Everyone knows why life insurance is important, but many of us choose to ignore the reality of what would happen if we were to die suddenly without the proper protection. The results could be devastating for your surviving family members, leaving them with a large bill for your final expenses, or even worse, loss of the family home because they can no longer cover the mortgage.
If you don’t currently have a life insurance policy, you are not alone. According to Life Insurance Statistics and Facts, which is a report put out by the life insurance industry, about 43% of the population don’t own a life insurance policy in any amount. Unfortunately, the study found that most of us are in desperate need of a life insurance policy. Nearly 1/3 of Americans would feel the loss of the primary earner in the household within the month.
We gathered a few stories to highlight the importance of life insurance. While these stories are fictional, they are based on very common situations.
Mary and Steve have a 24-year-old daughter named Amy who took out $150,000 in private student loans to fund her law school degree. Her parents co-signed the loans, wanting to give Amy a shot at her dream career.
Amy graduated from law school, joined a great law firm, had a baby and started paying off her student loans. When she died at the age of 34 from breast cancer, her parents suddenly became responsible for about $120,000 (the balance on her loans) and their 2-year-old granddaughter.
Because they co-signed the loans, Mary and Steve were responsible for repaying the loan balance. In some cases, the loan documents may include an acceleration clause that will bring the entire balance due at death. Mary and Steve could not afford to pay off the loan and had to sell their own home to settle their daughter’s debt.
While no parent ever wants to take out a life insurance policy on their own child, if you have co-signed their loans, and paying off the balance of those loans would be financially devastating; a life insurance policy can protect you from financial ruin.
A 30-year term life insurance policy on a 25-year-old woman (Amy’s age when she graduated from law school) would be very affordable and would have saved the day for Mary, Steve and their granddaughter.
1. Insurance Through Work Isn't Enough
Scott and Trish were happily married with two kids. Scott had a great job that he loved and was pulling down $150,000 a year. His employer provided two years' salary in life insurance, which Trish (who handled the finances) thought was sufficient until she talked to a friend of hers who was an insurance agent.
Her agent friend warned her that any coverage through work is always a nice bonus, but it’s never a good idea to rely on it. In the event that Scott were to quit, be fired or be laid off, his life insurance coverage would go away, leaving them completely exposed, and if 10 years had gone by, coverage would be much more expensive because Scott was now 10 years older.
Most insurance experts recommend keeping your life insurance separate from any coverage offered by work. Consider work-related life insurance icing on your insurance cake.
Trish took her friend's advice, and purchased a $750,000 term life insurance policy with a 25-year term. This coverage level would give her enough money to pay off their mortgage, put the kids through school and give her a bit of breathing room if the worst were to happen to Scott.
2. Don’t Leave Your Kids Holding the Bag
Kelly, a single mother, always thought it would be a good idea to buy life insurance to protect her children, but something always seemed to get in the way. Money was tight, or time was tight and she just never got around to it.
Years later, Kelly purchased a small home; her daughter was then 18 years old and her son was 14. While she didn't exactly live paycheck to paycheck, her budget was pretty tight and didn't allow her much room for savings.
One night while driving home from work, Kelly was struck head-on by a distracted driver. She died instantly. While Kelly’s children were forced to deal with the tragic loss of their mother, they also had to face the fact that she left behind only a few thousand dollars in the bank and no life insurance, leaving them essentially broke after covering the cost of a very basic funeral.
That is why life insurance is important. Nobody knows what is coming around the corner. If you die unexpectedly, you can leave your spouse or children in a very tight spot.
Term life insurance is extremely affordable. A 20-year policy with a death benefit of $500,000 for a healthy female can cost as little as $25 a month.
3. Life Insurance Can Save a Business If a Key Employee Dies
John started a tech company when he was 20 years old. Over the years he grew it into a multi-billion business that was consistently on the cutting edge of technology, introducing many industry-disrupting inventions. Even though John now employed thousands, he was very hands-on and had personally come up with most of their major breakthroughs.
John’s board of directors was concerned that if something happened to John, the company would suffer a tremendous financial loss. The board felt that a key man insurance policy was needed. A key employee life insurance policy is put in place to protect a business from losses if an invaluable employee dies.
