Benefits 101: Introduction to Group Health Insurance

Educate your employees about what group health insurance is and how premiums and coverage work. [Benefits 101: Introduction to Group Health Insurance]

27 Fun & Interesting Facts about Car Insurance

I am sure you must be thinking what is interesting about car insurance or what fun is it? Surely, there are some interesting facts worth knowing, as auto insurance has existed almost a century. Fun & Interesting Facts about Car InsuranceInsurance doesn’t always deal with car accidents, injuries, thefts and other problems, but sometimes super interesting things also happen.  Read some of the facts here:

  • Till the time your car is on lease, some companies add free collision insurance
  • The car you select does not only affect the way you drive but also the premium rates
  • It is a myth that the colour of your car effects the price of your insurance
  • Your occupation plays an important role in your auto insurance rates
  • It is not necessary that all insurance companies will reduce premium after you turn 25
  • Main types of car insurance policies include liability coverage, collision coverage and comprehensive coverage
  • Premiums will also increase if you buy a new car
  • Some states in US for example Connecticut have bigger insurance markets than entire countries such as Brazil and Sweden
  • America’s top five companies have earned largest premiums by selling policies to low-risk groups such as farmers
  • 16 percent of drivers are uninsured at any point
  • National Car Insurance Day in USA is celebrated on 01 February
  • First car insurance policy was written in 1897 by Travelers Insurance
  • Massachusetts was the first state to make insurance mandatory for automobiles.
  • New Hampshire and Virginia are the only states where automobile insurance is not required
  • Michigan, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, Mississippi are top five most expensive states for car insurance
  • Massachutes, North Carolina, Hawaii, Alaska and Oregon are top five least expensive states for car insurance
  • In Ireland auto insurance rates can go high up every year even though the policy remains same. It is due to lose insurance regulations
  • In Indonesia and Australia drivers are required to register with the government. The registration cost includes a third party insurance
  • In South Africa the government has allocated a percentage of gasoline profits towards Road Accidents Funds. This is the form of auto insurance there
  • There are some specific female oriented insurance schemes. They offer perks like road side assistance, coverage for the stolen purse etc
  • Statistics show that married people have less accidents
  • If you can manage pay your auto premium bi-annually rather than monthly. This will decrease your premiums considerably
  • Your driving record can help in determining how long you will live. If you drive safely, chances are that you will live long, no matter whatever is the cause of the death
  • If your friend have borrowed you car and met an accident, you will have to file and process the claim
  • Car owner is responsible in case of an accident, therefore make sure that you transfer the ownership rights at your earliest possible after selling a car
  • 50 percent of your car premiums go towards administrative costs not for claims
  • 21 states have compulsory coverage for uninsured motorcyclists

Why Obtaining Life Insurance is Essential

People have a tendency to dismiss life insurance policies altogether. It is difficult to think about our mortality, and we always assume we have enough time to wait to deal with such things later. Plus, the economy’s decline has made pinching pennies a necessity for most, and as such, expenses like life insurance are often the first to be cut. Before ignoring life insurance altogether or stopping the payments on the policy you already have, it is imperative that you give the matter some serious consideration first. There are some key factors you may be looking past.

If you are the highest earning member of the family and you should pass, your loss will effect your remaining loved ones in more ways than just emotional grief. Of course, there will be several financial expenses that they will be left with after you are gone. With a solid life insurance policy in place, you can be sure that you leave them some sort of amount to help pay off those expenses without digging too deeply into their own pockets. The economy suffering is not a reason to cut back on life insurance. It is a reason to go all in for the sake of your family!

The same applies even if you are not the highest earner however. No one likes to think about their own inevitable death, but it is happening all the same, and possibly sooner than you even realize. There is no telling what might happen. That in mind, don’t you want to be prepared? Don’t you want your family to be prepared? With the right policy, your family may well be taken care of in full regarding your death’s related expenses. There are many options that will cater to your lifestyle and income. Shop around for life insurance at Waterway Financial Group and choose whatever life policy you can get. In the end, your family will thank you.

Medicare Supplement Insurance Is A Great Help In Paying Expenses

We tend to require more expensive and extensive medical care the older we get. If the cost of your insurance exceeds the limit of the insurance, your life may be at stake because there may be a question as to whether you have enough money for the medical treatment that you require. Fortunately, there is still a way to have all of the expenses covered through Medicare supplement plans, or Medigap plans.

