How to Prepare for the Cost of Aging with Long-Term Care Insurance

Insurance involves thinking about the possibility of misfortune—everything from a damaged car, to a damaged home, to damaged heath. And the older we get, the more we need to consider the possibility of long-term care (LTC) insurance to help in our twilight years. 

What is Long-Term Care Insurance?

LTC is an insurance policy that pays for care when you can no longer manage yourself. Should you need to enter a nursing home, move to an assisted-living facility, use an adult daycare center or have a caretaker in your home, LTC can protect you, and family members, from financial disaster.

How High Are Long-Term Care Costs? 

The costs of long-term care are staggering. According to the 2018 edition of Genworth’s Cost of Care Survey, nursing home care averages $8,365 per month for a private room ($7,441 for semi-private), $4,000 per month for an assisted living facility. Homemaker and Health Aide care in your own home? Each averages more than $4,000 per month. It’s easy to see how savings can vanish quickly when the need for long-term care arises. For some, the only option is to fully exhaust their financial means until they qualify for a Medicaid facility.

Who Should Get Long-Term Care Insurance?

Anyone who could possibly find themselves in need of long-term care due to diminished mental or physical capacity at some point in the future is a candidate for long-term care insurance. From that perspective, that’s pretty much everybody. 

People are living longer, which means “old age” will be a more extended period than it was for previous generations. If your health is good, and you don’t have a family history of ailments such as stroke, dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease, you may not need much in terms of long-term care. But even the most fit people can find their capacities challenged as they head into the 80s, 90s and beyond. All it takes is one fall to change the entire course of an elderly person’s life.

Long-term care isn’t only for the elderly. If you’re in a profession that comes with the possibility of a debilitating injury, you may find yourself with diminished capacities at a young age. Is it better to spend money on long-term care insurance or take your chances that the odds will be in your favor? These are the kind of personal questions that make considering long-term care insurance so difficult.

How Does a Long-Term Care Policy Work?

Every policy will have its own fine points. But essentially, LTC insurance will begin paying out benefits once your physical or mental conditional reaches a particular point, determined by your insurer. Some policies will begin paying immediately upon reaching that point, where other less-expensive policies put a waiting period between the point at which you become eligible and the point at which payments begin.

What Does a Long-Term Care Policy Cost?

This is probably the most sensitive part of LTC insurance—it’s expensive. According to the American Association of Long-Term Care Insurance, a couple age 55 can expect to pay about $3,000 a year in LTC premiums. That’s why it is recommended to buy it sooner rather than later. If that same couple waited 10 years, their premiums would equal about $4,675 a year. A lot of money, to be sure. But if it eventually helps them each offset over $100,000 a year in nursing home costs, it might very well be worth it. 

How Much Long-Term Care Insurance Do I Need?

A reputable provider should be able to help you calculate a benefits amount that’s right for your situation. Try an online calculator to figure out the correct amount for you. Another smart move is to be sure you understand the healthcare costs you’ll need to meet in retirement well before the need for using your long-term care insurance might arise.

Where Do I Get a Long-Term Care Policy?

As with all decisions about insurance, make sure you buy your policy from a well-respected company. You need to be confident your insurance provider will still be in business when you start collecting benefits after decades of premium payments. SelectQuote doesn’t have a recommendation for one company over another, but a simple search for will help you get your search underway.

And keep in mind that long-term care involves more than just insurance concerns. There are other factors to consider. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers a useful overview of the subject.

Advertisements

Can Your Smart Home Save You Money?

There’s a definite “cool factor” to the idea of a smart home. The ability to turn lights on and off with your voice, get notified if there’s someone on your porch, or have your smoke detector alert the fire department if it detects a problem seems futuristic. It’s reminiscent of the Jetsons and Iron Man.

Smart home devices definitely are cool – but they’re also practical. Many of the devices aren’t just about convenience, they’re also about safety. Lights that turn on and off automatically when you’re on vacation can deter burglars, smoke detectors that call the fire department can save lives and property, and doorbells that capture porch activity can help serve justice if your belongings are ever stolen.

Even beyond peace of mind, smart devices can help you save money. It goes beyond smart thermostats that monitor the temperature of your home to save you money on utilities. 