The company decided to take out a very large life insurance policy on John, over his strenuous protests. John felt that he was in fine shape and would live to a ripe old age. Unfortunately, John was wrong. He suffered a major heart attack and died a few years after the policy went into effect.
Sales and the stock price immediately plummeted after his death, and the death benefit from the life insurance policy kept the company afloat for the next 12 months while the new CEO rebuilt investor trust and got the company back on track.
4. Stay-at-Home Parents Need Insurance Too
Mike and Stacy have been married for ten years, and for most of that time, Mike has been lucky enough to stay home with the kids while Stacy has been the primary breadwinner. While Stacy earns a good living, she would struggle to cover the cost of a nanny or other childcare provider if something were to happen to Mike.
Mike provides a variety of services to the family. He takes care of childcare, transportation, managing the household and their finances. He also deals with repairs and maintenance for their home. Mike also earns a small income doing handyman services around the neighborhood.
They decide that in the event something happened to Mike, a life insurance policy would ensure that Stacy would have enough money to hire the necessary help or take a few years off to stay at home as the family learns to cope with the loss.
Sarah purchases a 20-year term policy with a death benefit of $750,000 that will give her the financial means to replace the services Mike provided for the family as well as cover the cost of sending the kids to college.
5. Life Insurance Can Ensure Your Business Survives
Todd and Chris started a business together and over the years it grew into a successful enterprise. Their financial advisor recommended using whole life insurance policies to make sure that if one partner died, their family would be taken care of, and the business would survive the loss.
Todd purchased a $1 million whole life policy on Chris (and made the payments) and vice versa. Years later Todd was killed by a drunk driver. Chris received the death benefit from his life insurance policy on Todd, which he used to buy Todd’s share of the business from Todd's family.
This arrangement allowed Todd's family to be fairly compensated for his half of the business, while also allowing the business to survive without taking the major financial hit of paying off Todd's family.
This is called a buy/sell agreement and is a fairly common arrangement for small business partners.
Top Reasons Why Life Insurance Is So Important
Hopefully these stories have shown you just how important life insurance and "insuring your love" is for the special people in your life. If you still have doubts, here are some reasons why life insurance is a necessity, not an option:
Where Can I Get Life Insurance?
If any of these stories struck a chord and you are considering a life insurance policy, you are in the right place. Theodore & Associates can help you assess your specific risks and financial goals before recommending a policy. Whether you need a term policy, a permanent policy or a combination of both, our agents will do all of the legwork for you, gather quotes, and present you with a variety of options that will provide the protection that you and your family need.
Start protecting your family today, contact Theodore & Associates now.
For more information, please visit Trusted Choice here.
Adam and Bob were best friends since junior high school. They shared an apartment in college, majored in the same field, and even went to work for the same company. When they were in their mid-30s, they came up with a great idea for a product that would become very popular, and the two decided to venture out with their own business. They decided to form a partnership with each owning 50%. The business soon began to flourish.
Two weeks after his 47th birthday, the seemingly healthy Adam suffered a massive heart attack and died. Upon his death, Adam’s ownership in the company was transferred to his wife, Cathy. Having known Bob for many years, Cathy left control of the company to him and the business continued to prosper.
Two years later, Cathy met Donald and after a whirlwind romance, the two were married. Donald became very interested in the stock in Cathy’s late husband’s business. Eventually he would begin having ideas about how the company could be better run. Although he had no experience to back his ideas, being a good wife, Cathy would make these suggestions to Bob. The relationship between the partners began to suffer from this tension.
Not long after Cathy and Donald’s third anniversary, Cathy was diagnosed with cancer and soon she also passed away. Like many people, Cathy had failed to plan properly for her future, and under community property laws, her ownership transferred to Donald at her death. Donald was now a 50% owner of the company with an equal authority in how the business was run.
Bob and Donald rarely agreed on the operation of the company and although he had years of experience and knowledge far superior to Donald’s, Bob was unable to override Donald’s ideas. Time spent on these disagreements, dissatisfied customers and mounting costs would all prove too much for the company, and on the 20th anniversary of Adam and Bob opening the doors of the company, they would be closed for good as the owners filed for bankruptcy.