Medicare is a government program that pays roughly 80% of a persons medical care costs. A medicare supplement plan is designed to cover the remainder of the costs. This enables a person to be able to afford any treatment that is available, no matter what the cost. Medicare supplemental plans are only available to people who are age 65 or over, or for disabled persons who are under age 65.

Medigap coverage is relatively inexpensive, because it only covers the difference of what Medicare doesn’t cover. This way, Medicare Supplement coverage is within the range of affordability for most people. It is a comforting thought to know that you will have excellent health insurance coverage no matter where you have to go to the doctor, because you are covered with any doctor, as long as he or she accepts Medicare.

medicare supplemental insuranceYou can apply for a Medicare Supplement plan, with no pre-existing condition exclusions 3 months prior to your 65th birthday and after your birthday as well for an additional 3 months. After that you will have to qualify medically if you are applying for a new plan, or you have a qualifying event, such as you company ceasing to do business in the state in which you live.  Whether you are inside the window or not, getting the best rates depends on getting good medicare supplement quotes.  You can get the best quotes from a local agent or use CompareMedicareSupplements.net to get a set of Medigap quotes that are customized to you.

People should look into a Medicare Supplement plan when they are nearing retirement in order to take advantage of the benefits for which they are entitled.

Who is funeral insurance best suited for?

Death is something that is certain in everyone’s life. With that said, everyone wants to be prepared for the day that that they pass away. Most people are familiar with life insurance and the benefits of having it. Besides life insurance, there are other options available that a person can choose to prepare for their death. Many people choose to get funeral insurance, also known as burial insurance, as it is usually a less expensive option.

When an individual purchases funeral insurance, they are assured that all of their final burial expenses are covered. It is very important to have these expenses covered as a burial can easily exceed $10,000. Nobody wants to leave a financial burden on their loved ones. Family members and friends will already be grieving, and an individual will not want them to have to worry about any money issues. Funeral insurance is a great option for those who do not have many assets or cash savings. When a person reaches a certain age, their life insurance policy can easily become unaffordable. Funeral insurance is not as expensive and is affordable for most individuals.

Those who want to plan their funeral ahead of time may want to consider getting funeral insurance. They can make sure that everything for their funeral is set up exactly the way they want it and will know all the costs involved. If they feel that certain things will be unnecessary, they can deduct certain expenses. Also, if they want an elaborate service, they will know what the extra costs will be. Funeral insurance is also great for those who have health problems. Unlike many life insurance policies, there is usually no health examination required. This means that those with an existing health issue will not be denied the insurance that they need.

Unlike a life insurance policy, funeral insurance does not issue a payment to a person’s beneficiary to be used in any way that they like. Instead, the money can only be used to cover expenses that are associated with an individuals funeral. Basically, a person will be prepaying their funeral expenses before they pass away. By having burial insurance, a person will have peace of mind knowing that they have taken care of the financial responsibility of their funeral. Also, they will know that they are going to have a dignified funeral just the way they planned it.

Life Insurance For Those with Medical Issues

Life insurance can be confusing. That confusion can be compounded when you have medical issues. People who have diabetes, heart issues and high risk factors often think that life insurance companies will not approve them.

One of our readers emailed us recently about a high risk life insurance situation.

I know that life insurance companies require blood tests. I have smoked marijuana a couple of times in the last year. Will this hinder me from getting coverage?

We set out on a search and talked with Jeff Root from Rootfin.com. He deals with impaired and high risk life insurance. What we found is that you can get coverage with many types of impaired risk. Here is what he had to say about marijuana smokers.

“The key in getting the best life insurance rates as a marijuana user is securing non-smoker rates.  If you smoke up to 2 times per week, you can secure non-smoker rates and cut your rates in half”, says Jeff Root.

Consumers also worry companies or insurance agents will report them to the authorities for marijuana use. HIPAA privacy laws prohibit an agent or insurance company from sharing this information with anyone. You can rest assured your privacy and health information will be protected.

The following are the top 5 high risk life insurance types he deals with:

Life insurance for diabetics

Life insurance for marijuana users

Life insurance for smokers

Life insurance with Multiple Sclerosis

Life insurance with Cohn’s Disease

If you have any of the above conditions rest assured that affordable life insurance can usually be found for you. The biggest thing we have learned is that some companies have much cheaper rates than others for impaired risk.

For example, one quote we ran was $100 per month for $500,000 of term life insurance. This was with one company. We then ran a quote with an agency that represented 35 plus companies and found the rates dropped to $64 per month. Whatever your situation, make sure to do your homework and work with a company that offers multiple quotes.