It’s time to start looking seriously at how certain smart home devices can help you save money on homeowners insurance. Many insurance companies offer premium discounts of 5 percent to 20 percent for policyholders who install smart devices. The decreased revenue from premiums still costs less than the costs to repair or replace lost or damaged property. 

If you have or plan to install any of the following smart home devices, check to see if you’re eligible for any insurance discounts on the product itself, the installation or your premiums. 

  • Home Security Monitors

  • A small, weatherproof tower with a camera that surveys your home and property. It regularly sends photos to your smartphone. Your insurance company can use these photos to assess any damage that occurs rather than sending out a surveyor. It may allow the insurer to pass along those savings to you in the form of a discount.

  • Video Capture Doorbells

  • Notifies you of motion at your door so you can not only view the activity but communicate two-way with your visitors. These doorbells may be eligible for discounts not only on premium, but on purchase of the device and installation. 

  • Smart Smoke Detectors

  • These devices not only test themselves regularly and notify you of the results, they also alert you and/or the fire department if it detects smoke or carbon monoxide and lets you know where the problem originated. Insurance companies may offer discounts to policyholders with smart smoke detectors installed, since they can help the insurers save significantly on repairing property damaged by smoke or fire. 

  • Interior Fire Sprinklers

  • No longer just for commercial buildings, interior sprinklers can help prevent the spread of any fire that may occur, especially for homes in more remote areas. 

  • Water Sensors Coupled With Auto-Shut-Off Valves

  • Designed to detect flooding that isn’t caused by weather and turn off the water supply to the problematic area. This means if you leave for the weekend and a frozen pipe bursts, you won’t have water gushing into your home the whole time you’re away.

  • Smart Lock Systems

  • Can be controlled manually provide extra security while you’re away from home. Can’t remember if you locked the front door or shut the garage? Just check the app and make sure you’re all locked up. 

In most instances, installing smart home security devices like these won’t negate their purchase prices – you’ll still be paying more than you’re saving in insurance discounts. However, any discounts you receive can help you justify their installation. After all, if you can save a few bucks on your homeowners policy and feel a bit more like Iron Man, why wouldn’t you? 

Any discounts you get on your insurance premiums from installing a smart device is icing on the cake. After all, if you can save a few bucks on your homeowners policy and feel a bit more like Iron Man, why wouldn’t you?

What are the Benefits of Bundling Home and Auto Insurance?

We’ve all seen the ads. Whether in a museum of inexplicable accidents or a fitness class where alter egos debate coverage, the messaging often includes: Bundle your home and auto insurance. 

But should you?

It often leads to greater savings and better service. Let’s explore why.

Most Carriers Offer Multiple Products

Bundling home and auto policies provides a good deal for most. If you can get a single stop for your insurance needs — and save money — who wouldn’t? 

Aside from financial savings through companion discounts by purchasing multiple policies, a single carrier can save you time.

Bundling Policies Should Save Money

For bundling to make sense, combining your home and auto insurance under a single carrier should save you some money.

Often called a multi-policy or companion discount, bundling home and auto insurance can save you as much as 20 percent to 30 percent on premiums than if you purchased the policies from separate companies.

Now, that amount can vary by state and carrier. 

A byproduct of bundling can result in financial benefits down the line, as well. In certain circumstances, such as a car and house each incurring damage in the same incident, you could save you money. When you bundle, you can save by filing a single claim and paying one deductible. If you have multiple carriers in that same scenario, you would need to file claims with each carrier and pay multiple deductibles.

Hopefully you never encounter an incident where both your home and auto are damaged. If you do, saving some money could make you feel a bit better about the situation.

Bundling Should Save Time

In this day and age, where our attention is pulled in many different directions, bundling coverage could look attractive by the time savings alone.

When you bundle coverage, it should reduce administration such as paperwork and websites to visit. Overall, the need to communicate with multiple providers goes away. And when changes need to be made, having that relationship with a single provider can help simplify the process of needing to add coverage or address issues.

Loyalty Can Work Both Ways

We mentioned issues prior. Not only could you develop a personal relationship with a carrier, but that carrier can look at you differently if you have multiple products with them.

Live in an area with severe weather? When carriers get skittish about providing home coverage, it’s easier to obtain or keep your coverage if you have bundled products. They know if they don’t keep you as a client in one product, you’re likely to switch to another carrier for the other service.