A Simple Solution
A very simple yet often overlooked strategy could have helped avoid this unfortunate end to the previously happy story. A buy-sell agreement is a legally binding clause in a partnership agreement that controls what happens if one of the partners dies or otherwise needs to leave the partnership.
Typically, the agreement sets a price and gives the surviving partner the option to buy the deceased partner’s share from their estate. In the story above, this would have let Bob simply buy Adam’s ownership interest, allowing him to maintain full control of the business and avoid the other problems.
This strategy runs into difficulty at the time of the partner’s death if the surviving partner does not have sufficient capital to make the purchase. Keyperson life insurance helps to solve this problem. With this product, the business buys a life insurance policy, equal to the agreed upon purchase price, on the life of each of the partners with the other partner listed as beneficiary. Death benefit of the insurance is then used to pay the deceased partner’s estate and transfer ownership.
With the business listed as the owner of the policies, they are considered business assets and premiums are allowable business expenses. This allows the partners to successfully plan for the future of the business while receiving some valuable tax benefits as well.
For more information, please visit the Life Happens blog.
3 Steps Homeowners Can Take to Stay Safe This Holiday Season
The holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year, but it’s also one of the most dangerous. The United States Fire Administration reported that structure fires, and the dollar loss per fire, is nearly one-third higher between December 1 and January 7. On Christmas Day alone, the incidence of fires caused by candles quadruples compared to any other day of the year.
The holidays can also be a peak time of year for home burglaries as many police departments across the country list the week after Christmas as the highest burglary caseload. You can escape these worst-case scenarios with common sense and a little forethought. To keep your home safe and secure this holiday season, here are three simple rules.
1. Don’t Leave the Kitchen Unattended
One of the leading causes of fires during the holidays isn’t Christmas trees or Christmas lights—it’s cooking. While cooking-related fires are most common on Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and Christmas Eve aren’t far behind.
Home fires occur in the kitchen more than any other room in the house. Make sure that you have a smoke alarm near the kitchen and that the batteries are in working order before you begin your holiday meal preparations.
If you follow the rule of never leaving the stove or oven unattended, you can avoid a potentially dangerous situation. Distractions are inevitable when your extended family arrives for Christmas Day festivities. Adding an extra set of hands to assist with cooking can help mitigate the risk of a potential fire hazard.
2. Mind Your Festive Lights
Even if you follow all instructions, like making sure that the base of your Christmas tree is always submerged in water, you are still at risk for a fire if you don’t manage your Christmas lights safely. To lower your risk of a fire, always follow these light-safety tips:
Outdoor lights are a little more complex—and just as dangerous. Keep these basic guidelines in mind when setting up your display:
3. Don’t Leave Your Home (and Gifts) Vulnerable
Leaving your house clearly unattended is an open invitation for burglars. If you plan on going out of town, even for a day or two, follow these simple rules:
Even if you’re staying home this holiday season, you still need to take steps to defend your home against burglars:
Get Peace of Mind This Holiday Season from Auto-Owners Insurance
This holiday season is the perfect time to check with your insurance agent to confirm that you are protected against everything that could go wrong. The independent agents are experts at seeing gaps in your home insurance coverage that could leave you and your home vulnerable. For example, what if gifts are stolen from the trunk of your car while it’s parked in your driveway? Is that covered?
Your insurance agent can answer all these home insurance questions and give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that your home and your presents are protected this holiday season.
for more information, please visit Auto-Owners' blog.
Here are 5 important auto insurance tips to consider ahead of this winter's major weather events.
1. Confirm your insurance is active and premiums are paid. Have a current copy of your insurance card in your vehicle or with you.
2. Select liability limits that are right for your financial circumstances. If you find yourself at-fault in an accident and have insufficient liability coverages, your personal assets are at risk for paying the remaining financial obligation.
3. If you rent a vehicle for a trip, check with your insurance agent to see if your policy includes coverage. Also, make sure you don’t duplicate benefits from your own policy if you decide to get rental insurance. A quick call to your agent should help determine that.