For more questions about your financial or life insurance issues feel free to email mail me! jeff@heartheworld.org.

Life Insurance Is Necessary Protection For Your Family

No one likes to think about the unexpected happening to his or her family. The loss of a loved one is painful. Life insurance protects a grieving family from having to endure financial difficulties in the wake of a funeral. The loss of a loved one means the loss of income.

“When a loss is unexpected, it is often not just emotionally difficult but it is also financially difficult,” says Paul from TAIK Insurance Asociates , an online life insurance agency, “because a family has not had the chance to save money for a funeral and all the final expenses that go with one.” This is why life insurance is necessary. It is important to select the right plan based on your individual family situation as well as your budget.

“Life insurance needs to cover funeral expenses. It also needs to cover recurring living expenses such as mortgage or rent payments,” Paul continues.

A loved one’s income is something a surviving family must compensate for, but not shortly after the funeral when the grieving process is just beginning. This is where life insurance is especially helpful. Plan on purchasing enough life ensure to take care of any unexpected medical bills or credit card payments for several months, too.

Determining how much life insurance is best is a challenge. You want to buy enough, but you also want to save money on premium payments so that you can live within your current budget. Look online for life insurance calculators. These are useful for obtaining general life insurance amounts, and they can help you come up with a number that your life insurance agent can work with to customize a plan that ensures your family has all the coverage needed.

Try to have a plan amount that is equal to eight months of the family breadwinner’s salary. Be sure to ask your agent if the policies you are looking at are convertible or have exclusions. Life insurance is available in many forms and with the help of your agent, you are sure to find the right one to protect your loved ones in the event of an unexpected loss.

Is Medicare Advantage Right for You?

Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment is right around the corner. It might be time to consider a switch.

Medicare Advantage
Medicare Advantage Plans are quite different from traditional Medicare plans in a number of ways. Medicare Advantage Plans are operated by private insurance companies and not by Medicare itself. Under the terms of the Medicare Advantage Plans, these plans must include all of the benefits available under Part A and Part B of traditional Medicare. Medicare Advantage Plans usually offer more benefits than traditional Medicare. For instance, those enrolled in a Medicare Advantage Plan will not need to purchase a separate Medigap plan to cover the deductibles and co-pays that traditional Medicare does not cover. Also, those in a Medicare Advantage Plan will usually not find it necessary to purchase Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage as most Advantage policies have prescription drug coverage.Coverage under Medicare Advantage comes in a variety of plans. Seniors may choose an HMO plan, a PPO plan, a fee for service plan or a health savings account.Almost anyone can enroll in a Medicare Advantage Plan during the open enrollment period. Only those with end stage renal disease are prohibited from enrollment.So, now the question is, are these plans right for you? What are the advantages and the disadvantages?The major benefit of a Medicare Advantage Plan is that there are more benefits available for seniors without a great deal of additional cost. These plans also avoid the hassle of having to purchase separate gap coverage and coverage for prescription drugs under Medicare Part D.However, there are some disadvantages to keep in mind. If you choose a HMO or PPO plan, you will be limited in the doctors that you can choose to provide your care. You will only be able to see in-network providers unless you are willing to pay a substantial amount of out of pocket expenses. Some of these plans also require a referral from a primary care provider to visit a specialist. This is not the case with traditional Medicare. In traditional Medicare, you may see a specialist when you choose. You are not limited to seeing doctors within a network.

Should Young Adults Stay on Their Parents’ Health Plan?

By Jen Wieczner

Under the Affordable Care Act, there are options. Here’s what families need to know.

When Rob Wyse’s 22-year-old daughter received the offer letter for her first post-college job this summer, after the congratulations the family had a decision to make: Should they keep their daughter on the family health-insurance plan or tell her to get her own?

It doesn’t cost much for Mr. Wyse, a New York communications professional, to enroll his daughter in his plan, which also insures his wife. But the daughter’s new job is in Maryland, where doctor visits would be reimbursed at lower out-of-network rates under the Wyses’ New York-based plan, meaning her out-of-pocket costs would be higher. While she is healthy, she has had two knee injuries that required surgery. Her employer’s premiums, however, might be higher than her parents’.

Many families are crunching the numbers on various such scenarios, now that the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, presents young adults in particular with more health-insurance options than they had before.