Speaking of loyalty, carriers can also offer more expansive bundles. These combinations of policies work best for people who are looking to not only bundle home and auto policies, but also perhaps, as an example, a recreation vehicle or two as well as another property. 

These bundles can provide the same advantages of time and cost savings. But before committing to a single carrier for most of your insurance needs, consider and evaluate some key criteria about the company.

Sometimes Bundling Isn’t The Answer

Even though bundling policies provides benefits for many people, in some instances it doesn’t make sense. First, you want to make sure you’re getting the same coverage for your money. Don’t skimp on coverage because you could end up paying more in event of a loss down the road. 

Also, certain special items, such as premium vehicles, may not work well in a bundle.

Borrowing Money? What Loan is Best for You?

Most people need to borrow money at some point. Americans owe more than $13 trillion in total debt. Borrowing is clearly an expensive proposition for many American families.

If you do find yourself borrowing to buy a home, a car, an education, or anything else, it is important to look at the pros and cons. It’s all about making the right long-term decisions and minimizing out-of-pocket costs. Let’s look at what you need to know to best evaluate loan options available to Americans today.

Common Types of Loans

Loans come in many names and forms. When looking at consumer loans (loans to people and not businesses) there are four main categories: mortgages, student loans, personal loans and auto loans.

While these are the most common ways to borrow, there are some substitutes for traditional loans to use instead. Those include credit cards, lines of credit, home equity lines of credit and borrowing from yourself with a 401(k) loan.

Not all loans are created equal. It is important to understand some of the similarities and differences between the various types of loans and alternatives.

What All Loans Have in Common

All loans and borrowing products have a few features in common. Here are a few of the most important places to look:

Interest Rate

The first place to look with any loan is the interest rate. This is the main way you pay for borrowed funds. Depending on the type of borrowing, rates can be single-digit percentages or hundreds of percentage points for the worst short-term loans.

Fees

Common fees with loans include origination fees, late and returned payment fees, annual fees and early payoff fees. Fewer and lower fees are better.

Minimum Payment

Every loan requires you to pay it back somehow. Depending on the type and duration of the loan, your minimum payment will vary.

Payment Schedule

The vast majority of loans require monthly payments, but some allow you to pay more frequently or require a different schedule.

Lender 

Is the company you plan to borrow from an upstanding, trustworthy company? Only work with licensed, reputable lenders.

Features of Popular Loans

Here is a brief summary of each of the major types of borrowing, including traditional loans and other lending products.

Mortgages

Mortgage loans are a type of loan where you borrow to buy a property, most often a single family home or condo. The most popular type of mortgage is a 30-year fixed loan, where you pay the same payment and interest rate for the next 30 years or until the loan is paid off. 

Student Loans

Student loans are one of the fastest growing categories of borrowing. From banks and nonbank lenders, student loans help pay for the cost of a college or university education. Some loans are backed by the U.S. government, which means lower rates and better terms than private student loans.

Personal Loans 

A personal loan is an unsecured loan. The best personal loans these days often come from credit unions and online lenders. Payday loans fall into this category. You should avoid this type of predatory loan if at all possible. Payday loans typically charge high interest rates.

Auto Loans

Car loans are similar to a mortgage, except secured by the car instead of a home. When a loan is secured, it means the bank can take (foreclose) the asset if you stop paying. Most car loans are around two to seven years long with a fixed monthly payment

Credit Cards

Credit cards are a form of unsecured loan, and they often charge interest rates from around 7 percent for the best cards and borrowers up to 30 percent for the worst cards. Beware credit card debt. It is a lot easier to spend than it is to pay it back.

Lines of Credit

A line of credit can come in several forms. One popular form is as a personal loan, or an unsecured loan. Lines of credit are revolving accounts, which means you can add to the balance and pay it off again and again over the life of the account.

Home Equity Lines of Credit 

A Home Equity Line of Credit, or HELOC, is a secured line of credit. It is a hybrid of a personal line of credit and a mortgage. Because a HELOC is secured by your home, it gets a better interest rate than nearly anything else other than a mortgage. But you can spend on it like a credit card.