4. Verify that your homeowners or renters insurance covers the theft of personal items from your vehicle, especially if you are planning to haul more expensive items. Many people believe that vehicle insurance covers replacement of stolen items from their vehicles, but that usually is not the case.
5. Know if your policy includes roadside assistance, such as towing, fuel delivery, lockout service and jump-starts.
In addition to the insurance tips above, Department officials advise drivers to keep emergency kits in their vehicles, especially for long trips. A good kit should include a first-aid kit, batteries, flashlights, drinking water, snacks, jumper cables, ice scrapers, tissues and towels, a tow rope, extra clothing and blankets.
State officials also recommend checking in on family members ahead of dangerous winter weather events, and reassessing your immediate family’s insurance needs. Make sure that important insurance and legal papers are in a secure place that more than one person knows about. Assess personal insurance needs for yourself and your family. Needs for an older adult, for example, could be much different from those of a child or grandchild.
For more information, please visit PropertyCasualty360.
The winter holiday season is full of family, friends and festivities, but unfortunately, all that extra celebrating, cooking and decorating can pose potentially serious hazards at home. Knowing the risks and how to help avoid injury, theft and damage to property through the holiday season are important and can save you from expensive homeowners’ insurance claims.
1.Decorate wisely. To help reduce the risk of fire, use non-flammable or flame-retardant decorations. Planning your displays carefully is important to help reduce the risk of fire, electrical shock, trips and falls and property damage. If you decorate a Christmas tree, select a quality artificial tree and decorate with only UL-listed lights. If you choose to have a fresh tree, be sure to keep water in the stand at all times.
2. Use candles responsibly. December is the peak time of year for home candle fires — the top three days for home candle fires are Christmas, New Year’s Day, and New Year’s Eve. Each year between 2012 and 2016, an average of 8,200 home candle fires were reported each year. Keep lit candles at least 1 foot away from anything that burns and make sure candles are out of reach of children and animals. Also, extinguish all candles when leaving a room or before going to sleep.
3. Keep your tree away from heat sources. U.S. fire departments respond to an estimated annual average of 200 home structure fires that begin with Christmas trees, according to the National Fire Protection Association. These fires cause an estimated annual average of $14.8 million in direct property damage. A heat source too close to the tree causes one in every four Christmas tree fires.
4. Prevent theft. Unfortunately, the holiday season sees an increase in break-ins. Always lock your doors, keep the garage closed, lock windows, and make note of strangers in your neighborhood. Whether you are hosting a party for the neighbors or leaving home for a holiday get away, secure your valuables in a personal safe or a locked room in your home. If you don’t have one already, consider purchasing an alarm system. Also, with the gift giving season in full swing, if you have recently acquired new valuables, inform your insurance agent so that your homeowners’ insurance policy can be updated so you have adequate protection.
5. Protect your pipes. Nothing could ruin the holiday more than the unanticipated damage a burst pipe could cause. The three central causes of frozen pipes are quick drops in temperature, poor insulation and thermostats set too low. Insulate pipes in your home’s crawl spaces and attic, even if you live in a climate where freezing is uncommon. Exposed pipes are most susceptible to freezing.
6. Be a responsible party host. If you plan to serve alcohol at any type of party, it’s important to take steps to limit your liquor liability and make sure you are covered with the proper insurance. Offer guests the option to stay over, have a designated driver to take people home at the end of the night and ensure no one is driving after they have been drinking.
7. Protect your identity. Protect yourself from hackers and identity thieves as you shop in stores and online this holiday season. Keep wallets, passports, smartphones and other sensitive items secure in bags or pockets and only take them out when needed. Only share your credit card and payment information online on trusted websites.
8. Test all your fire and carbon monoxide detectors. Help avoid fire and smoke damage by making sure your home’s fire safety prevention system is working correctly. The National Safety Council recommends you install a battery-operated carbon monoxide detector in your home near the bedrooms. Check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall.
9. Inspect and clean your fireplace. Whether you have a natural or gas fireplace, it’s a source of heat and potential danger. Have your fireplace cleaned and inspected regularly. Also, don’t position your Christmas tree — or anything else — near the fireplace.
