We help individuals and families feel more secure by using insurance to replace
the risk of financial loss. We provide comprehensive, affordable insurance protection for most personal and business needs, and we provide experienced, professional service with:
|• Individual Health & Major Medical
||• Medicare Supplement
|• Short Term Medical
||• Individual Dental Insurance
|• Individual Disability Income
||• Long Term Care Insurance
Health insurance is one type of insurance you're pretty much guaranteed to use. We all need medical attention from time to time, and some of us need it quite frequently. When care is needed, you want to focus on getting better not on how you're going to come up with the money to pay your medical bills. A good health insurance plan allows you to focus on what's most important, your physical well being.
Is there anyone who doesn't need health insurance? Not really. Even if you're young, healthy and haven't had to see a doctor in years, you never know when you might be involved in an accident or be diagnosed with a serious medical condition. While your health insurance coverage will pay for things that aren't too costly like routine doctor's visits or lab tests, the main reason to have coverage is to have protection against the potentially catastrophic expenses of serious illness or injury.
If you’ve ever been sick or injured, you know how important it is to have health insurance coverage. Health insurance pays for things big and small from a lab test that might cost $75 to a three-day hospital stay for major surgery that could cost tens of thousands of dollars. It gives you peace of mind of knowing that no matter what kind of care or procedure you or a family member might require, you won’t have to worry about shouldering the cost on your own.
If you need to make a decision between several plans that your employer offers, or are looking to buy an individual health insurance policy, you need to know what to look for before making a decision. When choosing a health plan, there are several important questions you should ask your human resources department (if it’s a group plan you’re considering) or health insurance agent. These are just some of the questions that will help you understand your choices and choose the plan that is best for you.
Does the plan cover you for the specific doctor or hospital that you would like to use?
How does the referral system work with each plan?
What pre-existing conditions would affect coverage?
How will each plan handle care if you or a family member is away from home?
What are each plan’s monthly premium, deductible and coinsurance and would they fit within your budget?
Are there other fees, such as co-payments and out-of-network fees?
Is there a maximum amount each plan will pay over a year or lifetime?
What types of benefits are specific to this plan?
Ask most people to think about their most valuable asset, and they'll mention their home, their car, their jewelry, or other possessions. But for most of us, our most valuable possession isn't anything of those things it's our ability to earn a living. And just as you would insure your car, your home, and other valuable possessions, you need to insure yourself in case you are no longer able to work. That's what disability income insurance does it provides a source of replacement income if you're unable to work due to an illness or accident.
If becoming disabled may seem unlikely, the odds may surprise you. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans will become disabled for 1 year or more before the age of 65.
The other thing to keep in mind is that an accident or illness that keeps you out of work for a period of time can be very costly. That's because people who become disabled not only need to continue providing for loved ones, but for themselves as well. A disabling injury or illness could lead to medical bills, modifications to your car or home, or other unforeseen needs that can be quite expensive. For all these reasons, almost anyone who works whether they're single, married, with children or without should consider disability income insurance.
When evaluating disability income insurance policies, here are the most important terms with which you should be familiar:
Amount of Benefits
Policies usually pay 40 to 60 percent of pre-disability earnings. Monthly benefits are calculated in terms of stable, earned income at the time of purchase. Most insurers, not wanting to provide benefits so sizable that they would encourage workers to remain at home, limit benefits from all sources to no more than 70 to 80 percent of monthly income. Because of caps that limit how much can be paid out in any one month, lower-paid workers may receive a larger portion of their pre-disability incomes than higher-paid workers.
Definition of Disability
Some policies pay benefits if you are unable to perform the duties of any occupation for which you are reasonably qualified by training, experience and education. Other policies pay benefits if you are unable to perform the major duties of your own occupation. Some policies will combine these features. Be sure to ask your insurance agent how disability is defined in policies you are considering.
Extent of Disability
Some policies require that you be totally disabled before payments begin. Partial disability sometimes is covered for a limited time but most often only if the partial disability follows a period of total disability for the same cause. Some policies may not require total disability before partial disability payment.