401(k) Loan

A 401(k) loan should be a very last resort. Taking from your 401(k) means borrowing from your retirement, and if you don’t pay it back you get hit with a handful of fees and penalties. Avoid this type of loan if at all possible.

This is not an exhaustive list of every type of loan. Many others exist that fall within these categories, and there are some less common and customized loans available in real estate, business, construction, and other areas.

Go Into Lending With Your Eyes Wide Open

Some finance experts suggest there are good debts and bad debts. Good debts arguably include a mortgage, which get you a home, and student loans, which get you an education. However, not all student loans or mortgages are good or affordable.

When it comes to cars, credit cards, and anything else, it’s best to avoid borrowing if you can’t afford to easily pay it off in full from savings. If you pay off your credit cards in full before the due date, you never have to pay interest. This is where valuable rewards cards come in. Savvy spenders buy with cards and pay them off to get rewards but avoid the costs.

Even with “good debt,” borrowing has costs. Avoid borrowing when you can. But if you do need to take out a loan, make sure you get the right loan with the most favorable terms for your needs.

 

What You Need to Know About Your Medicare Card

When you enroll in Medicare, you’ll receive a card that proves your enrollment. Like most other health insurance cards, you present the card when you get medical care.

Social Security and Your Medicare Card

If you’re turning 65 and you’re already receiving Social Security benefits, you’ll get a Medicare card automatically – it should show up in the mail three months before your 65th birthday. If you’re turning 65 and not yet getting Social Security benefits, or if you need Medicare for other reasons, you can apply in three different ways: online at www.socialsecurity.gov, by calling Social Security (800-772-1213) between 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, or by going to your local Social Security office in person.

What’s On Your Medicare Card

Your Medicare card will be red, white and blue. It will show personal information about you – like your name and when your Medicare coverage took effect. It shows less personal information than it used to. Medicare cards used to identify enrollees by Social Security number, so losing your Medicare card was as serious as losing your Social Security card. Thanks to the CHIP act of 2015, Medicare enrollees are now have by unique Medicare numbers. This means your Medicare card is more secure and easier to replace if it gets lost. 

If you’ve been enrolled in Medicare for a while and just got a new card, the government recommends you destroy the old one. If you haven’t received your new card yet, don’t worry. As long as Social Security has your current address on file, it is coming – the deadline for it to be sent to you is April 2019. 

Presenting Your Medicare Card at the Doctor

Once you have your Medicare card, keep it on you just like you would your ID. Any time you visit a doctor or other healthcare facility, you’ll present it when you check in. And in case of emergency, having your Medicare card ready will make treatment and billing both go much more smoothly.  

If you enrolled in any supplemental Medicare plans, like Part D, which provides prescription drug coverage, you may need to present a separate card at the pharmacy to get your medications. 

Home Sweet Homeowners Insurance: Everything You Need to Know About Getting Covered

There’s no place like home. That’s why it’s so important to protect your home with homeowners insurance. While the paperwork can sometimes seem overwhelming, there’s nothing more rewarding than the peace of mind that comes from knowing you have the right amount of homeowners insurance. If you’re ready to get a better understanding of how your coverage works and to see if you need to make any updates to your policy, these tips can get the job done faster than you imagine. 

Homeowners Insurance Requirements

First things first. For most of us, homeowners insurance isn’t optional. Why? We don’t actually own our homes. Banks do. 

Until your mortgage is paid, your bank or mortgage company is going to require you to carry homeowners insurance. They want their investment protected. The exact specifications can vary, but generally, your lender will want you to have coverage at least up to your outstanding mortgage amount. Each lender will specify the exact amount of coverage you need, plus the different hazards that your policy must guard against. In most cases the lender will want you to protect yourself and them with “replacement” cost.

What’s In My Policy

If your mortgage happens to be paid off or you simply want to double check your coverage needs, there are a few different considerations to make when calculating how much homeowners insurance you need.

Homeowners insurance isn’t just about guarding against the loss of your home. In fact, there are four different parts that come with most policies. You will want to evaluate the amount of coverage in each of these areas. 

Dwelling Coverage

This portion of your policy defines the amount of coverage available to repair or rebuild your home, based on the type of policy.  Many “replacement” cost policies will include calculations factoring in attached structures like garages and decks. You may also have other structures coverage, which will cover sheds or even detached garages on the property in case of loss.