Since 2010, the ACA has required insurers to allow dependents to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26, even if they have a job with benefits. In 2014, young adults will also be able to buy insurance on the new state exchanges if they can’t get affordable coverage (costing 9.5% of income or less) through an employer. (This assumes, of course, that the young adult complies with the ACA; another option is to skip insurance and pay the penalty.)

“Three years ago, [health-insurance options] wouldn’t have been a discussion in our house,” Mr. Wyse says.

Generally, for a two-parent family with at least one child under 26, keeping the young adult on the family plan is the best option in terms of both price and quality—sometimes even if the child can get coverage through a job, insurance experts say. That’s because many employers charge workers a family rate for insurance, and employer plans typically offer better coverage than individual plans.

There’s another benefit: Since employer health-plan premiums are withheld from salaries, parents also may get a tax benefit for paying more to insure additional children, especially if the contribution pushes their taxable earnings below the Social Security tax cap of $113,700 a year, or reduces their Alternative Minimum Tax liability.

But while many families will find it worthwhile to keep kids on the parents’ health plan, that won’t always be the case. Here are some of the issues they need to consider as they make their decision:

Plan Status: Is the parents’ plan exempt from ACA rules?

There’s an exception that would prevent working young adults who have their own health benefits from taking family coverage this year: Their parents are enrolled in a “grandfathered” health plan, meaning it is exempt from some ACA rules until 2014.

Grandfathered plans are those that existed on or before March 23, 2010, and have basically stayed the same since. More than one-third of those who get health insurance through a job are enrolled in one, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

But by next year, grandfathered plans will also have to cover adult dependents even if they can get insurance through an employer.

Geography: Does the young adult live in a different state?

Young adults can stay on their parents’ plan after they leave the nest, even if they are married—and they need not be claimed as a dependent on their parents’ tax forms. But if the child lives far away, local doctors may be out of the family plan’s network, meaning out-of-pocket costs could be high.

If young adults are healthy and the cost of their parents’ plan is significantly lower than what they could get on their own, they might schedule routine doctor visits for when they come home and use the family insurance only for emergencies in their own state.

Age: How old are the parents and young adult child?

Some carriers allow young adults to stay on their plan until age 30; others drop them on their 26th birthday, and still others allow them to stay through the end of that calendar year or until they turn 27. It may be simpler for kids close to the cutoff age to get their own insurance to avoid having to start the whole process over again in a few months or aging out of their parents’ plan before they can get their own coverage, experts say.

Families should also consider whether the adult child is married or planning to start a family soon. The parents’ plan won’t cover in-laws or grandchildren.

And Medicare won’t cover kids of any age, which is something to keep in mind if the parents are approaching age 65 and planning to retire.

Cost: What does the employer pay toward dependent coverage?

While the ACA forces employers to offer health insurance to dependent children until age 26, it doesn’t require them to pay for any part of that coverage. Firms do have to cover enough of their employees’ insurance to make it affordable under the law, but they can cut back on what they pay for the kids. And in fact, 71% of employers raised dependents’ premium contributions in recent years—with increases outpacing those of employees’, according to consulting firm Towers Watson TW +2.44% & Co.

In general, if a family is already insuring one child, it won’t cost much more, if anything, to add another young adult, as most employers still charge the same family rate for any number of kids, or raise the premium incrementally beyond three. It would be more expensive for a single parent to add a young adult to the health plan than it would be for a two-parent family already insuring a spouse, says Bryce Williams, head of Towers Watson’s exchange solutions, which will sell federally subsidized health insurance in 2014 in addition to other plans.

But if employers charge extra for each dependent, as 15% say they will do next year, that could tip the scale in favor of an exchange plan.

Earnings: How much does the young adult earn and are they claimed as a dependent?

Some young adults might get a better deal buying health insurance through the exchanges that open Oct. 1, especially if they qualify for a government subsidy.

But only those who can’t buy affordable health insurance through a job are eligible for subsidies. And while 20-somethings generally pay less for health coverage because of their age, they also will get smaller tax credits than older workers: A 25-year-old would have to make $33,000 or less to get a subsidy, while a 50-year-old earning $45,000 could receive $1,115 back, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s eligibility calculator.

Since subsidies are determined by household income, the cost of an exchange plan depends not only on the young adult’s salary, but also on whether the parents claim that child as a dependent. Families might consider scratching 20-somethings with modest earnings off their tax forms and sending them to collect their subsidy on the exchange, says Carrie McLean, senior director of customer care for eHealth Inc., EHTH +7.58% the online insurance broker.