If you are able to work but your income is reduced because you cannot fulfill all of your job responsibilities, residual benefits can help to make up the difference in your income. A standard feature in some policies (added with a rider to others), a residual benefit allows partial payment based on your loss of income, generally without prior total disability.
Even if you can still perform some or all of your regular job responsibilities, you are presumed fully disabled and are entitled to full benefits under specified conditions, such as loss of sight, speech, hearing, or use of limbs.
Guaranteed Renewable policies are one of the two major types of disability income policies. These types of policies can never be cancelled as long as premiums are paid. Additionally, premiums cannot be raised based on an individual's circumstances, but they can be raised for an entire class of policyholders.
Non-Cancellable policies are the other major type of disability income policies. These types of policies can never be cancelled as long as premiums are paid, and premiums are guaranteed not to increase.
Portability refers to whether or not you can take coverage with you. One of the biggest advantages of owning an individual disability policy is that it's completely portable. You own it and it follows you from job to job. By contrast, employer-provided coverage is almost never portable.
Elimination or Waiting Period
Today's policies allow you to decide when benefit payments begin. You're asked to choose a waiting period at the time of application; these range anywhere from the 31st day to six months or more after the onset of the disability. Depending on how much money you have saved, and your other resources, you can reduce your premiums by electing to wait 60 days, 90 days, or even six months before you start to receive benefit payments. Remember, though, that the first check is usually not paid until 30 days after the waiting period.
Length of coverage
A disability income insurance policy can pay benefits for a finite number of years, say, one year, two years or five years, or it can pay to age 65 or even for a lifetime. Since disability benefits are designed to replace the income you would otherwise earn by working, most people do not need benefits extending beyond the working years. Electing shorter benefit periods can save premium dollars, but bear in mind that if you need this insurance at all, you probably need it most to cover a disability that permanently removes you from the workforce. A lengthy disability threatens your financial security much more than a short-term disability.
For an additional premium, you can add a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to basic disability income coverage. This provision increases benefit payouts by a specified percentage, generally 4 to 10 percent, after each year of disability and can be important during a lengthy period of total disability. While this is a relatively expensive option, it could be vital to maintaining your standard of living if you're out of work for a very long period of time.
A number of factors determine the cost of an individual disability income
Younger persons pay less per year for a policy than those who are older and more likely to become disabled. Note that the vast majority of companies don't issue policies for people older than 60.
Policies that replace more of an individual's salary are more expensive. A policy that replaces 80 percent of your salary costs more than one that replaces only 60 percent of your salary.
The shorter the benefit period, the less expensive the policy. For example, a policy with a two-year benefit costs less than a policy that pays benefits to age 65, or the retirement age specified under Social Security.
Current Health Status
Your health status determines whether you are eligible for standard rates or rates that are higher. A policy also may exclude from coverage any health conditions that exist before the policy is issued.
Definition of Disability
A policy that pays benefits if you are unable to perform the duties of your own occupation is more expensive than a policy that pays benefits if you are unable to perform the duties of any job for which you are reasonably qualified.
This is the waiting period before benefit payments will begin. The waiting period usually ranges anywhere from the 31st day to six months or more after the onset of the disability. Depending on how much money you have saved, and your other resources, you can reduce your premiums by electing to wait 60 days, 90 days, or even six months before you start to receive benefit payments.
Many companies offer discounts for policies issued at the same time on more than one person, as well as when an employer (or association) collects the premiums for individual policies from employees and pays the insurer.
Extent of Disability
A policy that pays benefits only if the policyholder is totally and permanently disabled costs less than a policy that also pays benefits for a partial or temporary disability.
Women usually pay more than men for an individual policy because claim costs are higher for women than men. Under a group policy, however, men and women typically pay the same rate.
For an extra premium, some policies offer additional benefits, such as cost-of-living increases or the option to purchase higher benefits in the future.
Most companies either give a discount to non-tobacco users or add a surcharge to the premium for tobacco use.
Type of Job
Expect to pay more for a policy that covers a high-risk occupation compared to a low-risk occupation.