Personal Property Coverage

Personal property coverage protects the value of items in your home. This generally covers items like furniture and clothing. If you have expensive enough itemssuch as an engagement ring, for exampleit may also be worth adding a jewelry rider, sometimes called “a floater,” to your homeowners policy. 

Liability Coverage

Should someone be injured on your property or in your home, liability coverage is the part of your insurance policy that kicks in. Personal liability covers bodily injury to others as well as property damage. Plus, some policies also have a separate section for medical payments to others. In the event of a lawsuit, you will be relieved to have good coverage here. 

Additional Living Expenses

Should your home be damaged and become unlivable, this portion of your policy covers any costs related to loss of use or access to your dwelling. This could be everything from staying in a motel to getting food or even a toothbrush. If the truly unthinkable happens, it’s likely that you’ll be left with nothing. Additional living expenses coverage can help you get back on your feet.

How to Determine Your Needs

Now that you understand the types of coverage that typically come with a policy, it’s time to determine if you have enough coverage. Two of the biggest reasons why you want to have ample coverage is to make sure that you can pay to have your home rebuilt in case something happens to it or that you are protected in the event of a lawsuit if someone is injured at your house. 

So how do you know if you have enough coverage? Using these methods will help.

Understand the Real Cost

When the real estate market takes a dive, people tend to think their homeowners insurance is too expensive. But it’s important to understand exactly what your insurance covers. Your insurance isn’t based on the current value of your home or your mortgage. It’s based on what it costs to recreate your homefrom materials to workmanshipin the event of a disaster. 

If the unthinkable happens to your home, you do not want to find yourself in a position where you realize that you can only afford to rebuild 80 percent of your home. And yet, many homeowners find themselves underinsured. Construction costs and other expenses are on the rise, which means that building a new home, even in the same space, can cost more than you might imagine. 

You may even be able to request a reconstruction valuation from your insurance company. When considering the cost of your policy and the amount of coverage you hold, it’s important to remember that your homeowners insurance is based on building cost, not market value.

Take Inventory

In terms of your personal property coverage, one of the best ways to determine if you have enough insurance is to take an inventory of everything in your home. You can create a catalog by going room to room and estimating costs of furniture, decor, clothing, electronics. Then, you want to compare this estimate to the amount of coverage in your current policy. 

How to Update Your Coverage

Even if you aren’t thinking of updating your coverage immediately, you will want to at least review your policy if you find yourself in one of these situations:

  • Buying a new property or a second property
  • Renting out your property
  • Remodeling 
  • Buying one or more big-ticket items
  • Adding security features 
  • Adjusting the amount or type of pets you own

If you decide to adjust the amount of coverage you carry, you can do this in a few simple steps. Gather your current insurance paperwork and contact your insurance company. Clarify the parts of your policy that you want adjusted. You can then request a quote to see how those adjustments will impact your premium. 

If you decide to move forward with the updated coverage, you will either have to pay an additional amount or you may be entitled to a refund. Make sure you get a copy of your adjusted policy in writing and that you are clear on both the start and end dates. By double checking these dates, you can ensure that there are no gaps in coverage.

How to Adjust Your Deductible

Often times, people feel that their homeowners insurance is too costly. If you are someone who is fortunate enough to have never filed a claim, it’s easy to fall into the trap that you’re paying for nothing. Rather than skimping on coverage to save yourself some money, a better strategy involves adjusting your deductible. 

By electing a higher deductible, your premiums will often be reduced considerably. You can use an online calculator or work with your insurance provider to get different quotes based on various deductible amounts. The most important part to remember, though, is that your deductible has to be met when you file a claim. Don’t set a deductible higher than what you have stashed in your emergency fund or savings account. 

The Real Value of Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance can seem complicated. But the simple truth is it’s peace of mind and protection against the unthinkable. Understanding the different parts of your policy and the amount of coverage you have in each area is a fundamental part of making sure you aren’t underinsured. Knowing how to adjust your coverage and your deductible can keep you protected while paying a reasonable rate. 

Top 12 Questions (and Answers) About Life Insurance

Even the most calm and collected person can become confused by the prospect of getting life insurance. 