10. Practice kitchen safety. Cooking is the leading cause of home fires year round, and the increased use of stovetops and ovens for preparing holiday meals can increase the risk. Christmas Day and Christmas Eve are the second and third most common days for home cooking fires. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.
11. Don’t overload electrical outlets & use proper extension cords. Don’t plug all of your holiday lights into one outlet or one circuit. Try to distribute the electrical load across several circuits to prevent any one from being overloaded. Extension cords should always be heavy-duty, quality cords that are grounded for fire safety. Never run extension cords under rugs or in areas where they pose a tripping hazard.
12. Follow dryer safety recommendations. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, the number of dryer fires increases in the winter months and peak in January. Be sure to empty the lint screen before every load and remove all snow from the outside opening to the dryer vent. Also, never run the dryer while you’re asleep or away from home.
13. Avoid injuries in the home. Injuries requiring medical attention occur more often at home than in public places, the workplace and motor vehicle crashes combined, according to an analysis by the National Safety Council. The number and rate of unintentional home injury deaths has been steadily rising since 2000, largely due to increases in unintentional poisonings and falls, according to the Insurance Information Institute.
14. Keep matches and lighters away from kids. The number of blazes — and, tragically, the number of deaths — caused by children playing with fire goes up significantly during the holidays. From January through March, 13% of fire deaths are the result of children playing with fire, the U.S. Fire Administration reports, and in December, that percentage doubles.
15. Prevent pet bites. The holidays are a busy time and can cause a lot of stress, especially on your furry companions. Pets can become over-excited or territorial when unfamiliar individuals enter your home. Dog bites are a common cause of injury to guests and as the home/pet owner, you could be liable for resulting medical bills.
For more information, please visit Property Casualty 360.
1. Customer Service – If you have coverage questions or worse, need to report a claim, would you rather reach an automated recording or an actual person when you call your insurance provider? More and more companies have switched to automated systems, often making it difficult and time consuming to reach the right person. However, at many independent insurance agencies, an actual person will still greet and assist you. In the unfortunate event of a claim, your agent can help you report the claim as well as explain what exactly your policy covers. If you’ve experienced a significant loss, such as water damage to your business, your insurance agent can help you there as well, connecting you to a reputable remediation company right away.
2. Personal Shoppers – Working with an independent insurance agent can be compared to having a personal shopper. Similar to the way in which a real estate agent sorts through properties to help you find your ideal home, an insurance agent reviews many different insurance companies’ rates and coverage options to help you secure policies that best suit your needs. You may believe that this comes at an additional cost to you, but independent agents do not add extra charges to insurance companies’ rates. So you can choose to work with an independent agent, who will handle your coverage needs, assist you with claims reporting and answer any questions you may have, from billing issues to coverage concerns, always advocating on your behalf, at no additional cost to you.
3. Community Involvement – In addition to assisting you, many independent insurance agents also actively help your local community. As local business owners, many insurance agency principals place a strong emphasis on giving back to the community. From sponsoring fundraisers and donating to local charities, to volunteering and serving as board members for non-profit organizations, there are many ways you may witness your local insurance agents giving back to the community, which can make you feel confident about your decision to do business with them.
4. Local Knowledge – It can be rewarding to witness your insurance agent supporting the community, but another local benefit you may not think of is your agent’s knowledge of your community. As local residents, many insurance agents have lived in your area for years and use their knowledge of the community to help you better reduce your risks and protect your assets. For instance, would an insurance company in the South be as familiar with New England’s high water tables in the spring that increase flood risks? If not, this provider may not be as likely to recommend basement water coverage, which is typically not included in a standard policy. Similarly, many independent agents will provide you with seasonal tips to help you reduce your risks, such as how to prevent ice dams and when you should consider raking your roof.
5. Understanding – Independent insurance agents understand that insurance can seem complicated and confusing, especially when you don’t deal with it on a daily basis. For this reason, your insurance agent will work to ensure that you fully understand your coverage, from what is and is not included, to the deductibles and limits you should carry. After you purchase your policies, an independent agent’s work isn’t over – instead, he/she is available year-round to help answer your questions, update your policy and make coverage recommendations.