On the other hand, if parents also are buying on the exchange, including a nonworking or low-earning young adult could qualify the whole family for subsidies because household income is then stretched across more people. A 55-year-old couple earning a combined $78,000 wouldn’t be eligible for subsidies, but if they included their jobless 25-year-old, they could receive more than $9,000 in tax credits.

Privacy: How much does the child want parents to know?

For all of our medical privacy protections, there is a loophole: While doctors themselves keep visits confidential, they send bills explaining the services provided—and it isn’t always the patient who opens them. When young adults stay on the family health plan, often it’s their parents who end up reading the medical bills.

“They don’t necessarily want their parents to know when they’re seeing a doctor and what for,” says Ms. McLean.

Ms. Wieczner is a reporter for MarketWatch in New York. Email: jwieczner@marketwatch.com.

A version of this article appeared September 19, 2013, on page R3 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Should Young Adults Stay on Their Parents’ Health-Insurance Plan?.

4 Things That Won’t Show Up On Your Credit Report


Credit report

“John, you spend a lot of time writing about items that appear on our credit reports and how they influence our credit scores. Would you mind writing about the items that do not appear on credit reports and why they don’t appear?”

Ask and ye shall receive.

This is actually a very good idea for a credit report article and the Minter is correct, I do spend a lot of time focusing on items that appear on credit reports and almost none on items that do not.

This will be fun.

Prepaid Debit Cards, Checking Accounts, and Traditional Debit Cards

None of these aforementioned items appear on your credit reports. Debit cards and checking accounts are really the same thing, as a debit card is like a plastic version of a paper check.

And, a prepaid debit card is really not much more than a reloadable gift card with fees.

None of the three items are a true extension of credit, as you’re only able to spend money that is already either: A) loaded on the card, or B) deposited in an account with a bank or credit union.

There is considerable confusion over the prepaid debit card and credit reporting issue because some of the companies and individuals who are paid to endorse these cards suggest they will help your credit reports and scores, which isn’t at all true.

In fact, the credit bureaus now have language in their reporting standards guide that addresses the issue of prepaid debit cards and credit reporting.

It reads, “Do not report prepaid credit cards/gift cards because the consumer has no credit obligation.”

There is, however, one scenario when you checking account could bleed into your credit report: If you have overdraft protection in the form of an unused installment loan that loan can be reported to the credit bureaus.

I personally have one of these on my credit reports and have had it for many years.

Evidence That You Are Now Married

When you get married nobody in the credit industry knows about it.

The credit reporting agencies don’t know about it, your credit scores don’t know about it, and lenders don’t know about it.

There is nothing on a credit report that appears or changes just because you’ve gotten married.

Now, if you choose to apply jointly with your new spouse or you otherwise co-mingle your existing debt obligations and liabilities, then eventually your credit reports will look similar to your spouse’s credit reports because the data will be so similar.

Want some free advice?

Maintain credit independence even after you’re married.

There’s no reason to co-mingle your debts and there’s no reason to jointly apply for credit, except in the instance where you’ll need two incomes to qualify for a loan.

Wealth Metrics

There’s nothing on a credit reports that indicates your salary, your net worth, your debt-to-income ratio, or the amount of money in your wallet, 401K, IRA, SEP, Money Market, brokerage account, or any other savings account.

There is no way to presume someone’s income by looking at his or her credit reports.

This shouldn’t be a surprise because credit reports are supposed to tell a story about your creditworthiness, not your income.

Income and other wealth metrics are measurements of capacity, or your ability to pay a bill. Credit reports and credit scores are supposed to tell a story about whether or you’ll choose to pay your bills.  

Public Utilities and Medical Bills

While there are exceptions to this rule most of the time your public utilities and medical bills do not appear on your credit reports month after month like a credit card or auto loan obligation.

If you do see a public utilities or medical bills on a credit report, they are likely there because they’ve gone into default and are being “worked” by a collection agency.

When a utility or medical bill goes into default, the service provider will normally outsource the collection of that bill to a debt collector.

And, debt collectors commonly report liabilities to the credit reporting agencies.

John Ulzheimer is the Credit Expert at CreditSesame.com, and a credit blogger at SmartCredit.com, Mint.com, and the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.  He is an expert on credit reporting, credit scoring and identity theft. Formerly of FICO, Equifax and Credit.com, John is the only recognized credit expert who actually comes from the credit industry. The opinions expressed in his articles are his and not of Mint.com or Intuit. You can follow John on Twitter here.