So many of us know we need life insurance, but we also feel we don’t understand it enough to make the best decision. Good thing at SelectQuote we know when it comes to investing your money in ANY kind of purchase, the only stupid question, as the saying sort of goes, is the one you didn’t ask.

There’s a funny thing about so-called dumb questions—a lot of people have them.

And with that, here you can find answers to some of the questions you have about life insurance but don’t feel comfortable asking out loud.

Do I Need Life Insurance?

If anyone depends on you bringing in money in order to survive, you need life insurance. It’s a great comfort to know your loved ones will have much-needed money in the event of your death.

Even if you’re single, with no dependents, you may still need coverage:

Did someone co-sign a loan for you? In the event of your death, that co-signer will be responsible for your remaining debt.

Might your health change? If you have a family history of life-threatening disease, it’ll be cheaper to get insurance now than when you’re older.

Are you planning on a funeral? It’s an unpleasant situation to think of but a policy that at least covers your funeral and burial cists can take a lot of pressure off surviving relatives.

What Kind of Life Insurance do I Need?

There are two basic types of life insurance:

Term life insurance covers you for a specified period of time.

Permanent life insurance covers you for your whole life, which is why you’ll also hear it referred to as “whole life” insurance.

As time goes by, financial responsibilities tend to lessen (kids grow up and get jobs, your mortgage gets paid off) there’s less of a need to carry a large insurance policy beyond a certain point in life. Most likely, the best bet for you will be term life insurance that covers your dependents during your income-producing years.  

What About Permanent Life Insurance?

The biggest reason why most people avoid permanent life insurance is the cost. It’s more expensive than a term life policy. It also doesn’t make sense for most people. Unless there are special circumstances, there’s limited need in most families for a large life insurance payout in the insured persons later years. Permanent life insurance tends to be most useful for people who expect to leave a large estate and whose beneficiaries might need the money to help ease the tax burden on that estate. 

Should I Take the Coverage My Employer Offers?

Absolutely. It’s probably a good deal and your premiums will be automatically deducted from your paycheck. Keep in mind any employer coverage you have will end if your employment ends. We’re not suggesting you’d quit your job without a game plan or get yourself fired, but we do live in a world where workforces sometimes get reduced and corporate mergers result in layoffs. It’s a good idea to have private insurance in addition to any coverage that comes with your job.

Where Do I Start to Buy Life Insurance?

Here’s a little something we know quite a lot about at SelectQuote. It’s our job to help you find the right insurance plan for you and your family. Talk with one of our licensed agents and we’ll get you the information you need to make the best choice. 

How Much Life Insurance Coverage Should I Get?

There are various recommendations to estimate how much coverage you need, but nothing compares to a careful analysis of your financial situation and exactly what you might count on a life insurance payment to do for your beneficiaries. That means only you can answer this question, but it doesn’t mean you can’t get some help. Our agents are here to help answer your questions and get you the coverage you need. 

Check out our online life insurance calculator. It also helps if you know what an insurance company takes into account when calculating a quote.  (Here’s a clue: Pretty much everything!)

What Information Will I Need to Provide?

Every company has its own application process, but common information that most will look for includes your height, weight, date of birth (DOB), some answers to health-related and lifestyle questions and an overview of your financial situation.

So, I Need to Answer Questions and Give Some Information?

Sort of. When it comes to specific health-related questions, your insurance company will most likely help you out by requiring a medical exam. Some companies will arrange for a qualified healthcare professional to come to you. Among the basics covered by such exams: medical history, current medications, family medical history, blood pressure, heart rate, basic heart function (determined by stethoscope), height/weight check, blood/urine samples, lifestyle questions.

What Kind of “Lifestyle” Questions Will I be Asked?

Before agreeing to insure you at a particular rate, your insurance carrier will want to know if you have any habits or engage in any activities that could be harmful to your health. Some questions to expect: Do you smoke? Do you drink? How much do you drink? Do you use recreational drugs? Do you have any hobbies that involve physical risks?

What if I am Not Completely Honest on a Few Questions?

That’s a really bad idea. A company can only insure you based on the quality of the information it has to go on; if you don’t give honest answers, odds are you won’t get a policy that truly meets your needs. To use a stronger word—lying on your life insurance application company can also result in a policy being denied or cancelled once the lie is found out. And if a serious omission of truth is discovered after you die, there’s a possibility your beneficiaries won’t receive the payout you set out to provide for them in the first place.