Long term Care Insurance
Many people mistakenly think their health insurance or Medicare will pay for any long-term care services they may need at some point. But health insurance really only pays for doctor and hospital bills. If you develop a chronic illness or become disabled and are unable to care for yourself for an extended period of time, you’ll need long-term care services. And these services aren’t cheap. Full-time nursing home care averages more than $60,000 per year and even part-time, in-home care can cost more than $20,000 annually.
If you can afford long-term care insurance, you should probably consider it. Why? Because the cost of long-term care, should you need it, can quickly deplete your life's savings. For instance, having a home health aide visit just three days a week can cost more than $20,000 annually. Full-time nursing home care, the most expensive type of care, can average more than $60,000 per year. In some regions of the country, like the Northeast, the cost may be twice that amount.
But what are the odds that you'll need these kinds of services? Greater than you might imagine. There's about a 50 percent chance you'll need some type of long-term care after age 65. And long-term care services are not just for older people. A young or middle-aged person who has been in an accident or suffered a debilitating illness may very well require long-term care services. In fact, 40 percent of patients receiving long-term care are under age 65.
While long-term care insurance is right for many people, it's certainly not for everyone. If you can afford to pay for care without significantly impacting your assets, you may not need long-term care insurance. Conversely, if your assets, not including your home, are less than $80,000 if you're married (or $30,000 if you're single), you may not be able to afford the premiums. A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 7 percent of your gross income on long-term care insurance premiums.
Many people mistakenly think long-term care is synonymous with nursing home care. A nursing home is a good example of a facility that provides long-term care services, but it's just one of the many settings in which long-term care is delivered. In many cases, care is provided in the home often by a visiting nurse or a home health aide. Long-term care services are also provided in places like assisted living facilities and adult day care centers. Because long-term care insurance policies may differ in what they cover, it's important to be familiar with the different locations where you can receive care. Below we describe the four settings in which most long-term care is delivered.
Nursing homes are dedicated facilities that provide comprehensive long-term care services. Though they primarily serve the elderly, nursing homes will provide care to people of all ages who are in need of extended long-term care services. The goal of care in a nursing facility is to help individuals meet their daily physical, social, medical, and psychological needs in a controlled setting.
Nursing homes generally provide around-the-clock care and may offer medical, rehabilitative, personal and residential services. But all this care comes at a price: nursing homes currently average more than $60,000 per year, and that cost can more than double in certain regions.
Unlike life or disability insurance, long-term care insurance isn't designed to replace your income, but to purchase care. So when you're contemplating a purchase, your primary consideration should be how much protection you can afford. While nursing home stays last three months or less, more than one-third last a full year or longer and 10 percent will last five 45 percent of years or longer. It's these longer periods of care that can be devastating to your finances and for which you may want to protect yourself by purchasing long-term care insurance with the most generous benefits you can afford. The cost of a long-term care insurance policy usually depends on several factors including your age at the time of purchase, benefit levels, and the deductible period, just to mention a few.
Assisted Living Facilities
Assisted living facilities are residential centers that provide continued care for those unable to perform certain daily living activities. These facilities, which are growing in popularity, generally offer personal services, 24-hour supervision and assistance, recreational activities, and health-related services. They are designed to minimize the need to move around, and typically provide residents with more privacy and independence than a nursing home setting.
Adult Day Care
Adult day care centers are community-based programs designed to meet the needs of functionally or cognitively impaired adults. These structured, comprehensive programs provide a variety of health, social, and other related support services in a protective setting during daytime hours.
Home care is a simple phrase that encompasses a wide range of health and social services delivered at home to recovering, disabled, chronically ill or terminally ill persons. These services may include medical, nursing, social, or therapeutic treatment, assistance with essential activities of daily living, and even light household needs, such as shopping and cooking.
Generally, home care is appropriate whenever a person prefers to stay at home but needs ongoing care that cannot easily or effectively be provided solely by family and friends. More and more seniors, electing to live independent, non-institutionalized lives, are receiving home care services as their physical capabilities diminish.
It's also a popular choice for younger adults and children coping with chronic conditions