinkable event of your death is one of the most loving things you can do to secure your new life together. Many couples will change their beneficiary to their spouse once the nuptials are over. In fact, depending on where you live you may be required to. The death benefits would ensure your spouse will be able to take care of final expenses, pay off your debts, and not have to experience the burden of entirely losing their partner’s income.

A Child Is Born

You may be having a child together, adopting, or taking over care of a friend or relative’s child. Whatever the case, if an important child comes into your life, you may want to take another look at your life insurance beneficiaries. Some do not recommend adding your new child to your list of beneficiaries, since they will not be able to receive death benefits until reaching the age of majority. However you can still specify to your spouse or other beneficiary that you would like the policy benefits to go towards something specific, such as your child’s education expenses.

You Start a Business

If you own a business with partners, it is possible to include them in your list of life insurance beneficiaries. However, you should also consider creating a buy-sell agreement with any business partners. This will allow your business partner(s) to use the benefits from the agreement to buy out your shares in the company in the event of your death. If you wish to protect the business you have built, make sure to speak with an experienced insurance agent to ensure you have all the coverage you need to keep your business running no matter what.

Whoever you name as your life insurance beneficiary, be sure to inform them right away. This is especially true if you choose someone outside your immediate family, since they may not even expect to be named in your policy. Life insurance benefits will not bring you back after you are gone, but they can go a long way towards protecting the people you care about.

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.

How Marriage Can Change Your Insurance Needs

You already know that marriage will change a lot of things in your life. When you say “I do” you are combining your entire world – and often your home – with someone else’s. Among the changes that come with married life are adjustments you should make to your insurance coverage.

Home & Property

If you and your spouse move in together after getting married, you will want to have both of your names listed on the policy to ensure you both benefit from its protection. In addition to this change, you should consider increasing or adjusting your personal property coverage. Even before the wedding, you will want to get the engagement ring covered. Even if you never take the ring off and have no chance of losing it, there is still a chance that stones could fall out. Over the course of your engagement and even after the wedding, you may also receive valuable gifts. Whether you live together prior to marriage or combine your households after, wedding gifts can increase the total value of your possessions and require updates to your personal property coverage.

Auto

Auto insurance can undergo some of the biggest changes for married couples. Studies have found that married people have fewer motor vehicle accidents and take fewer risks while driving. Your auto insurance rates may decrease significantly after you get married. However if one spouse has a poor driving record, combining policies may not be the best option. It is best to get your agent’s advice on this matter, since he or she will be in the best position to tell you how you and your spouse can benefit from policy changes.

Life

If you and your future spouse do not already have life insurance policies, the event of your marriage is a good reason to consider purchasing life insurance. After all, once the two become one, you will most likely come to reply on each other financially. If either of you already possesses life insurance, you may want to update your beneficiary information to include your new spouse. Younger couples may not believe they need life insurance, but this coverage is likely going to be the least expensive while you are young and healthy. Life insurance will help protect your new family from the unexpected for years to come.

Health

Marriage is one of the qualifying life events that allow you to make changes to your health insurance policy outside of open enrollment. Usually valid within 60 days of the wedding, you can change your policies or add your spouse to your plan. Even if both partners already have health insurance through your employers, it can be worth it to speak to your agent about whether your current health coverage has everything you need.

Last but not least, if you are changing your name after getting married, be sure to submit the change to your insurance company after finishing the legal side of the process! Marriage can be a wonderful thing, and when you have the proper insurance you are able to enjoy it even more fully.

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!