Who Gets All This Information?

The information you provide and the results of your medical exam are given to someone called an underwriter. The underwriter’s job is to assess all of that information and decided how much of a risk the company will be taking by insuring you. Those are the basics, but you can learn more, if you’d like.

Will I Ever Need to Change Life Insurance Coverage?

Life changes. New dependents may arrive on the scene (e.g., children or elderly parents) current dependents may go out of your life, (e.g., divorced spouses or no-longer-dependent children). It’s good idea to review all of your insurance, life insurance included, at least every three years, to be sure your needs are being met and your beneficiary choices are in order.

You can get as in-depth as you want to in learning about life insurance. However much research you do, one of the most important pieces is to decide exactly what you want your beneficiaries to be able to do should you die and to then find the most straightforward policy for accomplishing that goal.

Here’s wishing you all the best in finding the right life insurance for you so you and your family have peace of mind for the long run.

9 Reasons Homeowners Insurance Claims Are Denied

Year after year, you send that premium payment for your homeowners policy. When accidents happen, you expect the insurance company to cut a check for the full extent of the damage to your home, no matter the amount or what caused it.

It doesn’t always work that way. What you think you’re entitled to under your policy and what the carrier believes they owe you are often two very different dollar figures.

Don’t take it personally. Remember, carriers have to price your coverage based on statistics, probability and risk. They can only pay to the extent a claim is based in cold, hard facts, policy language and evidence. 

If your claim falls under one or more of the criteria below, there’s a good chance it will be reduced or denied altogether. But alas, insurance companies don’t take claims personally, either. We’ll follow with ways to ensure your property is covered properly and recovered adequately.

Why Are Homeowners Insurance Claims Denied?

  • Not Enough Information

  • As the homeowner, it’s your responsibility to file and prove your claim. Insufficient documentation of damage to your property won’t help your case. Neither will a lack of a complete inventory of valuables on or in your property prior to the loss.

  • Taking Too Long to File

  • If you take too long to file the claim, your chances of a satisfactory payment go way down. Policies typically contain time-sensitive requirements for filing the claim and documenting damage.

  • Late Payments

  • If your premium payments are late and result in any lapses in coverage, you run the risk of property damage occurring when your policy is exempt due to non-payment.

  • Threat of Fraud

  • Unfortunately, insurance fraud is a predictable reality. Therefore, your carrier will send their own claims adjuster to investigate almost every claim. Anything that raises questions—whether in the claim or in your initial application—could be game over. If your losses are serious, particularly if the policy covers your business, consider hiring an independent adjuster. 

  • Claim Type Not Included in Coverage

  • No homeowners policy covers the entire house and everything in it, nor does it cover against every possible source of damage or loss. Common policy “exclusions” include earthquakes, floods and water/sewage backup, or other regional risks. 

  • Loss is Close to Your Deductible

  • A typical homeowners policy deductible—the amount you pay before the claim kicks in—is $1,000. If the estimated loss is close enough to your deductible level, carriers will deny the claim, though in that scenario you wouldn’t want to file one. 

  • Perilous Claims May Not Be Covered

  • In insurance speak, “perils” refer to things like fire, theft, lightning and hail. “Occurrences” speak to the actual losses, such as a destroyed kitchen, or soaked carpet and furniture. Lower-end policies only cover a certain number of perils, others cover all of them. 

  • Somebody (or Something Else’s) Fault

  • If it was your contractor’s negligence that collapsed the foundation or your neighbor’s tree that totaled your SUV, your insurance company isn’t responsible—and your policy doesn’t apply. 

  • Excessive Wear

  • Imagine an insurance carrier paying to fix a rusted-out car bumper after an accident. Doesn’t happen. Same goes for an old roof full of worn shingles and leaks. If a claims adjuster finds evidence of poor maintenance or excessive wear-and-tear of your property, chances are the claim will be denied. 