6. One-Stop Shops – At many independent insurance agencies, you can take care of all your coverage needs at once, limiting the number of different companies you deal with and helping you stay organized. For example, if you own a small business, you can likely secure commercial insurance coverage from the same agency that insures your car and home. If you’re looking for health, life, or dental insurance, whether for your family or business, many insurance agents can help you there as well.
7. Reputation – Reputation plays a crucial role in finding a company you can trust, and many independent agencies take pride in the years, if not decades, they have spent serving their local communities. Not only can a company’s many years of service speak to its well-established reputation in the community, but it can also help you feel confident about its financial stability. Although there are many different ways to obtain insurance, would you rather obtain a quote from a startup Internet-based insurance provider that advertised on television, or call a local agent who your friends, co-workers and neighbors could recommend?
8. Knowledge – When you require legal advice, you contact a lawyer, and when a health issue arises, you visit your doctor, so when you need assistance with your insurance coverage, why not rely on an industry expert? In addition to having many years of experience in the industry, independent insurance agents have also worked with many different insurance companies and are knowledgeable about their individual strengths. Although one insurance company may provide unmatched claims service, another may offer more competitive rates. Based on what’s most important to you, whether it be a company’s service, rates, financial stability or a combination of all three factors, an independent agent will find the best match for you.
9. Saving Money & Time – Insurance companies that promise to drastically reduce your rates in minutes may seem cost-effective at first, but working with an independent agent can save you money and time over the long term. Instead of providing you with an instant rate, independent agents will ask questions and take the time to familiarize themselves with your business to ensure that the coverage they design will adequately protect you and your assets in the event of a claim.
10. Protection & Peace of Mind – Above all, working with an independent insurance agent will provide you with peace of mind, knowing that when you save money on your insurance, it won’t come at the expense of comprehensive coverage. When it comes to protecting your home, family, business and other invaluable assets, relying on an independent agent you can trust is a great place to start.
How to Avoid Dreadfully Frightful Surprises From Your Insurance
Halloween can bring out the scary side in us all. As independent insurance agents, we like spooky, too, but certainly not when it comes to your insurance coverage. Some of the insurance misconceptions floating around out there are downright scary. Here are three in particular that make our blood run cold, and that’s because they could put you at serious financial risk:
Misconception 1: “I have an umbrella policy, so I’m covered for everything.”
Eeek! Though the intent of a personal umbrella policy is to provide an additional layer of liability protection on top of what your other personal insurance policies provide, there can still be coverage gaps.
Misconception 2: “I don’t need to buy rental car insurance – my auto policy will cover it.”
Oooooh! Like most things in insurance, yes and no. The coverage on your personal auto policy will likely follow you any time you drive any car (at least a car that you have permission to use). But, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re free and clear to decline the rental car coverage.
One way to take the fright out of standing behind the car rental counter is to understand what your personal auto policy covers before you rent a car. We can help you with that. Your credit card company may also offer some coverage as well, assuming you use your card to pay for the rental. Do your research beforehand so you understand if you have enough coverage or if you should consider purchasing more through the rental agency.
Misconception 3: “No need to review my policy at renewal. I bought the right coverage the first time around.”
Like the boogie man hiding under a bed, an insurance claim could be lingering in the darkness. And, if your policy hasn’t kept pace with your life, you could be looking at an uncovered claim. Gasp!
Maybe you inherited a diamond ring from your great aunt but never scheduled coverage for it. Maybe you built an addition on your home but never updated your dwelling coverage. Maybe you bought a car with cash and forgot to insure it since there was no lender requiring proof of insurance.
A lot can happen in our busy lives. And, when you take the time for an annual insurance review, you may find your coverage is no longer up to the task of protecting the life you have today. Instead, it’s designed for the life you had a few years ago. So, connect with us any time a big life change occurs. We’d much rather have a pleasant conversation about coverage options and solutions for your changing life than explain why something is not covered.
Insurance misconceptions are scary. There’s just too much on the line. But, your own insurance experience doesn’t have to be a fright. Work with your local independent agent to understand what you have and to select additional coverage as needed.
for more information, visit the SafeCo blog.