Avoid the Dreaded Denial

  • Document all damage and file a detailed itemized claim to your insurance
  • Notify your carrier as soon as possible (even if in the middle of the night) of any loss and know the time limits for filing a claim
  • Don’t miss a premium payment
  • Know what your policy covers and excludes; obtain adequate coverage for more “perils” if available
  • Do everything possible to maintain the property before an event, and to mitigate the damage until an adjuster assesses the damage

What You Need to Know About Motorcycle Insurance

For motorcycle enthusiasts, a weekend trek with the motorcycle community is many rider’s idea of paradise. Don’t have the right motorcycle insurance? Paradise can quickly turn into something else.

To stay in motorcycle bliss, make sure to protect yourself, your precious bike and others.

Before selecting or renewing motorcycle insurance coverage, here’s what you need to know. First, you need insurance. Most riders are required by law to — at a minimum — to purchase liability coverage.

Motorcycle Liability Coverage: Bodily Injury and Property Damage

For motorcycle liability coverage, there are two different types: bodily injury liability and property damage liability.

Bodily injury liability helps cover costs for others if you cause the accident. It addresses medical costs, loss of income, as well as funeral costs in event of a fatality in an accident.

Property damage liability covers the damage to another motorist’s property.

Minimum liability insurance requirements vary by state. And while the minimum might get you by, only purchasing it could really hurt your financial situation if you’re at fault in an accident. 

Consider additional liability coverage:

  • To protect your financial assets from creditors. If you’re sued, your minimum liability may not cover all the legal costs and claims.
  • To protect your passengers. In some cases, bodily injury liability insurance will cover passengers. But check your coverage. You may need passenger liability coverage if you intend to have a friend or family member hop on the bike with you.
  • To protect yourself from others. Ever been in an accident with someone who didn’t have insurance and they’re at fault? Some states require you to carry uninsured/underinsured coverage. This will help provide coverage for injuries and, in many cases, property damage when a less conscientious rider can’t cover the liability expense.

Finally, some states also require a minimum medical benefit. Your health insurance may qualify, but let’s review the topic further.

Motorcycle Medical Payments Coverage

Required in some states and not available in others, medical payments coverage will pay for medical services — in many cases, up to one year from the accident — if you are injured in an accident. 

It’s not based on fault. It will pay for medical bills for you and, in many cases, a passenger if one or both are hurt while riding your motorcycle.

Medical services covered often include:

  • Hospital stays and visits
  • X-rays
  • Dental expenses
  • Prescription drugs
  • Nursing services

A word of caution for motorcycle medical coverage. While coverage can benefit riders, you should view it as a supplement, not a replacement, for health insurance.

Motorcycle Collision Coverage

Motorcycle collision coverage will cover the costs to repair or replace a bike, minus your deductible, if involved in a collision.

Collision coverage is not required. But if you love your bike, you might as well as treat it as required. One thing that can catch riders by surprise: the replacement value. Make sure to purchase enough coverage to replace your bike in case it’s totaled.

This is especially true of classic or custom motorcycles. Most insurers offer special coverage for these specialty bikes. With these motorcycles, you want to ensure you receive the actual value of the bike if you’re in accident or it’s damaged in some other way.

Which brings us to motorcycle comprehensive coverage.

Comprehensive Coverage for Your Motorcycle

Comprehensive coverage will pay the expenses for damage not related to a collision with another car or motorcycle. As with collision coverage, a deductible will apply.

Comprehensive coverage protects you and your bike in situations such as:

  • Theft
  • Fire damage
  • Weather damage
  • Vandalism
  • Animal collisions

Like collision coverage, with comprehensive, you will want enough coverage to pay for the total cost of the bike if you need to replace it.

Other Motorcycle Insurance Considerations

In addition to core motorcycle insurance coverage, insurers can offer options such as roadside assistance, trip interruption and custom parts coverage. 

Furthermore, if you live an area where you can’t make use of your bike year-round, ask about lay-up insurance. If you store your motorcycle in the winter, you pay a reduced insurance premium during those months. 

Finding The Right Motorcycle Insurance Coverage

When it comes to motorcycle insurance coverage, there is plenty to think through. We can work with you to find the right insurer and tailor a policy to get you on the road.

But even before connecting with us, consider doing the following to help reduce your insurance premiums:

  • Maintaining a good driving record with your auto policy
  • Taking a motorcycle safety class
  • Joining a motorcycle riders association
  • Limiting theft and non-use accident risks for your bike by installing an alarm and securing it a garage